I went into Hanebado fully expecting a run of the mill sports manga that I would enjoy to some extent and throw away the next day just disposable entertainment. What I actually ended up with was a sports manga like no other I had read that had a genuinely intriguing main character the likes of which I had never seen before a great cast of characters and intense badminton battles accentuated by the beautiful artwork of Kosuke Hamada. So lets get on the badminton court and see what makes hanebado work so well. 480https://www.monstersandcritics.com/wpcontent/uploads/2018/09/HanebadoSeason2releasedateHanebadomangacomparedtothebadmintonanimeSpoilers.jpg The Story: The Story centers around Ayano Hanesaki one of the most unique leads I have seen in a sports anime or manga as we see her grow out of her disdain for badminton that she holds at the start of the story because of her past with it and come to once again come to love the sport. What makes this specifically interesting is how I consider Ayano a traditionally overpowered main character but even though she comes across like that on the badminton court she feels like a very vulnerable character when she steps off of it. For Ayano the two have been everlinked Ayano as a person and her as a player on the badminton field so we see that reflected in how Ayano comes to understand what kind of person she wants to be also allows her to decide what kind of badminton player she needs to be. This exploration of Ayano and what it means to be someone overpowered or how it truly affects different people we see reflected in the different players who are made to bear this Burden including the likes of Ayano and Connie. It does have some problems though such as how the pacing can meander sometimes as well as some odd choices such as the existence of Ayanos father who never really does anything other than serve as a background piece for the whole story which struck me as very odd since there were moments that felt like he would do something say something come into action but it never happens and we are just left with a man who has no presence then we get into the bigger of the two problems with Ayanos parents Her Mother Ayanos mother is a controversial figure who is never truly reprimanded for her rash actions such as by the people around her and her inability to really make steps towards making up for those mistakes makes it even worse Even though we see that she does regret these actions and are made to understand her suffering due to these mistakes of hers it really is not enough to make up for it all. The Characters: This is another aspect where the manga truly shines with providing a large cast of believable and likable characters that have their own dynamics with each other. A great example of this is Aragaki Nagisa a character who we spend probably the most time with in the manga outside of Ayano. Nagisa is one of the many people ayano has beat in her past and that defeat weighs heavily on Nagisa we see a focus on Nagisa recovering from that defeat and coming to once again get engaged in the world of badminton and aim for the top. She is a character who has an infectious enthusiasm that is hard to dislike and makes her battles all the more enjoyable to watch She functions as more of an underdog to root for in stark contrast to the genius that is Ayano Hanesaki. Nagisa has her own world and friends circle people she competes with and challenges she has to overcome which altogether provide for a refreshing breakaway. This contrast between the two serves as a great to the advantage of the story and was one of my favorite elements in the manga. The other characters are of course shown to a much lesser extent but still leave a strong impression while theyre there with characters like Ishizawa and Mashiko Rui coming to mind as some I enjoyed the most. The Badminton Matches: The matches themselves can be described with one word: Intense. There is an intensity to the badminton matches that is a rarity to see expressed so well. This is in no small part to the art which I will go into separately brought together with the strong writing the matches feel like a conversation between the two players on the field where they are gradually learning more about each other through how they play and the reader is given this insight with these characters being fleshed out bit by bit in these matches as well. There is no aspect in which I feel these battles lack and if anything is to be considered the highlight of the show It is the matches...with that said there is one badminton match I feel actually does lack and that being the final one. The final confrontation between feels like it loses momentum as a large portion of the match is skipped over while this is acceptable when done in other matches there is really no room for something like this in the final match that is supposed to cap off the manga which is why that bit does leave a bit of a bitter taste since I expected it to go full throttle to bring home one final emotional and high octane roller coaster on the court. The Art: Conveying motion is a very important aspect of sports It is one thing that clearly puts sports anime at an advantage in the discussion as they have much more leeway with being able to properly show that. This aspect is generally what makes me hesitant to pick up sports manga compared to their anime counterparts if they have one. Once the first match started though I was blown away by the jump in the art quality in depicting the battle happening with the art maintaining the strong sense of kinetic motion and fast paced feel that a badminton match is supposed to have to add to that the paneling plays very well into this and accentuates the overall artwork. This especially comes as a surprise as the artwork outside the battles tends to be generally simplistic though not to say that is not appealing. 440https://i.ur.com/7LH0Avn.jpg The Conclusion: Overall Hanebado does have its shortcomings the biggest of which being the handling of Ayanos mother. Even though it does have a final match that falls short the epilogue to the manga that follows feels very satisfactory as it delivers on giving you a final farewell to this cast of great personalities which did somewhat make up for it. With that said I still feel hanebado is a refreshing breeze in the world of sports manga and anime that brings a lot of unique strong points to the table being one of the few sports manga able to capture the sport on the field so well and is worth checking out for anyone interested in the genre. So pick up the racket and enter the court of hanebados engaging story.