Sunday, March 5, 2017
REVIEW: Haikyu!! Collection 2 (anime TV series)
I picked up the second half of the first season of Haikyu!! before I’d completely finished the first half, but it took me a couple weeks to get around to watching it. I probably should have watched both parts back-to-back, but it worked out anyway.
This second half of the season features the series’ first non-practice matches. If Karasuno can win every single one of their upcoming matches, they’ll get to go to the nationals. Their first match is against a so-so team that includes an old friend of Karasuno’s captain. Their second match is against Date Tech, the team that temporarily crushed Azumane’s will to play. Their third match is against Aoba Johsai, the team Karasuno played a practice match against earlier in the season. Although Karasuno has played against them before, they have almost no experience facing off against Aoba Johsai’s primary setter, Oikawa.
I enjoyed this half of the season more than the first. The character introductions were finally over, and both Kageyama and Hinata had mellowed out some. The Aoba Johsai episodes, in particular, highlighted how much Kageyama had grown since the start of the series. He still messed up a bit, to the point of being given some cool-off time, and he was awkward as heck in his efforts to correct his behavior, but he wasn’t the raw mass of fear and anger that he’d been in the first few episodes.
The first match of this part of the season was designed to highlight the teams that didn’t quite measure up. For a brief moment, players who were destined to fade into the background got to be in the spotlight. I thought it was a nice way of showing how many more people were involved in these matches than just Karasuno and the teams they played against. Still, I preferred the adrenaline and “will they win or not?” feeling of the next couple matches.
Both the Date Tech and Aoba Johsai matches were lots of fun to watch. With Date Tech, there was the past history with Karasuno’s Third Years. With Aoba Johsai, there was Kageyama and his fears of once more becoming the “lonely king” he’d been back in middle school. It was fun seeing Kageyama learn from Sugawara. One thing I didn’t expect about the Aoba Johsai episodes was the way they humanized Oikawa. I knew from the practice game that he seemed to enjoy teasing Kageyama, but flashbacks during this match made it clear that Oikawa had issues of his own that he needed to work through. I ended up liking Oikawa more than I expected, although I still wanted Kageyama, and Karasuno in general, to beat him.
Although I thought these episodes were exciting and fun to watch, I still had some issues with this boxed set. First, I was a little bit taken aback by the decision to no longer explain everything. Volleyball newbies like myself weren’t completely left in the dust, but the “this is what just happened and why it didn’t break any rules” explanations were less frequent. I was most aware of this during the “setter dump” bits. Although the reduced pauses for explanations kept the action from slowing down too much, I found myself missing those moments a little.
Second, I realized while watching Haikyu!! that I prefer sports anime that give viewers occasional peeks into characters’ personal and school lives, and this series doesn’t do that much. There were a few classroom scenes, and the end of the season, in particular, spent some time on the Third Years and the decisions they’d have to make about their futures. Still, I couldn’t tell you anything about most of the players’ home lives, or what they wanted to do after they graduated high school. The closest the series came to discussing characters’ plans was Azumane’s brief mention that he didn’t intend to go to college, but he never said what he planned to do instead.
I enjoyed this boxed set, as well as the season as a whole. I can think of several sports anime I like more than Haikyu!!, but it’s still a series I’d recommend to fans of anime featuring team sports. It’s too bad that none of the anime’s other seasons are available for purchase, because I wouldn’t mind continuing on. It looks like it’s either Crunchyroll, the manga, or nothing. Hmm....
Just like Part 1, the only extras are a clean opening animation, clean closing, and a few trailers for other shows.