If you possess even an ancillary knowledge of sports, then you know one thing; it’s not over until the clock ticks zero. Even when that happens, another game lies in the future, and another after that, such is the path of a player, and such is the path of Haikyu!! Having had their share of victories and losses in the past, the Karasuno Volleyball Club has no intention of slowing down. With preliminary matches, practice matches, and whatever other kind of matches occur in volleyball looming beyond the horizon, the characters of Haikyu!! all possess that never say die attitude that keeps a series going.
Jumping off right where we left off (because that’s what happens when a series is split in half by physical release), we meet the Karasuno team amped as ever to play some volleyball. Of course that’s not all that surprising, but it is the vast majority of this series, at least when they’re not actually playing volleyball. That being said, this is a series that manages to throw in a satisfying amount of character development within the narrow scope of one highschool sport. This is most obvious in Kageyama, who is shades different than the King of the Court who deigned to appear in Episode 1. This one smiles. Sure he’s still a bit of a jerk, but he’s more redeemable now…which counts for something…I think. On the complete inverse of the spectrum, Hinata has grown a fair deal more confident, but still retains his ridiculous naivety. Honestly it’s almost frightening how innocent he is sometimes, especially during his dumbstruck realisation that winning means he can play more games. It’s an oddly complex moment, and it is far from the only one in the series second half.
As the support pillar of the franchise, volleyball is an intrinsically crucial aspect of this series. That being said, Haikyu!! possesses a solid balance between the training, discussion and actual playing of the characters. No match feels as if it drags on for too long, or blazes by too fast. There’s plenty of anime-centric slow motion deliberation, but it’s spread out evenly enough between the teams that you get a broader sense than just what the protagonist is thinking. However, Haikyu!! also seems to possess a meta element that almost forces Hinata to be the main character. As the Greatest Decoy, it is his game given role to attract attention, to draw focus from the rest of his equally, or greater, skilled teammates. This viewpoint is rather poignantly presented via the inner monologue of a self proclaimed side character. Having come to the realisation that, were life a television show, the plot would follow the victors. However, with that in mind said character also refuses to deny their place in the story. With a montage of unnamed, and previously unseen, characters, ther series really paints a picture on how the scope of this fictional world extends beyond the team we’re rooting for.
One of the main things that has always stood out to me about Haikyu!! is the choice of music within each scene. Though far from a revolutionary action, I am not typically one to focus on such an aspect of a series, unless deliberately looking for the purpose of review. For that reason alone, I’m always impressed when a backtrack sticks with me as much as this particular one has. From the somber moments, to the dramatics final point, the music always seems to underlay a sense of hope, which is integral to the series as a whole. Though not chants per say, the tunes give off the sense of being at a game, of listening to a rousing crowd preparing for their teams victory. Not many series can make you feel like that.
With the highs and lows of multiple matches crammed into one half of a series, Haikyu!! really runs you through the wringer as a viewer. With a healthy mix of plot crucial games and non, it really is up in the air whether or not Karasuno will take the victory. Again, whilst this is not an aspect unique to this series, Haikyu!! manages to make it work in a way that feels fresh, or at the very least believable. Whilst that might not sound like the strongest or most cohesive praise, it is one of the series’ most redeeming features. It has its ridiculous moves, its over-the-top characters, but it never strays from a sense of truth. Plus it’s undeniably cool to watch the Deviant Fast Attack bust through the opponents defences…especially against smug jerks like Oikawa. Man is that guy annoying.
Cheer for the Fallen Champions as they climb their way back to the top (you have to go to Madman first though, their the one with the DVDs)