- "Listen up, Phones. The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons out as far as they'll go."
- — Sanae Hanekoma to Neku
Hanekoma is introduced in the first week as sort of a "rule keeper" and a guardian to the players, though he is very enigmatic at times. In actuality, he is an Angel from the Higher Plane working as the Reapers' Game's Producer who carries out requests for special items by the Composer, and observes the game's events in general. He wrote the Secret Reports, and is involved in many of the "behind the scenes" events of The World Ends with You
Hanekoma is an aged man with black hair slicked up at the front and a cowlick at the back. He wears black sunglasses, although they are lowered to show his eyes, implying he raises them when he needs them. He has a little bit of facial hair. He wears a black vest over a white dress shirt which shows his forearms, a watch on his left wrist, black pants and black sandals.
- "Enjoy every moment with all ya got."
- — Sanae Hanekoma
He is a valuable ally to Neku and his friends, acting like a guardian of the Players, and is always making sure that the game is fair and everyone follows the rules. He is also on good terms with Joshua. According to Hanekoma himself, he was born on March 3, has a blood type of A, is Pisces, a big gambler, and loves the word "windfall," and the word "natto" gets his tummy rumbling.
Hanekoma's personality is laid back and enigmatic. He shows many talents but does not reveal why to most, except perhaps Joshua. He has a tendency to show up wherever the characters are to assist them or drop a clue about their situation. Although he gets a kick out of seeing Neku flustered, Hanekoma often gives Neku the more powerful pieces of advice that Neku reflects upon throughout the game.
In the Secret Reports, Hanekoma reveals himself to be a learned Angel, as part of the investigations and studies the Higher Plane performs. He cares deeply for Shibuya and believes the end justifies the means.
Much of Hanekoma's past is a mystery. It is mentioned he opened up WildKat because he originally loved coffee beans. Hanekoma claims he's known Joshua for a while, saying Joshua could see the UG from the RG.
As CAT, Hanekoma supernaturally imbues his art with imprinting command codes: "enjoy the moment" and "gather". His art acts as a medium for mass imprinting. He does this because the "creation of the future" requires "Imagination".
As Composer, Joshua tries to destroy Shibuya. His Conductor, Megumi Kitaniji, offers a month-long game where he will reform Shibuya to save it. He asks Hanekoma to make him the Red Skull pins as Producer. He begins writing the Secret Reports during this time. Hanekoma teaches Sho Minamimoto how to produce Taboo Noise and the Composer's identity as Joshua in the hopes that Minamimoto would be able to stop the Composer from winning his own game and destroying Shibuya, anticipating that Kitaniji would not be successful.
On Day 2, Hanekoma first appears to protect Shiki Misaki from being erased by Neku. He orders Uzuki Yashiro to walk away and Neku to apologize to Shiki. He teaches them about trusting partners, the Reapers, the UG, and the missions, before giving them a Fusion pin. On Day 3, Neku silently reflects on how he felt charmed by talking to Hanekoma.
On Day 4, Hanekoma confronts Beat after Rhyme is erased. When he tries to fight the Swing Shark on his own, Hanekoma explains Players can only live seven minutes after their partner is erased, leaving Beat with less than three. He tells Beat to think about why Rhyme sacrificed herself before taking him to WildKat, where Beat makes a pact with Rhyme's soul bound to a pin.
At the end of Day 6, Hanekoma decides to go back to WildKat and remarks Beat must be starving - unknown to him, Beat escaped earlier, planning to ask the Reapers how to use Rhyme's pin.
On Day 7, Hanekoma phones Neku to inform him Beat has gone missing. He says he doesn't know why Beat left but urges Neku and Shiki to finish the Game as fast as they can, since he will be defenseless against the Reapers and the Game Master can attack Players on Day 7.
Hanekoma is often calling Joshua during this week, often to give information about routes or schedule the tracker Joshua is using to track Kitaniji's imagination.
On Day 2, the Higher Plane issues an alert for the Fallen Angel who taught Minamimoto the secrets of Taboo Noise. Hanekoma continues to write about the Fallen Angel in his reports, specifically using third person to refer to them and obscuring the fact he is the Fallen Angel.
