Weekly Digest 9/7/14 – Diamond no Ace, Haikyuu!!

Diamond no Ace - 47-4 Diamond no Ace - 47-10 Haikyuu - 23 -11 Haikyuu - 23 -19

Nobody does what Haikyuu!! does this week better than Haikyuu!! does this week.

Diamond no Ace – 47

Diamond no Ace - 47-1 Diamond no Ace - 47-2 Diamond no Ace - 47-3
Diamond no Ace - 47-5 Diamond no Ace - 47-6 Diamond no Ace - 47-7
Diamond no Ace - 47-8 Diamond no Ace - 47-9 Diamond no Ace - 47-11
Diamond no Ace - 47-12 Diamond no Ace - 47-13 Diamond no Ace - 47-14
Diamond no Ace - 47-15 Diamond no Ace - 47-16 Diamond no Ace - 47-17
Diamond no Ace - 47-18 Diamond no Ace - 47-19 Diamond no Ace - 47-20

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

Haikyuu - 23 -1 Haikyuu - 23 -2 Haikyuu - 23 -3
Haikyuu - 23 -4 Haikyuu - 23 -5 Haikyuu - 23 -6
Haikyuu - 23 -7 Haikyuu - 23 -8 Haikyuu - 23 -9
Haikyuu - 23 -10 Haikyuu - 23 -12 Haikyuu - 23 -13
Haikyuu - 23 -14 Haikyuu - 23 -15 Haikyuu - 23 -16
Haikyuu - 23 -17 Haikyuu - 23 -18 Haikyuu - 23 -20
Haikyuu - 23 -21 Haikyuu - 23 -22 Haikyuu - 23 -23
Haikyuu - 23 -24 shot0046 4.50.36 pm Haikyuu - 23 -25
Haikyuu - 23 -26 Haikyuu - 23 -27 Haikyuu - 23 -28

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.



  1. T

    The animation seemed to take a tiny bit of a dip with this episode of Haikyuu!! in places – and I wonder if that is why they reused the slice of animation originally from the opening. But even an episode on the lower end of Haikyuu will be sure to have some nice pieces of animation, and as you said, everything else in terms of the writing, structure and pacing of the match made up for it.

    I'm on the edge of my seat right now, waiting for the next episode. Unlike you, I won't really mind if Karasuno beats Aoba Johsai. The only thing I'd miss would be losing Oikawa as a leading antagonist.

    I'm also wondering how they will do the next episode. It's only one more point, so will the resolution to this match take place within the first few minutes of the next episode? There's only one more episode after the next one in this season, so I doubt it – nearly two episodes time is not enough for any more significant plot development, but too much for just acting as denouement. I only ask because I'm really excited for the alternative – if not, then what we're looking at would be a near-full episode long rally – which could be absolutely spectacular if done well (and Haikyuu always does what it does well).

  2. It could go on for as long as the mangaka chose – a team has to win by two points, so it's effectively the same as a deuce in tennis or a tiebreaker that's reached 6-all.

  3. S

    Wow, why are you so unsure of a victory here, Enzo? It makes me feel super uncertain and nervous here. The Crows have to win, surely.

    I watched Diamond no Ace too of course, but what a drag. I hope you didn't mean Suguwara was the only one of the whole Haikyuu cast you cared about, because the character depth of this and Diamond no Ace are night and day. I care a lot for all of them, even the third years.

  4. R

    One thing that Haikyuu succeeds in delivering such great enjoyment is its strength in the character department. It's not a show that gives you the character study like Ping Pong did, but it doesn't need to because all these kids are normal kids with a strong passion to the sport that they love — none of them grew up like Wenge — and this show is good at depicting the emotions of people in the sport — be it the players, the coaches, the ones on the bench, the spectators, the winners and the losers. It takes some good writing in bringing all those real feelings to screen, and like you said, the characters feel authentic and real. That, to me, is a win, on top of how Haikyuu tells the story through its execution, like pacing, animation, music, etc. Honestly, I got hooked to the bond that is shared amongst Suga, Daichi and Asahi — it will be sad to see Karasuno lose, but that will most likely be the case, given how realistic the narrative has been — but it's also nice to see that the bond has extended to other team members, like Tanaka and Noya, and now the first-years.

    One thing that I probably might have missed people talking about is Kishimoto Taku, who does the series composition of this show and was the one who did the series composition for Gin no Saji (first season) and Usagi Drop. That probably explains why I like the writing and storytelling of Haikyuu, beyond just enjoying the thrill of action, the execution and the comedy.

  5. I'm still betting Karasuno wins, as I think Haikyuu is more focused on dramatic impact than hard realism. The only thing that has me hesitating is that Oikawa has been built up an awful lot to simply have him disappear now.

  6. R

    I want them to win either, but I think that there is a high chance for them to lose. Like you said, they pretty much have exhausted all options — even Ukai ran out of advice. Having said that, their spirit is high, which I really like, and I will be heartbroken to see them losing the battle after trying so hard.

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