Welcome back to Otaku Thursday everyone! Hope you all have been enjoying our First Impressions this season because we have been enjoying this season’s anime so far. Out of everything we started this season, we have only dropped a single anime so far. Because everything else we started was really good. And that’s why today we’re going to talk about one of the best, if not my favorite anime so far of the season: Ryman’s Club.
Ryman’s Club started a little later in the season so where most anime have at least hit the halfway point, Ryman’s Club is still only on episode four. Now, Ryman’s Club was something I thought would only be kind of good. It was honestly 50/50 if this was going to be a hit or if it was going to be a complete and utter flop. See, with most sports drama anime, it’s either really good or really not. Seeing as this promised a show about adult men playing badminton–it really could have gone either way. I personally had been hoping it’d be really good…and so far it actually is. While the beginning of the show seems fairly bland, it weirdly does a good job of drawing us in.
So, the main dude, Mikoto, is starting a new job and is getting dragged into what appears to be a work badminton group. At first he is hesitant to join, but his charismatic co-worker Tatsuru is very persistent at getting him to join and we find out that’s because Mikoto was badminton prodigy who has the gift of ‘foresight’ when he was in high school. At this point, the anime was pretty typical and honestly the best part were the actual characters. Mikoto was the cool and almost emotionless type, Tatsuru was the cheery but wisdom filled older co-worker, the other co-workers/badminton players didn’t particuarly leave any negative impact–so like, I wasn’t mad at the characters by the end of the episode. I was really just looking forward to getting to know each of them–y’know, if this was going to be a sports anime that let us get to know them more.
The real thing that got my attention though–was the trauma. And no. I did not spell drama incorrectly. As part of his ploy to get Mikoto to join the team, Tatsuru asks him to play a duo match to see whether or not he’ll join. During the match, Mikoto shows hesitancy in a moment–it’s quick, but we see someone injured. And then Mikoto is essentially crippled by his own trauma–unable to move when needed. But Tatsuru is there for him. He reassures him that no matter what, he’ll make sure to get everything Mikoto can’t. That inkling of trauma. The moment where Mikoto is frozen and can’t use his ‘foresight’ skill. The way that Tatsuru reassured Mikoto during the match so simply. I was like–yes. This is going to be a great drama. I couldn’t wait to see as it unraveled more and we got to see more of what happened in that moment that made Mikoto hurt.
As we watched more episodes, I began to really enjoy the dynamic between the main two characters. And the more we found out about Mikoto’s past experiences playing doubles, the more invested I became–even if we only got small moments. It was easy to understand. His duo partner got hurt and it was his fault. While I started to get afraid his drama would end too soon, it’s definitely been carrying through to affect him during matches. I think it’l be a journey for him to fully recover and rely on Tatsuru. I also really like that other characters are getting their own dramatic moments. In episode four we got to see one character who was overwhelmed by lots of sound during a match and it added to an already tense match. I really hope we get to see more about other characters like this.
I will also say that the drama and slice-of-life like parts don’t get in the way of the overall sport. While it’s not as sport heavy as other sports anime like Haikyuu, it definitely showcases it without drawing out the badminton matches. In a way this very much gives me Hoshiai no Sora vibes. And I loved Hoshiai no Sora.
Anyway, I definitely think that this show is worth watching. So far it has been really delightful and much better than anticipated. Plus it’s also refreshing to see a sports anime that not only is about badminton but also about adults and not high school or college age protagonists. And I could just be thinking that because now they’re closer to our age group, but I really do appreciate the change. Plus overall the show has a nice mix of sport and drama and lightheartedness. The music is good, the animation is pretty decent, and it has me hooked at only episode four. I hope that it continues this momentum as it progresses. It could very well be my best of season.