I just have to say this first…
I love this first episode so very much! (If I could put that in all caps without seeming like I’m yelling at you, then I would, because I am just that excited!) Love All Play has a fantastic first episode and I’m already eagerly looking forward to the second episode!
Love All Play is about a third-year middle schooler, Ryō Mizushima, who got into playing badminton through his best friend Shizuo. With it being the last day of school and summer break about to begin, the two (and their other good friend) make a “pact” to attend the same high school and play badminton together. But when Ryō gets an unexpected sports recommendation to the same school as the badminton player he “admires the most,” he is faced with a difficult choice. Should he attend the high school with the two people who not only made badminton fun, but got him into the sport in the first place? Or should he join his dream school and go “level up” his badminton skills?
As I shared at the beginning, I deeply enjoyed this first episode! From the opening scene I was already invested in Ryō’s story and wanted to know how he got to this moment of facing the person that had deeply inspired his growth as a badminton player. Then, when the opening song came on, it was hook, line, and sinker!
Granted, I will confess that I was already interested in this anime because I loved playing badminton growing up and if my high school had offered it as a competitive sport, I would have definitely signed up immediately. I haven’t played in a few years, but seeing the excitement for a sport I feel is very underappreciated in the area where I live reminded me of how much I love the sport and want to play it again.
One thing I found unique about Love All Play is how involved Ryō’s family is in his decision as to which high school he should attend. This is the first time I’ve seen this in a sports anime and I really appreciate it. Our main character is very respectful of his parents and I loved how supportive his sister is of him and his dreams. And not just his sister, but his two best friends as well! (I kept wanting to sit on the edge of my seat as I worried that his friends would be unhappy with him and ditch him once they heard about the sports recommendation, but they are consistently supportive.)
Overall, I would highly recommend this anime to other sports lovers! The animation is top quality, in my opinion, with a wonderful seamless flow to the movements of the badminton gameplay. I loved hearing some popular voice actors as well! (I pretty much flailed when I realized the voice actor of Zoro from One Piece, Kazuya Nakai, does one of the coaches and I am 100% here for it! Also, I feel that Natsuki Hanae, the voice actor for Tanjiro from Demon Slayer, really captures the heart and passion of Ryō!) Again, I am very much looking forward to the next episode and following Ryo throughout this season! It will definitely be a must watch each week!
Love All Play is streaming on CrunchyRoll.