When: Thursdays at 11:25 a.m. CDT
Genre: Sports, Slice of Life
Synopsis: After everything that’s happened, can the ace pair be reunited? Genius setter Kimichika Haijima and team ace Yuni Kuroba were a duo on and off the volleyball court. But at the last tournament of middle school, the two begin fighting and end their friendship. Now in high school, they are forced to meet on the same side of the net. They’ll need to work things out if they want a chance at Nationals. (Credit: Funimation)
If you’re looking for an anime to fill that void let by Haikyu!!, then be prepared to be very, very disappointed. We are now at the halfway point of the season, and there is a distinct lack of volleyball.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
This anime is all over the place. Is it a sports anime? Is it a shounen ai? Is it slice of life? What is it? This anime has left me confused and bored for five episodes now.
Distinct lack of volleyball for the first half. Is it possible for an anime about a volleyball team to have a distinct lack of volleyball in the first half of the season? Apparently, yes. Now, maybe it is unfair to compare it to Haikyu, but I don’t really believe that. The standard has been set and this show fails to deliver. After five episodes, volleyball has been limited to a snippet of practices and matches. Even the training camp montage gave very little. At this point in the season, we know very little about the team’s skill level.
Extreme focus on the two main protagonists. I don’t know how they accomplished it, but they have managed to make me dislike both of our protagonists. Basically, I felt like they beat in their character flaws like a dead horse. Haijima is a super-gifted volleyball player that returns to his hometown from Tokyo. We learn that he was bullied in Tokyo due to a very dark prank that his former teammates played on him. Haijima is cold and kind of a jerk. His old childhood friend, Kuroba, is a great athlete, but weak-willed and minded. Setting their character flaws did not need to be so forceful and take up five whole episodes. Both characters, to this point, have annoyed me and are not very likeable. I am not the type of person that needs likeable characters, but the approach here is a bit heavy handed.
Distinct lack of a team. There is so much focus on our protagonists that after five episodes, we know little to nothing about the other members of the Seiin volleyball team. Due to the lack of actual game play and character building, I can already see this show building toward an unrealistic team cohesion and that annoys me. Something that Haikyu excelled at was constantly shifting the focus onto other members of the team so that we understood why they worked so well as a team. So far, the other members of this team have seen very little screen time.
Why all of the blushing? It is no secret that many sports anime have a certain level of flirting. Call it fan service if you like. I have no issues with that. One of my favorite anime of all time is Yuri on Ice and I love it for that exact reason. However, if you’re going to do it, do it on purpose. There is A LOT of blushing going on in this anime. Now, I know that anime uses blushing to convey a lot of emotions, but in the instances where it is used, it seems out of place. Also, Kuroba makes very grand declarations about wanting to play volleyball with Haijima and he is very fixated with Haijima. If you’re going to use that angle, do it with purpose. Right now, I feel like it is disingenuous or very poorly relayed.
Unnecessary drama. Boy is there a lot of unnecessary drama. Unrelated, unnecessary drama. At one point, the team almost loses its ability to play games because Kuroba is accused of being in a fight. He comes to school with a black eye and tells his team and the school he is innocent of the accusations, however, he won’t tell them where he got the black eye. The team gets suspended. We later learn that his cousin punched him. I am still trying to figure out why this was even in the plot. Again, I think it is this weird five-episode long fixation on building Kuroba’s character. We get it. He’s a scrappy kid with shady friends that isn’t really dependable. You’ve been setting that up for five episodes now.
There is SO much more that I could point out. In the end, I am very disappointed with one so far. I think Rugjen and I will continue it to the end to see if it redeems itself, but based on the first half of the show, we’d recommend skipping this one.