On Day 3, Joshua tricks Neku into going to Cat Street with him to meet Hanekoma. Hanekoma is displeased to hear Neku is playing the Game again. He modifies Neku's and Joshua's phones to locate energy spikes. He talks to Neku about WildKat, his relationship to Joshua, missions, and the phone tracker. He tells Neku the world ends with him, then shoos him away.
On Day 5, Hanekoma fixes the tracker on Neku and Joshua's phones and installs a camera on Neku's phone.
On Day 7, Joshua flees into the parallel world of Another Day just before Minamimoto's final attack connected, pretending to be erased and sacrificing himself. Hanekoma waits for Joshua to contact him so he can collect him.
Somewhere after Week 2, Day 5, and before Week 3, Day 4, Hanekoma fixed Sho Minamimoto's flawed Taboo Refinery sigil to help revive him. It is implied he did this on Week 3, Day 1 in Secret Report 15, but he does this on the night of Week 3, Day 4 in The Animation, immediately reviving Minamimoto.
On Week 3, Day 4, Beat assumes CAT is the Composer due to the Red Skull pins being a CAT design identical to the Player Pins. Neku doesn't believe it because Hanekoma helped Joshua on his search for the Composer. On Day 5, Neku and Beat investigate Udagawa. Neku takes a photo of the burnt, used sigil and finds Hanekoma drawing on it. They attempt to visit Cat Street but are stopped by berserk Kariya and Uzuki.
Hanekoma locates Joshua in Another Day's parallel world. He understands Minamimoto has probably targeted WildKat and leaves an envelope containing the keypin to the Shibuya River and a note with his motto for Neku and leaves the UG to retrieve Joshua. Neku and Beat find WildKat wrecked by Minamimoto on Day 6. Beat uses Neku's camera and takes a photo of Hanekoma hiding the Shibuya River's keypin.
On Day 7, moments before Neku is apparently killed by Joshua in their stand-off, Neku looks up and sees Hanekoma standing beside Joshua. It is not explained why this is, although it implied Hanekoma may have been watching Neku on the final day and perhaps earlier.
Hanekoma appears with Joshua in the secret ending, observing Neku and his friends meeting up at the Statue of Hachiko from 104 Building's rooftop. When Hanekoma says it's their world and that they get to decide what to do with it, Joshua abruptly leaves in a ball of light. Hanekoma mentions some folks just won't take no for an answer, sprouts angel wings, and follows after Joshua in an orb of light.
Hanekoma arrives in the world of Another Day and contacts Joshua. He makes Joshua promise to meet him at the Shibuya River. Meanwhile, Hanekoma hides in Mark City to avoid being reported as a Fallen Angel by his alternate self. Neku follows him up there and Hanekoma "tests" him with his noise form, Panthera Cantus. This is actually just a red palette swap of Leo Cantus on the bottom screen, and a blue palette swap of Tigris Cantus on the top screen. Before the battle, though, he notes that a Noise symbol is still visible in this world. After Neku's victory, Hanekoma says that the day he might need Neku's help may come sooner than he expects (although whether he is referring to the Neku of the Another Day world or the main game is not made clear, nor is the nature of the help he might need).
In the Another Day chapter, as well, the Hanekoma of the parallel world seems to be searching for the main story's Hanekoma. Once Hanekoma is seen approaching Pork City, WildKat closes. However, if approached after talking to Rhyme in the Tin Pin storyline, he can be found there, where he'll mention a set of Secret Reports. Whether this is his own or the main story's Hanekoma's reports are unknown, but he mentions to never real. While this is the parallel Hanekoma's only appearance, Neku's memories as he climbs Pork City shows he has been acquainted with Hanekoma for a long time but doesn't actually know much about him. Some years before, Hanekoma talked to Neku at the Udagawa mural and invited Neku to his café, and Neku eventually discovered he was CAT.
