Love All Play

Title:Love All Play
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - OLM
HANAE Natsuki
Ryo Mizushima is a badminton player of modest quality. He admires star player Yusa Kento of Yokohama Minato high school, and dreams of enrolling and playing there once he completes middle school, but he doubts that would ever happen. Then, out of the blue, he is offered a 'Sports Recommendation'--a sort of athletic scholarship--to that school.

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OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Stretch [series:4457#628]
(22 episodes watched):

Another anime about badminton? That was one of the first thoughts to occur to me as I began watching episode one of Love All Play. I had been a little surprised that this lesser known sport had gotten even one, Ryman's Club, last season. Had work already begun on this show before the makers realized that another anime about Badminton was going to beat them to the market? Nevertheless, I continued watching and soon got the impression that maybe this show would be justified because it might just be better than Ryman's Club. Episode one is about Ryo's agonizations over whether to accept the Sports Recommendation that is offered to him. He's torn between loyalty to his friends (who introduced him to the sport in the first place), his father's discouragement, and doubts about his own skill, and this chance-of-a-lifetime. I thought this built up a credible personality for him; I feel I know him fairly well, and thus can care how he does. It was sort of neat that it was his older sister who urged him to go for it. Ultimately he makes up his mind (and makes a deal with his parents) but this is not a guy who is unrealistically 100% self-confident and ambitious. Basically, he feels like I would feel if I were considering taking a major risk. So, I am encouraged by episode one of this show. There seems to be something funny about Yusa Kento, who may not be the magnanimous hero that Ryo had pictured.

I think this show is doing a credible job of creating likable characters and being realistic enough to be interesting. We get to know this group of five new candidates for this well-known team, and know them well enough to like them. I had sort of feared that largely leaving Ryo's friends from episode one behind and switching to a new cast might be a mistake, but the makers seem to know what they are doing. Yusa, it turns out, is actually kind of a dick, but no doubt he will come around. There's the usual black haired mysterious guy who is remarkably good at the sport. The brawny guy comes right out and proposes that Ryo pair up with him and they play doubles. This was an unexpected but not impossible turn, and therefore kind of intriguing. In episode three a number of new students join the club, but most were not expecting the merciless training regimen that the coach has imposed in order to hopefully win a championship (one of these days, somebody ought to make an anime about one of the countless losing teams in these competitions). Again, this seems like a fairly realistic and interesting sports anime. One helpful touch is that name tags are still being included to help us keep track of who's who; usually those only appear once in the episode where a new character is introduced.

If I were to summarize this show, I think I would describe it as a professionally made sports anime which, while not nail-biting exciting, knows what it is doing and delivers an entertaining product. Keeping the characters interesting and likable is evidence of that--like the glasses wearing guy who will clearly never be a champion but keeps playing out of sheer love of the game. In a way, I admire him most of all. Anyway, the team goes to an inter-school tournament and, contrary to what one would expect, protagonist Ryo is quickly eliminated and can only cheer on his teammates from the bleachers. Again, this show isn't putting all of its eggs in one basket, that is, some effort is being made to develop the other characters.

The question comes up of why Yusa chose to attend Yokohama Minato. While good, it is not the school that is generally considered the best at badminton. In episode seven Ryo gets a surprizing answer which links himself to the decision. He is demoralized when he misses a competition due to a cold and wonders whether he is more of an asset or a liability to the team. This could have been more convincing but it could have been less as well. In general, this show does not thrill me but it seems worth watching. In episode nine Yusa realizes the connection between the girl he adores and Ryo, which infuriates him and made me LOL. I had thought he was already well aware of the relationship, which, come to think of it, might be why I found this scene so funny. At this point it was seeming increasingly impossible for this story to wrap up in a mere one season and the only question was whether season two would be shown immediately.

In episode 19 we finally get a definitive answer as to why Yusa chose to attend Yokohama Minato. My interest in this show was flagging in the second half. Players experience setbacks and loss of confidence, but they pretty quickly find convenient answers and are back to full speed. What is Ryo's goal again? To beat Yusa at least once? I forget. While this show started out with interesting characters they don't seem to have gotten any more interesting for a good while. When I made this entry after watching episode 19, I noticed that my last one had been after episode 10. It sort of felt like the story here was only deep enough for a one-season series, not two. As the end approached it was seeming like a pretty generic sports anime rather than the better than average one it had seemed early on.

Last updated Saturday, September 24 2022. Created Wednesday, April 06 2022.

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