Haikyuu!! – 04

Haikyuu - 04-9 Haikyuu - 04-17 Haikyuu - 04-36

Like the guy on Jerry’s TV said, you gotta love sports…

I was all set to watch Baby Steps after Haikyuu, but after watching the latter I’ve changed my mind.  With Diamond no Ace added back into the mix, I think three corker sports anime in one day is simply too many.  It’s like tasting single malts (which was the other thing I spent today doing) – if you down too many in a sitting, you start to lose the ability to differentiate the subtler points in the nose and palate.  And frankly, watching Baby Steps after Haikyuu!! (the exclamation points really do seem to fit) would be like tasting a Highland Park 18 after an Ardbeg 10.

Some of my readers tell me that the Haikyuu manga has a lot of subtlety to it, and I do see hints of it in the first four episodes (Ardbeg 10 has some subtleties too, once you get past the smoke and coal tar).  But so far what I get most from this show is that it’s a pretty straight shooter.  There’s no disguising what sort of kid Hinata is and why we should like him, no hiding the fact that Kageyama will be tsundere for him soon enough.  It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call this series shameless, but in a good way – it simply knows it has a good thing going and doesn’t try and hide it.  And there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that.

The focus of this episode of course is the three-on-three play-in match that was teased so artfully last week.  It was a strong episode, but I think my favorite part may just have been the fact that it opened with a quote from Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende: “The volleyball player is not a soloist, but a member of an orchestra.  When the player begins to think ‘I’m special’ that player is finished.”  I’m not a knowledgeable aficionado of the sport and I hadn’t heard the quote, but it seems especially apt – and it’s no secret that it’s aimed at Kageyama, who’s very much the philosophical center of the ep.

In terms of subtlety, there isn’t a whole lot of it in the way the struggle in this episode is set up, and that’s largely due to Tsukishima.  Plainly put, Tsuki is a lot to take – it seems very clear that at least initially, his main functions are not just to make Kageyama look better in comparison, but to push him closer to Hinata.  I knew guys like Tsuki in high school (and after) so he’s not unrealistic, but just as then I really want to pop him right in the cake-hole.  As his type usually does, once he knows your weakness he chews and gnaws and won’t let it go – which is exactly what he does with Kageyama and his “King” nickname.  Not only does he insist on using it non-stop but he clues Hinata in on the full reason why Kageyama earned that nickname – none of which will come as a real surprise to viewers who likely put two and two together based on the first episode.

So we definitely have boys falling into their archetypal roles here as the competition begins.  I confess I find it a bit odd that the sempai – including the captain – let Tuskishima get away with as much trash talking as he does here, but it certainly has the intended effect both on-screen and narratively.  There’s never a shadow of a doubt that Hinata will stick by Kageyama even after the truth is revealed and the first game of the match starts going badly – that’s just the sort of kid he is.  Frankly for all the focus on Kageyama’s dilemma I find Hinata the more sympathetic character – his only real sin here is a lack of height.  Of course Tsuki being who he is relentlessly mocks Hinata using that as a weapon, but the little bulldog isn’t so easily manipulated as Kageyama is – though he is deeply frustrated that he just can’t seem to scale the wall that’s always in front of him.  Still, there isn’t much good happening in the game, though Kageyama does keep feeding Hinata for spikes even though he’s repeatedly blocked.  Poor Tanaka doesn’t get a sniff for most of the episode.

Sugawara is the textbook opposite of Kageyama, and it’s he who gives the latter the piece of advice that starts to turn the game around.  He bemoans that he lacks Kageyama’s court awareness and talent, but he manages to effectively set for his teammates just the same by tailoring his setting to their abilities, rather than expecting them to tailor their spiking to his.  In Hinata’s case that means utilizing his speed and ability to adjust quickly, effectively telling Hinata to head for wherever the wall isn’t and don’t worry – the ball will be there when he is.  Things get dangerously close to WSJ territory with some of this, especially when Hinata spikes perfectly with his eyes closed (seriously – no setter in the world is that good).  I wouldn’t worry so much about stuff that if this weren’t actually a WSJ series, but I’m conditioned to be a little leery.

Still, for all that, it’s undeniably cool to see the last few minutes of the episode play out, and Hinata and Kageyama slowly start to develop a chemistry on the court.  And again it must be said, Production I.G. is doing a bang-up job with the production side – you’ll rarely see sports drawn and animated this well, period.  If every game sequence in the series is this good it’s a sure but I’ll never get tired of them.  I can’t say there were a lot of surprises in this episode of Haikyuu, but even if it’s telegraphing it’s punches a bit, they still pack quite a wallop.

