I first learned about Hanebado in a first impressions piece by another reviewer, which opened up on a minutes-long rant about how sport bras are supposed to work. That was almost 3 years ago now, but ask people about Hanebado today and chances are you’ll hear about flopping breasts and sexy girl sweat.
It paints a certain picture of the show. Not a bad picture necessarily, but one that doesn’t really reflect the kind of show that Hanebado actually is. And that strikes me as a little unfair.
I’ll freely admit that Hanebado has its fanservice. Nagisa Aragaki’s design is frequently talked about in particular because her breasts are quite large, though not absurdly so for anime standards. I don’t know enough about female clothes to comment on the accuracy of how breasts would look during intense exercise, but I’ll concede that there are cool, sexy shots sprinkled throughout the anime. However, if that’s enough to forever label the series as a titty-flopping gallery with a badminton-theme to it, then a lot of other anime will have to relabeled as well.
When I finished the show and tried to discuss it, I found that other reviews hyperfocussed on the fanservice, regardless of whether they cited it as a positive or negative quality. Among my friends, the only one that didn’t immediately ask about the bounciness of the tomboy titties was the one that actually watched the show. Because when you actually watch Hanebado, Aragaki is the exception rather than the norm, and the scenes featuring her that end up being notably explicit are both rare and hard to notice.
I really didn’t pay any attention to any character’s chest while trying to keep up with the hype-as-fuck badminton matches that are actually Hanebado‘s forte. I love fanservice and ecchi anime, yet had to rewatch entire portions of the show with the express intent of looking for ecchi to come up with a handful of scenes. And yet, these few moments are rapidly becoming Hanebado‘s legacy as more detailed discourse around the show fades away in the rush of seasonal anime.
Of course it’s fine to joke about anime and poke fun at the times when they look weird or strain believability, but in Hanebado we see what happens when cherry-picked observations begin to live a life of their own. There are legitimate complaints to be had in regards to the show, but if you’ve been ignoring it because it sounded trashy, then maybe give it a chance anyway.