Weekly Digest 10/21/16 – Haikyuu!! Season 3, Drifters, Watashi ga Motete Dousunda

Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou – 03

It was a classic edition of Haikyuu this week, right in the series’ sweet spot.  There’s something to be said for consistency, and this show certainly has it.  I’m not as a rule a fan of this kind of pacing for sports anime – the type where a single game (or set) takes weeks and weeks to play out.  But Haikyuu is so good at depicting in-game action that it’s somewhat immune to the problems caused by this narrative style.

There are two obvious standout players for Shiratori, Ushijima and Tendou, and Haikyuu as usual does a very good job of placing their roles in context.  Shiratori is at heart a straightforward team – height and power – and of course, Ushijima reflects this.  He’s a colossus – the ultimate example of a weapon that can’t be stopped even if you know it’s coming.  His presence is huge, and the fact that we feel that so strongly is a testament to the storytelling here.

Tendou is a bit more complicated.  He’s a kind of (barely) toned-down Midousuji Akira, the kind of guy who loves to get into the head of his opponents.  His “guess blocking” approach is interesting, and I liked how Tsukishima was set up as the natural foil for it.  In a sense Tsukki rejects Ukai’s advice not to think too much, but his thinking yields good results – and he’s being true to himself.  I also continue to think Suga and Kageyama playing together is an effective wildcard Ukai doesn’t use often enough.  If you have a setter who’s also one of your best spikers, why not use a lineup that allows you to use that to your advantage – to keep the enemy that much more uncertain as to what’s coming?

 

Drifters – 03

I wasn’t as keen on the third episode of Drifters as I was the first two.  The whole thing began to take on an unsettlingly light novel feel (though the source material is a manga) for starters.  And in canonizing Kanno Naoshi, Drifters is sailing into some potentially dangerous waters, though it’s too early to know if that’s going to be a major problem.  There’s nothing inherently wrong in depicting Kanno as a hero figure, but too often in these sorts of military fantasies it’s the kind of thing that’s symptomatic of a larger nationalist bent.  We’ll see.

Drifters remains an interesting melange of elements, an awful lot of which this week had something distinctly “Lord of the Rings” about them.  The Black King stood at the head of an army of orcs and goblins, commanded an army of generals on winged beasts, and even had a big scary eye as his symbol.  But the premise is decidedly a muddle, with the time-travel element at the heart of it.  The Black King is at war with a group of magicians called the Octoberists, and where they use Drifters in their battles, he uses other displaced military figures called “Ends”.  What lands historical figures on the side of good or evil?  Too early to say, but it doesn’t seem to directly correspond to the role they played before their deaths.

In that light we’re introduced to two more Drifters, the Carthaginian legend Hannibal Barca and his great foil, the  Roman general Scipio Africanus (not to mention – Butch and Sundance!?).  Interestingly both these men died in exile, not battle, and they had a certain mutual respect despite their being on opposing sides (as demonstrated in the generous terms Scipio offered Hannibal after defeating him at last) – Hannibal’s tactics became staples of the Roman army. There’s enough of interest in Drifters to keep me around for now – I’d like to see how guys like these two interact with the likes of Oda, and learn just what’s going on behind this larger conflict.  But there some worrying signs that give me pause, and I’m nowhere near ready to commit.

 

Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 03

Watamodou is a pretty funny show, I have to admit, and that’s really the Hippocratic Oath for any comedy.  If you imagine that Uchimaki-kun from Konobi got to high school and found not just Usami but three other RL girls who were hot for him, that’s sort of the premise here.  And as comedy of errors go, that’s a pretty solid setup.

I’m still trying to decide if I should be bothered by how depressingly superficial all this is, though.  First off you’ve got four guys who only became interested in Kae after she lost weight.  And she, for her part, refuses to see them as anything other then the otome game or shoujo tropes (or character lookalikes) she neatly slots them into.  And then they go about trying to fight over her and divide her up as if she were a cake, and not a person.  It’s all alarmingly shallow, really.  But the thing is…  Isn’t high school pretty much like that in real life?  I mean, Watamodou is obviously exaggerating for comic effect, but generally speaking, high school social interaction is an alarmingly shallow exercise (and adulthood doesn’t always get much better).

