I know most of us would do anything for our moms, but these two girls might be overdoing it a bit. But as always, we’ll start from the beginning.
— I dunno why we’re getting a quick recap at the start of the episode. We’ve only seen four of them. What is this? Beatless? Speaking of which, I need to check up on that show.
— I think what gets me about Hanebado!‘s end-to-end drama is that Ayano never gets a break. She’s just finally starting to feel good about herself and badminton again. She also finally feels as though she’s part of the team. That’s never happened before, because she usually just played for herself or her mother. The girl looks like she’s on the verge of happiness, but before you know it, Connie is here to mess things up. I’ll take drama over no drama any day of the week, but c’mon, give the girl at least one episode to relax before we throw her back into the deep end of the pool.
— Ayano might have all the natural talent in the world, but she seems like an overly defensive player. I guess she had no choice. She learned the game by playing against her mother, which probably meant she had to chase the shuttle down on every point.
— Connie: “You’re not really Uchika’s daughter.” LEAVE AYANO ALONE. But seriously, all this bullying is getting tiresome. Hopefully, teammates like Riko can pick her up. Plus, winning isn’t everything. I liked Ping Pong a lot, because accepting defeat was one of the show’s major themes. And I don’t mean like, “Oh, I’ll just get back into the gym, practice even harder, and win it all next time!” I mean legitimately accepting that sometimes you just cannot win, and that’s okay.
— Oh look, Connie is bad for her team’s morale. I wonder what the coach is up to right about now. Probably nothing. Probably being useless.
— Yuika tells Hina to try and support the girl anyways, and I find that kinda insulting. Connie wants to play alone? She shouldn’t even be on a team if she can’t play with others. She’s not just bad at playing nice with others. She won’t play with others period.
— Yuika implies that Connie is just winning for now. Eventually, she’ll find herself on the losing end, so Hina has to be there to support her when that happens. I still disagree with that. These are the formative years. You’re supposed to be teaching them life lessons when they’re still kids, because when they become adults, they are likely to be set in their ways. If neither the coach nor the captain can rein Connie in, they should either remove her or themselves from the team.
— For the second game, Riko and Ayano are changing things up. According to Kentarou, they’re too defensive as a team. So instead, he’s going to leave all of the defense to the defensive specialist. It’s funny to me, because I feel like this is what you’re supposed to do. You can’t play overly defensive, but you’ll always be reacting instead of acting. In tennis, some players have made a career off of being defensive wizards, but you can only win a grand slam if you also have a good offensive game.
— In any case, this is the luxury of having an actual coach. I know the show wants to draw a sharp contrast between Kentarou and his peers, but maybe they overdid this a bit.
— Looks like Connie is still crushing this, though.
— But all of a sudden, Ayano is able to return Connie’s smashes. In fact, she’s able to return a lot of them. I-is this Ultra Instinct?
— But really, what’s changed? Well, according to Elena, it just takes time for our heroine to figure things out. Eventually, she’ll get her teeth into the match. Hm.
— These flashbacks are interesting, though. Elena was seemingly content to stand on the sidelines and watch her friend play badminton against her mom.
— This looks silly.
— Now that Connie’s starting to lose, Yuika tries to reason with the girl again. No luck, though. I think she’s being too patient with Connie at the detriment of the rest of the team.
— Connie resorts to hitting the shuttle harder and harder. That’s a fast way to start racking up errors… unless she’s unconsciously accurate.
— We suddenly see a flashback of a young, lonely Connie. Either others rejected her or she wasn’t allowed to play with them. Either way, Hanabado! implies this is the reason why Connie is the way that she is. I’m sorry, but does every single personality flaw have to be traced back to some traumatic event in these characters’ childhoods? It’s just heavy-handed.
— Context is everything. If this was originally a 2 versus 1, we’d be singing Connie’s praises. Wow, she’s hanging tough even though she’s playing by herself! But because she rejected her partner, we want to see her lose more than anything. Of course, what she’s doing is still pretty damn impressive! It’s what we all fantasize about. I’m all by myself, and I’m still holding my own! Just don’t let her hear you say that.
— Connie’s holding one of her calves, though. Hm, is she cramping up? Cramps are no joke. People always laugh when they see a basketball player being helped off the court. That’s how you know they’ve never physically exerted themselves in their lives.
