Novel Adaptation by Nippon Animation and OLM
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Ryou Mizushima enjoys playing badminton and hopes that he can continue playing it in high school with two of his close friends. Following an unsuccessful prefectural tournament, he’s surprisingly scouted by the prestigious Yokohama Minato High School, who offer him an unconditional place at the school on a sports recommendation.
Euri’s verdict: Okay-minton
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for badminton. It was my sport of choice back in school due to it being the only one I was halfway decent at, but I enjoyed it so much that I ended up playing it a lot in my free time too. 2018’s Hanebado! did a lot to satisfy my desire for a badminton show, though I think most of us will agree that it didn’t hit the highs that we thought it would.
Love All Play appears to follow a more typical sports formula than Hanebado! did, at least as far as episode one goes. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the opening episode of Haikyuu!!, albeit with less goofing about.
Honestly, the show played its opening episode so safely that there really isn’t much to say about it. It didn’t wow me, I didn’t hate it, and the only real lasting thought I have about it is that the protagonist’s parents suck. Dad shutting down his son’s completely legitimate entry into a prestigious school just because he had a bad experience back in his day is all kinds of shitty, and Mum didn’t help things either by not shutting it down. Thumbs up to the sister for navigating her parents’ bullshit, but I do question the show’s solution to this situation – that the protagonist will instead gain entry to the school via his academics and not by using the sports recommendation. Getting a spot at a prestigious school because of sports is completely valid, and I’m not sure this is a particularly hot message to be sending to the kids watching this anime.
I’ll give Love All Play a few more episodes at the very least, as I’m quite curious about how the general tone of the show will play out now that we’re beyond the initial setup. It doesn’t appear to be going heavy on the comedy, it doesn’t seem to be a ‘cute boys do sport’ show, and if it plans to go down the high-drama route like Hanebado! did, it hasn’t indicated as such. If this ends up being an honest-to-goodness show about badminton, then sure, why not. Hopefully it can be that show while also keeping the attention of viewers who are not already fans of the sport.