The stars of the match in their final bout for victory.
It’s a great time to be a sports anime fan – to be a Haikyuu!! fan, and to be a Tsukki fan! I’m saddened that I couldn’t blog this season on a weekly basis, but ultimately it was for the best. My life has been busy and unpredictable as of late, and anime hasn’t been my top priority. This season of Haikyuu!! would have been just as fun to talk about as the previous two, but my bias and knowledge of future events would likely affect my posts in a not so positive way. And there’s also the fact that I didn’t watch it weekly either. I know – shocking! Samu, of all people, didn’t immediately watch the season of Haikyuu!! that was all about his favourite character. But that should prove that I’ve really not had the time to watch even the shows I really enjoy this season. The only ones I kept up with weekly were the three I blogged, so now I’m going to have to marathon plenty in time for the upcoming Anime of the Year post.
For me, this was Haikyuu!!’s best match and worst season. Best match because… well… you’ve all watched it. It was amazing. So many standout moments across the cast, the production only seems to be growing in scope, and there were several parts where it’s hard not to jump off your seat and scream at the monitor. But it was also the worst season for me because it was so short and only focused on that one match. It was always going to be hard for a 10-episode season to match up with the two varied 25-episode seasons that came before it. So while the game was the best Haikyuu!! has ever been, I can’t help but be bummed that we couldn’t wait another 6 months so we could get a third 2-cour offering.
I don’t know if this marks a change in the way Haikyuu!! seasons are going to be released, but knowing where the story goes, I think this may be a one-off for the foreseeable future; and if this is the case then we likely won’t get a fourth season until 2018 at the earliest. I don’t want things to burn out when Haikyuu!! is setting itself up for longevity, especially now that’s consistently one of the best-selling manga each year, and the 2nd best selling in Weekly Shonen Jump after the unbeatable One Piece. It’s not going anywhere any time soon, so I hope Production I.G and everyone else involved knows they’ve got a product that fans are always going to come back to and are willing to spend their dollars/pounds/yen/other forms of currency on.
Now, onto the season itself. I loved reading this match in the manga, and I knew everything that was coming, but that didn’t take an ounce of enjoyment away from the experience. Mainly because this match catered heavily to me. No matter what, Haikyuu!! always finds a way to sell me on what it’s offering, but on this occasion everything I could have asked for happened, and watching it animated proved just as exciting as I’d hoped. I’m talking about Tsukishima, if you didn’t realise. The undeniable MVP of the match, the most developed character of the entire cast, the most extensive back story of all of Karasuno, with a character arc set up for the long-term, and so many moments that prove he is perhaps the best player on Karasuno right now. Maybe that last part is a stretch – because every main player has something they provide that would be sorely missed if they weren’t there – but the fact is that without Tsukishima’s innate talent for reading his opponents and devising effective plans against their strongest opponents yet, Karasuno would never have won. They wouldn’t even have gotten close.
2016 may have been a bizarre year for the world, but two of my personal favourite series (Bleach and Haikyuu!!) both gave my favourite characters (Mayuri and Tsukishima) the most attention, and I could not ask for more. I’m a happy fan right now, and knowing what’s to come, I can say that Haikyuu!! isn’t going to be losing its steam any time soon. The art and animation is as astounding as ever, every character remains likeable, the development of the key players in this match was the best we’ve seen in the series, and simply put: Haikyuu!! delivers everything it intends. It never missteps in doing just what it aims for. It has a dedicated following that appeals to various demographics, and it’s easy to see why.
I don’t know if I’ll blog any more of the series in future – at least on a weekly basis – when it does eventually return. But as a manga reader, let me say that if you’re hoping for a shake-up, then that’s what the upcoming material is going to offer. The final scene of this season teased Kageyama getting an offer he can’t possibly refuse. Expect characters to split up, new duos to be formed, and matches that you genuinely can’t predict the outcome of until the last moment. Karasuno have made it to nationals, and things are only going to get more exciting from here on out. Get hyped.