Posted by SuperMario on 17 July 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hanebado!

When people thinks about Hanebado, they tend to regard the excellent animation as its strongest point. While I partly agree on that, for me it’s the small character acting that makes this show sticks out for me. I do have a KyoAni vibe watching those relationships play out, especially in second episode with the recurring theme of Yu, the blonde girl, eating sausage after practice. There she meets the dropout senpai, she meets Nagisa in one of her rampant, and in the end she meets the senpai girls again with a newfound perspective. It’s the slow moments like this that Hanebado allows the settings and the characters sink in to our mind, and I much prefer this more than drama that relies on “shout until it works” moments.

In addition, both episodes follow a tricky formula. They flesh out the main characters through the perspective of side-casts. It works, for the most part, resulting that we have a feeling we learn about many characters within this badminton club. And for a show that is just in a beginning phase, it’s a remarkable feat. I have a reason to care for those characters, to support them from behind. This focus, however, has its shortcoming. Tachibana the male coach is a good character in his own right, but so far the show doesn’t know how to flesh him out to full potential. The reason being Hanebado wants these main characters to develop on their own, but at the same time wants him to have a positive influence for the team. Being stuck between two roles result in the unclear angle the show wants to develop him.

Although the last two episodes give a much-needed space to develop our main girls, I find those developments through the point of view of these side girls add up magnificently. It adds another emotional layer to these relationships. Take Yu, she’s in an inbetween phase of the club; as one of the few “survivors” after Nagisa lashed out because she loves the sport. We can also sees her having a crush (but subtly so) to one of the club member. Likewise, Elena’s observant is possibly the best element of episode 3. Not only it informs us about the trouble her friend Ayano is currently experienced, it tells us about their own relationship. Transforming from just a supportive no-face girl into a much more complex role, we see a whole whirlwind of her own feeling regarding her best friend, many contradicting emotions: from caring about her, wanted her friend to rely on her (in a very tasteful way using the dialogue from the movie she watched), to jealousy that her friend can devote herself into something she love. Ultimately, she’s the best friend if there’s ever one, simply because despite all the contradicting feelings, she comes out for all the better. She cares deeply for her friend and that will always remain true.

Nagisa’s development in episode 2 is more straightforward but not necessary less effective. She’s in a performance slump, and her slash-out attitude is sometimes unbearable. In one of the stand-out animation sequence (in a show with many stand-out animated pieces), we see her as a kid in a chalk-line art struggling with the way everyone regards her as “having advantage for being tall”. She works harder than anyone else but they fail to recognise that. Her performance stumbles when she’s too conscious of placing the shot right without follow through her smash. It’s more of a psychological issue more than anything else, because once Tachibana puts her struggling into words, once she regains her confidence, she manages to smash her way through. It’s a release from all the feeling bottomed up inside her since when she loses to Ayano that day.

As for Ayano, after 2 episodes I’m a bit worried that her passive, withdrawn personality can’t carry the show, but thankfully, when we get to her flashback this week it’s easy to see why she acts the way she is now. She’s a natural talent kid. And I’m not talking about her physical talent, but more about her love for badminton (on that note, Tachibana keeps pointing out that being lefty makes her some sort of a talent, in which I say NO, no way. Lefty is not that rare anymore and it doesn’t automatically qualifies anyone as better than the other. In fact, when you get to certain level there’s no real difference between a right-handed and left-handed players). Her Mom was a legendary badminton player and she transfers that love to her kid. She was her Mom’s golden choice until one day, after losing her Mom left and raised other kid into stardom instead. Okay, get pass the absurdity of it all, ‘cause we know there’s more than meet the eye here, what get me the most in her flashback is how Ayano’s determined to win her Mom attention back by keep on winning at all cost. You can see in her eyes that it becomes something as an obsession more than a joy to play. It takes its toll after she learns that all she was doing would amount for nothing. Like how Elena points out, her love for badminton and her mommy issues are two separate matters, she can pretty much enjoy playing badminton without caring about her Mom. Based on the OP, it’s going to be her issues all the way and I’d love to see Hanebado address it again in the tournament stage.

Not that every character in Hanebado is a success. That twintails pink hair girl is an eyesore both for her larger than life personality (“I love myself!!!!”), but her role so far is squarely Ayano’s destined rival and boys, these types stand out in a bad way. For a show that relies greatly on subtle personal development like this, having an eccentric, loud character like her doesn’t add any flavor to this story. It’s like a spicy chili ice-cream that can’t help but stick out too much.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar karma says:

    “…cause we know there’s more than meet the eye here”
    No, there isn’t. I mean, in manga mother has her reasons, but they are so stupid, that I hope anime won’t bother.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      At least don’t destroy my glimmers of hope, karma ^^

      Well, a mother who given up on her daughter after 1-match lose is absurd to begin with, but how closely is this anime following the manga? From what I heard, the anime changes the tone at the beginning into more dramatic affair. Is it true?

      • Avatar karma says:

        Indeed, angst levels are dialed up, which can be exhausting, but core problems of both girls are exactly the same. At the same time, I feel that anime is better at using secondary characters. In manga the coach deals also with the second emotional trauma, almost as if he was a vn protagonist.

        • SuperMario SuperMario says:

          Like what I mentioned in post, I don’t feel they use the coach’s role into full potential. Other supporting characters indeed are developed quite well, which easily my favorite part so far.

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