Don’t worry mate, if your volleyball career doesn’t work out, you can always pursue a career in scowling.
First off the bat, Haikyuu is the best animated thing this season. It was even better animated than the Bones anime original mecha series and that’s saying a lot. Some of this fluid animation is used for seemingly otherwise unremarkable scenes, like an incredibly well animated guy tumbling into a wall and falling into a funny pose. Great animation does not necessarily mean visually interesting, as every KyoAni anime should indicate. And yes, I prefer the look of shows like Jojo’s to Haikyuu. But it’s still very expressive and brings an extra layer of character to the series.
Seriously though, that guy can scowl for Japan.
I liked Haikyuu a lot. It’s had the most impressive first episode of a new anime this season so far (so discounting Jojo and Mushishi). I know a lot of people will compare this to Kuroko Plays With His Balls because that’s the hot shit right now, but it has a lot more in common with Big Windup. Perhaps it’s an age perception thing, but the characters feel younger and more human, which makes them feel more vulnerable and emotional. It gives you more to care about. I like these people. Well, I like the main character. Scowly face is an asshole, but that gives room for the story to develop.
The good animation also adds to that perception because it makes the scenes more dynamic. There wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about that match this episode because the result was never in doubt, but the scenes where they did try to make something happen were well presented and felt like they meant something. I even quite liked that scene where the main character suddenly turned into a stencilled blur, because it gave the perception that the show wasn’t going to necessarily be totally rigid with its art style. I thought after Kuroko that maybe I had gotten tired of sports anime, but looking back I think it had more to do with Kuroko not being very good. The characters were shallow, their motivations boring, and the animation was quite shit.
Hey, it wouldn’t be a Scamp first impressions post if I didn’t needlessly go off on a tangent to bash some other anime I never got around to bashing before.
Also another thing Haikyuu has in common with Big Windup: Blushing teenage boys everywhere. There were so many of them that it started to get a little comical. I’d call it fangirl pandering but there weren’t any knowing winks to the audience, and I think I might prefer it that way. Haikyuu could easily still stumble if the main character just remained being a genki bundle of goodwill and energy and scowly face just stayed being an asshole all throughout the series, but I’m hopeful this will actually develop. I just hope the pacing is fast enough that we get to see significant development in this season.