Haikyuu Season 2 Series Review

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Overview:

Right, so if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t already been told the story of Haikyuu a million times (followed emphatically by people telling you to watch it immediately), it’s the story of two guys who initially hate each other who end up on the same volleyball team. Or at least that’s where season 1 started (thoughts on season 1 here) but by season 2 it really is all about the team and getting to the nationals by going through a really long preliminary tournament. I’ve been posting episodic reviews of this weekly (2 episodes at a time) for a while now so if you are interested in individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

For those who have been following the blog for a while you will know I am not a sports anime fan. I never used to watch anything that had a sports anime label on it. However, I’ve now tried a very small handful of these titles of currently streaming anime and decided they weren’t all that bad and so, because of the very vocal fan base, decided if I was going to go back and look at sports anime that I had missed Haikyuu would be a pretty good place to start. Then I thoroughly enjoyed my watch through of season 1 and so plunged straight into season 2. So how did it go?

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I found season 2 a bit more of a chore to get through than season 1, to be honest. While I liked learning about the characters in season 1 and watching them get through their various personality disorders to become a team, season 2 was either more of the same or frequently a watered down version of it because they were already pretty friendly.  That said, season 2 did manage some truly amazing character moments for some of the support cast that got overlooked in season 1, and those moments were truly worth watching for.

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Actually, my biggest issue with season 2 is the amount of training games at the camp. These games are practice and while the players treat them like they are life or death, there’s no real consequence for loss other than sprinting up a hill or some other penalty game so there is nothing riding on their victory. Haikyuu shines at its brightest when they take the court, but a lot of those training games really did feel like someone had asked me to watch a real sports tournament and to be honest I don’t watch most sport for a reason.

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So basically, by the midway point of season 2 I was kind of getting a little fatigued with the show and kind of figured that it was to be expected given I’m not a fan of sports anime and the fact that I’d been entertained during an entire first season was pretty good.

Then we started the actual tournament.

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This show really ramped up the action and tension in that final stretch. Throw great pacing, good dialogue, character development, and well animated games all together and the last part of this season is really quite a joy to watch again. You kind of forget those episodes in the mid-season where you started wondering why you were still watching (although when I went back and re-read my reviews of them it all came flooding back).

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The real highlights of season 2 are the opening song used in the second half (that is all kinds of awesome), the actual injury incurred by the captain, every character on the team (or at least all the ones that are ever regularly on the court) getting significant moments in the games, and the effort put into giving the opponents actual personalities given they only really exist for the duration of a game. Yamaguchi and Tsukishima kind of steal the show for a lot of the time right out from under Hinata and Kageyama, though those two also get a few moments (nowhere near as many in season 1). Also the third years get a lot of screen time and the new female assistant manager all make their presence felt. With that many characters it is amazing that it never feels cluttered but each kind of has their moment and then fades back into the team as someone else steps up.

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Which leaves me torn as to my final recommendation on this. It is a necessary follow up to season 1 and ultimately is entertaining, though I’m really thankful season 3 already exists because talk about non-conclusive. While I personally became a little disengaged mid-way along I never really considered dropping it because I did like the characters and I wanted to see where their journey would take them. I don’t think I’ll watch this show a second time, but I’m really glad I finally watched it through and I will be going on to season 3 to finish it off.


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Haikyuu Episode 46 + 47

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Review Episode 46:

While the first set may have been satisfying but not thrilling, the writers shake things up again with the new player on the Aoba side. He’s a wild card for both Karasuno and the audience and his playing style is kind of intense (if a little erratic).

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It kind of looks like this second set is lost, but who knows. This show has managed to surprise me with an outcome more than once so anything could happen in the next episode. My only concern is that Hinata seems to have just vanished into the team at this point doing little to stand out and that’s probably the first time this whole show where I can honestly say I don’t remember what Hinata did during an entire episode.

Review Episode 47:

Second set was a loss but I don’t think anyone cares. Go Yamaguchi. Seriously a great character moment.

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Hinata has kind of become a cheerleader for the time being and still isn’t doing much but Yamaguchi more than made up for it. And now of course we’re heading straight into a third set so I guess we’re meant to feel really tense. Mostly I just kind of enjoyed watching and I don’t really have a lot of care about who is going to win (horrible I know). Let’s see what happens next.


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Haikyuu Episodes 32 + 33

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Review Episode 32:

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.

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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).

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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.


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Haikyuu Episodes 22 + 23

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Review Episode 22:

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.

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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:

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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.

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I’m not sure now whether they are going to win or lose. My bet is still on lose but what do I know?

Haikyuu is available on AnimeLab.


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