Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it: HANEBADO! had a lackluster first episode. We start the series with a past experience from six months before the events of the show, and there’s an internal monologue of one of the players we’re watching. While I like how there’s the monologue, it also gave us a character’s mindset. “What have I been doing this for?”
The character is utterly destroyed by someone we come to learn is named Hanasaki. Cool. But, after the match, we also see this Hanasaki character looking at a picture of “The Queen and her Prodigy” and asking the same question. What is she playing for? And then she cries. That turned me off a little, but started some connections in my head. Maybe Hanasaki knows this Queen character (a coach?)…who knows.
After said introductory period we’re pushed to the present, where we find out that the player who got completely trounced by Hanasaki is the badminton club captain at school. Her name is Aragaki.
Aragaki is a bitch! Yep…she has a terrible reputation. That’s really all we’ve gotten so far from this show. 1) flashback and “why am I doing this?” 2) Aragaki is crazy strict and sort of a bitch to the other club members.
Where is this show even going?
We’re introduced more fully to other characters, including Hanasaki and her friend Elena. They get into a conversation about joining school clubs (okay, yeah, standard anime trope here–but it’s a show about a club sport so whatever, I should have expected it) and eventually Hanasaki joins the tennis club.
Hanasaki joins the tennis club because of a guy named Saionji. Great…that’s it? That’s what we get? Wonderful. Girls ooing and ahhing about some tennis star. Next!!
Gossip from the badminton club in their changing room. Sort of odd, but we don’t actually get any fan service here so it works out well. They’re gossiping about practice and Aragaki. After this we’re thrown into the school badminton practice for all intents and purposes.
Aragaki is so driven it’s almost a bad thing. It completely distorts her character and makes you not want to root for her in any way. Like, calm down honey, it’s okay. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
DRAMA ALERT! DRAMA ALERT!
A member of the club, Riko, becomes Aragaki’s voice of reason during practice after Aragaki blows up on a few of the other players. Good job, Riko! (And if I will say, Riko would be the most attractive of the characters thus far…so yeah…maybe I just have a thing for girls who can’t see? AKA: girls with glasses).
The show hasn’t really done much for us at this point, and we’re following Nagisa (Aragaki) around through practice and out of practice. We see her spot Hanasaki playing tennis and get a flashback of when the two played against each other. Nagisa is pissed. She grips the fence.
Can you say one dimensional? Come on…show us even the smallest, tiniest, most minute shred of growth please. Even if it is episode one!! GAH!!!
There’s a scene with Hanasaki and some super weird blond guy who grabs her fingers and says something about her being left handed. So, according to him, Hanasaki should play badminton. Hanasaki runs away.
FREAKING WHY?!? What is even happening right now? Nothing is really making sense and we don’t have any idea who these characters really are. Hanasaki gave up badminton, Aragaki is a one-dimensional, angry control freak badminton club captain. What else have we gotten? Pretty much nothing.
The episode then makes Aragaki emotional. After spending fifteen minutes showing nothing but anger and an overly-passionate drive and iron-fisted captain we get her crying on a bridge with Riko. Why should we care now? Aragaki has a moment where she realizes what she’s been doing, and how she’s just taking her anger out on everyone else, but what purpose does it serve? You’re not one-dimensional…cool. You’re crying now. Great…but like, we have very little reason to care because (and it might just be me thinking this, sorry) you haven’t given us a reason.
Toward the end the blond guy who grabbed Hanasaki’s hands at the tennis courts shows up at the gym while badminton is being played, and introduces himself as Kentaro. After this we see Elena dragging Hanasaki to the gym doors while Hanasaki fights back–she eventually loses.
And then…we get what I call a list seqence.
- Hanasaki says club is pointless
- Nagisa begins to get pissed off but doesn’t react vocally or move from where she’s at
- Riko yells at Hanasaki, saying club isn’t pointless (thanks, Riko, you’ve kept the show going…that’s about it)
The episode ends with Nagisa challenging Hanasaki to a match.
Overall, this show was underwhelming, and didn’t actually give me much to care for. We got character introductions, we got some emotion from them (albeit one or two in total) and a little bit of backstory through flashbacks that link two characters, and we got to see badminton being played. That’s about it.
What HANEBADO! did was lackluster because it didn’t really give us a reason to care, or want to keep watching. Even with the challenge at the end of the episode, which links the flashback we opened with to the present, why are we to care? What’s Hanasaki’s reason for quitting? Didn’t really get anything to make me care. What’s Nagisa’s reason for being a complete control freak and angry person? Losing to Hanasaki…but that’s all we got. I’ll say it again: an underwhelming first episode.
I used a pic in one of my other posts, but I’m going to use it again because I feel like throughout this I reacted the same way….