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.
Haikyuu!! Second Season is the sequel to the first anime adaptation of the ongoing manga of the same name, Haikyuu!!, which was ranked in 4th place in Honya Club's prestigious 'Zenkoku Shotenin ga Eranda Osusume Comic' ranking in 2013. Sentai Filmworks has announced their exclusive licensing rights for digital and home release in North America.
This is my first review ever and I absolutely loved the show, so expect this to be very biased.
Story: The story is the best one you can get from a sports anime. Of course there's nothing complex, such as a great mystery or an awesome plot full of twists and something like that. Nevertheless, it's still awesome and original. We actually get some background on almost every character, even the less important ones. Our main characters are a yin-yang duo: they are opposites of each other, and yet, they become a single destructive weapon for their team. We also have Hinata's ambition on the Little
Giant and the rivalry between Tobio and Oikawa. But overall we have a typical shounen plot: a lot of action given by a group of friends trying to become the strongest.
Art: I don't have much to say about this because I don't understand too much about drawing and art style, but Haikyuu!!'s one of the best i've ever seen on a shounen anime. The style is unique and very well made, you can see the mark of the mangaka on each character despite the fact that they are all very different.
Sound: The soundtrack is very good. Every scene has a song which fits perfectly. Each track is able to get us in the mood for the specific moment, being it sad, funny or exciting.
Character: Here's the best part of the show. Haikyuu!! has incredible characters on every team. This is not that kind of show where we care only about the protagonists. We actually love all of the players and the teams. It's hard to decide which one we want to cheer for. The character development is something amazing. We see how Karasuno's pinch server who used to be a shy and weak boy become something essential for his team, while growing his confidence and pride. The relationships between team members is also very well executed, like the one of Hinata and Kageyama or even with opponents, like Hinata and Kenma.
Enjoyment: Extremely exciting to watch. I get goosebumps on every game and I almost cry with the flashbacks. The animation studio is godlike and each movement flows like magic on the screen. Haikyuu!! is also funny and is full of "chill out" moments that make us smile. The background stories, the side characters talking on the bench, everything is just amazing to watch. One of the best shows ever, it never gets boring.
As you probably already know, competitive spirit, teamwork, communication, and perseverance are all common themes that unite the sports genre as a whole. Therefore, to truly differentiate one show from other similar shows, scriptwriters need to engage the audience in a remarkably new and refreshing way.
I think for some people, this show is able to connect with them on some deeper, meaningful level. The way that this show engages with its audience is truly something else. The way Karasuno interacts, the way they crack jokes, and their never-ending drive to succeed – it makes you feel excited. It’s as if you are there physically with
them, cheering the underdogs on as they take on the world around them.
For me, I appreciate how some individuals who were disregarded in the first season are now given much more depth. Consider Tsukishima, for instance. After losing to their ever-so-favorite rivals, the Karasuno team is rebuilding as a team and honing their skills by attending training camps. It is during this when Tsukishima’s time to shine came. In a single episode, we learned why Tsukishima is so deeply affected by his brother’s betrayal and why Tsukishima is such a lone wolf. Thanks to a push by his close friend Yamaguchi, Tsukishima finally learns the true meaning of teamwork, and, from this, he begins to participate in team-building activities (i.e. playing mini-games against with other schools in the training camp). In the first season, you know he would never ever do something like this. It is very fortunate that Tsukishima decided to change; if he didn’t, he would never have been able to hone his skillset, which becomes especially important during the spring qualifiers. Another example: Ennoshita. He becomes a key motivator for the team. He has some big shoes to fill, and he would never have been in this position if it weren’t for Daichi.
Another thing that I really liked about what Haikyuu is how the antagonists (i.e. Karasuno’s rivals) are also characterized. How many shows out there have you watched where you have had one-dimensional villains (or antagonists or bad guys or whatever you want to call them) that you couldn’t relate to? Too many, right? Fortunately, Haikyuu breaks away from this by giving a lot of the antagonists some serious backstory. Most of the time we are able to learn what volleyball means to the rival, what kind of a team player they are, and why the match means so much to them.
But there’s only one major downside that I can think of: there’s an obvious imbalance regarding the characters. Haikyuu has a tendency to characterize just one individual at a time. People who were given a decent amount of screen time during the first season (e.g. Nishinoya) are suddenly ignored this season; others (e.g. Hinata and Kageyama) decrease in significance. On the other hand, some of the second year benchwarmers still get no screen time. It’s a shame, really. If the show were able to balance out its characters better, we would have been able to understand better how the team operates as a whole and see much more team synergy as a result.
Now moving onto the plot – the plot is more of a mixed bag, to be honest. Yes, it’s exciting to some degree, but the pacing of the plot is not Haikyuu’s strongest point. It’s rather sluggish, and it’s usually due to the following factors:
- The characters talk a lot. Like a lot. Imagine you and your best friend talking. Multiply that by 10.
- They all think a lot too. They are trying to anticipate their opponents.
- The characters are given a backstory.
- Characters are trying new flashy moves. Groovy.
- Sensei is playing the “I’m new to volleyball please explain everything to me” or the “listen to my wise words” role for you.
- The team that Karasuno is playing against is surging ahead in number of points, and the characters are trying to think of a way to fight back.
- Or they’re literally just hitting the ball back and forth endlessly. Who’s going to get the point?
This constant pattern causes each major match drags out over 2-3 episodes. I’m not entirely sure if this is necessary – although they are all technically well-incorporated, there is a point when you become impatient and want to know what the results of the match are. As for non-matches, there is sometimes extraneous information that really serve no purpose in the context of the show. I wouldn’t say 10 minutes of eating BBQ after a nice, long training camp and male volleyball players commenting on the superficial looks of the high schools’ assistant managers was necessary.
And then there’s plot armoring. I really hate to say it, but for shows like these, plot armoring is inevitable (would you want to keep watching a team that keeps losing? Unless you’re a diehard fan, I didn’t think so), so it really is a question of how well-balanced it is. It is easy to say, “You know, they deserve it, they’ve been working hard as a team” and allow the underdogs to keep winning consecutive matches. Fortunately, for Haikyuu, plot armoring is heavily restricted to what is absolutely necessary. For instance, Karasuno doesn’t have to win every practice match (as an audience member, however, I know you’re secretly praying for them to win. Don’t worry, I did that too) and good thing they don't – otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to learn from their mistakes.
Now briefly for one more positive thing about the plot: there's humor and it's well-incorporated throughout the show. Haikyuu would have been utterly flat without it. The way the characters interact and make fun of each other came off as very natural. It kept the ball rolling, especially when things got extremely sluggish.
Art and sound were all excellent. Animation was done very well by Production I.G (see Ao Haru Ride, Kuroko No Basket, and Kimi ni Todoke), although nothing was truly that remarkable. For sound, the OP was very moving and embodied the whole competitive spirit. Voice acting was decent too for the context of this show.
So is it the best sports anime ever? Eh, debatable. It has a lot to offer in terms of characters and will keep you on your toes, but the show is terribly paced. Given this, if you thoroughly enjoyed the first season, don’t worry; you will like the second season too due to its similar execution.
Now that that’s all out of the way, it was a fun ride when it lasted. I can’t wait to see what the third season has in store for us.
Author's Disclaimer: Please remember, this is my own personal opinion. I critique anime primarily on how the story is executed and how well-rounded the characters are. This review is not meant to target any other review but was intended to provide a more holistic analysis.
It should also be noted that this is a full-fledged review of the entire season.
The sports genre.. if you're not a fan of it then it can't be helped but GODDAMN how much you're missing out. Most people don't start watching anime with the sports genre and even when they dive deeper into the vast sea of anime genres, it is one that usually is missed out.
Now how does Haikyuu, a simple series mean that you miss out a lot?
Well, a lot of sports genre is usually thought the same way as battle shounen where "friendship is magic" since many times in sports anime, as well as in Haikyuu also, shounen genre plays a great role. Even tough
there are some moments that give you the shivs, make your hair stand up or get you super thrilled by a game, that's just one part of what makes Haikyuu so amazing. The real awesome parts are the most memorable characters, their individual in-depth development and the great comedy.
The story isn't anything new. A team sport: our main characters are obsessed with winning and want to make it to the nationals with their team. This is the basis for many team sport or solo sport game. It's just executed so well that you forget that it is kinda generic. While Haikyuu's storyline revolves around their team progressing towards the nationals, the ultimate goal, it is not the focus point of the story. In other sports animes, like KnB (Kuroko no Basket) or DnA (Diamond no Ace) where the team aspect is important they focus more on the skill aspect rather than, like in Haikyuu, the team synergy/team synchronization.
