“Haikyuu!!: Jump Festa 2014 Special”
Levi & Nekoma:
Haikyuu!! is back, but this time it’s the cats of Nekoma getting all the attention. Good thing the characters across all the teams have enough charm to carry any episode with ease. Whilst we get to see a fair bit of every member of Nekoma, the two stars of this episode are laid-back setter Kenma and the first year Russian-Japanese Haiba Lev (Ishii Mark), who is every bit a bundle of joy as nearly every other character in this show. As this is an anime original OVA, and I’m a fan of the manga, I was wondering how I was going to feel about them introducing Lev earlier in the anime. I wasn’t worried about it, but it turns out there wouldn’t be any need, because they just made him even more likeable than he was in the source material. In a word, he’s a goofball. He’s energetic, quick to befriend those around him, and always has a smile on his face. Match that with his incredible height and impressive jump and you’ve got a gifted volleyball player… except that he’s a complete beginner to the sport and hasn’t quite mastered his moves.
The scenes with Lev and Kenma were easily the best part of the episode, showing their growth was they start to accommodate one another. Lev is such an easy character to like, and him and Kenma’s mismatched personalities make for the perfect balance of comedy and believability. Would I say they were friend by the end? Maybe, actually. But after failing to set up a decent spike for so long, they are definitely now teammates at the very least. They may just as well be friends, since Tetsuko Kuroo has always seemed like Kenma’s unlikely best friend (or more? I’ll leave that to the fan artists to decide). The fact that they are complete opposites does make it so much more enjoyable – it’s like the popular jock hanging around with his geeky classmate, except it’s a fair bit deeper than that.
I loved how the POP gaming scenes were used here. What could have felt out of place was done so timely and only helped show off the traits of the characters. Having Kenma and Tanaka stuck on the same level was a nice touch, and allowed us some brief moments with Karasuno. I think Asahi going into a panic and running away from the monster may have been my favourite of the attempts to complete the level, but they were all pretty funny in their own way.
Fun & Light:
That’s the two words I would use to describe this episode. Sure, there was some volleyball action here and there, but there was also some recycled animations used as well. Did it make me enjoy the episode any less? Heck no. I had a blast, as I’m sure any fan of Haikyuu!! would have.
Overview – What’s Next?
Now we know that Nekoma are also preparing for the Spring Tournament, so that sets up for a possible reunion with Karasuno. That would be an incredible match to witness, but even if it does happen it won’t be any time soon. Once season two comes out we’ll be one step closer to that destined matchup. The sooner, the better!
Lev and Hinata: