Director: Shinpei Ezaki
Series composition: Yosuke Kuroda
Character designer, Chief animation director: Satoshi Kimura
Chief animation director: Makoto Iino, Shuji Maruyama, Kazuo Watanabe
Action animators: Masahiro Tokumaru, Naofumi Hashimoto, Katsunori Kikuchi
Animation production: LIDEN FILMS
Sports anime is a healthy, popular subgenre, but rarely does it gravitate toward less glamorous disciplines like... badminton. If you believe that dealing with a minor sport would be an excuse for the anime staff to cut themselves some slack though, think twice. HANEBADO!'s depiction of badminton matches was carefully researched and made into a spectacular pseudo-rotoscoped affair with a tremendous sense of impact, intense character detail, and thrilling back-and-forths, all accompanied by very solemn direction and an elegant sense of grandeur to the framing of every moment.
However -- this is when things get tricky -- HANEBADO! is also fond of whiplash. While the first few episodes follow Nagisa Aragaki and her fairly standard sportswoman issues, the focus eventually switches to the "real" protagonist. Ayano Hanesaki is tremendously talented compared to just about anyone around her, having gotten to that point as a result of both a deep love for the sport and rather ridiculous, though traumatic, family circumstances. She’s first presented as well-mannered, but Ayano snaps and becomes a disrespectful, abusive, nasty player that makes for a unique POV -- as if, for once, we were seeing a sports series from the eyes of the overpowered villain the protagonists should beat. The demeanor of the characters can be inconsistent, to say the least, and there’s a good reason the opinions on the show are very split, but there’s no denying that HANEBADO! is one of a kind.
Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation