Haikyuu!! – 25 (End) and Series Review

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End?  Yeah, right!

If you’d told me one sports anime was going to have a second season end card today, I’d sure have bet on the one that didn’t rather than the one that did.  But fans of Haikyuu!! (in honor of the final episode I’ll use the exclamation points, just for today) needn’t worry – this is as big a mortal lock as there is in anime.  I suspect they simply want to wait and announce it at an event so they get get those delighted squeals down on tape.  It may be six or nine months down the road, but it’s going to happen for sure.  I almost left the “End” off the title line, but official is official – for now.

As expected, the climax of Haikyuu!!! was really last week with the match against Seijoh – which went on to lose the final against a powerful team called Shiratori (which can also be read as “foreshadowing”).  This week was the epilogue, which is generally the best way to go about ending a multi-cour series.  The emotions run on the extreme side, but that’s pretty standard for this series – low-key it isn’t.  Like its characters, this is a show that wears its heart on its sleeve.

The big question hanging over the team is the matter of the third-years, and the spring tournament.  Turns out volleyball has a spring tournament just like baseball does – not as big or important, but a national event nonetheless – which means a reprieve for Daichi, Koushi and Asahi thanks to Japan’s school calendar.  Except that it’s common for third-years to turn their clubs over to the kouhai at this stage, what with exams and getting into colleges to consider and all the really big tournaments belonging to the first and second-years.

There’s merit to this thinking – the experience the third-years would steal from their juniors by sticking around is not insignificant in their development, and they do have the rest of their lives to consider.  It’s not surprising that the academic advisors would get involved, but the sentiment in this is obvious – the old dudes want to play, and the young guns want them to stick around.  There’s no mystery in how this is going to turn out, but Haikyuu!!! does have the ability to make the expected emotionally involving.

Generally speaking the episode does a very good job of giving us a glance inside the heads of everyone in their emotional hangovers, with Hinata and Kageyama predictably being the most devastated.  Running around the gym and screaming might seem like a bit much, but it’s in-character.  It does suck to lose, and when you’re 15 and full of restless aggression anyway sometimes all that has to find a way to spill out.  At least they didn’t hold up a liquor store (oh yeah – this is Japan…).

We’re very lucky as sports anime fans to have had the year we’ve had (and I’d go back to 2013, when Yowapeda and Diamond no Ace started up and Ginga e Kickoff was in glorious form).  Not only do we have multiple good series airing at once (historically by no means a given) but they really span an interesting range of styles.  Diamond and Yowapeda will each likely get six cours at the least, Baby Steps probably four (God, it’s good to type that) and as for Haikyuu!!!!! it’s going to keep being produced as long as the manga maintains a lead over it, leading to a complete adaptation just like Kurobas (which isn’t my cup of tea, but that’s neither here nor there).  That’s a privilege we as fans should never take for granted – we’ve damn fortunate.

So where does Haikyuu!!!!!! fit in that lineup?  I read a sprinkling of the manga before the anime aired, and considerably more since it began – and it’s good.  It has a direct, honest charm, wonderful art and a boisterous enthusiasm, and some of the sweetness of Ookiku Furikabutte (which it still reminds me of more than any other series).  But it’s not a masterpiece in my admittedly limited experience – it doesn’t redefine realism like Baby Steps or bridge the gap between the old and new sports manga universes like Yowapeda, or deliver a comprehensive character study like Major or Capeta.  It’s just a straightforward, loveable sports opera with a winning cast and enough realism to make it stand out among the ridiculousness of Weekly Shounen Jump sports series.

With that in mind, I see the undeniable triumph of the anime quite differently than I do that of Baby Steps.  There, it was a matter of being as faithful as possible and respecting the integrity of the material.  In Haikyuu!!!!!!! I think Production I.G. and Mitsunaka Susumu (who’s very much not a household name) have absolutely gotten the most they possibly could out of their source material – they’ve maximized the experience.  This is a truly fantastic production, sterling from top to bottom and in my view, clearly surpasses the manga in overall impact.

