You’ve got to give it up for Haikyuu – it always delivers what it promises. It’s like the post office and an old reliable dog rolled into one. There are almost never any surprises with Haikyuu!, but coming in a week when we had another sports anime utterly destroy any credibility it had left after 120-plus episodes of missteps, it’s even easier to admire this one for what it isn’t: idiotic. Petty. Hilariously tone-deaf. Here’s to dependability – and sanity.
As series finales go, this one was particularly anti-climactic in the very literal sense that it had no climactic feel whatsoever. The Seijoh game was the logical and poetical conclusion to this season – that ended last week. And unlike the first season, there was no emotionally potent aftermath to deal with here – just a fairly straightforward preamble to the Shiratorizawa match. And with the third season set to begin in the Fall, one would expect Haikyuu!! to pick up right where it left off at that time. It seems as if the third season will launch tournament mode a hell of a lot quicker than the second did.
Of what we did get here, as is the usual with Haikyuu!!! it speaks for itself eloquently enough that it doesn’t need much embellishment. There’s a little facedown between Ushijima (“Bull Island”?) and Oikawa where the former again scolds the latter for not choosing to attend Shiratorizawa. There an inspiring return to the Karasuno campus, where the students have dutifully stayed behind to welcome the conquering heroes home. There’s a whole lot of fist clenching and teeth grinding from Hinata to show us how determined he is, and what must be about the 25th illicit after-hours practice with Hinata and Kageyama (the last several with She-nata as an accomplice).
Determined I have no doubt Shouyou is, and it was his growth more than anyone’s that tipped the scales against Aoba Johsai. But unlike in that match the baby crows have no plot armor here. Not only do they not have a narrative Karmic debt like they had with Seijoh, I think it could be argued that a win against Shiratorizawa would be beyond the credible – truthfully, Karasuno should be nowhere close to good enough to take out Shiratorizawa at this stage. It’s interesting to speculate on just how much of the new season of Haikyuu!!!! this one match will take up (I’ve seen rumors Season 3 will be one cour, but nothing confirmed), and what might happen after Karasuno loses to Shiratorizawa, if indeed they do. As for Seijoh, I assume that means Oikawa is done – and with him, likely the run of dominance they’ve had in the Tohoku region.
Taking a look back at this second season as a whole, again, it delivers. I do think the rankings you see on places like MAL are inflated to a pretty silly degree, but there’s no denying Haikyuu!!!!! is a very good show. The technical side of things is as good as in any sports anime we’ve seen, the writing is consistent, and it’s a show that seems very comfortable in its own skin. It knows what it’s good at and sticks to to it. On balance I’d rank this season a notch below the first – there wasn’t nearly as much compelling tournament play, and I didn’t find quite as many keen emotional connections as I did with the first season. But we’re really only talking about very small degrees of difference here – this show is as consistent as any sports anime of recent vintage.
One of these days maybe I’ll do a post on the relative merits of the sports manga adaptations that have ridden the new magic formula to commercial success – Haikyuu!!!!!!, Yowamushi Pedal, Kurobas et al. They all have their own twist on the genre and their own calling cards to recommend them (though I’m not a fan of Kurobas, truth be told), but I think Haikyuu!!!!!!!‘s best qualities are it’s straightforward contract with the audience and lack of pretense. I love the amazing animation and the BGM, but if the series didn’t feature appealing characters and a respect for the sport it depicts that would be nowhere near enough to recommend it. You can always count on it, and that’s something as anime fans we should never take for granted.