Haikyuu - 04-8 Haikyuu - 04-10 Haikyuu - 04-11
Haikyuu - 04-12 Haikyuu - 04-13 Haikyuu - 04-14
Haikyuu - 04-15 Haikyuu - 04-16 Haikyuu - 04-18
Haikyuu - 04-19 Haikyuu - 04-20 Haikyuu - 04-21
Haikyuu - 04-22 Haikyuu - 04-23 Haikyuu - 04-24
Haikyuu - 04-25 Haikyuu - 04-26 Haikyuu - 04-27
Haikyuu - 04-28 Haikyuu - 04-29 Haikyuu - 04-30
Haikyuu - 04-31 Haikyuu - 04-32 Haikyuu - 04-33
Haikyuu - 04-34 Haikyuu - 04-35 Haikyuu - 04-37
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24 comments

  1. t

    this episode started a bit…weird. I don't why but it didn't give the right feeling in the beginning. somehow, for me, the tempo was a bit off and for a moment, despite all teasing by Tsuki, it felt like a practice game rather than "must win" game.

    however, HQ manages to hang on, keep moving ahead with the game and send the right feeling. thanks to game moments, some "strategy time outs" thinking and one true important lesson/message. it began with the message right before the episode has even started, but it's indeed clever and important quote and message – it's a team play. a very strong foundation of lots of sports. and we knew Kageyama had problems with it and finally see the whole picture (or at least what we need for now).

    as for Tsuki, well he keeps teasing and it's indeed annoy the main characters. it's also seems like he isn't taking the game very seriously (well why should he?) but it seems form the preview it's going to change (I hope).
    it's indeed odd why Tsuki gets the back to keep teasing in front of the second and third years. not to mention that he made a second year angry…but there is something important here related to what has been previously. in the end of the day, this person too, gonna be part of the team. he won't stay an enemy, but an ally. exactly what happen to Hinata with Kageyama, and those two will have to cooperate and trust him. after all…isn't a team play as stated right at the beginning? 😛

    IG is doing really well with HQ in terms of animation and soundtrack and all around it. but surely is able to create some certain vibe for sports. I believe that when things will get much more…intense and thrilling, it will be even better reason for us to celebrate (:

    p.s
    I really liked the moment when Hinata hit the ball. it was executed really well, and made the episode for me. it somehow…connected all elements, every bit of emotion and sports of this series so far, to this toss-spike attack and how fast and excited it was. good job IG!

  2. r

    "telegraphing it's punches a bit, they still pack quite a wallop."

    Missed a great pun opportunity there. "Telegraphing its serves…the spikes still pack quite a wallop."

  3. R

    OMG no Enzou already had a spew of puns last week I think he (read I) needs a break now

  4. R

    Sorry Enzou, the malt references went straight over my head XD (don't drink) so I'll have to take your word for it on that part.

    As for the episode, I won't deny that Haikyuu does get some much more low key but powerful moments later, but for the first 30+ chapters it was straight up shounen. No tricks or subtlety for that case XD but it was earnest and fun and I love it for that.

    As for Kageyam's super setting, it doesn't get any more WSJ than this and even then, most of them are flukes (much to his frustration :P) so even though it is unrealistic, I give it a bit of leeway.

  5. R

    In other news, I'm surprised nobody commented on Tanaka's celebratory strip. I think I nearly choked laughing when it showed up in the manga.

  6. Gray has been doing that for years though…

  7. And he doesn't stop with the shirt.

  8. R

    OMG. I'm so done with you Enzou XDDD

  9. K

    It was easy for me to like Kageyama and see Tsundere written all over him right from the first episode and that type of character is a guilty pleasure for me.

    But I wonder how I will feel about Tuskishima. I can't imagine he will stay antagonistic being on the same team but they certainly aren't making him likable in the beginning. Of course perhaps he has a good reason to not like Kageyama since he thinks team work is important. But I think they are pushing that antagonistic streak a bit too much. So I am more interested in how the show is going to make me like him since they aren't off to a great start,

  10. T

    I think Tsukki simply dislikes (I might even go so far as to say he is uneasy about) people who pour their heart and soul into what he considers a "game". I guess that's why the more gung-ho and fight-o Kageyama and Hinata get, the more irritated he becomes.
    I think his feelings are relatable to most people out there when they watch someone who is so passionate about something to the point that it's uncomfortable. Of course, this being a shonen manga, he probably has some other reasons to be so up-in-arms with the kind of attitude Kageyama & Hinata exude.

