Kageyama and Hinata still aren’t getting their attack working properly and early in the episode this is a source of tension before once again they both reflect, train harder, and get enthused. I do have to say that this pattern is becoming just a little predictable (not that we’ve seen them succeed yet but I’m guessing that’s coming).
All the players are a bit worn out but the inspiration of a barbecue is enough to get them all ready for the final game of the training camp.
While this episode works and is kind of needed as part of the ongoing progression, it was kind of just there. Nothing really stood out or was overly interesting about it. Onwards to the next one.
Review Episode 35:
There’s quite a lot of celebrations going on this episode, at least early on, as both teams show what they are capable of.
However, things go downhill for the opponent with their ace having a little bit of an emotional crisis as we near the end of the game.
This actually was a fairly satisfying episode to watch given all of the training is starting to come together. They aren’t perfect and there are still small missteps, but you can see that everything is starting to come together (pre-Hand Shakers I might have said things were starting to mesh). However, I think I’m starting to get fatigued with this show. I’m not much for sport in the first place and its all starting to feel samey even though it is nice seeing the players hard work rewarded. I’m not thinking of dropping this but I’m definitely starting to enjoy it that little bit less.
To continue with the egg anology from earlier, I think the team has turned into scrambled eggs rather than an omelet. There’s a lot of focus on their evolution but they’ve yet to actually get it together as a team.
Though, this episode also sees Tsukishima get a lot of focus, mostly because he’s about the only one on the team not expending large amounts of energy running around and trying to collapse from exhaustion. I get from a team point of view Tsukishima’s attitude might be frustrating but to be honest he seems like the only sensible person on the team. He plays, he trains, he rests. Just because he isn’t killing himself doesn’t seem like reason enough to get annoyed at him (though then you have to compare him to the rest of the team dynamic).
Review Episode 33:
The focus on Tsukishima continues as we get angsty backstory. I don’t know why every character with an attitude problem has some terrible childhood realisation or disappointment (some people just have bad personalities, but apparently that isn’t possible in anime).
Anyway, props to Yamaguchi this episode for finally just confronting Tsukishima rather than letting the problem for the team linger. They still aren’t winning anything but they are getting closer.
Hinata’s lost the plot a little bit this episode. Admittedly, his frustration is understandable but his approach is really wrong and all its done by the end of the episode is pretty much upset everyone on the team. Of course, I’m guessing the phrase ‘you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs’ is applicable in this situation and this is the egg breaking phase. And as the other team members say, it isn’t the first time Hinata and Kageyama have fought so let’s just assume they’ll get over it and move on to the next episode.
Review Episode 31:
Well here’s an anomaly. The team spend most of this episode fragmented though all independently working toward the same goal. While training montages are great and the individual achievements of players were great to see, I have to wonder what the team’s cohesion is going to be like when they take the court again given we essentially haven’t seen them together since the fight. I still can’t really believe Kageyama asked for advice and I’m kind of impressed he listened to it, but we still haven’t seen him and Hinata on the court together to see if any progress has been made.
Hinata just really wants to play volleyball but his middle-school doesn’t have a functioning male team so despite his efforts he only plays one game. Now at high school, he is determined to be on the team and to stay on the court. However, on day one of joining the team, he encounters Kageyama, an opponent from the one game he played and someone Hinata considers a rival. How will the two of them learn to play together?
Review (with spoilers):
I honestly did enjoy this series more than I expected I would and by around episode 15 or 16 I was very much caught up in this team’s journey as they tried to secure a place in the nationals. But when it comes to reviewing this series I am kind of torn about where it stands. It hasn’t exactly blown me away and made me want to do an instant rewatch (and to be honest I’m not sure when if ever I will rewatch this first season). At the same time I was fairly keen to jump straight into season 2 because this show had really built some momentum by the end of season 1. So with my thoughts a bit confused I am going to go with a plus/minus approach to the review.
It’s a sports anime that makes the sport exciting. I don’t say that lightly. I hate watching sport. The only sports I have ever actively sought out to watch on TV are figure skating and gymnastics (because they are pretty). And unlike a lot of other sports, I’ve barely played volleyball and found it to be a fairly dull sport (mostly because I stank at it and really don’t like sports where people pelt balls at you). So when I say that this show makes volleyball look fun and inviting as well as fairly complex with actual strategies, know that this show had to work hard to get me to shift my view on this sport. The games are undeniably the best part of watching the show, though that’s only because they link the games so intensely with character development. Just watching a sport by itself, no matter how well animated, would never interest me. But watching characters evolve from one serve to the next as they learn from experiences and from others around them and watching them continually re-evaluate their situation and try to progress is really fun and it is where Haikyuu absolutely nailed its execution.
