This is an idea that I came up through all the discussion and comparison people have been doing on two shows on twitter. I mean, how can you not compare Harukana and Hanebado? They are both female sports anime that have the letter H in their titles and involve sports that are centered around hitting a round object from one side of a court with a net in-between to another in hopes that a player on one side or the other doesn’t have the round object hit the ground on their side. Maybe these generalizations are a little too basic, but you see what I mean right? Neither are original concepts/plots. Similar series have aired during the same season before, but this is the first time I’ve barely had time in my schedule to watch both of them. Besides, I am not much of a sports anime fan anyway. That clearly means my opinion on this matter will be unbiased and objective. Ok, I can feel everyone’s eyes rolling from here. Maybe I need some one to keep me honest. Any volunteers?
Since I want other people to see how similar these shows are and I am bad with names, I am going to talk about how each of them to show you how their stories are executed differently from each other without using names. Both series are centered around two girls of different heights and build with one having issues with joining the sport again. Their plots are virtually the same. A popular saying is that the devil is in the details and it’s more than true here.
The first episode starts with a glimpse to the past. Our tall, busty girl is playing badminton against a shorter, more talented girl that is clearly winning. After the match, the two wonder why they are both playing. Jumping into the present, the camera focuses on two specific girls that are starting high school. The short girl and another girl are talking to each other with the short one wanting to join whatever club the other girl wants to join. They are told the join the tennis club by a third girl, because she hears the badminton club is being terrorized by the captain. We later find out that the captain is the tall, busty girl from the flash back.
So, with the tall girl yelling at her badminton club, we see the club leaving for the day and our tall girl makes it to the tennis court. With the new badminton coach hanging around the tennis court, he immediately notices the short girl’s natural ability when she deflects a blow away from her friend on the tennis court. Tall girl also notices the short girl is at her school there and wonders why she isn’t playing badminton. Here we see the theme showing up in this show. Natural talent vs hard work.
To cut the second episode short, the short girl is forced to join the badminton club (though I don’t think she should be considered forced) because her friend joined the badminton club as the manager. The tall and short girl team up against their new coach and another player and their team up doesn’t go well. Tall girl is substituted out and trains more and more. This episode ends with the badminton coach and tall girl playing against each other with the coach noticing what the tall girl’s problem is and she apologizes to her team for being angry and taking her frustrations out against her team. We only get glimpses at what the short girl’s problems are, but our badminton team is going against other opponents next episode I think.
This show is a lot easier to talk about from a story telling level.
In the first episode, our tall girl arrives at the short girl to live with her. They are cousins that haven’t seen each other for a while. Upon arriving at the short girl’s house, tall girl immediately takes off her dress (which is revealed that she has been wearing a bikini the entire time) and goes to the beach. Short girl changes into her swimsuit and takes a lot longer to join. Our tall girl meets two girls practicing beach volley ball and asks to join in. After training for a little bit, tall girl and short girl end up in a beach volley ball competition where one point from the tall girl’s side means they win. The short girl recognizes both other girls and it is revealed through dialogue that the short girl used to play volley ball with one of them until she quit. After losing, the tall and short girl plan on having a rematch with the other two girls a week later after the tall girl has practice a little more.
The second episode is easy as well. The short girl trains the tall girl along with getting her bikini more player ready. Tall girl improves steadily and then they play against the other two a week later. As you would expect, the tall girl and short girl win against the two more experienced players after getting the short girl to receive the ball. Something that the short girl was afraid to do before was able to do it with the tall girl’s confidence and trust. One of the other girls runs away after losing because she feels like she has failed in helping the short girl and the other girl comforts her. At the same time, the tall girl and short girl go out for ice cream. Some other opponents appear at the end of the episode.
You may have noticed a lot of the differences between the two just by how detailed I thought the plot synopsis are. Keep in mind that I didn’t even get into everything that happened in Hanebado. That show is a more serious and grounded sports drama while Harukana Receive has more of a cute girls doing cute things/slice of life feel to it. Why can I tell? Well, it seems like Harukana’s cast over the past two episodes havr only been centered around four female characters. No male characters have appeared anywhere in the show yet. Plus, the designs are somewhat moe in design with our protagonist tall girl looking a lot like Kumiko from Sound! Euphonium. I won’t say that the girls are sitting around and doing nothing because they are training for beach volley ball, but the show has a more relaxed feel to it. On the other side, Hanebado has a larger variety of character designs with a focus on female characters, but there are still some male characters in the badminton club besides the male trainer. The characters are very emotional and work their butts off to play their sport and the show’s tone is a little more moody.
Then there are is the animation/art designs. I will just say this, I think Hanebado is a lot prettier to look at from an animation perspective. You can feel the weight of their badminton rackets hitting the shuttlecocks in each stroke and the character movements are incredibly fluid. All this with a large variety of character designs in it. I wouldn’t call Harukana’s animation a slouch either. While the characters designs are similar three of the four characters look the same and they all wear bikinis, but there are a lot of great looking moments of volley ball action that I can’t help but praise. I would also like to point out that the volley balls and shuttlecocks are both cg. I find that amusing.
I don’t want to talk about fanservice, but it’s at least worth mentioning. Tall girl in Hanebado needs to wear a sports bra for obvious reasons. Also, there are scenes of the girls in a locker room but the camera doesn’t leer on our females in anyway. The camera is there because it has to be. Harukana Receive is different, because the characters are wearing bikinis to begin with, but the camera focuses on each character’s butts and boobs in a lot of shots. The second show even has scenes when short girl has her face really close to tall girl’s large butt and the tall girl being naked (with a towel on) while short girl is modifying her bikini. Not as bad as it could be though. It is an ecchi show and many shows have shown more. I’m glad that there is more material then fanservice going on in Harukana Receive.
At the moment, I think you all now which show I prefer watching now. Hanebado’s story is more too more liking. Even if it is a sport’s anime, the fact that it’s focused on character drama means it’s speaking my language more. Harukana Receive is more cute girls doing cute things person friendly and that is a language or accent that I don’t understand very well. Still, Hanebado is far from flawless though because it’s juggling more balls in the air. It has a lot more characters and moving pieces in it so I feel like it might get more convoluted over time if the story isn’t written and directed to it’s fullest. Harukana has a smaller cast which means that the four characters are doing what a lot more then four characters do in Hanebado. That means the viewer will know each of them a lot better. That makes it a lot easier to follow and right. Still, the preference between the two is yours. This is just how I see things right now. Maybe I will think differently next week.
See you guys then? Maybe somebody wants to join me?