In fact, it would be hard for me to imagine a materially faithful adaptation being better than this one, to be honest – what could the show possibly have done better, apart from tiny quibbles that were part of the manga anyway?  How can you more successfully translate a manga to the screen without radical changes than I.G. have done here?  I would be astonished if there’s a Haikyuu!!!!!!!! fan out there who isn’t satisfied with what they’ve gotten here – but I’ll leave that up to the hard-core fans to speak to, as I don’t have authority to do so.  I don’t know when the next season of Haikyuu!!!!!!!!! is coming, but I’ll certainly be looking forward to the day.

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  1. R

    Six cours, four courses, god I haven't read those words in an anime announcement in YEARS I almost had to do a double take. And thank god they were announced, because if there's one genre that really needs multiple course it's sports series (and shoinen but that's a different beast)

    I love Haikyuu to death and I think the anime did a stellar job. I will admit, I am a not more partial to theanga because I really like Furudate's hilarious background expressions and events (they're not obvious unless you look for them, but they're gut bustingly hilarious sometimes) which haven't all sneaked there way into the manga, though some of the more obvious ones have. All in all though, it was a wonderful adaptation up to, what I consider, the best match in the series to date.

    I will proudly be among the excited squeals when the next season is announced.

  2. R

    "I am a bit more partial"

    Dammit spellcheck

  3. t

    Haikyuu will definitely get another season(s). considering how well disc sales went and the hype the anime had (guessing manga too)..it's a given. but not now. I guess IG "sports team" will work on Kuroko 3rd (and last) season. in the meanwhile, Haikyuu manga will move forward. it's necessary (though there is quite fair amount of material for about 20eps, but that's not enough).

    Haikyuu anime really did..spectacular. be it the sports, characters, story, production. it just had everything and did everything right. exactly as sports anime should be and feel like. Haikyuu showed us the love for volleyball, a sport that is less known. it's not like I underestimate this kind of sport or another, each is unique in its own way, but Haikyuu really brought it. masterpiece? it's hard to say. although it did all right and felt good (be it the drama-decisive moments or not), I think a real masterpiece should really send some kind of extra and special vibe. Haikyuu definitely has all tools to be something even better as it continues. I am sure of it.

  4. D

    Just thought you should know that I laughed WAY harder than I should have every time you wrote Haikyuu!! with an increasingly longer line of exclamation points. I'm still giggling a little about it, actually…

  5. c

    Oh my God, I didn't notice that. Thank you for pointing that out. I'm laughing. Still laughing.

  6. R

    Still giggling over here too. Never change Enzou.

  7. I can't promise anything.

    That just struck me as I was doing the proofread. I shorted the series any number during the run, so…

  8. D

    Yeah, that was absolutely hilarious.

  9. e

    Indeed :,D

  10. I

    Haikyuu!! probably still has the most powerful moment in anime I had all year still, and its the after game when they face off against Dateko, and the tall dude hold his hand out for Hinata, and his face is seared into my brain. And of course this is the show with probably the most laugh out loud moments for me. Im a sucking for very sudden, funny things i.e. all them volley balls hitting Hinata.

  11. S

    I didn't even realise the running !! gag until the last paragraph. Lol. Something about Haikyuu breathes genius, I think. Maybe it's not on a masterpiece level, like ¡¡¡¡Ginga e Kickoff!!!! or Yowapeda! or Cross!! Game!!!! (exclamation marks make everything more appealing, right?), but I think it's flawless and absolutely awesome I find it pretty easy to find flaws in Baby steps, though.

    Divine has some ideas on how to improve their tactics, will be fun to see if they realise them. We'll see!

  12. R

    It's Sunday here, but there is no Haikyuu!! It's kind of sad…in a way. Not only that, of all the shows that announced a sequel, Haikyuu!! is the one I wanted the most for a second season announcement. I know you have been saying that it will have one, but I can't help but feel a little unsettling.