I think what tips this into the black for me is that the series is also quite good at the satirical side of things, from the cosplay cafe full of Attack on Titan wannabees to the way it slyly pits the shoujo and BL cliches against each other.  This is not meta-satire on the level of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (second season when??) by any means, but it’s skillfully executed and entertaining.  And for now, that’s enough.

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17 comments

  1. e

    Haikyuu!! Well those two exclamation points are rather well deserved.
    1) Moon Boy Tsukki: The Rising. Also those ‘I’m the normal guy’ ‘Dozou dozou ‘ and cheering Tadashi’s serve in his own way? The most I’ve ever appreciated mr. TsunTsun so far. He’s just the right man for the job here. 2) The Slaughtering Setters (moar combined setters action please. Moarrrrr \\ *^*// )!! Unfortunately I suspect as core formation players Kage Hina Tanaka Tsukki Daichi Asahi (& Noya) each simple have the edge over him in at least one skill when it comes to receiving, blocking or spiking + their offensive and defensive balance works in most situations. So he gets little chances to unleash his refreshing powers. Luckily for us he makes those chances count :,D <3 .

  2. e

    (more missing lines T_T) The Midou vibes are real. Will he also start clicking his mighty teeth and reveal a reptilian tongue?

  3. e

    (missed paragraph)
    Drifters: hmmmm. Hopefully the Ends gain some more dimension. Not very impressed with the same crazy spin on the two ladies especially. Jury is out on the aviator (are they going for a Shinsengumi of old vs modern Shinsengumi here?).
    The Octobrists and the two venerable (?) Roman Republic era Drifters frenemies are a bunch of appealing charmers by comparison :,).
    The OP is still so addictive it’s starting to warp my perception of the series quality possibly. Nanananananahhhhhhhh until next week! *help!*

  4. T

    Honestly, the fact that Drifters went ahead and used Scipio Africanus instead of a more obvious choice such as Caesar or Augustus, makes me appreciate the show even at 3 episodes. I’ve seen other shows handle motley crews of characters and ensemble casts, so for me its too early to tell if the show will be able to handle it or fall apart under the weight of its ambitions.

  5. If Trickster is this season’s Ranpo Kitan, Drifters might be this season’s Overlord/Gate. It has interesting depictions of historical characters though, I’ll find it a real shame if it started dropping off in quality.

  6. F

    As we are moving forwards with the sets in Haikyuu!! I have a growing feeling that I will be sorely disappointed if Karasuno does not lose this match. This must be an unpopular opinion but the power difference is so clearly on display here, that my suspension of disbelief shatters every time I see that there is an equal score between Shiratorizawa and Karasuno. In theory Shiratorizawa is better at every field so how the hell does Karasuno keep up with that? With Hinata’s quicks, Tsukishima’s block, and fooling Tendou twice and Nishinoya’s one receive of Ushijima’s spike? Realistically that could be good for a 15-22 in favour of Shiratori but not for a break if we are to believe that the power system remains consistent and Shiratorizawa is indeed a powerhouse school. So at least they should show that some of their players have a bad day and they make more frequent mistakes so that the result is more believable. Yeah, the fight wouldn’t be that exhilarating if Karasuno has to play against a weakened opponent but if things remain as now the enjoyment value of the show will drop drastically for me because of the ‘unseen’ points that Karasuno scores in the background just to uphold the nearly equal score where the plays have the dramatic effect of having the power to tip the balance in favour of one or another.

    As for Drifters, it does little for me, but probably still watch one or two more episodes just out of curiosity. However, I find Watamodou pretty funny too, especially the quite realistic depiction of the ‘tropey’ events of the show. Like the small details when the fight broke out there’s that one guy who enthusiastically says ‘It’s a fight, it’s a fight!’. That was almost like real life high school and as for the romantic entanglements as Enzo points out cleverly: they are shallow but high school life is normally shallow so what’s to complain about.