As the story progressess the team evolves. Sure their individual skills grow as well but that's beyond the point. One of the main characters, Hinata Shoyo, is a great example of that. The only time when we have focused on his individual development and skill growth a lot was in one or two episodes. Before that, we were given a quick flashback in the beginning of the first season of how he became what he is now. The first seasons' story as well as the seconds' focus on the combination plays of the team more than Hinatas solo growth.
there are two main art styles here. The shounen artstyle, very riveting and intimidating which makes your heart throb. The other one is the more comedic artstyle, which is actually used quite a bit. One great plus of the show is how they use these two styles together. Because of the nature of the main characters, the comedic artstyles can be used everywhere. Because one of our MC's is so hyper and energetic it creates many great opportunities to use both artstyles. And when it comes to the former one, the shounen style, it makes everything extra exciting because we normally see our main character used in the more comedic artstyle.
The other main character that our story focuses on, is Tobio Kageyama. As he is seen as Hinata's partner throughout the series, he is characterized on the contrast side to Hinata. Where Hinata is energetic and easy-go-happy, Kageyama is more silent, serious and intimidating most of the time. Because he is the counterpart to Hinata and is the complete opposite of him, you can almost guess it, when he is normally used more in the shounen style, and suddenly used in the comedic style.. it is super hilarious. These two create one hell of a combination which benefit from each other in every aspect.
While other shows usually use quite flashy colors *looking at you KnB*, Haikyuu actually is one of those series where the color differentiation is not that flashy. Sure you can make the argument that Hinata has different colored hair than anyone else and one member of the core team, Nishinoya, has one part of his hair way different than the other but that's about it. It isn't used as generically as in KnB (it is the easiest one to compare this show to xD).
The general artstyle of the show, how the characters are drawn and what kind of backgrounds there are is very simple but still unique. I just love the way Haikyuu looks like.
I guess there is not much to say about characters anymore. The one and only being that Haikyuu really explores one or two players of the opposing team always. To some of the antagonistic characters we are given a full detailed backstory and Haikyuu really does that well. In the long running series it's always great to have a full in-depth backstory to every main- and side character (well at least to the bigger side characters).
What really is the advantage of this show is the fact that you can't hate anyone (at least I couldn't). Every single character is made so lovable, so interesting in their own way or relatable that they just seem to stick in your head. It is rare for team sport games to have memorable side characters since they usually are shown only for a little while and are not given much of a perspective. This is what separates haikyuu from every other sports anime. The second season of this show is the prime example of this.
The shounen aspect of this anime really brings out the greatness of the voice actors/actressess. Be it Hinatas screaming "give me the ball!" Or the whole team giving the simultanious "bring it on" it is always a great moment that really highlights the characters themselves as well the team aspect and Haikyuu's own athmosphere. During the intense matches there are always playing these 'shounen type' songs which really lift the athmostphere to to max.
It isn't only during the games that the sounds are great. When giving a flashback, or Hinata and Kageyama are riling themselves up for the upcoming match, there can be heard awesome music playing in the background. So the soundtracks and voice actor/actress performances are alwyas top notch but what really highlights the most Haikyuu's sounds are the openings. The opening songs are probably one of the most intense, mood lifting and hyping song you could've hoped for.
You are most likely familiar with One Punch Man or Fullmetal Alchemist. Their openings are really the ones that get you riled up. They set the mood and get you ready for the epicness that is going to be unfold. Haikyuu rivals if not for some, exceeds these two. Haikyuu's openings, be it from season 1 or 2, are the best to get you ready for the show when it comes to the sports genre.
ENJOYMENT & OVERALL
Most of you who are reading this probably are a fan of sports genre. Then you should know that sports genres' anime are really enjoyable, especially when there are lovable characters and epic moments to share. These are what Haikyuu offers to you. Great characters, awesome shounen moments, intensive games featuring aspects from comedy to drama.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series and can proudly say that this is one of my all time favorites. As far as a single season by itself, it did pretty frickin' well. You can easily see that from MAL's score. Throughout the season it was always in the Top 20 highest rated of all time. When the season ended, no surprise, a sudden increase came, and now it is almost rivaling a place in the Top 10. That's how good it is.
Should you watch this series?
Fan of sports genre or not, yes. Absolutely yes. This is a great show to start the sports genre with or if you're familiar with it, why haven't you already seen this? Sure KnB was probably more popular but this is what sports anime should be like.
This review comes from someone who actually plays volleyball, so my opinion is god ;)
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.
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