While I’ll be more specific about particular points later on, literally everything off the court was weaker than the games. The pace of episodes stagnated when they weren’t being pushed forward by the next ball and the characters were never as alive or as interesting when they were off the court. The write up on AnimeLab about this anime actually describes it as a slice-of-life sports anime and that’s probably the best genre description for it. But the slice-of-life aspects aren’t particularly strong. They aren’t terrible or unwatchable or dull (and I’ve certainly described other slice-of-life anime with those words) but compared to the sports side of this anime they don’t hold their weight. It makes the viewing experience a little unbalanced.
The support cast are fantastic. While a lot of the attention, particularly early in the anime, is on Hinata and Kageyama, the other characters slowly but surely make their presence felt and each of them contribute something fairly invaluable to both the team and the viewing experience. I really like Tsukishima for his sarcasm and cynical attitude but Sugawara all the way through manages to be that quiet supporter and just when they need him the most he really delivers. The opponents are also for the most part well characterised. Probably my biggest complaint their would go to Oikawa from the final game. Given how much screen time he had, including flash-backs, he still didn’t really become anything more than a prop. Just another opponent there to push the team forward. Still, with such a large cast of characters, plus coaches, opponents, and spectators, this show has done a marvellous job with the vast majority.
Hinata is just not that interesting. When the story focusses on Hinata himself, you are forced to realise that underneath peppy energy and an absolutely fierce desire to improve and to win, there’s almost nothing else of substance. When every other character, even the ones who initial seem one-note, are delivering fairly nuanced performances, having a protagonist of sorts who is mostly just a standard cut out shonen protagonist (only playing volleyball and not waving a sword around) kind of lets things down from time to time. Hinata gets more interesting when he’s observing others, but when the focus is him it all just feels pretty basic. Of course, we do get to enjoy some Hinata speak where he kind of mangles onomatopoeia into his descriptions of game play. It’s amusing enough but after awhile you have to start wondering just how old he is meant to sound.
While early on we had the win that really shouldn’t have happened given how inexperienced the team was, this show didn’t pull a last minute reprieve and victory just to end the season on a high note. Yet it also didn’t depress the viewer (though the characters are another story). It gave us some incredible character growth and something to look forward to, so I was pretty satisfied with that loss as I felt any other ending to the tournament would probably have just felt like plot armour anyway.
This one is probably petty and is definitely totally subjective, but I really didn’t think much of the soundtrack. It works well enough but it is also pretty forgettable. Given how exciting some moments are and how dramatic the games get, it feels like we could have had something really memorable and amazing and instead we kind of got generic, this will do, kind of music. As I said, it is a petty complaint given there is nothing actually wrong with the music, but I’d struggle the day after an episode to even remember what the OP sounded like let alone any particular music from an episode.
I’m actually really glad I tried this (it had certainly been recommended to me enough). Again, I’m not certain what rewatch value this will have long term because honestly it feels like once I’ve gone through this journey with the characters that will be enough. But for an anime that combines two genres I’m not made-keen on it is an impressive and highly entertaining watch.
I know there are a lot of Haikyuu fans out there (and thanks for following my very late watch of this series). Let me know your favourite moments or characters or why you love this show. Or, if you didn’t like it, I’d love to know what didn’t work for you.
Hey look, we didn’t belabor the whole new manager has issues thing and just kind of dealt with it head on in the next episode. That was kind of a novel experience when watching anime. That said, it also didn’t feel like they just brushed it under the rug. It actually felt like it was given the attention it needed and now we’re moving forward.
And I have to admit, the poster she made is pretty impressive. Then again, Hinata’s jump has always been visually impressive. The only lingering issue is that they handed the exams back but didn’t tell us the results. Okay, on to the next episode to find out.
Review Episode 29:
That was kind of cheating. Hinata and Kageyama both failed an exam but still got to go (admittedly late). It kind of takes some of the tension about passing in order to go away. Though I guess the mode of transport was problematic.
At the end of the day they are back playing and while they are playing well, as Hinata’s figured out they aren’t getting much better. I wonder what the next revelation will be to change their game play.
I wondered how the transition between season 1 and 2 of this show would be handled and the answer was, they just kept going. Okay, we lost that now let’s train, train, train for the next thing. That isn’t a criticism. It actually was kind of nice to seamlessly move on with the story with just one slow motion flash back and voice over at the start to set the scene (though I have to wonder if there had been a gap in watching whether that would have been sufficient to get back into it).
Hinata actually had a vaguely cool moment this episode. What I like the most though is that we’ve instantly been given a new target and direction for the series. There’s no floundering or awkward filler. Just straight from that one tournament that ended in failure to the next opportunity.
Review Episode 27:
This episode spends most of its time on studying and unsurprisingly Hinata is an idiot (though turns out Kageyama isn’t any better). We also introduce a new manager (or a trainee I guess given the old manager hasn’t left yet) and she seems like she’ll be interesting I just kind of hope she stops cringing every single time one of the guys looks at her because that will get old fast.
