There are three big sports series airing this summer:
Free! Dive to the Future is the 3rd season of a series that follows a men’s swimming team.
Harkuana Receive focuses on two gal’s quest to win a beach volleyball tournament.
Lastly, we have Hanebado!, which gives us a glimpse into the world of competitive badminton.
Hanebado! was the only one of the lot that really appealed to me to begin with, so it was an easy decision to choose this is as my seasonal sports series. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate swim and dive as a sport. I also like watching volleyball from time to time, but I’m not gonna tear through two previous seasons just to watch the new Free!, and I get the feeling Harukana Receive may be more cute girl fanservice than true sports anime. I had similar reservations about Uma Musume last season, but I do actually plan on getting around to that one now that I’ve read some full reviews on it.
At any rate, Hanebado! had two things going for it before I even started watching. 1) It seemed more serious than Harukana and 2) I like watching things about the more obscure sports; if there’s an anime about a curling, handball, or jai alai team, let me know.
So yeah, this one had some preconceived notions favoring its selection for this season, but that doesn’t guarantee I’ll actually think it’s “good”.
Without further ado, here are some initial thoughts on Hanebado!
One of the first things you’ll note is that there’s a whooollleee lot of sweat and muscle definition.
I woudn’t call it super fanservicey, though. There are b00b135 that bounce around and such, but that’s kind of a normal thing that happens when people run or jump or whatever, and aside from a couple suggestive camera angles, they don’t really hypersexualize the action.
Speaking of the action, everything is, of course, super dramatic because it’s told from the perspective of the participants themselves. That hyperbolized intensity is a norm for the sports genre; I find nothing wrong with it. Seeing “birdie” played in that kind of light as opposed to the casual “playing on the front lawn during a family cookout” is actually pretty cool.
One episode in, we’ve seen a little bit everything as far a genre tropes go. We’ve got our comically creepy coach/trainer.
We’ve got our ace-type player that isn’t all that interested in playing but is crazy good. That contrasts the die-hard workaholic who struggles reach the same level as the natural talent.
Some possible romantic interest subplots may or may not have been introduced. One of the more interesting things here, though, is that our team morale is already shot from the get-go because the try-hard captain isn’t handling her losses very well. Usually the team morale break doesn’t happen right at the start like this.
The animation looks pretty good overall, and there’s nothing egregious about the blending of the blatant 3D CGI and the more hand-drawn looking stuff.
This mixed bag of different sports series tropes gave some good variety, and I am genuinely curious to see which route(s) they ultimately end up taking.
Judging from this promo art, our roster is going to expand a little further.
Will we get more of an ensemble cast with multiple characters getting screen time, or will the story stick mostly to the main two that are introduced in this pilot ep?
Will we get some serious action? If so, will it be diminished by gratuitous panty shots and gravity-defying breast mechanics?
I rarely drop a series I start, but at a glance, I don’t think Hanebado! is one that I’ll have to worry about disliking. It’ll more so be a matter of whether or not it ends up being “good” or “really good”.
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