Due to the ineptitude of the England national soccer team, who were eliminated by puffin eaters Iceland, my interest in Euro 2016 has all but subsided. It therefore falls upon the wonderful world of anime to satisfy my sport cravings. Good thing then that Animatsu Entertainment have just released collection two of the awesome volleyball show known as Haikyu. This long overdue DVD set (I watched the first instalment way back in March) contains the final eleven episodes of season one, which focus on Karasuno Highschool’s exploits at a national qualification tournament. Thanks to an injection of new talent the team has improved dramatically, but only time will tell if the current Karasuno squad have what it takes to compete with their prefecture’s finest.
Owing to an unrelenting tournament schedule, which asks teams to play two matches per day, season one’s conclusion focuses mainly on volleyball action and much less on character development. Karasuno High have entered the competition hoping to avenge the recent loss suffered at the hands of rivals Nekoma, but if they wish to secure a rematch they will first have to get past other formidable opponents. Standing in their way is Dateko (a team with a mighty defence nicknamed the Iron Wall) and Aoba Johsai, whose roster contains a supremely talented setter named Tōru Oikawa. Not only does Oikawa possess a knack for pinpoint passing and a mean serve, but the smug git can also claim to have more fan girls than Justin Bieber.
Even if Haikyu is a bit of a sausage fest the guys don’t get to hog all the limelight in this DVD set. Team manager Kiyoko Shimizu has a cute scene were she shows her support for the boys and there are several comedic moments were the bespectacled beauty evades the amorous advances of Tanaka and Nishinoya. Karasuno’s female volleyball team also make an appearance in this cour, although a lack of dedication for training ensures that they won’t be emulating the success of their male counterparts. The inevitable heartbreak of defeat that follows reduces female team captain Yui Michimiya to tears. Aw. Let’s hope that childhood pal Daichi can console her. Romance between the two would be nice, as the series may be too testosterone rich for some viewers.
My rating for Haikyu (Collection Two) is a four point five out of five. Based on what I have seen thus far Haikyu is shaping up to be my favourite sport anime of all time. The wait for this collection was well worth it, although if I were to nit-pick I would have to say that I enjoyed the last DVD a smidgen more. Due to a congested fixture list personal storylines are jettisoned in favour of match day drama and the finale was a tad underwhelming, as it’s essentially setup for season two. It also doesn’t help that the final game’s result is a forgone conclusion, once you realize that the series doesn’t have sufficient episodes to cover every round of the inter high school tournament. Anime sport results are so easy to predict – what a shame that my local bookie doesn’t accept bets on fictional Japanese contests.
Abovementioned quibbles aside, I really enjoyed the time I spent watching Haikyu. None of the matches dragged, which is surprising given that each game spans across several episodes. Kudos to Production I.G for animating such exciting rallies and series creator Haruichi Furudate for crafting a narrative that will have you hooked, even if the appeal of real life sports doesn’t resonate with you. Needless to say, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of season two. When the next series will get localized, much like a volley ball, is up in the air. I suspect we won’t be in the EU by the time those DVDs hit local stores. First we had the Brexit referendum and then Euro 2016. How many more times can England get kicked out of Europe?