Karasuno High School Volleyball Club
If there’s something Production I.G’s production is able to show in just these two episodes, it’s that they can make things work. Thus far what Haikyuu has presented is simple and basic, but executed with flair and charm. This was the case with the manga, quickly developing into one of the more distinctive “looks” within Shonen Jump, and is the case again here with the anime. And that’s not to say that this boils down to Haikyuu being purely a pretty show, when really what it’s proving to be is an overall successful combo between source material and director + studio. Solid results are pointing out to a solid future.
That said, here in the beginning we’re still very much in the introduction phase. And if last week was an introduction to Hinata and Kageyama, this week we get to the humble abode of the Karasuno volleyball club. Yet as much as an official welcome would be in order, the two freshmen end up butting heads before the upperclassmen as much as step into the gym. Those being the very same Karasuno students who were there to witness the match between Hinata and Kageyama the year prior. Captain of the club and deceitfully gentle Sawamura Daichi, as well as two other regulars in the almost-punk Tanaka and “the clearly having more fun that he should be” Suguwara. All affable in their first proper episode. Although that said, the bickering between the freshmen only grows stronger despite Sawamura’s attempts to diffuse the situation. And with Kageyama challenging Hinata with his jump serve, the two cross a line when they assault the poor “dean”‘s toupee. And that’s one step too far for Sawamura.
Sawamura puts aside his nicer nature, puts down his foot, and in a very direct manner ejects the two club hopefuls out of the gym. As long as they can’t get to terms on a team, they’re of no use to Karasuno, and will only hinder them in the long run. Most of this conflict seems to be born from Kageyama rather than Hinata. The former failed to get into his school of choice, and seems to resent the title he gained from his middle school years. That doesn’t come as all too much of a surprise, judging at how strained his middle school years were, and in turn seems to have quite a few buttons to be pressed when it comes to volleyball. Those will no doubt come to light more as we proceed, but for now his short fuse is focused on Hinata, who he can’t seem to come to terms with, to a shockingly honest extent.
But let’s just put aside those two for now and talk about the seniors here, since their first impression here really is a positive one. Least in the spotlight would have been Suguwara, who takes the backseat for the more “powerful” personalities at play. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t have his place here, since damn if his closing of the gym doors wasn’t just the best thing. For now though, he acts as a good responsive character to those who held a more active role in the episode, and if anything, is about what you could expect from an upperclassmen who feels both sympathetic to the first years yet derives some sweet sweet amusement out of it. On the other hand we have Tanaka, who falls into an enjoyable slot in the “rowdy but actually very friendly character” group. He immediately takes up the mantle of trying to intimidate the first years, but quickly enough he finds himself placed on their side in attempt to help them beyond what he would need to do. Of course, this isn’t spurred on by his nature alone, but by Sawamura, who’s determination and vision for the following year shines through to his fellow club members. His underlying determination takes a moment to rise to the surface, but when it does, he’s all business. He has no reason to take in those who’ll be a liability, but he more than anyone sees the potential of Kageyama (who clearly desired a quick partner) and Hinata (who has some serious athletic capabilities hidden within). So in these three senpai, we already have a group who all take a somewhat different but ultimately supportive view of the new kids. It might not be anything special when it comes to situations like this in anime, but it’s simply done very agreeably here. The cast is a vital part in any sports manga which focuses on group sports, and Haikyuu is off to a great start when it comes to that.
That said, these seniors, due to the challenge that both Kageyama and Hinata came up with (while doing their best to make it seem as if they’re on the same page already), have set one condition for if the two lose the match. Kageyama will not get to play as setter for as long as the seniors are still in the club. And this is drastic for Kageyama. So we’re all set-up to have a match where Kageyama is forced to come to some realization within himself, as well as to be introduced to even more of the cast in the form of additional first years. Let’s hope Haikyuu manages to keep up what’s it’s got going. Since what it does is good.
Also wow, I seriously dig all of the crow imagery. Way to use the full potential of the crow, Haikyuu.