Hanekoma admits in the Secret Report for Another Day (the last report the player will collect) he is the Fallen Angel who taught Minamimoto how to refine Taboo Noise, believing it necessary to break Angel code to save Shibuya. He hopes that his sins will be seen as justified, then addresses the end of the report to Neku, saying the future he must choose is within him. He calls Joshua, collects him at the Shibuya River, and takes him back to the main story's world.
A New Day
Hanekoma begins writing Addendums to the Secret Reports when he and the Composer notice Shinjuku has been Inverted. He briefly sheds light on the state of Shibuya after the end of The World Ends with You and before A New Day: the rules had been slightly revised but Hanekoma's superiors decided that there was no need for major changes.
In Secret Addendum B, Hanekoma notices Neku and Beat vanished from the RG a few hours ago. Joshua and Hanekoma while uncoordinated investigate a Noise that they realize to be Coco's fake Shibuya. They originally plan to down-tune their vibes, but abandoned their idea as pseudo-parallel worlds are extremely unstable and fragile. Instead, Hanekoma interferes with the Noise from outside using an advanced method of imprinting. The fake "Yoshiya" in Coco's Shibuya still knows Hanekoma, which shock Neku and Beat when he mentions that Hanekoma might know about the Expert Mode Reapers' Game. He offers to call Hanekoma, who recognizes Neku, tells him that he doesn't know much but thinks he can help them if they get to WildKat. At Towa Records, he calls again and speaks about Yoshiya - telling Neku that if he's what Hanekoma thinks he is, he probably doesn't know a thing, but if he's what Neku thinks he is, he probably won't say a thing. He advises Neku to hold onto his memories to help him make sense of his visions.
At WildKat, Hanekoma reveals that the Shibuya Beat and Neku are in is one giant Noise, and a powerful Reaper can create it. He announces Coco made the illusion, and she argues with Hanekoma about how he interfered with her plans and. Hanekoma tells them that if they shut down the source of the Noise it will go back to normal and Coco quite literally kicks him out of the fake Shibuya in a fit of rage.
After Neku and Beat erase the fake Shibuya and Coco kills Neku, Hanekoma discusses the aftermath with Joshua on the rooftop of Pork City. Joshua is apathetic, but Hanekoma believes it to be connected and wants to learn more. He predicts the coming of the Shinjuku Reapers after Shinjuku's inversion when he says "we've got crazy cats coming our way". He later writes about this in the Addendum C, and declares he is determined to find out the repercussions of the Shinjuku Inversion.
The full extent of Hanekoma's abilities as an Angel are not made clear. Some of the reports seem to note that he has powers even equal to, or perhaps greater than, the Composer's. The World Ends with You reveals that he may freely travel between realities (and that all Angels possess this power). He seems to be highly resistant to damage, evidenced by the scene following the Panthera Cantus battle; Neku is out of breath from the intensity of the battle, while Hanekoma seems unfazed. Hanekoma may also freely move between the RG, UG, and Higher Planes, but must tune his frequency accordingly. He possesses knowledge of Taboo Noise sigil refineries and is skilled enough to fine tune them. He also seems to be able to collect the scattered imagination of a Player following their erasure and bind it to a pin; he can produce many different kinds of inventions but may only do so if they are commissioned by the Composer (as was the case with the phone revisions).
A key point that the game makes is that the Producer may not interfere with the outcome of a game. Hanekoma violated this rule several times:
- By gathering Rhyme's imagination into a pin, he (unknowingly) gave Beat and Neku a powerful weapon to use against Konishi in their battle against her. This action also allowed Beat to form a new pact before his seven minute time limit was up, preventing him from being erased and thus changing the winning player count at the end of Week 1.
- Hanekoma provided Sho the knowledge necessary to construct a Taboo Noise refinery sigil. Taboo Noise are not supposed to be part of the game, as they indiscriminately attack Players and Reapers (which should be prevented by the pacts for Players and the fact that Reapers have power over the Noise). For this, Hanekoma was branded a Fallen Angel.
- Hanekoma corrected an error in Sho's Taboo Noise sigil, allowing Sho to be reborn in Week 3 following his erasure at the end of Week 2.