    I wouldn't say Haikyuu!! is groundbreaking or the most ambitious, but it absolutely is another rare beast that shakes the anime-land and breaks the norms of most shounen shows. It proves that genre doesn't really matter as long as the writing is great and the characters feel real. If anyone is looking for a pure and genuine story with real characters, look no further and give Haikyuu!! a try.

    To me, all great shows start with having real characters — that's the bottom line, and that's what Haikyuu!! is good at and surpasses many shows this season. There's no "I'm so cute and so cute even though I'm just a cardboard" or "I'm so cool and so cool therefore the world evolves around me" type of characters. Every one here has his quirk and yet fun enough, and when you put them together, they create great chemistry — I particularly love the bond shared by the third-years. This show has the most respect and pure intention of its characters — including the female characters — amongst other sports shows this season, and this is one big reason why I love Haikyuu!! more than Ace of Diamond and Baby Steps. Because the characters feel so real and pure, it's like watching a bunch of friends who play and grow up with the sport that they love.

    Another great strength of Haikyuu!! is its storytelling. On top of the mangaku and the director, I think Kishimoto Taku deserves a big thumbs-up and did a great series composition here — it's simple, pure and real. It's just trying to tell a story of people who love playing volleyball, and to play it well, you need to be a team player. It's just that from start to finish, but the writing makes the story cohesive, fun and touching — it plants seeds here and there quietly throughout the show and lets you see how the characters grow and the story evolves.

    Haikyuu!! gave me lots of goosebump moments — that's the results of great writing and characters — and at times I was either at the edge of my seat or laughing out loud like I was the only one in the room. This is the show that made me experience different feelings as if you knew the characters and were cheering for them. There are not that many shows that can achieve that nowadays, and I think the root of all these lies in the pure and genuine intention of the mangaku, staff and cast, and that translates in the writing and characters of show — on top of the high production values. Now this is rare in today's anime-verse. It does lack a bit of ambition, and I'd vote for Ping Pong if Haikyuu ended last season, but for this season, it absolutely is the best.

    Finally, a big thank-you to you, Enzo. I know that this is not a show you liked best — you're one honest and hardworking blogger who won't hide your feelings — and I know that you're busy. The fact that you didn't drop this show really helps, and I'm thankful for that. I'm also glad that another awesome blogger, Divine, picked up this show and started blogging (think again, please…Haikyuu!! was the show that got Divine out of his hiatus.) Because Haikyuu!! is labelled as a sports show — we all know what that means to most anime fans — having two prolific bloggers covering this show really helps, and I'm only grateful.

    Haikyuu!! is endearing. I wish that more people can enjoy this gem, and I wish that a second season will truly come soon.

  13. A

    this is probably in my top three all time fave Anime's (along side with Free, and Fairy Tail)

    now if we all go back to the last two episodes, when they where saying that they where planning on going to the spring tournament in the next yr…….don't you think that he'd/she'd (the creator of Haikyuu) would have to show them being at the spring tournament????I mean if the manga has been coninued then why stop the Anime???? I think they where planning on waiting unil 2015 maybe even 2016' spring time to air the second season….hopefully the first years will be in their second years

    (using Free! as an example) look how long it took the creator of Free! to make another season! it aired this past summer of 2014…so because Haikyuu is like Free (wen it comes too seasons) they'll probably have a movie during the Christmas holidays (just guessing at this point) and after that movie they'll probably start showing the preview's) for the second season of Haikyuu!!

  14. It's simply a question of the anime catching up with the manga, nothing more. I'm certain I.G. and Shueisha will treat this like Kuroko, and give us 2-cour seasons with 2-cour breaks (or close). Haikyuu sold better than 20K per volume and was the #3 selling manga in Japan in 2014 behind only OP and SnK – sequels are not even a problem. But you have to let the manga stay ahead.

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