Aside from Haikyuu, I’m currently watching two other sports anime. I like all of them but Haikyuu is the best. And this season is fantastic. But it has gotten me thinking about what I like about sports anime so much. I’ll probably go one about it in some other post but the short answer is, Sports anime is comfortable to me.
Especially well made Sports anime. And Haikyuu is definitely among the best. I mean just look at this one episode. It managed to cram in character development for 3 separate characters, an actually exciting match and some heavy foreshadowing for the rest of the season plus some nods for the long-time fans. And also kept me wondering who exactly the Serene king was all the way up to the very end!
Like most other shows, Haikyuu is wrapping up its season. With only two episodes left, this match is going to have to end at some point. Personally, I hope we get results next week so that we can have a week of filler. Haikyuu filler has been really premium this season. Actually, thinking back, Haikyuu has always had really good filler episodes. Almost like they’re not filler at all.
But getting back to this week. I don’t pay much attention to episode titles. I should, some are really great. I’m just not in the habit of taking notice. But I actually noticed this week’s title in last week’s preview. The Birth of the Serene King is just such a good title. It’s evocative but very mysterious. Especially when it comes to Haikyuu.
Who the heck could the Serene King be? Kita is very calm, although I would call him more impassive than serene. Also, the word birth in there makes me think it’s someone who wasn’t calm in the past. Any other season I would have said it could be anyone other than Hinata but he’s grown so much this year… At first, I thought it would be Tsuki. He’s been irritated so a bit of peace would do him good. But it wasn’t his time yet.
As the episode progressed, it seemed to be pointing to Tanaka. he’s been featured more heavily lately. Certainly in the last few weeks but also in the first half of the season, with that lovely childhood friend of his. And we’ve discovered a gentler more insecure character than we knew before. It would make sense to give him a title.
But then again it doesn’t quite fit. If anything, the episode made Tanaka break out of his serenity. For a second I got worried and thought maybe it was about a player on the Inarizaki High team. The twins are probably terrifying if they get really focused. Thankfully, it seems everyone is exhausted and Inarizaki isn’t doing any better.
So then of course there’s Kageyama. I mean if we’re going to talk king, there’s no better candidate is there? And Kageyama is really a great choice. He seems very calm, almost emotionless but we all know that’s only on the surface. If anything, since the very start of the show, Haikyuu has made it clear that Kageyama’s biggest weakness is that he’s an overly emotional player.
And Shoyo isn’t the only one who’s grown. If anything, Haikyuu has been the indirect story of Tobio’s character arc. He is the one who has changed the most drastically. And it’s his changes that have affected the rest of the team the most. Hinata is our protagonist and often point of view character, but he’s always looking at Kageyama.
Slowing through the first season, Tobio learned to be part of a team. In the second season, he learned how to trust others and to accept the painful realization that he may not be the best player. That has probably helped him become a much better player than he realizes. Eventually started to learn a bit of patience to go with all that newfound wisdom.
So the Tobio that showed up at the All-Japan youth training camp at the beginning of the season was a much more humble and open player. He learned more than he would have had he gone at any other time. I mean he even had Atsumo calling him a goody-two-shoes. Miya didn’t know it at the time but that was the biggest sign that Kageyama is a brand new player. But he’s still emotional. And if he can get a hold of that, he’ll be unstoppable. Unfortunately, it’s though keeping your temper in check with Shoyo on your team…
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep1 – A Fresh Start
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep2 – The Ball Boy
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep3 – Growth
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep4 – The Coach
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep5 – Reunited
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep6 – Home Team
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep7 – Shoyo The Kingslayer
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep8 – Strategy
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep9 – The Manager
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.10 – I Wasted My Title Last Week, Oh Well Let’s Just Call This Post “Calibration”
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.11 – Fine Tuned
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.12 – A Murder of Crows, A Glaring of Cats and A Flock of Seagulls
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.13 – The Ballad of Tanaka The Stupid
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.14 – Anticipation
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.15 – A Clash of Weirdos
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.16 – Simplicity is Best
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.17 – Leveling Up
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.18 – Cursed Gravity!
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.19 – Pressure
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.20 – Routine
- Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.21 – Lucky Number 7
5 thoughts on “Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.23 – Sharpen”
Interesting you wanna write about sports anime because I’m currently doing so, with Haikyuu and Hajime no Ippo being the two I’m going to reference as examples of sports anime done really well. It’s funny though that sports anime I feel gets a bad rep or can be overlooked for the more flashier titles
It’s is more down to earth in some way. Then again the players in Kuroko might as well have had super powers
Yeah but I feel that as much as it was cool it also was kinda a negative for me by the end of the series. Like as someone who played sport seeing someone do one cross-over and make the opponent fall was mad silly. I think, like you said, what makes Haikyuu good is that it is realistic which makes it relatable and attainable which seemingly caused the spike in people playing volleyball in Japan
It’s interesting to think about Haikyuu in terms of “sports anime”. I’ve always uncritically thought that Haikyuu is the most sports-anime anime out there, but I’ve never properly realised that there’s a sliding scale from individual sports to team sports, via individual sports with school clubs competing as a team anyway.
What sports anime am I watching right now?
There’s Haikyuu, Gymnastics Samurai, and Hikaru no Go. What I’ve often said about Haikyuu is that it’s the most “focussed” on the sport I’ve seen any sports anime be. If it’s not about volleyball, it’s not in the anime. It’s not quite true to that extreme, but character development is usually framed in terms of team-dynamics. There are no outside interferences usually, like, say, the get-good-marks-or-quit-the-club arc that’s popular in other shows.
Until you said you’re watching three shows currently and I thought of what sports shows I’m watching now, too, I never really considered this, but Haikyuu can afford to focus on the sport because two teams on the court provide plenty of personelle on the page and consequently opportunities for characterisation. On the other extreme, we get shows like March Comes in Like a Lion, which focusses on character development, and transforms Shougi from a convenient tool to isolate yourself on your side of the board to indulge your impression to a game you play with others. It’s much more integrated, but when you’re only the only person on your team…
And then there’s the school club model. I’m assuming this season’s Sports Climbing Girls would fit the bill, but I had to drop the show because the camera was horrid on my motion sickness. A school-club focus is different yet again, because it balances the sports with the socialising. Haikyuu, too, is technically a school club, but the focus is so clearly on the sports activities that you don’t get the usual sentimental schoo-clubs-are-fun spiel along with it. It’s all “Volleyball is so cool”.
I find it interesting that Hikaru no Go is currently (where I am in the show) playing off school-club dynamics vs. going pro. It’s something I can’t remember ever seeing in any other show. Actually, Kageyama and Tsukishima being “noticed” in To the Top comes pretty close, but it’s not really the same.
To be honest, the magic of Haikyuu is wearing off a little for me, but that’s hardly a surprise, since it’s been doing the same thing for four seasons now, I’m notoriously bad with long running shows. I still enjoy the show a lot, though, and this current game must have the most giri-saves on both sides for any matches in Haikyuu I can remember. And it helps that I like the current opponents a lot more than the previous ones. Haikyuu‘s just a lot of fun to watch.
I liked the first half of To The Top a bit more then the second but then again I really liked that first half.