Welcome back for the second installment of the Haikyuu Superfest! This honestly has made me so happy, being able to rewatch this series like this. Its an amazing show, with fantastic art and a stunning ability to build feelings.
I think that is the series greatest strength; the ability to build the feelings of the characters through a change of background, vocal editing, and facial expressions.
A number of characters go through emotional issues in these block of episodes. Kageyama is facing his old teammates who still consider him a tyrant, Suga is battling with himself, and his feelings towards not being the official setter, and two new characters, Asahi and Noya face an internal and external struggle about their roles and responsibility on the team. Suga also is intertwined in this emotional battle.
Hinatas emotions are all over the place and always on a speed run. One moment he’s happy, the next he is discouraged, a second later he’s infuriated. These changes are displayed not only in the tone of his voice, but his facial expressions and a new sound effect and the occasional dynamic background. The most used background for Hinata is dark blue tentacle-squiggles to show shame or discouragement.
Kageyamas emotions are more along the lines of frustration and anger. His default seems to be anger, based off of his interactions with Hinata. But during matches he is stone serious and focussed. Except if Hinata screws up. When he’s angry his pupils often disappear and he is larger than Hinata. When he is passive, such as when his former teammates are trying to razz him, he looks eerie. Calm is not his natural state.
Maybe its because im watching the episodes all at once, but Kageyamas character growth has happened rather quickly. Maybe that’s the professionalism in him, or the relief at finally found a spiker, but he’s mellowed out significantly from the first episode. He’s even giving advice on how to work as a team member to Asahi. This fact isn’t passed over because both Hinata and Kageyama himself acknowledge that its strange come from him. Hinata mocks him for it and does a spot on impression if I do say so myself.
The actual action scenes are the highlight though. Yes, character emotions are important, they are super important, but in a sports anime, a lot of the focus is on the action. Hinatas quick spike is drawn in almost furious squiggles, and the jump is slowed down. You see him held in the air for a moment, before he spikes the ball and it whizzes past the blockers face. Its marvelous! It makes you hold your breath.
The slow motion serves two purposes. The first is to allow you to see the jump in its entirety. Rather than it being in real time and you blink and miss is, cause real life jumps are affected by gravity, you can see it, and then it continues.
The second reason is so that any narration can be fit in. If Daichi or Sensei wants to comment on the jump or the situation, it has much more impact when its accompanied by such a beautiful sight.
Some of the quick spikes are at regular speed, but when a character sees it for the first time, the awestruck look on their face is focussed on, after seeing the jump. Another reason for the slow motion jump is that people often describe something has happened in slow motion. If something amazing or devastating happens, a lot of people can say that they ‘saw it slow motion’.
When the scene is repeated form multiple angles, it also adds tothe ‘wow!’ effect. Seeing it from the multiple angles and perspectives allows the viewer to see just how cool the move is.
Angles used to show the action scenes are also used to create a feeling of awe. A lower camera looking up creates the feel that.. You are looking up at the character, or that they are better/bigger than you as a viewer. Lights shining behind the character, creating a silhouette also creates this effect. Sideways angles and behind a character are also angles used to convey an emotion, even if it is not spoken about.
The camera being behind Oikawa as he speaks to the Karasuno team gives a ‘leader speaking to his subordinates’ feel, or an intimidation tactic.
Its hard to talk about the emotional aspects without commenting on the music as well. The music sets the tone, and can either make or break a scene. Sad music is often used in later episodes, when Asahi, Noya and Suga go through their dilemma. The main conflict is regarding Asahi seeming to have lost interest in volleyball. He claims its no longer fun, and that he wants to quit. Through internal monologue we know that not true, and the soft fade to black backgrounds, along with the sad music signifies Asahi feels alone or empty.
Flashbacks to show the reason for the emotional defeat are used, and with a black and white filter or sepia filter. The montage of block after block after block and the resulting facial expressions and reactions among teammates builds an understanding for why Asahi feels the way he does.
Suga and Noyas input in the situation yields the whole picture between the three of them. Noya is desperate to keep the ball in play to give Asahi another try. Suga is desperate to open up the blocks and give Asahi the best toss possible to get past the enemy blockers. Asahi is under the impression that if he fails, then everyones efforts are for nothing, and that its impossible for him to get past the blockers anymore.
After he sees the Sho-bio combo Asahi seems to have hit a spark in his mind. He wants to feel that happiness again, of feeling the ball in his hand and seeing over the net. His spikes are powerful too, he knocked Kageyama clear back!
Id like to talk about Nishinoya for a moment. He is one of my favorite characters ever. (even more than Hinata Shh). He is shorter than Hinata, he has the skunk-tail streak in his hair, he’s loud and boisterous. He creates names for moves, like Rolling Thunder, he becomes extremely flustered when Daichi calls him the Guardian Deity of Karasuno, and he is so cute and loud and funny! He reminds me of Hinata a lot, but with more experience, more brain and more maturity. He’s a second year and a Libero. So he is strictly defence. His job is to keep the ball in play no matter what. He often ends up with multiple bruises all the time. He is over passionate as well. In the final match Asahi played, the one where he became emotionally broken and didn’t call for a toss, Noya was furious with him, not for failing, but for giving up. He broke a broom in the closet, and in a later confrontation broke a vase in the hallway (why there’s a vase in the hallways I don’t know) but he ended up getting suspended for a week and banned from clubs for 1 month.
Also, his reason for attending Karasuno.. The girls uniform is cute and they guys uniform is all black. Can I marry him? :0 but Gieve is my Waifu? Such conflict!
One issue that is recurrent throughout the entire first season, is repeated scenes. Not huge scenes, but a lot of action scenes, specifically the view over the net is reused multiple multiple times. Granted the view wouldn’t normally change as it is, but its still something I noticed, and for a simple scene..
The detailing is also not something I have an issue with. The art style is crisp and clean, and while some scenes are over-eccentric, or not anatomically precise, its not done in a flashy way. There is a healthy respect for physical limitations, and any stretchy or eccentric animations are often used to portray an emotion or emotional scene.
There is definitely a reason why this anime is on its 3rd season, and totalling 75 episodes.
And yes, the matches often take up multiple episodes, but its a anime about volleyball. The intense detailing into every section of the game is time consuming yes, and probably infeasible. Who has time to drink water during a time out, let alone give 3 motivational speeches and share 5 anecdotes? In practice matches sure, but in a lot of real matches there are long winded fights in between points.
Either way, so far Haikyuu has done a fantastic job at integrating new characters, new techniques and connecting you to the new characters. How may people would have written Asahi and Noya off if they were just added characters? The backstory also seems t have been preplanned, as if to not overwhelm the viewer with too many characters.
Check out the post on episode 1-5 HERE, and thank you for reading!!
- Tsukis still a pain.