- Hanekoma provided Neku and Beat a keypin that would give them access to the Shibuya River towards the end of Week 3. Ultimately, though, it was never used since Sho destroyed the barrier to reach the River himself.
- "One last thing. To the Composer's pick. Neku Sakuraba... The future you must choose is within you. I am glad to have had the chance to meet you."
- — Hanekoma in the Another Day Secret Report.
Hanekoma is aware from the start of Neku's role as The Composer's proxy. He tries to help him survive the Game. He helps Neku by giving him a harmonizer pin as well as various phone upgrades.
In Another Day, Neku and Hanekoma are both good friends. As Neku says, "He's the only man that I respect." The main storyline Hanekoma knows Neku and "tests his abilities" by using Panthera Cantus. When Neku wins, Hanekoma tells him that the day Neku will help him will be sooner than they think. The Hanekoma from the Tin Pin world is a stranger to all, except for Neku. When found at WildKat, he tells Neku that if he finds any Secret Reports, to never read them. With Hanekoma trusting Neku with such a task, shows a great bond between the two.
In A New Day Hanekoma helps Neku out of Coco's Shibuya by directing him and Beat towards WildKat. He tells Neku to hold onto his memories to separate fact and fiction of his visions, and tells Neku to erase the Dissonance Tapir to get back to normal. Hanekoma is remorseful about ultimately failing to save Neku from Coco's trap.
When Rhyme is erased, Hanekoma takes Beat into the café and keeps him safe from being erased by gathering Rhyme's soul and binding it into a pin. He is concerned for his safety when Beat runs away in Week 1, Day 7. Hanekoma saves Beat from Coco in A New Day.
- "What, me and Josh? I've known him for a while now. He'd swing by when he was bored, and we'd talk. See, he's a little special... Yeah. He sees things. Pretty much. That's how he knew about the Game. He saw Players and Reapers and all when he was still alive. And when he wanted to talk about it, he came to me. There aren't many folks who'd listen, if you know what I mean. In a way, he's been alone all his life. He's pretty aloof, and can get prickly from time to time, but he's not a bad kid."
- — Hanekoma about Joshua and their relationship, Week 2, Day 3
During Week 2, the relationship between Joshua and Mr. Hanekoma begins to become apparent. He even says that Joshua would come to Hanekoma's café and talk to him about the UG. Throughout the course of the week, Hanekoma talks to Neku about Joshua, and Neku comes to realize a bond between the two, while obtaining one with Joshua. Joshua also frequently requests phone upgrades to be given to the Players. In the secret ending, Joshua and Hanekoma watch over Neku, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme and Hanekoma shows surprise at Joshua's desire to join them.
The game states that only the Producer and the Conductor directly communicate with the Composer normally. As such, Mr. H knows Joshua quite well. He seems to be friendly towards Joshua, but the extent of this friendship isn't infinite; when Joshua challenges Kitaniji to a game for the fate of Shibuya, intent on erasing it, Mr. H begins developing a plan to prevent Joshua from doing so by giving Sho knowledge of Taboo Noise (in the hope that if all else fails, Sho will kill Joshua). It is never made clear if Joshua found out about this betrayal in The World Ends with You - in The Animation, Joshua talks about punishing Hanekoma for helping Minamimoto.
The kanji for Hane-koma Sa-nae literally translate to: Feathers, lion-dog, fast, sapling. The syllables contain "neko," the Japanese word for "cat", hinting at his identity of CAT and as an Angel.
- "Ah-ah-ah, sister. You gotta play by the rules. Making "erase your partner" the mission is a clear violation."
- "Then start walkin', sister. Your work's done for the day. Think of me as a sort of... guardian. I watch the Game, to make sure shady types don't start bendin' the rules."
- "Think of me as a sort of...guardian. I watch the Game, to make sure shady types don't start bendin' the rules."
- "If you think you can do everything yourself, you're in for some hard lessons. Now! Apologize to the young lady."
