Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.16 – Simplicity is Best

My last post of the first half of Haikyuu!! To The Top was called The Ballad of Tanaka The Stupid. I really liked that episode as well. It made me happy. But I do regret the title now. Kinda.

Simple isn’t stupid and it isn’t easy. In fact, simple is often the mark of something being done very well. Now, I’m not saying Tanaka is a genius. I don’t need to cause he’ll say it himself. But I am saying he can be kinda cool sometimes.

I took way too many screencaps again. I really found this episode pretty. There’s a moment towards the end when Tanaka is asking for the ball one last time and there’s a close up of his hand. The outlines get all squiggly like it’s a rough sketch. The few seconds that follow have everyone’s proportions going completely out of whack as the toss and hit are deeply exaggerated. It’s just beautiful. Fire Force certainly has the best framing of the season but Haikyuu jas some truly outstanding animation.

Last week, I watched Haikyuu!! all the way to the end. Until the little stinger for the next episode. That’s why I know the title is Broken Heart. I spent all week fretting about it. It’s such an evocative title. Whose broken heart are they talking about? Do they mean mine? Is Karasuno going to lose? You see, I really wanted Karasuno to win this match. And that is kinda weird. And not only because I don’t get that invested in High School volleyball usually.

The other reason it would be a little odd for me to want Karasuno to win is that matches aren’t really my favourite part of Sports! anime. Training is. What I usually enjoy most in any season of a Sports! anime is that stretch after the main team has lost an important game where they all rally together and work harder than ever. It’s usually when all the character development happens. And also I have a thing for effort. Characters trying really hard is something I find cool to watch. Which occasionally makes shows with all too perfect leads a bit boring for me.

So with all that in mind, Karasuno losing would have theoretically been good for the show. The team would have gone back home and had to regroup. Characters like Tanaka and Nishinoya could have gotten a chance to grow a bit. All things I should be rooting for. But I was ready to get angry if they lost.

I think that’s because I really enjoyed the first half of To The Top. I thought it was an extraordinary season of anime. And I found that the characters had some of the best development they ever did. Kageyama and Hinata certainly matured by leaps and bounds while remaining true to themselves. But everyone else on the team also got a chance to sturdy themselves a bit. Even Kyoko got t show us what she is made of. And that was wonderful. She is made of wonderful.

I think that if Karasuno had lost this game, it would have felt as if all that built up had gone to waste. It wouldn’t have, of course. Those wonderful episodes would remain wonderful regardless of this one. In fact, I’m sure Haikyuu!! could have created a great episode out of a loss. They have before. But I think our team was due for a win. And I was just so happy to see it happen.

Besides, it’s not like we didn’t get plenty of character development in game! In a way, I didn’t exactly learn anything new about Tanaka. The episode said it best. Tanaka is a simple guy. And that’s one of his greatest strengths, both as a player and as a character. He doesn’t need some type of complicated convoluted backstory. He’s just a guy who wants to win. And so he tries really hard to win. I can get behind that!

And those simple, if occasionally foolish views were funny to see applied to the ladies in his life. Although I do think he may be missing out here. Kyoko is wonderful, never let it be said otherwise. But Kanoka seemed pretty great herself. I wouldn’t mind seeing her again.

And so, in the end, Karasuno won. It was one of those perfect for TV victories where the score kept evening out and they got to game point at least three times. You never know when the momentum could shift and they would lose it all.

The flashbacks and Tanaka’s inner monologue were so perfectly balanced with the advancement of the game itself that I could hardly disengage them. I did really enjoy watching young blonde Tanaka. He was funny. And I also liked seeing the club back when they were on their losing streak. It made this victory all the sweeter.

I think my reviews would be more interesting if I had some viable criticism of Haikyuu!! I’m sure some exists. There is no such thing as perfection after all. But I’m just feeling this season so much. It might be the push I need to finally just buy all the manga like I did for Natsume.

In any case, next week is a match without Karasuno. It also marks the return of Nekoma. My second favourite (sometimes first favourite) team! I’m always super stoked about Haikyuu!! so I guess this doesn’t change much. Still, I can’t wait until the next episode!

me too – but in a nice way

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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4 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    I was never worried that they mightn’t win. I mean it’s called “to the top”, and even if it were just motivational, the title would feel a little odd, if they dropped out this early, with quite a few episodes still to go.

    I do really like Tanaka, but in real life, he’d initially make me nervous, and later he’d still be too loud for me. But as an anime character, he’s great. I mean he was depressed… for about a second. I chuckled at the line. It’s so in keeping.

    And, yeah, Kanoka is pretty great, too. I wouldn’t mind a girl-volleyball spin-off, if it’s done by the same team.

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