Sunday, 25 December 2016

ハイキュー!! / Haikyuu!! Season 3

Given how much can be covered in an entire series of an anime, it feels almost redundant to write about 10 episodes of a sports anime covering just one volleyball game. The previous seasons have been 25 episodes, so this felt more like a series of specials than a full season. However, following the underdogs as they go up against the formidable Shiratorizawa was certainly fun.

Tragedy hit the series as Tanaka Kazunari, voice actor for coach Ukai, passed away during the production of this season. He delivered some fantastic final lines and his replacement of course doesn’t sound quite as he should, and it’s a poignant note to remember this production by.

This season is focused on the single game, but succeeds very nicely in the two core strengths of Haikyuu – bringing new light to the established cast, and introducing some highly compelling oddballs on the rival side. The intrigue of Shiratorizawa comes not through the powerhouse giant Ushijima, but the bizarre-looking jester-like Satori. Sports anime and manga have long thrived on being able to pitch the heroes against oddballs, be they the super-powered children of Inazuma 11 and Saki or the tactical mind-game masters of Hikaru no Go.

But this season is effectively Tsukishima’s time to shine, which is great to see. From detached, sarcastic cynic too afraid to commit his all, he’s become the team’s strategic cornerstone. It’s pretty great to see that change, while retaining his bluntness.

Hinata remains the reason I watch the show, though. With his boundless enthusiasm, determination, ability to shock and occasional blind luck, he’s what gets under the skins of the opposing team and what makes Karasuno an oddball team. He’s everything I want from a shounen protagonist and I have to say that I can’t get nearly as interested as the rest of the fandom in all these random captains and setters when they just don’t seem nearly as compelling as what’s at the centre of this story.

Catchy opening and ending songs, solid production, a pretty aesthetic and very strong vocal performances made for ten enjoyable episodes that are guaranteed not to be the last in this story. And I’m very pleased by that.

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