Haikyuu!! – 05

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I think the part of the title that really matters here is the exclamation points.

There’s just no denying Haikyuu – it’s one of the most insistent series I’ve watched in a long time, and I mean that in a good way.  It rolls out of the garage in sixth and never really lets up until after the episode preview – even the eyecatches are hyperactive.  It’s a bubbly, frothy glass of anime champagne.  Not exactly Dom Perignon or Roederer Cristal, mind you – you’re not going to roll this around looking for subtle nuances, but you don’t need that from a sparkler to find it enjoyable.

Clearly, I’m going to have to get past the whole blind spiking thing, because it seems as if it’s a conceit that’s going to be around for a while.  With that taken as read, the conclusion of the three-on-three play-in match was actually pretty anti-climactic in terms of pure drama.  Once Kageyama and Hinata got their timing synched up, the tide of their match with Tsuki, Yamaguchi and the Captain turned solidly in their favor (even Tanaka got a taste of the action, once Hinata started drawing Tsuki’s attention).  It was close, but sure didn’t take very long on-screen – and there were no dramatic celebrations afterwards.

It’s here that the new characters start to enter the picture, starting with Takeda-sensei.  As played rather ludicrously by Kamiya Hiroshi he looks like a middle-schooler and sounds like a middle-ager, but in truth he’s a teacher I assume is somewhere in his 20’s.  He’s also the club advisor (and a volleyball novice, which is used as an excuse to give the audience a quick volleyball tutorial), and brings the news that he’s set up a practice match with powerhouse Seijou High.  They’re a provincial best four, and also the destination of most of Kageyama’s middle school teammates (though I use that term loosely) and they make a condition that Kageyama must play setter for the entire match.

If there is a subtle element in Haikyuu so far, it comes into play through the dynamic of Sugawara and Kageyama.  I’m still waiting to see if there’s another shoe to drop with Sugawara but for now, he’s preposterously nice without being obnoxious about it.  His complete lack of ego is arguably the most interesting element in Haikyuu so far, because it makes him an excellent setter but also poses obvious challenges both as an athlete and as a person.  He seems almost happy to give way to Kageyama, who he’s constantly reminding us is a much better athlete with much better instincts than he is.  Somewhere deep down inside him I think there must be a simmering rage at being upstaged by a first-year, and a pride in the position that he surely worked hard to earn.  Waiting to see if that emerges is one of the more intriguing aspects of the show for me.

Another new character we meet is Michimiya Yui (Asami Seto), a friend of the Captain’s (was that an actual panty shot in Haikyuu!!kuropan no less – or just shadows?).  Her importance isn’t clear yet but the fact that she’s got a name seiyuu, and the fact that she’s clearly knowledgeable about volleyball and pains are taken to frame her so her height and build is obvious (though that could just be fanservice, I suppose) leads me to suspect she’s a volleyballer herself.

Most of the ep is really taken up with humorous observations of Hinata going all BSD over his new situation (this pose is a popular one in anime today).   I confess he’s pretty cute as he goes from elation over the trappings of actually making the team to rampant panic about being named to start in the Seijou match – the latter of which culminates in his barfing on the bus (on Tanaka’s lap, to be exact – heck, since Hinata wore those pants he might as well mark his territory. Five eps in and he’s already gotten in Tanaka’s pants…).  Hinata started out loveable and never really looked back – Kageyama is starting to become sympathetic too, as his utter hopelessness with social niceties is counter-balanced by his seemingly genuine desire to change.  Tsuki is still mired in the douchebag role for now, but his pal actually got a non-wingman moment this week (distressed over being left out of the lineup, the only freshman to do so) and I’m stating to warm to Daichi’s appealing lack of self-confidence as the leader.

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  1. B

    FYI, Enzo- Takeda's 29. And Yui Michimiya's a wing spiker and captain of the Karasuno girls' volleyball team. She'll appear later (assuming the anime adapts certain parts of the manga), but she's a really minor character, so don't expect too much from her.
    I'm just glad Kamiya's actually playing an adult this time- the last adult role I heard him in was Izaya from Durarara!! I'm a bit surprised that I haven't seen you make a similar complaint about Takahiro Sakurai…

  2. I have. More than once, in fact.

    I will say in Kamiya's defense (not that he needs it) that he does play quite a few adult roles too. Not least Yato in Noragami last season.

  3. K

    I was a bit taken back by how anti-climatic the rest of that three-on-three was but I liked it. The rest of the episode was where it really shined in my opinion. Loved when Kageyama was trying to recall if he ever wisecracked before.

  4. R

    Stupid volleyball dorks is the collective term I use for most of Karasuno, and this episode was a pretty good example of why. Haikyuu is definitely an energetic show (one of the things I like about it) and though it does eventually ease off the pedal, it won't be for a while and not for too long. Which I have no problem with. I like that part of shounen manga.

  5. w

    I like everyone, but Tanaka is definitely my favorite at this point. I love the way his instant reaction to everything is to do his thug-face.

  6. R

    I'm pretty swamped lately — the increasing demand at both school and work has taken a toll on me again, so apologies for not commenting. However, what has got me to chime in is that…well, your post gives a very light-hearted vibe, and I like it. But your mentioning of Dom Perignon and Cristal made me jump out of my bed…! Okay, I have to say it upfront that I'm not rich and I'm not an alcoholic. Again, not an alcoholic…, but I love both Dom and Cristal. I was lucky that one year our uncle — he's rich, not us — opened a bottle of Dom 1998 — man, that was exquisite. After that, I never wanted to go back to sparkling wine — I'd rather have a glass of wine than a sparkling.

    Okay, back to the comparison. I wouldn't call Haikyu a sparkling — perhaps I just don't enjoy sparkling, period — but would call it a Veuve Clicquot. It's so easy to drink — easier than Moet Chandon in my view — and — usually — maintains a consistent quality for the "mainstream" and the younger crowd (it's almost the most top-of-mind champagne brand amongst my peers).

    I absolutely agree with you. Haikyu isn't about subtlety — it's just a very consistent and well-executed show with lots of care put into the details. It reminds me of Norigami — nothing really surprising but entertaining and consistently well executed throughout. By the way, I like how perceptive Sugawara is, and Tanaka is just awesome.

    P.S. I didn't notice that panty shot at all. Hmmm…I think that's just shadow, but, Enzo, you really did pay attention, eh…teehee…

  7. Z

    These days the mention of Dom Pérignon reminds me of when Zetsubou-sensei tried to drown himself in the stuff, but failed in the end because he was too cheap and didn't buy enough bottles. 😉

    The standard Moët et Chandon is just a brand name to me. Although slightly more boutique, I prefer Jacquinot myself.

  8. R

    You're right about Moët — they have created quite a brand name but, in my view, need to do a better job attracting the new drinkers. The vintage ones are not bad though.

  9. K

    I'm telling you Enzo, the Blind Spike is something that does exist. I don't remember which player exactly, but it was something created in Brazil's Volleyball team.

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