What’s the show? Hanebado! Episode 13.
Oh boy, the season finale of Hanebado…you sure have had a like/dislike relationship with this show haven’t you? That’s an understatement, but yeah… suffice to say the characterisation inconsistencies—specifically in regard to Ayano have been a sore point for me and lots of people if fellow bloggers and the #hanebado hashtag are anything to go by!
So how’s this episode then? Do they fix things? Keep things the same? Or just make them worse? Funnily enough, all 3 if you believe it. Though I think that depends on a couple of factors and how deep into this show you’re willing to go.
Okay, so explain how you think this finale can be all 3 of those things—depending on how you look at it—I’m curious… So just a quick recap of what happens. It’s Ayano vs Nagisa final round, Ayano looked like she was throwing the game until she got some encouraging words—she starts having fun playing against Nagisa—the first time she’s had fun playing Badminton in a while. The match gets tied, they go back and forth with deuce and match points, then after an artsy looking interlude Nagisa wins. Ayano regains some semblance of humility in the face of her defeat, still kind of acts like a cheeky spoilt brat but gone is the dead-eyed villain from before.
Okay… so Ayano’s changed for the better? That would imply some character development? So first of all, on a very base surface level, yes Ayano is now a better character because she’s not a villainous entity of pure evil—she’s just a smug rival with a cheeky attitude. But the problem with this change is that ~this~ Ayano is what should have become meek and introverted Ayano earlier on. There never needed for Ayano to go full dark-side when this happy medium could have saved the entire series! So as it stands, rather than this just being a middle ground gained through character development, it instead feels like a ~third~ personality that’s been quickly tacked on to make Ayano more palatable. This change doesn’t feel earned, it feels like someone realised too late what Ayano’s character was actually supposed to be and just forced it into the narrative.
So when I said, “did they fix things? Keep things the same? Or just make them worse?” and you said “all 3” you meant… I meant Ayano is technically fixed as a character. But things are still the same because they are fixed in a way that’s typical of this show—that is to say, not very subtle or well done. And likewise it’s worse because of how damn great the rest of the episode is!
What’s so great about it? Literally anything that’s not Ayano. The sport is exciting and well presented, the soundtrack is breathtaking and there’s an “artsy looking interlude” that I mentioned before that is legitimately one of my favourite pretentious things I’ve seen in anime all season. Basically everything goes black and white, the soundtrack is faded out until all that’s left is a beating heart sound, Ayano and Nagisa’s steady but tense breathing and the occasional sound of a shuttlecock hitting a racket. It’s arguably unnecessary but it’s so damn cool and stylistic that I can’t help but adore the whole scene!
Fair enough! So overall thoughts on the finale of Hanebado? It’s at least better than this show at its worst! I feel like if things had been different and the worst Ayano ever got was how she was at the end of this episode we’d be looking at a lot more positive reviews of this show. But as often is the case, it’s too little—too late.
Previous Hanebado! Reviews:
Sports Anime + Cute Girls = A Better Sports Anime – Episode 1 Review
Emotional Flashbacks & Sausages on Sticks – Episode 2 Review
A Smash To The Feels – Episode 3 Review
Sibling Rivalry – Episode 4 Review
Rivals Are Better Than Villains – Episode 5 Review
Uniformly Improved – Episode 6 Review
Just Like Tennis – Episode 7 Review
There’s No Ayano In Team – Episode 8 Review
Beware of Villains Bearing Backstories – Episode 9 Review
Out Of Bounds – Episode 10 Review
Best and Scariest – Episode 11 Review
Fighting Expectations – Episode 12 Review
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