The first cour of the second season of anime’s most lavishly produced and slickest sports anime comes to an end in exactly the way you’d expect, with a highly entertaining if ultimately predictable episode. It is nice to have the series get back into competition mode – so far this season of Haikyuu has been kind of the anti-Chihayafuru 2 in that respect. But I would expect the second cour to spend a lot more time on meaningful matches than the first did.
We can establish for the record that the outcome of this match was never in doubt – we’re still very much in the zaku stage of opponents here. Hyakuzawa, the ace of the Kakugawa high team, is an interesting opponent for his height (about 6’7″) if nothing else – though that height is mainly used as a vehicle to develop Karasuno and Hinata that much more. This is a new type of opponent, one who presents a challenge purely physical – in a sense, he reminds me of that poor hair-eating guy Bisky had Gon and Killua practice on in the Heaven’s Arena arc like a mother tiger giving her cubs a rabbit to practice hunting with.
Hyakuzawa isn’t a bad guy, actually. He’s a volleyball novice (this is his first official tournament) but he doesn’t like being told Kakugawa is a one-man team any more than they like hearing it. And when the more experienced (and talented) side begins to exploit the holes in his game he doesn’t pout – he actually tries harder, in spite of the hopelessness of the effort. Whether it’s the “plate” soft block of his spikes or taking advantage of his inability to react to Kageyama and Hinata’s quicks, the big guy really has no answer for Karasuno, and the end result is inevitable.
The most interesting scene of the episode – certainly the funniest – may be in the aftermath of the match, when Shouyou stumbles upon a couple of guys getting their nampa on with Kiyoko. She doesn’t seem especially worried but he leaps in gallantly (if timidly) anyway. In the process two important facts are revealed – first, that the two mashers are in fact part of a team that made the semi-finals at Nationals. And second, that Shouyou wraps his bento in a cute cloth with kitty-cats on it. I mean, seriously – when you’re 162 cm and a high school boy, do you really have the luxury of pushing your luck that way?