  11. m

    I agree that it's always obvious hwat's going to happen next in the show (so far), but still it's got me completely engrossed the whole time. I also got a bit nervous with the perfect placement of the toss to an eyes closed Hinata, but I can let it slide considering how often he missed after that. And even if they connect like that often it wouldn't be too outrageous in comparison to KuroBas. My dad used to play basketball with friends one of which played in the NBA for a couple seasons as a bench player who never saw any playing time. But when he played regular pick up games he apparently never missed a shot. So I don't think it's completely absurd that a top level player could place it wherever they want, though a high schooler shouldn't be able to. But if that's the extent of the WSJ powers I can live with it.

  12. Agree, it's nothing I can't live with and if this weren't a WSJ series I wouldn't even be worried, probably. But if KuroBas is the bar for realism, well… It's limbo time, there.

  13. B

    Well, expect to see a lot more of the closed-eye spike, Enzo- it's the entire basis for the Hinata-Kageyama attack combo for now. But if it's any comfort to you, Kageyama's uncanny precision with tosses is the only element in the show that people may have trouble swallowing (but then he's not called a genius for nothing).

  14. R

    To be fair, they do later show exactly why being a one-trick pony only gets you so far, no matter how much of an amazing trick it is.

  15. S

    I love sports anime, but somehow Haikyu doesn’t click with me yet. It feels incredibly generic (especially compared to Ping Pong and Baby Steps) with archetype characters and cliché issues. It does nothing exceptional or exciting. The show only distinguishes itself by portraying volleyball. I also think the pacing should be faster, since this practice game is really boring.
    I don’t know, maybe I’ve just seen too many sports anime.

    I really hope the series improve when the team starts to play high stake games.  

  16. m

    I agree that if it's taking this long for the practice game to finish up it begs the question of how much is the anime really going to cover? But it could be a case where this is longer bc it's used to establish the characters.

  17. R

    Well Haikyuu is a lot different from Baby Steps and Ping Pong, that's for sure. I think out of all of the other sports anime airing at the moment, it's closest to YowaPedal in spirit (and in spirit only XD). It's also not like Daiya no A, in that it's first and foremost a shounen manga. And sports manga second. The archetypes are going to be around and the buildup isn't going to be that fast, but I think it's totally worth it in the end. Some of my favorite dorks- I mean characters are in this series.

    There are official games after this, but the high stakes games don't really kick in until chapter 35-ish. I don't mind the pacing, since one of the things I really hate is anime rushing through chapters, but if shounen is your cup of tea and the next match after the practice match doesn't get you a bit more invested, you may want to lower your expectations.

  18. I agree, this is closest to Yowapeda among the big five (though atm I like Yowapeda the better of the two).

  19. l

    I think the more apt whisky comparison is that Haikyuu!! is a Hibiki 17 year-old. A damn fine blended whisky. Baby Steps is a standard normal Glenfiddich 12 year-old. Ping Pong's a Laphroaig 10 year-old. Diamond no Ace? A juggernaut Johnny Walker Black Label.

  20. R

    I don't think I've ever felt so far out left field in a conversation before this one XD;;

    If I ever do drink, I think I'm going to come back to this review and choose from the selection here out of pure curiosity.

  21. R

    So out of curiosity since everyone was mentioning WSJ powers, I went to go watch some Olympic volleyball footage from 2008, since I don't think I've ever watched a pro level match before (just our highschool ones XD)

    I completely take back everything I say. Now may only complain is with reality because there is no fucking way a normal human being should be able to do stuff like that. My eyes (and the camera) literally couldn't follow some of the serves. It's such a chaotic sport. New respect found XD (that being said, that's Olympic level, not high school. So sorry Kageyama, you don't quite get a pass on that one :P)

  22. g

    Well, and from where do you think they are taking representative players for juniors national teams if not from high school leagues? They have to be good, better than the rest, but it's possible.

  23. K

    About the part where Hinata spikes the ball with his eyes closed, that Actually DOES happen in real life, my father (who used to play volleyball in high school here in Brazil) told me that this type of "guesswork" (where the attacker rush for the spike before the setter throws him the ball) is something that volleyball players, specially pros, really practice.

  24. m

    It's not the play itself that is unrealistic, but the fact that he closes his eyes and swings his hand and the ball is placed perfectly to meet his hand at the exact perfect time. I doubt anyone practices that. They practice breaking to open areas and expecting the ball to come, but I've never met someone who plays sports seriously who doesn't follow the old line "keep your eye on the ball". But I agree that a skilled setter could place the ball in an almost perfect location consistently, but would need the spiker to actually aim at the ball. That move reminds me of the movie The Sandlot when Benny tells Smalls to hold his glove up and he hits it directly into his glove.

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