If there were ever a week it was true, it’s this one – you gotta love sports!
This isn’t anime’s greatest season by any means, but it’s certainly got the merit of being pretty heavy in sports series. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot this week what with my fixation on sports in the real world – seems like half the posts I’ve done have been about sports shows – and they’re a sizeable chunk of the watchable or better series on the schedule. Heck, even Days has gotten interesting enough to where I’ve toyed with blogging it again (though sadly, I can’t say the same for All Out!!).
As for Haikyuu, it never seems to change much no matter what’s going on around it either in anime or the world in general. That’s more true than ever with this cour being completely in-game episodes, and as I’ve noted there’s an inescapable flaw in the structure of the season in that there’s not really any suspense until we get to the last few episodes. Shiratorizawa was pretty much always going to win the first game, but whatever order the first four sets play out, it’s a given that they’re going to be split 2-2. That means once Haikyuu breezed through the third set with Karasuno getting blitzed 25-18, the outcome of the set that’s going to take up the next severals episodes is spoiled unless something very, very weird happens.
This leaves the series with the stiff challenge of making a set whose outcome is pre-determined dramatic and entertaining. Would Games 5 and 6 of the World Series have been spellbinding if I knew the Cubs were going to win them? Honestly I’m not sure, and even so that’s a pretty high bar to begin with. But Haikyuu has as good a chance to pull it off as almost any sports anime of recent vintage, being as adept as it is at the mechanics of the match. The arrival of the senior Ukai-san makes for an interesting twist – I’d be very interested in seeing the reaction of both coaches if they spotted him – and the main source of interest here has mostly been the marked contrast between the two teams.
No player dominates the narrative this week like Tsukishima did last week – the focus is mostly on the teams here, though Hinata does at least step into the spotlight more than he has for most of the season. There were a couple of moments that stood out for me, the first being when Ushijima scolded “clumsy” Shouyou that if he couldn’t compete with height, what could he possibly do if his technique was bad, too? It seems arrogant and dismissive, but I don’t think it really was – it’s just Ushijima being brutally honest as he always is. In a way he’s paying Shouyou a compliment, because he’s noting that his abilities are special enough for it to be a shame to waste them. And let’s be frank – his abilities in terms of serving and receiving are nearly inexcusable for a player who wants to be recognized on the national level.
The other moment I really liked was when Tendou dropped that little tidbit about hitters’ tendency to look where they plan to spike the ball. Seems as if volleyball spikers are simple-minded and direct in the same way strikers are in soccer, and it’s the job of both their teammates and their opponents to turn that to their advantage. The contrast between Tsukki and Tendou remains a very interesting part of the mix – the scientist and the artist, they’re as different as Karasuno and Shiratorizawa on the whole.