Tuesday, June 19, 2018

REVIEW: Haikyu!! 2nd Season (anime TV series)

Haikyu!! is sports anime focused on volleyball. It's licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

My review includes things that could be considered spoilers. Read on at your own risk. Reminder: I cross-post to LibraryThing, where I can use spoiler tags.


As in the first season, half of this season is devoted to practice matches, while the other half is devoted to Inter-High Preliminaries games. This time around, however, Karasuno's volleyball team is finally coming together and morphing into a force to be reckoned with. Hinata learns to be more than just Kageyama's weapon, and various other first- and second-year members of the team put more time and effort into developing their strengths. Oh, and if the first season's lack of glimpses into the players' school and family lives bugged you, you'll be happy to know that Season 2 rectifies that a tiny bit. The characters whose home lives get the most attention are Tsukishima and Yachi (Karasuno's newest manager, a timid girl who really grew on me).

Although Haikyu!! still doesn't appeal to me on the same level as Big Windup!, this season was a good deal better than the first. My least favorite thing about this season was that, once again, Hinata and Kageyama ended up at each other's throats for a bit. Hinata had started to outgrow the restrictions placed on him by his and Kageyama's style of playing, and he wanted to improve his skills and evolve past that. Kageyama and most of the rest of the team were in their comfort zone and believed that trying new things would hurt the team more than help it. I was happy when they all finally worked through that rough patch. I mean, if they couldn't try new things during practice matches, when were they supposed to try them?

I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the training camp portion of the show. Nekoma's players, in particular, had a vested interest in seeing Karasuno improve - they knew that their coach wanted nothing more than for Karasuno and Nekoma to have another "Dumpster Showdown," a match between the Karasuno crows and Nekoma cats. In this portion of the season, Nekoma's Kuroo was my favorite non-Karasuno character, in large part because he spent so much time giving Karasuno's players tips and advice.

The Inter-High Preliminaries portion of the season was fun too, although much tenser. I enjoyed getting to see all the characters try out the new strategies and techniques they learned in the training camp, although I admit that I got a bit impatient during the match against Wakunan. In terms of what would make for the best story, it was pretty obvious how that match would go, and Wakunan's players weren't quite as entertaining as Johzenji's.

My absolute favorite part of the Inter-High Preliminaries portion, however, was the match against Aoba Johsai. This was partly due to Oikawa, who I love, and partly due to all the last kinks in Karasuno's team getting ironed out. I was happy to see Yamaguchi get another chance to shine - the Aoba Johsai spectator girls' reactions were perfect.

One of the problems of "one loss and you're out" tournaments is that, depending on how much you can predict the overall story direction, the match outcomes are fairly clear. Karasuno's third-year players have been given one last chance to aim for nationals, and I doubted that Haruichi Furudate (the series' creator) would allow Karasuno to be defeated in the Inter-High Preliminaries again. That said, although I could predict the match outcomes, I couldn't predict all the details of how the matches would go, and so, for the most, everything was still fun to watch.

One interesting thing this season did was concentrate more on the first- and second-year players and their development. There was a definite sense that viewers were being given a peek at what Karasuno might become after the third-year students leave. I enjoyed seeing everyone come into their own, although I admit that I felt a pang once I realized that the third-year students might not be around after the series' next season (I'm trying not to look up spoilers). Literally every one of them has qualities that I'll miss. Ooh, and since he's a third-year student too, that'd mean no more Oikawa either, darn it.

All in all, I'm glad I continued on with this show and wish that Season 3 were already available for purchase. I suppose I could stream it, but I'm resisting. I should probably check out the manga at some point...

Additional Comments:

Ugh, of course Sentai Filmworks would release an English dubbed version of the first season after I already purchased and watched the version with subs only. I need to remember that they have an annoying habit of releasing sub-only sets first and sets with both sub and dub later on. I got burned on this with Maid Sama as well. On the plus side, I listened to the English dub track on this season and it didn't really appeal to me, so my annoyance is more about having seasons that don't match than a real desire to rewatch the first season with an English dub. But, hmm, I see that Chris Patton voices Oikawa, so maybe I should give the dub another go, at least with the Aoba Johsai episodes.


As usual, Sentai Filmworks included the skimpiest possible extras. All you get are "clean" (no text) versions of both this season's openings and closings.

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