- "There's only one way to stay alive in this Shibuya. Trust your partner! Especially you, Phones. You know what trust is, right? Partnership is essential to surviving the Game. Alone, you face limitations. But partner up, and you can smash right through them."
- "What, me? Pfft... ...... All right. I'll tell you a little. The name's Sanae Hanekoma. Born March 3, blood type A. I'm a Pisces and one hip café barista, mista. I'm a big gambler. My favorite word: "windfall." "Natto" gets my tummy rumbling. As for my physical dimensions,"
- "Drop by my place if you get the chance. I'll give you the best cuppa joe you ever had-- in exchange for cash money, of course."
- "Now listen up. This Shibuya ain't your Shibuya. It's the Composer's Shibuya, which the Reapers use to run the Game. No matter what happens, people won't see you, won't hear you-- and they definitely won't help you. Your partner's the only one who can keep you alive."
- "You mean waste her sacrifice! You're powerless. Accept it! Rhyme left you a precious gift. Your life! A Player can only live for seven minutes after their partner is erased. Which leaves you with less than three. Think about why she saved you."
- "Well, time to get cracking. I just hope they can pull it off. ......Back to the café, I guess. Beat must be starving by now."
- "Yup! I call it "WildKat." Pretty hip, right? Always did love me some beans. I got to be such an addict, I started up my own café."
- "If you're bored, go take a walk with Joshua. You still don't have a mission, right? It'd be a waste to just sit around all day."
- "You still got a long way to go, Phones. Knowing it in your head doesn't mean much if you don't act on it."
- "Just a little errand. Shop's closed for today. Later, boys. 2-3, 2-3..."
- "Staying alive in this Shibuya boils down to one simple trick: Enjoy the moment with all your might... whether it's gloomy, whether it's bright!"
- "You know... This mess is gonna have repercussions upstairs. But hey, at least things are back to normal, right? What? You seem down! Hey, it's their world. They get to decide what to do with it. Just..."
- "Some folks just don't take no for an answer."
- "Some reports I've written. Just some passing thoughts. Tying up loose ends, that sorta thing. I can't for the life of me remember where I put 'em. Definitely. Ugh, this is a fine mess. Thanks, Neku. Just swear you'll never, ever read them. Ever. Forever."
- "Heyyy, Phones! Oh, right. Sorry, wrong you."
- "I've had my eye on you for a while now... But the other you's in the middle of the Game. And even though you're right there in the UG... I can't exactly interfere... even if it's just to test you a bit. ... But this you is fair game. Let's have a look at what you can do. "
- "Open up your world!"
- "Enjoy the moment!"
- "The world ends at your horizons."
- "Don't let limits slow you."
- "A kind café owner with one eye on his shop and the other on the Reapers. Offers words of advice to Neku and the gang."
- — Hanekoma's description in The Animation's official website
Hanekoma appears in the first episode to stop Shiki from being killed by a possessed Neku. Like the game, he challenges Uzuki about not following the rules of the game. He implores the Players to work together to survive. However, immediately after, the Players are shifted to the next day.
Hanekoma appears again on the sixth day (using the events of Week 1, Day 4 in the game) and restrains Beat when he tries to fight the Swing Shark on his own. He says that Players can only live seven minutes after their partner's erasure and he should come with him to not waste Rhyme's sacrifice. Hanekoma and Beat walk away as Neku and Shiki defeat the shark. Hanekoma calls on Day 7 to tell Neku Beat ran away and orders them to end the Game as soon as they can to keep Beat safe, and tells Neku and Shiki not to die on him. Neku asks why Hanekoma is so concerned, and Hanekoma cryptically answers that they'll know someday and promptly hangs up.
In CAT, Joshua tricks Neku into going to WildKat on their third day. It's revealed Hanekoma runs WildKat Café. He is surprised to see Neku playing the Game again, and asks if Shiki came back to life. He tells Neku not to cry over spilled milk when he says Shiki was made his entry fee. He serves Joshua and Neku coffee, and installs the tracker and camera on their phones. He advises Neku to enjoy every moment with all he has, shocking Neku and reminding him of CAT. Hanekoma says to Neku the world ends with him, and he has to expand his horizons and change his world. Joshua asks what if parts of him change that shouldn't: Hanekoma says he believes in possibilities.
On the fifth day, Hanekoma fixes Joshua's phone. Later, Neku notices a new CAT graffiti and Joshua mentions that CAT has a café that Neku's been to several times, and CAT is Hanekoma. Neku is enthusiastic and excited by the fact he's talked to CAT before, then gets worried if he was rude to Hanekoma. He realizes he tried to tell CAT about CAT and screams out in the streets about how rude he is.
In Emergency Call, Beat reveals the Noise on his shoulder is Rhyme's soul and explains when Hanekoma took him in the first week, he picked up the pieces of Rhyme's soul and turned her into a Noise to save her. Hanekoma also explained to Beat that only the Composer can return her to her human form and he can become the Composer by defeating the current one.
In Rhyme and Beat, Beat points out that almost all of the empty-headed passerbys are wearing Red Skull pins, which are CAT-designed and with the same design as the Player Pins, which prevent the wielder from being scanned. He concludes that CAT had to have designed the Player Pins - Neku remembers Joshua telling him that Player Pins are designed and controlled by the Composer. Neku thinks CAT couldn't be the Composer if Hanekoma, CAT, was helping Joshua look for the Composer. At the end of the episode, Hanekoma looks at Minamimoto's Taboo Refinery sigil at Udagawa and remarks the fundamentals are no good, then fixes it. He says only God knows what will come next as a Taboo Minamimoto rises up from the sigil, roars, and flies away.
In The Countless Wrongs of Our Day, Beat again declares CAT is the Composer because the Red Skull pins possessing Shibuya are CAT designs. Neku denies it, citing that Hanekoma helped Joshua look for the Composer and the state of Shibuya is against CAT's teachings. At Udagawa, Neku takes a photo of the Taboo Refinery sigil with his phone camera and sees Hanekoma was at it before. They go to Cat Street and find WildKat destroyed. Beat takes a photo with Neku's special camera and sees Hanekoma hid something in WildKat, an envelope with a red Anguis stamp containing the Shibuya River keypin and a note saying to enjoy the moment and instructions to defeat Konishi. Neku wonders why Hanekoma didn't give the keypin to Joshua when he was searching for the Shibuya River. Later in the episode as they confront Minamimoto he thanks Hanekoma for resurrecting him and asks Neku and Beat if they know where he is. When they say no, Minamimoto attacks.
The corridor past the Room of Reckoning's door is covered in CAT graffiti. Hanekoma's final appearance in the anime is the final episode, It's a Wonderful World, summarizing the information the Secret Reports had in a conversation with Joshua on the roof of 104. Joshua guesses Hanekoma told Minamimoto his identity as Composer because Hanekoma wanted to preserve Shibuya. Hanekoma explains he made the Red Skull pins for Kitaniji to imprint his will onto the people. Joshua points out a flaw was that it could only imprint on humans who wore it, and Hanekoma says he painted graffiti over Shibuya because it isn't limited to a select few and let him imprint "Enjoy every moment with all you've got" onto everyone who comes in contact with it. Joshua asks Hanekoma why he tampered with Minamimoto's Refinery. Hanekoma says he could be one way for Shibuya to survive if Kitaniji lost, and he's prepared to fall from grace for it. When Joshua leaves in a ball of light, Hanekoma sprouts angel wings and flies off with him.
- Hanekoma was only born on March 3 in the international version of the game. In the Japanese version, he was born on March 4.
- It is believed CAT might also be influenced by the real-life graffiti artist Banksy as that their art is famous, but they try to keep their identity a secret.
- In the English version, Hanekoma tells Neku to apologize to Shiki because hard feelings don't make for good teamwork. However, in the Japanese version, he mentions it's because negative emotions can quietly fester and become worse.
- Though it may seem that he is the source of Neku's nickname, "Phones," the one who first called him that nickname was Beat, when these players meet at the beginning of Shiki's week in Day 2.
|Characters in The World Ends with You|