Winning or losing doesn’t matter if you’re not enjoying the game.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
The Inter-High Preliminaries are drawing to a close, but there’s one more major match to settle. Kitakomachi team captain Nagisa is slated to play her former schoolmate Ishizawa. The two of them parted ways because of a scholarship, and the blood is still bad between them.
The match is leaning towards Ishizawa at first, mainly due to her overbearing coach’s strategy of wearing Nagisa out before she can find a rhythm. But as the game goes on, Ishizawa realizes she doesn’t want to play on her coach’s terms anymore – she’s ready to play for herself!
Here we are in the eighth episode of HANEBADO!, and it’s been a while since Kitakomachi team captain Nagisa commanded the spotlight. The Badminton I Want To Play isn’t actually about her, really, in the end, though. It focuses more on her opponent, Ishizawa, and her struggles with finding her place in the sport after a traumatizing event separated her and Nagisa. As luck would have it, they were both up for the same sports scholarship in middle school. Ishizawa received it, even though everyone knew Nagisa was the better player. This turned out to be bad for both of them, as it leads to Ishizawa internalizing the pressure and doubt about her skills and worthiness.
As the match begins, it’s clear that Ishizawa is still holding onto their issues. When Nagisa reaches across the net to do a routine shake of hands, her opponent flat out refuses. However, Ishizawa is actually a fairly sweet person, from what this episode tells us. The real bad apple whose influencing her is her coach. After many episodes filled with dramatic confrontations between the badminton club and their opponent players, it was only logical that we’d run into a crazed coach eventually. He’s a strict teacher, constantly yelling instructions at his player and even going so far as to call her an ‘idiot’ in front of everyone. Not only is he rude, but he also seems to be pretty evil, as he seems to be trying to make Nagisa run in order to blow out her knee.
Luckily, Ishizawa realizes as the match plays on that this isn’t the kind of badminton she wants to be playing. As Nagisa reclaims her dominance with brute force, her former teammate rebels against her coach and his strategy, telling him that it’s time for her to decide on her own what kind of player she’s going to become. It’s a great moment, and I loved seeing her stand up to him like that. (Ishizawa spin-off when?) At the end of the game, she tells Nagisa that she had fun.
Her attitude is about the polar opposite of Ayano’s. The girl has regressed to a level that’s sad to see. I never thought I would see the day when Ayano would rub her opponent’s weakness in her face, saying, “It’s not like you’re gonna win.” Alaina confronts her, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. We can only hope that Ayano will learn her lesson soon.
The Badminton I Want To Play follows a string of recent episodes in that it tells a tight tale with some great action as well. The game between Nagisa and Ishizawa wasn’t the animation highlight of the series or anything, but it still looked better than many other sports shows this season. Nagisa and, more importantly, Ishizawa were able to come to a mutual understanding and leave their rivalry behind them. Hey, even her cantankerous coach seemed to come away with a bit of a lesson learned! Now if only somebody can help teach Ayano proper sportsmanship again.