— Connie still manages to drag herself to match point. On the other side of the net, Ayano tells herself that she has to win. She had to win for her mother, and she has to win for her team. It never lets up. But hey, some people relish that sort of pressure.
— Oh no, she’s getting those empty eyes again! I-is this Ayano’s true Ultra Instinct?!
— That’s no good — something just snapped in one of Connie’s legs.
— But then Hina shows up to hit the ball. Boooo. Boooooooo to this girl!
— And unfortunately, Ultra Instinct can’t overcome a broken string. *sad trombone noises*
— A close, exciting match ends up feeling like defeat for both girls. Connie’s team won, but she never wanted a team. She quietly walks off the court in shame. As for Ayano, she feels as if she let her team down. Meanwhile, Hina lets out a cheer even though she played in maybe 25% of the match. Some people have no problems being positive, I guess.
— Unable to deal with the defeat, Ayano starts rattling off a bunch of excuses. It goes to show you that she’s still just a first year. She still has a lot of growing up to do. She might be a prodigy on the court, but she’s still just an immature child.
— Man, is Ayano going to run off and hide every time the going gets tough?
— It looks like Yu and Sora are going to have to talk some sense into Ayano. In my opinion, Kentarou should be the one to do this. After all, that’s his job. That’s what coaches are for. You’re not just teaching them how to play the game; you teach them about life as well.
— On the other hand, who’s going to help Connie pick up the pieces of her shattered ego? Maybe Yuika, I guess.
— Sora starts off by confessing that she hated Ayano, because she thought the girl didn’t care about the sport. Welp. Basically, she changed her mind after seeing how desperately our heroine tried to win against Connie. My problem here, however, is that I didn’t even notice Sora until last week’s episode. Like who the hell are you? It’s not bad storytelling. It’s just not properly executed. Well, maybe that’s the same thing as bad storytelling. All I’m saying is that I felt her mini-drama with Ayano felt like it came out of left field. At least it’s now resolved.
— Yep, Yuika goes to check up on Connie. Also, I think Pocari Sweat is nasty. I don’t like Gatorade very much either, but I guess these ion drinks make sense for athletes. I always stuck to water and eating some bananas, though.
— Still, Connie admits that she had wronged Hina, who then comically pops out from the closet like some sort of blanket goblin.
— Ugh. When I said Hanebado! and Hanakana Receive should learn to share, I wasn’t referring to the fanservice.
— And just like that, the other girls are cool with Connie. Lame.
— On the plus side, at least the episode looks like it’s ending on a light-hearted note.
— Later that night, it looks like Ayano wants to ask Connie about her mother, but she decides to wait until the next morning to do it instead. Let’s see how forthcoming the blonde girl will be.
— Connie: “Uchika is my mama.” Um, right…
— Not her literal mama, but Uchika was Connie’s only friend or something. And obviously, Connie is that girl that we had seen from back then. We didn’t forget, but Ayano did. And now that she remembers, all her issues about being abandoned by her mother is roaring back to the forefront.
— As a cherry on top, Connie reveals that Uchika will soon be returning from Japan. I guess this episode isn’t going to end on such a light-hearted note after all. Whoops, spoke too soon.
— Connie: “Even if you have a team, in the end, if Mama doesn’t acknowledge you, there’s no point in playing badminton, is there?” You guys are nuts. It’s just a game. Sigh, end-to-end drama.
— But seriously, Ayano currently looks like she could probably use a therapy session or two. We’ll just continue to ignore the practicality of mental health, though…
— Wow, this was such a terrible thing for a mother to say her daughter! I knew she was fucked up for abandoning Ayano in the first place, but maybe we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of Uchika’s issues! What has she done to these two girls?
— Just listen to the violins going mad in the background. It’s like we’re watching a horror movie or some shit. Not even a modern horror movies, but one of those old timey ones about psychological trauma and shit.
— Alright, Ayano now just looks deranged. I think you guys went too far.
— The funny part is that all of this drama could’ve been avoided if Elena hadn’t dragged Ayano back into the world of badminton.
— Fuck it, let’s ask the Phantom Thieves to steal Mama’s heart. She probably has a Palace. Who wants to whip up the calling card? “Dear psycho mother of the East…”