HANEBADO! is a sports anime about badminton, a sport you don’t often hear people talking about all that much. Based on a manga of the same name, the series follows Ayano Hanesaki who is naturally gifted at badminton. She starts out unmotivated, but eventually gets motivated from the drive and intensity of Nagisa Aragaki. The episode begins by diving into badminton action, making me actually interested in watching a badminton match. Throughout the active match (with various usages of slow motion to emphasize how close everything is), we’re seeing inside of the heads of the characters through internal dialogue. We don’t know really know who’s speaking at first, but one of them is lacking in motivation and unsure why she’s playing. Turns out, it’s both of the girls. After the opening theme, it flashes forward to everyone at school as you’re formally introduced to the characters as they come to the badminton club.
Overall, I liked the episode. It hit a lot of the same beats as Haikyuu!!! for me, except with a female cast. There were some cringeworthy moments, including a few unnecessary butt shots as well as the fact that the girls were first motivated to try out for tennis because of cute boys. No, really. But the rest of the episode had that heart and intensity you expect from a sports anime. Over the top emotions about their love of the sport and intense action during matches/practices. They present Nagisa and Hanesaki as two sides of the same coin. Both are incredibly good at badminton. Hanesaki is naturally gifted, fast, and has very quick response times. Nagisa has worked her fingers to the bone to get the skill level she has. She is dedicated, determined, and hard on herself and others. Hanesaki is shy, meek, and not really all that interested. She may have enjoyed playing for fun, but the sport of it does not seem to interest her. Seeing how the two of them grow as individuals and as players could be interesting.
stardf29: Badminton is a really fun sport, both to watch and to play (not that I’m any good at it). The nature of the sport is tight and fast-paced; every hit looks like one that is impossible to return, except somehow the other player manages to return it. At high-level play, rallies look like acrobatics with the way players dash and stretch to reach that birdie, and it really is awesome to watch. I say all this because, from what we see of a match early on, the animation absolutely nails the feel of a badminton match. If we get more matches of that caliber in both animation and scripting, that alone would make this show one worth looking at. That said, the character drama behind all of this is solid, too, and I’m curious as to why exactly Ayano quit badminton, and the potential she and Nagisa have to build each other up.
HANEBADO! can be legally streamed at Crunchyroll.