OP2: 「Toppakou」 (突破口) by (SUPER BEAVER)
Volleyball boys are
oft redheads in anime
The age-old (well – the modern age of the split cour, anyway) dilemma of episode numbering rears its head yet again. One could hardly imagine less attempt being made to differentiate between seasons than “To the Top” has made, but the official naming convention calls this “2nd Season 01” rather than “Episode 14” – so that’s what I’ll go with. Apart from that and what would feel like a curiously long week, you’d never know we were in a new season, as things literally pick up right where they left off.
Since the anime was last with us a very important event has occurred in Haikyuu!!! world. of course – the manga has ended. The anime is so far behind, though, that this one-cour season certainly can’t finish it, and there’s no reason to believe this hugely popular franchise won’t get its full adaptation. Look for an announcement at or near the end of “To the Top” that Haikyuu!!!! will be returning sometime in 2021 – maybe summer or fall – to finish the job.
Truth be told there hasn’t been a whole lot of change in the way the game episodes are handled since the very beginning of this series. Hinata and Kageyama have certainly improved a lot and the opponents are ever-changing, but the style and tone are eternally consistent. There was some grumbling about the staff changes at the start of this 4th season but truthfully I think it’s been pretty much a wash – maybe a bit of labor-saving shows up here and there if you look for it, but Haikyuu!!!!! remains the best-drawn sports anime TV has probably ever seen. Lithe young bodies contorting in athletic exuberance have rarely been so lovingly rendered.
We’ve got a full cour of episodes to come, so it’s pretty safe to say the Crowlets aren’t going to lose to Inarizaki, the pride of my home prefecture (especially with so many more established foils in attendance). But it’s a cracking match, as Inarizaki has some colorful characters – especially the Miya twins, especially Atsumu. Truth be told, though, the most entertaining part of this ep for me is the commentary from Koutarou in the peanut gallery. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a seiyuu have more fun with a role than the superb Kimura Ryouhei seems to be having with this one.
The Inarizaki band/cheer squad is also a prominent part of this story. They’re quite intrusive, by design – up to and including an Icelandic football viking clap while the Karasuno boys are serving. It’s rather disruptive to their rhythm without them realizing it – which is where the presence (albeit late-arriving) of the Karasuno taiku club comes in. They don’t drown out the larger opposition but they do break up their rhythm (and are much nicer to listen to). It’s also worth noting that among all the lads we see so far, Shouyou is the least effected by the Inarizaki tactics – indeed, he seems to revel in the challenge.
In character terms there’s not a whole lot to work with in this episode – it’s almost all about the game itself. Hinata’s maturation continues to be the headline story on that front, though, as he applies his newfound crows’s-eye court vision in ways his body can’t quite keep up with yet. Ironically, in finally using his head he’s twice ended up putting himself in position to use other parts of the anatomy not normally used in volleyball. But whatever works and is within the rules is good play, and Shouyou mature into a kotora of the court is thus far the best part of “To the Top”.
ED2: 「One Day」 by (SPYAIR)