I got to watch Haikyuu‘s third season in one satisfying seating on my first day of 2017. I’ve already read the manga up until the epic Karasuno-Shiratorizawa arc, but given how phenomenal the adaptation is, I figured that telling that godly chapter through animation is going to be another level of ecstasy.
And sure enough…
To be honest, I think this 3rd season — or just this arc in particular — is one of THE BEST high-school sports anime I’ve seen ever. And that’s to say a lot, considering that I’m rather fond of my teenagers pitted against each other with youth and at stake. Anyways, I guess you can consider this just a raw draft/knee-jerk reaction after watching the show 10 episodes straight so yeah, here goes.
First off… I think the small details really brought to life the characters a bit closer to mimesis and/or realism of what an awesome match should be like. Small details such as that simple entrance high-fives Karasuno did, that organic cheering and Alma Matter song from both schools, those fucking awesome one-liners that made my blood boil, those hilarious one-liners that acted as a breather to relieve you from the tension, those fucking awesome highlight reels etc., you can totally feel that you’re part of the roller coaster ride, rather than you simply watching the show as an audience. I’ve got a lot to say from these smaller stuff, but the fact that I had a lot to say from the nuances is surprising when you start lining them up against what other high-school sports anime has to offer.
Big Windup is a close contender of what I think is one of the greatest high-school sports anime there is, but I think what gave Haikyuu‘s 3rd season the huge lead are the antagonists, Shiratorizawa. Digibro has already talked about this in one of his videos while he compared it to Kuroko no Basuke‘s rather flat-out intimidating cast of characters. There’s a sense of malleability to the players in Haikyuu that doesn’t just extend to the visual design, but also lend itself to the mood, the personality, the overall aura, the structure of presentation and whatever. In fact, Shiratorizawa doesn’t all look that antagonistic to begin with (but damn Wakatoshi and Tendo DOES look intimidating when they need to) but there were moments that actually made me root for this team instead of the fan-favoured Karasuno.
Shiratorizawa wasn’t just a team conjured by the mangaka for Karasuno to beat; they aren’t hurdles, they’re, well, equally depicted as a group of youth who has their own motivations, reasons, and likeable personalities. I think this fair attention to detail is something most of the show’s counterpart would usually overlook, in favor of giving the opposing team one or two “character to beat” plus a couple of dramatic crescendos here and there.
Adn sure, I get what people are saying from how awesome Tsukki is, or how awesome Kageyama serves, but… I still feel like they wouldn’t haven been able to evolve to what they are now if not for Shiratorizawa. I guess what I’m trying to say that if Karasuno were able to show their very best — both in terms of personal evolution, drama, ideologies, etc. — then it must be safe to say that their opponents are equally as good, if not, better. It’s that kind of match that I haven’t see in a long while, wherein both teams are given ample moments to voice their side of the fence. They grow as a group, as an athlete, and as an individual throughout the match. However, at the end of the day, one or the other will walk home as the victor — the catch is, it’s honestly difficult or nigh impossible to predict which team will win.
Wakatoshi is a goddamn volleyball machine in as much as his personality is robotic, but that casual conversation with Tendo made me love this duo even more than from when I first met them. I thought I wasn’t going to “feel” Wakatoshi’s superiority but holy shit when he exclaimed “I’m starting to get into it” you know you’ve just triggered something. Tsutomu is as marvelous and entertaining to watch as Wakatoshi, and I’m started feeling sentimental when he expressed his enviousness from his sempai. You’ll know how much he respects Wakatoshi when he mentioned how frustrating it is to watch Wakatoshi’s at his best — it’s that kind of bitter-sweet dynamic in Shiratorizawa’s characters, between the characters, and against Karasuno that made me feel like they are honestly the perfectly defined team in any high-school sports anime I’ve seen (well, with the exception of Karasuno, of course). And I don’t even have to mention their coach, whom for 40 years hid behind his inferiority complex and made use of that disadvantage to an advantage and BAM, that’s how Shiratorizawa, the champs, were founded.
Lastly — and remember, I am not one who brings sakuga up unless necessary — I guess the production value enabled that superb viewing experience, and of bringing those minute details to life. Of course it’s normally desirable for a sports anime to be able to depict action as smoothly and awesome as possible and very few are able to do so consistently, but this 3rd season just took the cake and ate it plate and everything. Remember episode 10, with all six of Karasuno in mid-air then this 720 degree rotation swooshed through the screen? Fuck. Yes. Now I feel like playing some volleyball. There were reused footage, but it never really felt redundant with all the sheer amount of new cuts we’re shown (*cough* Yuri!!! on Ice).
- Love the juxtaposition and irony between the concepts of both schools. Karasuno embracing their difference and oddity, whilst Shiratorizawa polished the most basic and fundamental aspect of volleyball without them realizing that, well, they’re not that different from their opponents.
- Okay. Tsukki is awesome.
- How many times have I said awesome now?
- I guess giving this particular match 10 episodes to conclude is one reason why they were able to build up substantial characterization for Shiratorizawa, without sacrificing that of Karasuno’s.
- Slam Dunk is up on my top high-school sports anime too, and their matches are somewhat similar in structure to Haikyuu‘s but if you’re into something that takes itself more seriously, then the former is for you.
- This post was supposedly included on my Flip Flappers episode 12 post but… I’d feel like a total ass if I don’t make a separate one. Kindle, the “WRITE” button is just one click away.
- Like honestly, every character is awesome.
- Tsutomu’s haircut is pretty cool. hopefully we’ll see more of him.
- That moment where Kageyama returned from the bench, drum roll started playing then… KABAM! Fucking awesome serve. Wish more sports anime would rely on their diagetic music to hype something up.
- I have a crush on Kiyoko.
- There’s actually more to tell about Wakatoshi, Shiratorizawa’s coach, and Tsukki’s brother from what I’ve read in the manga but I guess their exclusion wasn’t much of a lost.
- I only played a bit of volleyball in highschool and in uni, but I think Haikyuu‘s shenanigans doesn’t need that much of a suspension of disbelief for me to digest that what they’re doing is really, really cool — just a bit over the edge of uncanny valley whilst still remaining believable.
- Haven’t been hyped this much since Gurren Laggan. Actually… how can a show hype you up?
- Big Windup is really good too, though not as hyped and varied compared to Haikyuu‘s cast.