This episode was one that had the feel of marking time to it, though to what extent that might be connected to the relatively late announcement that Daiya no A wouldn’t be ending after 50 episodes is involved it’s hard to say. In any case for a series that’s been as faithful to the manga as this one, popping one that was 90% original in here clearly indicates a desire to pad things out and end the cour at a specific point.
That said, it was a pretty entertaining episode, giving us some original backstory on Miyuki and giving Sakurai Takahiro (as well as Namikawa Daisuke and several other cast members who were recycled for the pubescent set) the chance to sound even more ridiculously too old for his role than normal. The highlight for me, though, was Haruna revealing her biases when she referred to the three freshman as “Sawamura-kun-tachi” – one can only imagine how pissed Furuya would have been if he’d heard. The notion of Miyuki chaperoning the first-years on a trip to pee is pretty hilarious to begin with.
Not too much else to say here – I don’t think there was a whole lot about Miyuki or Chris as little-leaguers and middle-schoolers that would surprise anyone. The key here, really, is that Miyuki was invited to Inashiro along with Mei-chan and their other stars, and decided to go to Seidou anyway for the opportunity to face off against Mei rather than be part of his all-star supporting cast. That gives the upcoming game a decidedly personal aspect for both of them, with a lot of pride on the line.
Haikyuu!! – 23
Well, that was pretty much the perfect game episode right there – though to be fair, so was last week’s until the extended flashback stalled the momentum. If there’s one thing that can be said about Haikyuu it’s that purely in terms of execution, this is one of the best sports anime ever. It’s so good in fact that it sometimes makes me feel as if it’s impossible to tell how good the source material is, ironically enough. Though clearly, it’s pretty good.
I think this show is at its best when it bears down and attacks the subject head-on and keeps the narrative simple. Given a straightforward task like depicting an exciting match, Haikyuu is off the charts, as the last two eps have shown. Tense, emotional, a roller-coaster of emotions and breathless exciting. There was some interesting strategy, such as Aoba Johsai electing not to block Hinata’s quicks but dig them instead, and Oikawa himself showing even he has nerves by almost netting a serve. The back and forth of the match was gripping, and then when Yamaguchi finally got his chance, nerve-wracking and eventually heartbreaking.
One does have to wonder if Ukai is a bit of a sadist, putting a first-year in for his first-ever action at the most critical moment possible. Pretty hard not to feel for the kid there – I can only imagine the massive stress anyone would be under in those circumstances, with the eyes of the world on him, and the soul-crushing sting of failure. It was a bit of a desperation move, really, and one that did succeed in changing the momentum but could just as easily have ended up destroying the boy’s confidence and effectively ruining him as a player.
I remain a bit torn about the match itself, because a loss means the end for the Karasuno third-years (though truth be told Sugawara is the only one I really care about – Daichi and Asahi are the closest thing to throwaway characters in this cast for me), yet it’s hard for me to accept that a win would truly be realistic. Aoba Johsai is simply the better and more experienced team and they have the best player on the floor, and while those teams do sometimes lose it feels like a big ask in this instance. In any event, though, it’s certainly an exciting thing to watch play out.