Haikyuu!! Season 2 – 17

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -4 Haikyuu 2 - 17 -10 Haikyuu 2 - 17 -20Haikyuu 2 - 17 -1

I’ve been trying to figure out for a while why (sorry, Samu) this season of Haikyuu just isn’t as involving for me as the first one.  The stuff with She-nata at the beginning of the season was really good, and the Tsukki-Aniki arc was fine too.  If the off-court stuff is still there that really leaves the matches as the most likely culprit, and that’s an explanation that seems to hold water – and I have seen others express the view that the on-court stuff isn’t as engaging this time around.

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -2There are a couple of issues at play here, I think.  First, it took an entire cour before Karasuno played a really meaningful match.  The practice matches were okay, largely because Bokuto might just be the most entertaining character in the entire cast.  But practice is practice and tournaments are tournaments, and a cour is a long time for a sports shounen to go without the protagonists playing in a tournament.

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -3The other problem is that there’s been no suspense factor whatsoever since the tournament began.  What made the matches last season interesting, especially the Johsai match, is in part that there was real doubt about the outcome.  Well, there’s been absolutely no doubt about the outcome of any of the Crows’ matches so far – Karasuno simply isn’t going to lose to Wakunan, just as there was no way they were going to lose to any of the teams they’ve played up to now.  There are only a few teams Karasuno is allowed to potentially lose to, and Shiratorizawa looks like the first one that will be a factor this season.

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -5So, we have a problem here from my perspective.  Opponents get fleshed out via flashback when the matches start, but there’s only so much buy-in you’re going to get for a team you’ve never met before.  And curiously, I think the current situation with Ennoshita has a similar problem.  A distinction has to be made, I think, between what works in the sport being portrayed and what works as part of a story.  It seems like any criticism of Daichi is invariably met with a rebuttal based on his value as a player.  Well, look – no one is disputing that Daichi is a good player and captain.  But that doesn’t mean he can’t be kinda boring as a character, too.  And Ennoshita may be the right guy to replace him, but I would make the case that this development is dubious in negative terms.

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -8Here’s the problem for me, and I think it stems from Haikyuu (and this is a common problem with sports anime) being a little too quick to rely on the flashback as a narrative crutch.  I think inserting a guy like Chikara as the key figure without having given him any development time to speak of first is a bit of swing and miss.  Just thrusting him in the middle of a crisis and telling his story after the fact via flashback is kind of weak, at least for me.  Flashbacks have their place, but that place should be limited – and we see them too often in Haikyuu for my taste.

Haikyuu 2 - 17 -7I have no such problem with what happens with Tadashi at the end of the set, because that’s 100% legit – that angst has been earned.  And it’s genuinely interesting (and painful) to see Tadashi struggle to be relevant and whiff every time he’s getting a (rare) shot.  He’s a good kid but this whole volleyball thing is a struggle for him, and he may even be an argument that playing a sport because you’re following someone else may not be the best move.  Those last few minutes were easily the best part of the episode, and felt the most like the Haikyuu that made me like the series in the first place.  I hope we see more like them in the next two months.

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14 comments

  1. I think the key quote for understanding Ennoshita’s struggle is: “But the thought of running away will stay with me”…

    This days I’ve been watching AnoHana for the first time. I think your comments on that series somehow fit well to this episode of Haikyuu.

    School and sports aren’t exactly the same, but “sometimes skipping becomes too easy”, and some of us always live with that temptation of leaving everything. But in the end you are not confortable skipping either. It all reduces to what situation is more unbearable for each person.

    I agree with you about the outcome of the matches being predictable. The opening seems to be revealing all the opponents anyway.
    I think that’s why this part is focusing much more on the characters than in whether the team wins or loses. So it all comes down to being able to connect with this characters.
    Ennoshita’s struggle hits close to home for me, but is easy to understand how other people can’t find this episode boring.

  2. a

    Man i don’t know with you but Ennoshita’s worries really just.. hit home. It’s one thing to quit but it’s another thing to come back and always have that guilt that you quit. For me whether the whole flashback trope is overused or not, the fact is for me, Haikyuu used it perfectly here and it comes full circle especially in the end where Ennoshita defends Tadashi. This is honestly one of the most captivating Haikyuu episodes for me (predictable or not predictable) because it really gives more shine to characters that don’t get as much.

  3. S

    I gotta say, this episode was the weakest I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe there were less recaps in the manga, but Ennoshita came out of left field and suddenly pitched as the captain for the next year. Ugh. The intensity of the match itself died with that many recaps. I was pretty pumped from the cliffhanger from last week, even though the outcome is obvious, but I wasn’t feeling it at all this week.

    But. Haikyuu is still awesome. This episode might be the worst episode yet, just because it has stellar competition, but it’s still my favourite thing about the weekend and I don’t agree with your criticism of the season as a whole.

  4. The problem could, in part, be your expectations. In a team sport anime, there needs to be a balance of individuals. The team Captain here is the most grounded of the lot. Daichi tends to be boring in that sense as he needs to control a number of the important team members who are hyperactive and loose cannons. Throughout the series, you can see he’s the one that holds them together. Expected him to be otherwise when there’s no other in the team that has the seniority nor aptitude is just misguided expectations.