  7. Y

    About Haikyuu, you have to remember that volleyball is not a sport where blowouts can happen easily. The game is set up so that both teams get equal opportunity to score points, as there’s no direct contact between players. No matter how good a team is, you can never get more than one point from one attack. It’s always one point, no matter you makes it. And when a point is scored, the opponent get the next opportunity to score. It’s fundamentally a game of going back and forth, one point at a time. So even if Karasuno can’t stop Ushiwaka, all they have to do is score one themselves, and we all know Karasuno is no slouch at scoring points. With Kageyama (the best setter in the prefecture aside from Oikawa, with a damn good serve and spike), Hinata, Tanaka and Asahi they’re damn strong offensively. They got through Dateko’s wall (still the strongest defence in the prefecture), and that was without many of their current tools (the new quick, synchronized attacks, Asahi’s jump serves, the two-setter plays, etc). On defence they have Nishinoya (without a doubt the best libero in the prefecture, I’d say), Daichi’s incredibly solid receives and Tsukki, who turning out to be a very competent blocker. After beating Seijo, I don’t think it’s strange at all that they’re somewhat keeping pace with Shiratorizawa.

  8. F

    I acknowledge that Karasuno’s team is strong but my point is that Shiratorizawa is stronger and the flow of the game shouldn’t be very different from what we have seen in the first set (which Shiratorizawa won by nine points). So what has changed during the second set? Tendou has worked harder because he started to see Karasuno as a worthy opponent but that should just widen the difference. Of course Karasuno’s players also are more fired up because they want to take back the lost set and now Hinata is also on the court but I’m just not buying that his presence and a few clever plays can pare their disadvantages down against Shiratorizawa’s top players. As the coach said Karasuno has to evolve while understanding their opponent but nothing obstructs Shiratorizawa to do the same and when the initial advantage is on their side it is hard to imagine that they could lose. As you said volleyball is a quite well-balanced game (yet I would argue about the truth of your statement that ‘both teams get equal opportunity to score points’ since if you serve aces continuously then the opponent gets no chance to fight back whatsoever ) but it is also true that the rules are mostly in favour of the the team who holds the advantage.

  9. Y

    I see your point, and I do agree to an extent. That said, I do think you might be underestimating how effective Hinata can be against straightforward opponents like Shiratorizawa. The reason he was less effective against Seijo was because that’s a team trained to be flexible, take initiative and think strategically when they encounter something new. Shiratorizawa, so far, hasn’t shown any of that, aside from Tendo they’re as straightforward as they come. And even Tendo, no matter how on-point he may be at times, can’t catch up every single time on his own.
    I don’t think it’s strange to assume that Karasuno has been slipping through as often as they seem to. Shiratorizawa’s doesn’t concern themselves with “petty” things like strategy, they just blast through whatever’s in front of them. It doesn’t matter how many points their opponents make, Shiratorizawa will always make more.

    Long story short, I do agree that they could’ve shown more of the second set, just to make it more believable that Karasuno is actually keeping pace, but I don’t think it’s particularly strange that they are.

  10. o

    Drifters kind of lost me with Anastasia Romanov…… I mean, her mark on history is pretty much based on her not being allowed to live long enough to make one.

  11. A

    I think that it’s already pretty noticeable, but in Watamotou there are one suitor that… can hardly be called one and isn’t with her for the looks at all. If you look at it I think that the clues on that are all over the place (and from what I’ve seen that makes him the most popular too, btw), but for the most part I agree. It’s fun and all, but nothing too depth or with the level of greatness Nozaki-kun showed.

  12. I agree, Sempai does seem the least shallow of the bunch (and anecdotally, seems the most popular among the fanbase). But it’s so blatant that I’ve just been assuming it’s an act.

  13. G

    “First off you’ve got four guys who only became interested in Kae after she lost weight”
    I’d say 3 guys. Mitsuki was her friend before and so far he doesn’t act like a love rival except maybe when the others want to spent time with her he also joins. But it’s more like he wants to be part of the group it seems, or he has feelings he isn’t awate. That or he is a master manipulator that knows how to act like a fool. Other than that I agree with your post. It’s a complety shallow premise that doesn’t pretend to be anything more but it’s funny. Although this episode was the worst so far.

  14. L

    Deleted

  15. Aaand, that’s a huge manga spoiler deleted.

  16. L

    Oh, it is considered as spoiler? sorry about that.

  17. NP. Just as a rule, any info about what happens in the source material later than what’s happened in the anime is a spoiler by LiA standards.

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