I found Hinata’s attitude to studying a little depressing but not unexpected and at least he is putting in the effort (even if it is only so he can play more sport). For a non-volleyball focussed episode, this one was still reasonably entertaining and I’m looking forward to their practice match next episode.
I guess episode 24 answers the question of how long can you stretch a game.
There were some very nice and dramatic slow motion scenes of players returning the ball but not a lot else happens this episode other than the final ball dropping and then seeing how these players deal with loss. It is the realistic outcome and it doesn’t feel cheap. It really feels like they learned a lot from the game and while they are quite broken immediately after it really looks like they’ll bounce back, particularly as there is another full season and then a shorter third season. Anyway, my only question left of this season is what happens in the final episode?
Review Episode 25:
I’m going to say that was a fairly unsatisfying episode and if I’d watched this when it originally aired I’d be annoyed. We see characters mope, pick themselves up, set a new target. Only it was the last episode of a season so if the second season didn’t already exist it would just be a hanging ending.
I’ve said it before, but Haikyuu is actually weaker when they aren’t playing volleyball. The characters are all interesting enough, it isn’t as though it is boring watching them, but without the intensity of the game it is just kind of so-so. Good enough and you have enough emotional attachment to see the episode through. But if they did a string of these episodes, you would start wondering whether this show really could hold its own without the competitive atmosphere in the games. Then again, it is a sports anime so it’s probably good the show is more interesting when they are playing sport.
I’ll be reviewing season 1 of this soon and I’ll also be continuing on to the second season.
I’m really thinking these people are taking Volleyball just a touch too seriously (though I guess that is how you get good at things and I probably take other things just as seriously – I just can’t see the point of hitting a ball over a net). Still, the amount of angst some of these characters have is kind of astounding for a high school sports competition. And of course we visit flash-back land to see just why the Blue Castle setter has it in for Kageyama and maybe that was supposed to make us slightly care about his character, but I just can’t see him as anything other than an obstacle creating an opportunity for Karasuno to learn and grow. At this point I can’t see them winning but stranger things have happened.
It is kind of wonderful to see the change in Kageyama as he retakes the court. Hinata is obviously able to work better with him and once Kageyama and Tsukushima start actually communicating (badly, but communicating) the whole team really is working well. They finally finished the second set and now we get to watch a third.
Review Episode 23:
See what I mean about them all taking this game too seriously? Still it was nice to see Yamaguchi take the court even if it was only for a serve. Still, it would really suck to be the other players standing on the sidelines when every first year has been on and they haven’t. Anyway, they are really drawing things out now but it doesn’t feel slow.
I’m not sure now whether they are going to win or lose. My bet is still on lose but what do I know?
This episode is fairly tense. The game is every bit as hard as expected and while most of the characters keep trying to bring their spirits back up, Kageyama seems to hit a wall. Not surprising really for a perfectionist, control-freak to berate himself for what he perceives as poor performance, but not particularly helpful. Then of course the episode ends before the end of the first set (yep, whole episode and the first set isn’t over) and Kageyama is getting subbed out. I wonder how he’s going to react to that.
Review Episode 21:
Apparently Kageyama has grown a bit since we first met him. He actually takes being subbed fairly well and uses the time to calm himself and study the game. Sugawara is the stand out of the episode. He’s always been quiet with good advice for his team mates but seeing him bring them all back into the game was kind of fun and created a very different mood on court to what we’ve seen so far.
And we didn’t finish the second set but Kageyama has just taken the court. Wow, they are making this game take awhile, but I can’t help but thinking that rushing it would have been a bad idea.
Episode 18 is what I would normally hate from a sport anime and yet I found it incredibly charming. We spend the whole episode finishing the game but the comments from the stands, the individual character moments, and just the emotion in the game kept the whole thing driving forward and it didn’t feel like it was getting bogged down.
I also liked that while Hinata and Kageyama are doing their thing, the other characters are most definitely holding their weight because otherwise the two person attack would have come to an abrupt end. Asahi in particular got some nice moments this episode.
Still, Hinata speak is definitely here to stay. I very much appreciated Tsukishima’s comment that he should speak Japanese after this dialogue.
Review Episode 19:
There was a lot of set up before we got to this game and a lot of bravado and discussion about who would win. It’s all kind of a bit petty but at the same time necessary as a transition from the last game and into the next.
Still, once the game starts its pretty impressive and of course ended at the worst moment given I desperately wanted to just click play on the next episode. We did learn convincingly that Kageyama hates to lose and really isn’t above throwing an opponents words back in their face.
This was kind of interesting because while Kageyama has been playing well over the last few episodes, his dialogue has been pretty minimal so it was good to see him have a bit of personality again.
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