Comparing characters to their animal counterpart is always a given in animes or videogames, and using names is the easiest way to accomplish that. Nyanta in Log Horizon is LITERALLY a cat. Not to mention CATwoman is a cat. BATman is a bat etc.. Kanji and their multiple meanings being considered when naming a child is a prominent practice in Japan, as many characters named ‘justice’ have unfortunately found out. But Haikyuu not only uses verbal symbolism, but it alters scenes, inputting backgrounds or costumes on characters to aid in the idea they are eluding to, or the scenario it directly relates to.
Now as for the term ‘symbolism’, I mean the idea of using one thing/idea/situation to represent another. I originally was using the term alliteration, because the altered scene was ‘illustrating’ the idea it was presenting, but I had since been corrected. Its been a couple years since highschool. If im still missing the mark, let me know. Symbolism was the next best term I could find, but even I still think im wrong. Internet call to action!
Now since the first episode there has been no shortage of symbols. The abundance of crows was in the forefront, almost every mention of Karasuno past and present brought on a murder of crows. Daichi at one point calls them ravens, but that may just be a translation flub. Or.. After a quick translation, Crow and raven are both known as Karasu. Are they the same bird? Who knows. Well.. Ornithologists probably know..
BACK ON TRACK
Flying is also a trait eluded to as well, and flying like crows. This is used a lot with Hinatas jumps. The idea of the team working together is shown with a flock of crows attacking together, their new/uncoordinated team is compared to a baby crow.
Kageyama as ‘King of the Court’ is shown through a furry cape and crown, alone in a dark room. His team abandoning him is shown through a large crack in the court, him on a different side from his teammates.
While this may not be a symbol, but a line of blockers is called a wall, and is displayed as such, with a distorting frame, to appear daunting.
Now, Nekoma is a whole other bag of tricks. First off, the name. NEKOma, the coach, NEKOmata, the battle, CAT vs Crow at the dumpster. I wonder if Nekomata belongs to the family line who established the school, if not, then its just convenient naming. It would be interesting if there was more information on the various schools and prominent characters.
Speaking of, the Little Giant, they never show his face. But if I had to attribute a face to his, I think it would look similar to Senseis. I hope Hinata gets to meet him.
ANYWHO! I keep getting distracted, so many thoughts on this series!
The players on the Nekoma team show traits, personality or physical, of cats. Slightly slanted eyes, like a sneaky kitties, the docile attitude of Kenma, the naming of Kuro, along with his sly smirk and condescending attitude is veeery cat like. The way the team sticks together is also cat like. While cats are solitary creatures, once they bond they are pretty set. I currently have 2 cats, and if they are separated for more than a moment one runs around screaming for the other one, and they go full blown ‘you’ve been gone forever, I counted’ on each other. Kuro seems to be as clingy over Kenma as that. Its inspired many a dj about the two of them.
The symbolism isn’t intrusive in the scenes or repetitive. Yes, the same comparisons are used, but the animations aren’t recycled. And often the comparisons to crows or flying are in scenes of awe or intimidation, adding an extra layer of ‘take that!!”
And for the final comparisons, the Nekoma coach, Nekomata makes a few himself. The first: When describing the rivalry between Nekoma an Karasuno, he says that when Ukai was out of commission, it was like being left as a lone cat. He also compares Kageyama and Hinata as an Oni and his club, and in the future as 2 Oni. The illustrations used were both players with very… very creepy stares. It drove home the idea and sent shivers up your spine!! And I cant wait to see more!
Now, the events of the episodes, were freaking amazing! The tactics of the Nekoma team were so cool, from the fakeout quick, the back line spike, the setter fakeout, it was all new and sneaky! Plus the tapover Kenma did, sneaky sneaky kitty!
Karasuno had its firsts as well. Kageyama SPIKED, yes you read that right, Hinata opened his eyes while spiking, they attempted to try a softer spiking technique so Hinata could get better at looking-
Side not on that, as someone whose halfway through the second season, and *spoiler* isn’t that the whole goal of the second season, up to ep 10? Kageyama and Hinata are working on the open eyes spike? Or is that the end of season 1? I binged season 1 before the release of season 2 so its all jumbled in my mind.
-the second spiker tactic was used, as well as Hinatas freakquick. #7 on the Nekoma team, Inuoka, was going toe to toe with Hinata, in speed. Which if they’re praising Hinatas speed, how can someone keep up so easily?? But no one mentions the speed of Inuoka?
Also, this character is so high on my list of favorite characters. Just based on his interactions with Hinata. Yes, they are rivals, but they are so closely matched, and he is genuinely happy to be challenged by Hinata, and likewise. He is fangirling over the fast quick, and he tells Hinata that he’s not taking him lightly just because he’s short. This character has such a positive reaction to Hinata, I want them to be friends. No offence to Kenma, but Inuoka is a better rival. Kenma is cute, sure, and is the complete opposite personality to Hinata, but Inuoka is such abetter character in my opinion. Hinata gets feedback and someone is just as excited as him. Its what I imagine you would do when you find a best friend, you click immediately.
Speaking of best friends, each member of Karasuno seems to have found a like-minded or like-skilled player in the Nekoma team. Suga is close to the libero of Nekoma in personality, but Noya boldly praises him and promises to get better. Daichi and Kuro share a manly-grip/handshake and vow to not lose next time. Kageyama tries to speak to Kenma but like a sneaky kitty Kenma senses danger and slips away.
Tanaka though. Oh boy Tanaka.. His favorite expression seems to be City Boy, but in English, he sounds like he’s saying Shitty Boy. This has been pointed out to him, but he doesn’t care. He’s always trying to intimate people, despite being easy to hurt. Kiyoko constantly rejecting seems to turn him on as well.. Well! Nekoma version of Tanaka, Yamamoto, also seems to be a ‘gangsta’ type, getting in peoples faces. They do bond over Kiyoko though. When Tanaka gave Yamamoto her name, he warns him that she will ignore him, but even that is pretty good. Yamamoto confesses hed never have that amount of courage, and from then bffs are born. Its such a lighthearted and funny scenario! Although not as funny as the ghost child.
The team stayed in an inn for the practice match, and since they were staying overnight, baths had to happen. Well Noya, who is shorter than Shoyo, got his hair wet, losing a good 3 inches. Hinata I guess didn’t realize this and saw the shorty, and thought a ghost child was haunting them. Hilarious!! Asahi with his hair down looked like a Kappa yokai.
Next up is the inter-highs!! Ill mention more of them in the next post, just to keep the matches together and to go over them all at once.
Ugh I love this show. I wish there was more of a focus on Inuoka though. I feel like in later episodes the rivalry with Aoba Josei has been focussed on a lot, I think it’s the focus of the 3rd season(im wrong), but I like Nekoma very much. There’s more of a widespread connection throughout the teams than the Oikawa-Kageyama connection to Aoba Josei.
As always, ill see you all tomorrow!!
Thanks for reading.