The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Haikyuu!! 2

Title: Haikyuu!! 2
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 4 Oct 2015 – 26 Mar 2016

Synopsis: After suffering a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Aoba Josai, the Karasuno team has one last shot to play in the regional tournament before the third-years graduate. Determined to make it through this time, they accept an invitation to train with some top teams, including Nekoma. They will need to take their game to the next level if they want to defeat Aoba Josai and, ultimately, the seemingly unstoppable Shiratorizawa.

The Highlights
Production: Same fluid animation and strong direction as the first season.
Growing cast: More characters means less time for each one individually.
Passion and Excitement: Still present in spades, but without much room for growth.
Hairstyles: More ridiculous with each new character.

If you read my review for the first season of Haikyuu!!, you’ll know that I’m a fan. This is a series with great energy, an awesome and diverse cast, and excellent execution of all the best parts of a sports anime. The second season serves as a strong successor and recaptures a lot of the fun that made the first season so great. Being very similar to the first season is mostly a blessing, though starting from a high level of passion and excitement means there is not as much room to grow.

Without needing to gradually introduce the team this time around, the second season of Haikyuu!! has some space to fill at the beginning of the run. For this, they resort to a common conflict that had previously been avoided: the school exam dilemma. This initial storyline was weaker and felt more recycled that the series usually does, but it did serve as an introduction to the team’s new manager, Yachi Hitoka. She gets her own little sub-plot as a means of reintroducing and reigniting the passion for volleyball that the players already feel. She’s a good foil for Hinata especially, since his enthusiasm for volleyball is so ingrained that he never questions it. Sadly, by the later part of the series her role is much reduced as the focus shifts back to the players themselves.

The middle part of the series focuses on training, introducing a few new teams and players for the Karasuno crew to learn from and setting up personal goals for several players. New characters, of course, need their own special abilities (and bizarre hair), but while these additions certainly ranked a bit higher on the ridiculous scale, they were still entertaining and fun to watch. One thing Haikyuu!! has always done incredibly well is explore the teams on both sides of the net. Never is the opponent simply mean or villainous. Rather, each player has his own motivation, passion and drive, sometimes even making me question which side I should be cheering for.

Because there are so many new characters to consider, a little less time is granted to each of the Karasuno players. Hinata and Kageyama get a lot of focus, of course, and both Tsukishima and Yamaguchi are afforded some more development, but moments for the other players are mostly built off of what was established in the first season. They do get their moments though, and when the tournament finally arrives there is a lot of payoff. Each thread is neatly tied, though one character moment comes out of nowhere, as if an afterthought. The matches, with a few exceptions, are exciting and suspenseful, even when the eventual outcome can be predicted. The fun is in how they get there, and the creators manage to tuck in a few surprises. The animation quality remains high with the same intense volleyball-warping impact of a spike hitting the floor, creative camera angles and comedic timing as the first season. The final game had me grinning with anticipation and really brought the series back to its roots.

If you enjoyed the first season of Haikyuu!!, the second season is well worth a watch. It feels a little more drawn out and some Karasuno players don’t get as much attention as I would have liked, but it’s still an incredibly fun and well executed sports series that once again left me eagerly awaiting the next episode.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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