When I reviewed the first part of Haikyu!! Season 1 I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Coming from the position of having not really watched any sports anime and not being greatly interested in sports itself, generally speaking, but Haikyu!! impressed me. Watching only 13 episodes of a series didn’t necessarily guarantee that the series would continue to hold my interest though, so I’d been keen to get my hands on Part 2. Now, thanks to Animatsu, the second half of the season has been released in the UK and I’m pleased to report that I’m still a big fan of Haikyu!! – and here’s why.
This review does contain spoilers for the first part of Haikyu!! Season 1, so if you haven’t already watched it, then stop reading right now.
As we rejoin the Karasuno High volleyball team, our cast are gearing up to take part in their first major tournament of the school year. All 12 episodes of the second half are centered around this tournament, but that’s by no means a bad thing. With new members and a renewed determination to make Karasuno’s team the best it can be, can the boys turn the tide in their favour and advance through the preliminaries to the championships of this tournament? Regardless of the outcome, we’re in for some truly exciting matches!
In the first tournament match the nerves are high and Karasuno are paired against a team with an incredible blocker. The team begins to wonder if they’ll ever be able to score any points against the mighty giant, and with Karasuno’s ace, Azumane, having faced a crushing defeat against this same blocker in the past, will he buckle under the pressure?
I won’t say too much more about the matches as telling you the results would take away from your enjoyment of watching them for yourself. Instead, let’s talk character development! Despite taking place almost entirely within volleyball games, these episodes actually develop our team a great deal. When I reviewed the first set of Haikyu!! I mentioned that I didn’t feel as if I knew all of the characters particularly well – what they’re afraid of, what makes them tick, etc. – but that no longer holds true. Thanks to these later episodes, I now feel that I know the whole cast really well. The only one we don’t see much more development for is our short star, Hinata, but as the whole point of Part 1 was to develop Hinata, this isn’t a massive loss. I feel much more content now that I know the cast better and can truly get behind each one.
It’s also worth noting that the characters on the opposing teams are very well developed throughout these episodes. A few of the rival team members either have past ties to those in Karasuno or just simply have their own problems and feelings toward volleyball. As they play against Karasuno, they grow considerably – both as characters and volleyball players.
The only major disappointment character-wise right now is the lack of focus on Kiyoko Shimizu, who is one of the managers of the Karasuno team. Throughout the second half she’s very often seen and not heard, and I wouldn’t have missed her had she disappeared completely for these episodes. I can only hope that she gets more attention next season, otherwise I really do wonder what her purpose is beyond being a female character (of which there are almost none in Haikyu!!).
Putting my previous comments aside, I do have to give some respect to the fact that a couple of episodes did, very briefly, shed some light on the Karasuno girls’ volleyball club! No, I didn’t know there was one either, and no, they don’t stick around for the rest of the season. I am, perhaps far too optimistically, hoping that we’ll be seeing more of the girls’ team in the second season of Haikyu!! as it would be nice to have some properly established female characters. I’m not saying that there have to be girls in this show, or that it’s terrible and failing without them, because at the end of the day this is an anime about a boys’ volleyball team. I just don’t appreciate that Haikyu!! keeps adding female cast members and then giving them no focus. Either include them or don’t. It’s just a waste of our time otherwise.
The animation for the second half of Haikyu!! holds up well with Production I.G clearly being at the top of their game. The matches are fluidly animated and their overall flow is captured convincingly. The studio have a knack for finding just the right angle to truly capture a shot and it really sucks you into the game. The level of drama and tension is very high in this half of the season and I think a less competent studio would struggle to show it as well as Production I.G have.
Where the music is concerned, things also stay pretty strong. The soundtrack overall is not as noticeable as it was during the first half but when it’s present, it’s always great. Composers Asami Tachibana and Yuki Hayashi should be very proud of their work here. The second opening (“Ah Yeah” by Sukima Switch) and ending (“LEO” by Tacica) are both quieter affairs when compared to the previous themes but work well for the tone of these episodes. The lyrics are also interesting, with the opening sounding as if it was written with Hinata in mind and the ending obviously heavily based on Kageyama’s feelings (the animation focuses almost completely on him). The cast of voice actors are also good, although there are so many that I couldn’t even begin to point out the better examples!
Haikyu!! Season 1 Part 2 includes the final 12 episodes of the first season across two DVDs or a single Blu-ray. Despite reviewing the first set as a Blu-ray, this set is a DVD so I’m not sure how the Blu-ray release holds up to having so much stuffed onto one disc. The only extras of note are the clean opening and ending videos and a couple of trailers, otherwise there is nothing to report. It’s also worth noting that this is a subtitle-only release as Haikyu!! does not have a dub.
Overall Haikyu!! continues to be an excellent shonen series that really draws the viewer in. I’m looking forward to the second season (which can be streamed on Crunchyroll) and the third season which will be aired in Japan in October. What we have here is a series to be remembered for quite some time, and now I truly understand why its fanbase is so huge.
Anime Quick Information
UK Publisher: Animatsu
Genre: Comedy, Drama, School, Shonen, Sports
Studio: Production I.G
Type: TV Series
Age Rating: 12
Running Time: 291 minutes