[Warning: Contains Season 1 Spoilers]
If you haven’t seen the first season of Haikyu!! (or Haikyuu!!, however you spell it), go watch it now. It’s a sports anime done right, very much in the same vein as Eyeshield 21 or Prince of Tennis. The sport is volleyball, which means a cast of 6 regulars and 4-5 benchwarmers, plus a manager, coach, and a couple of side characters. Not too few and not too many. And after you’ve watched the first season, you will come to appreciate and empathize with every single one of them.
The first season was amazing, which meant I was super excited for the second season. Would it live up to the high expectations set by the first season? Would it be worse? Could it possibly be better?
Here are my impressions after watching the first four episodes of the second season:
Overall. I’ve realized that life is pretty fair sometimes. Everything that failed to happen in Episode 10 went down like a dream in Episode 11 (except perhaps Shiroe’s grand revelation but I had stopped hoping for the impossible). Shiroe and party began what looks like the last and final try to finish up the raid, and the whole episode was basically an epic fest of second by second strategy, shiny equipment, and showy techniques. Demikas also reached the final stage of his redemption path by dragging Shiroe kicking and screaming into the final stage of the dungeon. No doubt this is my favorite episode of Season 2 to date.
Hey folks, apologies for being MIA for past 4 episodes as traveling took the month out of me. I’m back now though and ready to give a heartfelt review for episode 10.
Overall. Unlike Episode 9, an action-packed episode that gave us all the Shiroe action we were missing while Akatsuki wrapped up the Akihabara murder arc, Episode 10 is the sort that haters refer to when they point out how slow the anime pacing is. The entire episode is basically a 22 minute motivational speech. Yeah I get that their whole party died, but half of episode 9 was basically Shiroe resolving his personal issues, which led me to optimistically believe that episode 10 will be when Shiroe reveals his awesome plan, do the impossible, and whoop the butts of the three raid bosses. Tragically, the rest of the party has issues as well, and William Massachusetts’ low self-esteem (“I just accidentally became guild master, but I really suck and don’t deserve it”) rears its head again. Damn. Guess the asskicking is postponed for another episode.
For what it’s worth, I simply love it every time a manga I’ve been following since Day One becomes an anime. It’s like a little personal affirmation that “The Important People in the Industry” agree with my taste in manga. Sometimes it was only a matter of time (Nurarihyon no Mago, Ao no Exorcist, Kuroko no Basuke, etc.) as these manga were made for shounen tv, and other times it was a complete surprise–Yowamushi no Pedal, Love Stage (like how the heck did this get approved O.o), Baby Steps (eh, anime / manga have been biased against sports stuff for a while now), etc.
But Shokugeki no Souma is a different beast. By all means, it should have become an anime a loooong time ago. Although it’s a cooking manga, Shokugeki no Souma is so much more “shounen” than most action mangas out there. Except for one defect: the ecchi (aka non age-appropriate for the shounen anime audience). I wrote about the regretful unfulfilled anime potential in my review on Shokugeki no Souma the manga, and I’m so, so glad that my wish came true and it finally got an anime anyways.
Watch Shounen Jump’s hype video for the anime below:
Overall. First of all, what an amazing episode!!! After all that buildup in the first few episodes (and an especially action-less Episode 4), Episode 5 has delivered on everything and more. All my regrets and doubt have been washed away. The People of the Land (well one guy) has really stepped up to present a legit challenge to the all-powerful adventurers. Some light is finally peeking out beneath the Akatsuki dark cloud. Soujirou has a MASSIVE episode as he finally shows us why he’s cool enough to have a harem. We finally see an offensive style “Teaching” / “Overskill” and it looks awesome. Shiroe’s entire party got wiped out by Boss X but whatever, at least they found a boss when they were just crawling around complaining last episode. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that ominous foreshadowing in Episode 1 when Akatsuki and Shiroe meet in death on Christmas Eve just happened, which means that this is the depth of their failure — all that’s left to do is go up!! I can’t wait until Shiroe comes back with a vengeance and Akatsuki just destroys that creep. So, so satisfied right now 😄
“Come on, let’s go on a journey.” – Miyazono Kaori
Overall. Wow, what an emotionally intense episode after the setup in Episode 3. My palms started sweating and I almost cried when Kousei struggled and finally gave up on playing in the middle. It was the sort of thing you knew was coming, yet couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment anyways. Episode 4 was the like the epiphany that finally sparks after two years of struggle. We got our long-awaited Kaori-Kousei duet, Kousei’s return to the limelight, and a semi-success in overcoming his trauma. This is just a beginning for Kousei—technically he still can’t hear his own notes—but it seems to be the beginning of the end for Kaori. These two are polar opposites. Kousei is trapped while Kaori is free. Kousei is monotone while Kaori is colorful. Kousei is timid while Kaori is bold. It makes sense then that as Kousei waxes, Kaori wanes. People, “April will be ending soon.”
Episode 4 is a couple days late due to weekend traveling, sorry folks…
Overall. While Episode 3 was about getting stuff done, Episode 4 was an exhibit of horrors: the horrors of what can happen when too many girls are together for too long, the horrors of too many characters musing about romance, the horrors of Studio Deen’s truly atrocious art, etc. I am not sure how I feel about this episode because there are just too many mixed messages flung around, and the only thing flowing continuously through Episode 3 seems to be Akatsuki’s depression, which is just sad [pathetic]. I supposed I should be excited that Shiroe has some deep plot to take over the world through flavor text or that stereotypical big bad wolf villain finally did something other than appear dramatically for two seconds…buuut, I think watching Akatsuki has eroded my own self-esteem and I need a few seconds. Pardon me.
I was so inspired by Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso that I went back and re-watched all three seasons of Nodame Cantabile, which in my opinion is one of the best music and romance animes of all time. Nodame Cantabile is about the developing relationship between Shinichi Chiaki, a perfectionist piano and violin genius who longs to become a conductor, and Noda Megumi (Nodame), a klutzy “loser” pianist who has a lot of hidden potential. Both music students in the same department at the same university, Chiaki and Nodame’s first unfortunate meeting leads them onto a path that changes their lives forever.
“You exist inside a spring that can’t be replaced.” – Arima Kousei
Overall. In Episode 3, plot moves forward and plot is foreshadowed. Kousei’s snail pace trauma recovery continues from Episode 2 (read review here) when he attended a classical music competition, to playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in a cafe and becoming Kaori’s accompanist in Episode 3. I want everything to be smooth sailing awesomeness from here on out, but I have a feeling that Kousei’s recovery will likely be one step forward, two steps back…aka, prepare for imminent breakdown in the next episode. Music and animation continues to be stunning, and we (maybe?) get a peek at something very, very scary—an idea of what the real lie in April is.
Z-Kai, a Japanese company that runs cram schools and correspondence courses for university-hopefuls, has made yet another unique commercial. For background, Z-Kai’s previous “meme” commercial portrayed a high schooler shouting from the river bank about his passion and eagerness to experience college life, only to be shut down coldly by the narrator who stated, “You can’t pass entrance exams only by motivation.”
Ignoring the illogicality and sheer commercialism of that last statement—I think we would all agree that using study aids and cram schools like Z-Kai is showing motivation—Z-Kai’s latest commercial has broken all boundaries. Now, not only will Z-Kai’s courses help you get into university, but it will also lead you to find your one true love. See for yourself: