That really was the finale this time, not that you could tell the difference. Sometimes even with pre-announced split cours a series will try and give the last episode before the break some sense of finality, but Haikyuu pretty much just rolled with it here. Apart from the lack of a preview there’s nothing that would have tipped you off that there’s no episode next week. That’s all fine – split cours are a part of life under the current production system – though with sports anime you do tend to lose a certain amount of momentum with those three-month breaks.
I must say the focus on Ryou and his romance subplot seems to come out of nowhere, more or less. Kanoka is the girl’s name, though perhaps we knew that already and I forgot, and that she’s sweet on Tanaka-kun there can be no doubt. He has his sights set elsewhere, though given how hopeless than goal is I imagine he might come to his senses and realize what a good thing he might be passing up. Ryou and Kanoka seems to be a very standard osananajimi setup, and this being Haikyuu! I don’t imagine we’re going to dig any deeper than that.
The opponent for the cour crossover is Hyogo’s Inarizaki High, second-place finishers at the Inter-high and one of the favorites in this tournament. This is one of those scenarios where Haikyuu!! has to manufacture drama in the execution, since there can be no suspense over who’s going to win the actual match as it’s only the second round. Inarizaki fills the role of the power school to a “T”, complete with a big band and obnoxious cheering section. The underdog role is the most natural for Karasuno, so they should be very familiar with it (though I confess, actually booing the opposing server is a Haikyuu!!! first for me and seems like very bad form).
We know the key man on Inarizaki – Miya Atsumu, Tobio’s playmate from the national camp. Turns out he has a less flashy twin brother, Osamu (Kabumoto Hideaki). Since Osamu can also set and Atsumu can also spike, their formation should be an interesting one to watch. Apart from that it looks like a fairly straightforward Haikyuu!!!! bogeyman, and while I’ve no doubt this match will prove troublesome we know how it’s going to turn out so it’s just a matter of seeing how we get from point A to point B.
On the Crows’ side, Shouyou seems pretty on-form – as Suga (again sadly reduced to the role of non-participant observer) notes, the little giant gets excited instead of nervous now. He’s still a baka (“I forgot to spike!”) but not running scared. Inarizaki’s tricksy middle blocker will be a puzzle for Tobio and Shouyou to unlock, but they will sooner or later. And someone we don’t expect will provide a moment of heroism, as usual. Maybe an injury sub or pinch-serving situation as usual – though I’d love it if Haikyuu!!!!! upped the ante and went outside that formula.
All in all, Haikyuu!!!!!! is nothing if not dependable – I don’t really feel as if any of the seasons so far have been significantly better or worse than all the others. I did like Hinata’s training camp arc at the start of this cour, because it was that rare deviation from routine for this series and really effective at that. After that, though, we’ve returned to the usual – and that’s fine. That’s Haikyuu!!!!!!!, which means the usual is why we’re all here. This is a series that never blows me away but also rarely disappoints me, and I see no reason to expect “To The Top’s” concluding cour this summer will be any different.