This is my most anticipated anime of the year. I really like Haikyuu! I know I’m hardly the only one. But where I might be a bit more unusual, is that I think To The Top is spectacular and possibly the best Haikyuu! has been.
I’m about to go n a mini-rant so please humour me for a little bit. During the first cour of To The Top, I did these episode reviews and my usual tons of screencaps. People here have been great. You guys pretty much always are. But over on Pinterest, it was a deluge of comments about how the new art style is ugly and the show is RUINED forever now!!!
Personally, I don’t dislike the new style. It’s more unique and I find it more artistic but that’s a matter of opinion. And I understand that since it is much less conventional, it becomes less accessible. A lot of people don’t like change. I get it. That’s your opinion and I respect it.
However, the first cour of To The Top had some of the most exceptional writing I have had the pleasure to experience in a long time. It was subtle and measured. Thee season allowed a whole bunch of characters to grow tremendously without it ever feeling like exposition was dumped on me. It not only renewed my love for characters I already loved, but it also deepened them and filled out their characterization in a completely organic way without neglecting anyone too much. In 13 episodes, it pulled off half a dozen intricate character studies.
That’s a tour de force. The thought that so many people couldn’t appreciate that, when these are studies of characters they supposedly like, just because they liked the old drawings more, makes me a little sad. Both fr the folks missing out on a great season of anime and for anime itself. OK mini-rant over. I hope!
Last time we saw Karasuno, they were just about to play a very important game at the Nationals! (I have an episode of community stuck in my head) against power team Inarizaki. And you know, I wasn’t all that impressed with Inarizaki last time. I didn’t dislike them or anything but they were just another team There are so many great teams in Haikyuu and my favourite rivals will always be Nekoma. After this episode though, I gotta admit, the twins are fun! A lot of fun!
Haikyuu! wasted no time at all to get us in the action. The very first second hit me with a volleyball in the face and it was game on! I think one of the most magical things about Sports! anime is that it can get me to care about the sport. At least a little. I haven’t watched a second of Haikyuu since episode 13 aired and yet it only took a few seconds for me to be right back there. Felling the tension and manic energy of a long-awaited match. Already wringing my fingers and biting my lip, hoping it would all work out for MY team!
People talk a lot about the art shift in To The Top but I have yet to see anyone mention the animation shift. I actually think the two go hand in hand and a certain adjustment to the models was required to even out the more exaggerated and rich movements. The animation in this season of Haiikyuu reminds me a lot of Masaaki Yuasa‘s works. The director famously has a lot of classic American cartoon influences and it shows in how he overemphasis each action and creates these mesmerizing ragdoll physics.
To me, it’s an animation style that works particularly well in a show like Haikyuu. It makes those serves and spikes look like the most incredible super her moves. As such, when they had exactly that type of animated sequence right at the beginning of the episode, I didn’t dare look away for even an instant.
In the end, this was a game episode. There isn’t that much to say about it. But it got the excitement for Haiikyuu running through my veins again. When Saeko showed up to cheer them on, I cheered along. Also, I want traditional Japanese drum and flute recitals to be standard cheer practice. When Noya missed a receive and got frustrated I gnashed my teeth and knew it was on! When Hinata and Kageyama got it together I jumped up in glee and when the Miya twins retaliated, I froze in my tracks.
It’s not that fun being told about a match second hand. It’s something you got to experience for yourself. But man, it was a cool experience. I really want Karasuno to win. But I’m not sure the can. The other team is really good. And the boys have spent a lot of time apart. They need to get their rhythm back. Oh, look, the tile of the episode. Fancy that!