    The problem with explanatory flashback about Ennoshita is trying to balance the core story and giving some development work and background to the second-string characters. There were already bits and pieces about Ennoshita left out there to piece together that amongst the three second years in the far background, he was the one that stood out. From season 1’s first training camp, Ennoshita was the 2nd year explaining to Hinata and Kageyama about the walk-out. Also he was the one that told Kageyama on the sdielines during the 1st season’s competitive match with Aoba Josei that he can rely on his teammates for firepower. This 2nd season had him stepping out a little bit more – being the presence taking care of Nishonoya and Tanaka in their studies. If people missed all this, then it was too subtle for them. Throughout, there’s not much chance for his background to be told. How would you expect his bit of story to come out without distracting from the main team members? Right now, his story is one that normal untalented people can relate to. It is also another reminder of what Bokuto said that you only need to experience “that moment” to get reeled in. Ennoshita had his moment in that flashback and it made him feel it was worth putting up with the pain and hard work to feel that again. This part also brought back the question raised at the end of last season about who would become the captain after the 3rd years leave (and they will, it’s just a matter of time). We now have clarity that Ennoshita is going to be the next captain. He has the support of all the 2nd years and can handle both Hinata and Kageyama. The core question that the show is now dealing with is whether he can step into that role – watch the next couple of episodes to get an idea.

    Next, it’s true with almost all sports anime that the tournament side of it, especially in the 2nd bite of the cherry, will lose some excitement in terms of most matches are foregone conclusions that the main team/individual needs to get past before coming back to their main obstacle. There is the destination to be reached, but there is also the journey, as you should know. The journey to the destination is what makes it interesting. Each step brings a different challenge that the team has to respond to. Those that don’t show a challenge are generally one episode shots. This particular one against Wakunan is where a couple of challenges come up. A team that is more composed and like their perennial rivals, Nekoma, but not as strong skill-wise. However, they are solid and have a player that gives them a different challenge in how he gets the points. They are also throwing in a spanner to the works to show that Karasuno needs to be more resilient without their foundation, Daichi.

    Let’s not fall in to the trap of not seeing the forest for the trees.

  5. But clearly, not worry about the trap of being condescending and defensive.

  6. S

    Lol, I have objections to almost every sentence in your first paragraph.

    And through-out your text you’re trying to excuse the writer/ script writer for writing a bad story. Of course there are problems when taking the story in a new direction or playing opponents that don’t matter, but it was simply done poorly. You could say Ennoshita needed more foreshadowing, but the bottom line is that you don’t want a shitty player who never plays and never gets subbed in to be the captain.

  7. I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head, Enzo.

    It’s not the weakest episode of the stretch thanks to Floaty-serve San but definitely the weakest stretch in Haikyuu so far. The matches are just really repetitive, the first time a flashback sequence happened for fodder I already groaned a little, but it just doesn’t end. I used to be a little annoyed when they skimmed over matches in Baby Steps but now I understand why it happens I guess.

    The Ennoshita stuff is lazy but at least he has more of a character arc than Daichi.

  8. C

    It was an okay episode, I enjoyed it. But it’s true, you can’t just shove a “literally who” character into the spotlight and boldly proclaim “hey, this guy who has been with us from the start but has no presence outside some blink-and-you’ll-miss-him scenes is gonna be the next captain. cool, right?” Not really, no. It’s also the case that this “distraction” with Ennoshita deflated the relative tension the match had up until this point.

    This was the chance for Suga to shine but NOPE! Denied again!

  9. Your opinion seems to be that the next captain should be an already well developed character. I instead think that becoming the captain is the opportunity to give more development to the character.

    I mean, the next captain had to be in 2nd year. Tanaka and Nishinoya don’t seem like captain material (and also Nishinoya can’t be the captain because he is the libero). So, we already knew that the next captain was going to be one of the bench characters.

    This episode gave the author a chance to formally introduce Ennoshita. He already stood up a bit from the other bench 2nd years, and he received a lot of character development with this episode.
    Succeeding Daichi will take him to the spotlight eventually, when the 3rd years graduate. The author was just planting the seed in this week’s episode.

  10. No, I would say that Ennoshita is fine as the captain – the problem is that his development should have started well before he was thrust into the role and it was shoehorned in via flashback. Over-reliance on flashbacks is not a Haikyuu-specific problem in sports anime by any means, but it is a problem nonetheless. It’s a crutch. If it’s used the way it was with Tsukki and his brother, that’s one thing – it made perfect sense in that instance. But if it’s a substitute for true character development or a band-aid to try and generate some traction for a throwaway opponent, that’s quite another.

  11. T

    Don’t really see the love for “She-Nata”. I mean she for me is the typical female character in sports anime, doesn’t know much about the sport but can be animated to make cute faces and be naively sweet. I much prefer Shimizu who is a bit of throwback to characters like Minami from Touch and Aoba from Cross game, in that she understands the game and is passionate about it.

    I actually really enjoyed the training games and have really enjoyed the season, but think they should fit in these less relevant matches into one episode, I mean as you said, we already know the result.

  12. g

    You think matches with the main team and quarterfinals at that are unimportant and should be reduced to one episode? Seriously? Do you know how much I could reduce various manga or anime to couple chapters/ episodes, because we basically know result or outcome?

  13. T

    Yeh I mean this match is pretty pointless atm. I think Baby Steps nailed it. Focussed on the right matches consistently.

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