Note: Since this title is coming in so much later than the rest of the Winter 2022 Preview Guide, I am making it a separate entry.
Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays
Rating: 4 (of 5)
The title on this one can be a little misleading, as while all of the main cast members are, indeed, salarymen, this is actually a series about badminton – or, more specifically, salarymen who are members of corporate badminton teams and play in competition against teams from other corporations, to the extent that an employee might be recruited specifically for his badminton skills. Not having this in a high school setting puts a somewhat different spin on the the first episode, though the differences only go so far; the structure still feels very much like a typical school-based sports series.
The general story beats are also familiar. A talented player who’s washed out in part due to past trauma gets another chance in a new venue, but is being very standoffish about it, while a gregarious new teammate tries to break through the protagonist’s shell. Naturally the protagonist has to be challenged to a one-on-one match and lose in order to take the chip off his shoulder and be forced to be a team player, and naturally the protagonist is stuck with his new partner much more than he’d like, both in job and badminton settings.
For all that familiar feel, however, the first episode is executed very well. The animation production effort by LIDEN FILMS shines, especially in the very detailed badminton play scenes, and makes effective use of cuts and scene transitions. Other scenes also feel natural, and I appreciated that the character designs for the guys are not just pure bishonen; Miyazumi (the blondish-haired one) is actually quite muscular, and that is certainly emphasized. On the whole, the episode achieves a good balance of lighter and more serious moments, too.
I don’t like sports anime in general, and this is clearly a series aimed at female audiences, but I still have to respect the quality at work here. This is the first title that director Aimi Yamauchi has helmed, and if this episode is an indicator of what she is capable of, then hers could be a name to keep track of down the road.