Following their participation at the Inter-High, the Karasuno High School volleyball team attempts to refocus their efforts, aiming to conquer the Spring tournament instead. When they receive an invitation from long-standing rival Nekoma High, Karasuno agrees to take part in a large training camp alongside many notable volleyball teams in Tokyo and even some national level players. By playing with some of the toughest teams in Japan, they hope not only to sharpen their skills, but also come up with new attacks that would strengthen them. Moreover, Hinata and Kageyama attempt to devise a more powerful weapon, one that could possibly break the sturdiest of blocks. Facing what may be their last chance at victory before the senior players graduate, the members of Karasuno's volleyball team must learn to settle their differences and train harder than ever if they hope to overcome formidable opponents old and new—including their archrival Aoba Jousai and its world-class setter Tooru Oikawa. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Hello everyone, it’s your family friendly, volleyball playing, review writing member of the MAL community here, bringing you what is known as a “review”. I hope I can do the series proper justice and be fair to the quality of the show while also conveying the series from the perspective of someone who is passionate about the sport. This review is going to be pretty unconventional and non-structured, so I’m sorry about that, do your best to follow along with my style of reviewing.
To start, I want to say that Haikyuu is not a complex show. This isn’t necessarily bad, but if you’re going in expecting sophistication and subtle themes to be brought up in a thought-provoking manner, you’re not going to get it. If you’ve watched season 1, you generally have a pretty good idea about what you’re getting into, but if you haven’t (not sure why you’d be reading this if you haven’t lol), don’t expect anything more than a really good shounen. Not an FMA or HxH type shounen, but still great nonetheless.
One of the main problems I had with the first season and in my review after the show had begun airing, was how basic it was. The moves they were doing weren’t that significant if you’ve ever played volleyball, and nothing was very noteworthy or impressive, yet they were treated as such. This seriously put me off at first and I couldn’t get over it. Now, however, I’ve come to tolerate it much more than I did before, so I won’t get into all of the technicalities I had previously listed out because I simply don’t care anymore. Well, except one that needs to be brought up. The whole “Kageyama putting crazy spin on the ball so that its momentum stops and Hinata hits it” is illegal. A set ball is not legally allowed to get more than about 3 rotations. Anything more than that and you’ll get called on a double. I’m not even going to bring the stretching of physics into it, but it shouldn’t matter. The set has no practicality and is completely illegal. I don’t know why this was included and it does bother me a bit, but if you didn’t know it was illegal, it probably didn’t bother you at all, so this is mainly a personal gripe.
Throughout the middle part of this show, I began to get a little bored. There were a lot of matches that started to blend together and I was craving for something to change. I was even considering dropping my score to an 8 because of it. This is probably only a problem if you were watching it as it’s airing, week by week. I imagine that a marathon would help make each part more distinct because you’re being fed it faster and can thus make the distinctions more easily. Anyway, this issue I had was completely shattered in episode 23 and 24. These two episodes were phenomenal. For sake of not spoiling anything, I won’t go into detail, but the final match they played, specifically how it ended, had me sitting on the edge of my chair throughout. The very final still-frame scene gave me chills. The build-up was great, the final play was appropriate, the atmosphere was perfect, and everything in the 5 minutes leading up to it were nearly flawless. I was extremely impressed.
In this season, each major character was developed to a much greater degree than in the previous season. This is probably because we had already been introduced and familiarized with them, so it was now possible to go into depth with each of their personalities. I really appreciated this and it was much improved from the first season in which only Hinata and Kageyama received a serious amount of backstory and motive explanation. The side characters (meaning the people on the opposing teams that received at least a considerable amount of screentime) were very appropriately handled. They didn’t get much depth, but they didn’t need to. They’re outsiders after all. It would be weird to give them so much development seeing as they don’t affect anything about the story at all aside from one match or a practice session. It was very realistic. I can say from personal experience that during club season, you do pay attention to certain people more than other people and you gravitate towards watching their matches because you think they’re good, have an interesting playstyle, are an athletic freak, or any other reason. When you play these people you want to do as well as you can, subconsciously trying to impress them, even if you’ve never spoken to them in your life. This is what happens for Hinata and Kageyama quite a bit, and to restate, it really captured a realistic feel.
The animation is stellar as always, but this is Production I.G. we’re talking about, so that’s to be expected. The slow motion shots looks great, it’s fluid throughout, and everything is high quality, so you’ll find no complaints from me. Similarly to the soundtrack, however I must say that nothing truly stood out for me. With the OST, everything is solid, but nothing is exemplary. It makes the show better, but it doesn’t go above and beyond, which is certainly all right. Not every show needs a grammy nominated soundtrack accompanying it.
I personally found the comedic aspects of the show to be spot on. I cannot tell you how many times I had to pause the episode, take a screenshot of whatever was going on, and then send that screenshot to my friends in Skype, usually pissing them off while I’m laughing throughout the whole process. I wouldn’t say I’m a comedy critic or expert or whatever, but I’ve listened to a lot of standup comedy and I can at least say that I can usually weed out good comedy from bad comedy, and while this isn’t necessarily the most witty and clever, it’s absolutely better than most of the shows that try to do the same thing. It was almost always hit and rarely miss.
Time to bring it back down to earth for a minute though. I have heard many people say that this anime got them into volleyball, either playing or watching, and I have to warn you guys. Haikyuu volleyball is not like real volleyball. Haikyuu is a lot more exaggerated and precise because it’s an anime. You can’t capture the complexity of the sport or the sheer amount of things going on around you and the chaos of volleyball in an anime. Just as an example, there are many times in real life where you get a great set, you go up to hit, and you just hit the ball into the net or straight out. I’ve done it plenty of times, your average player does it a lot too, and it commonly happens to even the best players. These simple mistakes just aren’t present in Haikyuu. If you want to see what high-level, real volleyball is like, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEB96RVl_Ww (if you don’t care about all the warmups or the preliminary commentary, skip to 7:30).
I think I’ve sufficiently summarized Haikyuu, so I suppose it’s time to wrap things up. With this show, there just aren’t a lot of things that you can point out as problems. The pacing in the middle, sure, the lack of complexity or depth, maybe (but it’s a sports shounen, don’t come into a show expecting something you know you won’t get), and the OST, maybe, but that’s about it. My problems with the volleyball playing itself and the fact that I dislike drama is exclusive to me, so others may not have these issues. Everything else ranges from very good to outstanding leaving little room for criticism. This is the most overall enjoyable and well-made show to come out in the past 2 season, which says a lot considering the fact that we’ve been bombarded with One Punch Man and Erased hype throughout each. When all’s said and done, Haikyuu is a show that you should not miss. I’m looking forward to watching season 3 when it comes out.
Thank you for reading my review. If you have feedback of any kind, please tell me, I’m always open to conversation.