「脱・“孤独の王様”」 (Datsu, “Kodoku no Oosama”)
“The Former, ‘King of Solitude'”

As far as this adaptation of Haikyuu is concerned, this episode is the finale. The past five episodes depicting Karasuno’s match against Aoba Jousai have culminated to this third set, win-by-two moment, and it ends in a way that’s not as surprising as one would think. Or at least, not as surprising to me as it may have been to some other viewers. In the back of my mind as I watched the match progress and the remaining episodes dwindle down, I had a recurring thought that the end of this match would coincide with the end of this adaptation. It just seemed unlikely that this anime would end on a high note and then leave us all hanging, so when it became fairly obvious that this is all the material that the producers planned to cover, I more or less resigned to the idea that Karasuno was going to lose. As with most underdog stories, it only seemed befitting that Karasuno show glimpses of their revival and still encounter setbacks along the way. In fact, if I were asked to write the conclusion to this match, I would’ve also scripted it so that Karasuno loses. The reason being, their loss makes a much bigger impact than their win, plus it paves the way for their team to unite over their first loss together, pick themselves back up, use that loss to motivate themselves to get to that “next level”, and come back as a true Top 5 contender.

That said, I don’t feel like my anticipation for their loss took away form the impact of it at all. The look of desperation on Kageyama’s face as he dove for the ball and watched it drop and the one of disbelief on Hinata’s when he opened his eyes to a triple block gave me chills with that blinding white backdrop, whereas the sight of the team on the ground and in dismay gave me a huge sinking feeling in my chest. That sinking feeling was compounded by the sight of the team in Ukai’s family restaurant and tearing up as they tried to eat their sorrows away. Together, those emotions reiterated to me that Haikyuu has done everything well as a sports anime. It managed to draw me in with its characters and excitement, and took me on a roller coaster ride that ended in a grinding halt. However, unlike a “train wreck”, a grinding halt is actually a great way to go for this series, going back to what I said above.

As for some specific character developments, I actually didn’t notice that like Kindaichi, Kunimi Akira (Tamaru Atsushi) was also Kageyama’s ex-teammate from middle school. Given how many things were going on, I’m actually quite impressed that they managed to squeeze in this subplot. The same goes for Oikawa’s personal struggles as a hard worker, which further emphasized the rivalry between him and Kageyama. I haven’t mentioned this until now, but what I find the most interesting about their rivalry is the fact that our protagonist is the genius and not the hard worker. In anime, I find that it’s generally the other way around, where we follow a character who’s not as naturally talented as someone else, but still finds a way to be as good in the end. If nothing else, it makes for a better morale of the story. In Haikyuu, Kageyama is the “struggling genius” though, which puts a very interesting perspective on things. For one, this episode signified the moment that Kageyama stopped being a solitary king and finally depended on his teammates for a change. That may have cost Karasuno the match because Oikawa was anticipating it, but it’s still a step in the right direction for Kageyama.

Last but not least, I feel almost compelled to talk about the volleyball itself, not because of the plays and tactics involved, but because the animators completely overlooked some obvious things. The most glaring one was the scene where it completely slipped their minds that Nishinoya’s a Libero and should be wearing a different color jersey. The next problem was not as obvious, but was shown in consecutive scenes. When Kunimi was being set over and over again, he kept hitting line on Kageyama. I imagine this was done to emphasize the Kageyama/Kunimi subplot, but there’s no reason why Kageyama, a setter, would ever be on the left-most side of the court. His natural position in the back row is the right-most side, where he would be digging hits from the opposing team’s Power and not their Offside, which Kunimi plays as. The third problem was when Oikawa tossed the ball with top-spin for his jump serve but changed it to a jump-float at the very last second. This is basically impossible to do if the ball was tossed that way because a flat hit—which a jump float relies on—can’t take all the spin out of the ball. And finally, the last one is obvious if you did a double or a triple-take on the last play, which shows Kageyama scrambling to get to the ball and make a play out of nothing. He was on shown on the right side of the court, running well behind the attack line and planting his feet to face the middle of the court for the set. When the camera changed to the overhead view, he was suddenly much closer to the attack line and setting backwards to Hinata. There’s no way he would’ve done a 180 degree turn, so this was clearly an animation error—one that was easy to overlook because of the rotating camera.

In any case, next week’s the “epilogue finale” so I’ll give up my final impressions then. (Hint: They’ll be resoundingly positive.) Note, my post will likely be late since I’ll be away and not sure when I’ll have time to blog.

 

Preview

23 Comments

  1. I was waiting to see the girl’s team cry and everything, but couldn’t see even a trace of them in this episode. That was the biggest surprise for me. The loss was kind of expected, because I didn’t believe the author would allow a manga that is doing well to progress too fast.

    Matroid
    1. I thought the girls team only got to spectate (part of) the match against the “impenetrable wall” team and didn’t stay for this one, presumably because it didn’t make sense to pay for their overnight stay after getting eliminated from the competition.

      Girlz
  2. Ah… it hurts so much that it felt like my national team lost again on FIBA, and with my brother as one of the players.

    They’ve thrown the money on this episode – the rotating camera on the final godlike quick was glorious. Though Divine, I really have to give it to you when you were still able to notice the animation errors. Looking forward to your resoundingly positive final post!

    nagi
  3. The man tears didn’t well up this time but I was certainly feeling their defeat. Though to be fair the moment it went to duece I had a feeling they were going to lose. Duece in any sport generally favors the experienced.

    Anyhow I am very glad this didn’t end with a win but I will miss all the third years. Sports anime’s tend to lose vision of reality when the teams in their show only win. Tough one for the third years: Sawamura, Sugawara, Asahi and last but certainly not least Shimizu! I hope we see them in the stands cheering Karasuno next season!

    great anime, hoping for a second cour! (has it been confirmed yet?)

    Miaminights
  4. I’ll be honest here. I’ve never cried in a sports anime before other than cross game but that was due to something else. This loss and the scene when they were eating + crying made me weep like a little girl…Im not ashamed! I can’t wait no more, next season pls!

    Celestine
  5. I also feel like the loss was naturally the route for the end of this season to encourage for the underdog’s potential and growth in the future, but all things considered, knowing the third years – Sawamura, Sugawara, and Asahi won’t be playing in the next regional is tear jerking.

    Haruko
  6. This loss doesn’t make sense, it was said it’s the senior’s last chance for nationals a while back so now they’re gonna introduce a new bullshit tournament where they can compete for nationals again?

    Because obviously this show isn’t kicking off all the seniors and restarting like that

    Senri
    1. That’s what makes the loss all the more painful.

      About that last bit, I hear that the seniors can actually stay on the team for the next tournament, but it’s generally not recommended they do since they have exams to study for.

      Hanabira.Kage

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