THANK GOODNESS IT’S ANIME SUNDAY!!!!!!
This week I was reminded of how out of shape I am. While I was at work I had to chase down a shop lifter running through our store like a cat on a tin roof in August.
When all was said and done, I was very disappointed at how tired I was(though I suspect most of that fatigue was adrenaline induced).
I have lost the athletic aspect of my competitive edge… and now that I’m watching Haikyu I’m feeling very inspired.
It shows everything that is so special for athletes and it does this in a compelling way. It is, to date, my favorite sports anime. A perfect blend of practice for games, the hype of the games themselves, and the spirit of sports and athleticism as a whole, win or lose.
I binged through all 3 seasons in a span of 2-3 weeks(is that really binge watching at that point?). And my God it was a treat. Made me miss my high school days and playing football and practicing all year, the Summer camps and practice that began as soon as April, before Summer even started! Balancing all that with school, even THAT concept of being a student athlete was so well represented in Haikyu.
Which is why I am looking forward to dissecting this show!
Which I’ll do…….
To begin with it all starts with the inspiration to begin a sport in the first place. For a lot of people, playing sports and really competition in general, is about overcoming your own limitations. And when two people who have done this compete with one another, when neither can bare to lose after they have invested so much time and hard work and have made so many sacrifices… and yet someone MUST lose. That is the draw.
Two people utterly dedicated, passionate, putting forth their best effort all in an attempt to avoid defeat and seize victory. The tension is palpable. To overcome both yourself and your opponent.
To win, to achieve self actualization… is nirvana.
To lose, to be conquered and fail after having come so far and fought tooth and nail…. but to stand back up anyway and once more pursue victory, to never give up. This is quintessential to the Human experience.
And Haikyu captures this brilliance. There was a fantastic moment where the show honored all the athletes who lose in competition. It showed their reactions to defeat, crying, screaming, laughing, falling to one’s knees, rationalizing, justifying.
The show even touches on the philosophy behind why people compete in the first place. It was best explained as something innate, instinctual, that there doesn’t have to be any grandiose reason behind the pursuit of victory. Much like eating and drinking and sleeping, competition and a desire to win is almost a biological imperative. It makes us feel good and it’s fun. There need be no more explanation than that.
This show touches on every angle of sports.
Even the scene where one of the protagonist’s team mates stopped going to practice because it was difficult and he felt it wasn’t fun anymore. Instead, he skipped practice and ate ice cream and sat in front on the air conditioner as his friends endured grueling practices.
This was a particularly insightful scene. It showed that even when people enjoy competition, they can still feel burnt out at times, because hard work is… well, it’s hard. It’s NOT easy. It is stressful, anxiety inducing, painful even. And when people experience difficulty there is a tendency to want to curl up into a ball and pull away from the hardship, in this case, by running away and hiding. But that isn’t living. And the character realizes this when he grows bored of hiding away in his home. Sitting around in an air conditioned house without challenge is not how we grow and improve. And the ONLY time we as people should stop growing and improving is when we die. Period.
Even if it is scary, challenging ourselves and overcoming hardship is the only thing that keeps life interesting, and keeps the game fun.
The character would have been fine to enjoy ice cream and air conditioning but ONLY after enduring a grueling practice. We must feel that we earn our down time, or else down time isn’t a special treat to recuperate and rest but rather a monotonous normalcy.
And then, aside from the philosophy, we have the actual sport. The animations are fluid, the characters are fleshed out with unique personalities, and the under dog story is extremely well written. And it doesn’t feel contrived. It feels like the stars aligned, albeit, naturally. the relationships and skill evolved in an organic way. All these people happen to come together and mesh. But the other teams in the show also feature fleshed out characters with dynamic relationships.
The show is one of the most realized that I have ever seen. And the subject matter, volleyball, a sport far less popular than football or baseball or basketball, is far more appealing as I’m actually learning about the sport. Which is perhaps why I feel this attraction to the show. I’m excited to learn volleyball terminology and the sport’s rules and techniques.
More than that, NO ONE HAS SUPER POWERS! No one can hit a three point shot from ANYWHERE on the court. No one can copy moves. No one can score a basket from any angle. No one is a phantom because no one notices their lack of presence, and no one has super powers explained away with cockamamie science LOL!
Now I won’t name names *cough* Kuroko *cough* Prince of Tennis *cough* Eye Shield *cough*
This show is far more similar to anime like Baby Steps, The Big Windup and Chihayafuru. But at the same time, it feels like a denigration to compare Haikyu, a masterpiece, to these other two shows.
Haikyu is in a league of its own.
The practices actually constitute a huge chunk of the content in any given season. And yet, these episodes that revolve around practice are still compelling with great character development. Everyone sorting out their problems and learning new skills.
And then there are the actual games. The games in Haikyu, after seeing how hard the characters practice, is beyond satisfaction. I feel the tension of the show’s characters, all competing, the nerves, I can completely relate from my days playing football. All that hard work and practice just to play in an official game and try your heart out.
They build up this face off with Shiratorizawa where Ushijima is the reigning ace.
One player, so skilled, so athletic, so intense, so naturally gifted, a genius, a sole white eagle… facing off against the might of a murder of crows, scrappy and persistent.
The entirety of season 3 is dedicated to this match up to determine which team will go to nationals. While our protagonist does defeat Shiratorizawa with the help of the team, Ushijima, on his own, scored nearly half of his team’s points, many on his aced serves.
A genuine force of nature. A mighty eagle that was barely brought down by a murder of mobbing crows.
But it’s important to point out that when a team of people came together, they were capable of overcoming that which would have otherwise conquered them. And now with Ushijima out of the way, our protagonist moves on to nationals… next season!
Long story short?!
Get out there and compete and have fun!
Until, next time!
P.S. WHO WAS WATCHING EVO?! I JUST WATCHED SALEM TAKE IT! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G
THAT is why I love competition and sports.