Haikyuu!! Season 2: Karasuno vs Seijo

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*warning: major spoiler alert

The second season of Haikyuu!! is a personal favourite of mine, I would go as far as to label it as my second favourite anime season. This season is completely dominated by the finale; the long awaited rematch between arch rivals, Karasuno and Seijo. It is one of the best Shonen battles I have ever seen AND it’s a battle over volleyball, what could be better?

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In this match we are introduced to Seijo’s new player, the powerful double edged sword, Mad Dog, who definitely earned his name. His dynamic playing style is hard to keep up with but great to watch. Mad Dog’s introduction meant that there was no ease in to this match, it was intense from the start with the increased attack rhythm he bought.

Another player I really enjoyed watching in this match was Yamaguchi. I was really happy about the breakthrough he had with his pinch serves, it was heartwarming to see such confidence from him after the incident at the Inter High Prelims. I was really rooting for him but it was nerve-wracking to watch.

No matter who played it was obvious this match had to go to the final set, so with one set each and no significant lead at the halfway mark of the third set, seeing Mad Dog finally come together with his team was worrying as this is assumed to provide an advantage to their side. However, with the game progressing and the score reaching 22-23 to Seijo it didn’t look like this was the case, until Oikawa hit a clean service ace straight through to take the team to their match point. But this is where it got really intense (as if it wasn’t already). Cue Daichi blocking Oikawa’s second serve and Karasuno’s ace scoring, followed by a not so skilful but still effective block by Hinata which meant that the teams were now at a deuce. It was Karasuno’s serve, carried out by Suga which led into a slow motion shot of their four person attack. And with everyone trying to figure out who was going to spike, Kageyama simply dump served, much to everyones surprise.

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As Oikawa dives for the ball and misses by a fraction we see a brilliantly symbolic frame as Kageyama towers over him from the other side of the net showing the clear transition of power between the ‘King’ and the ‘Great King’. This didn’t mean that Oikawa was going to give up as he dramatically crashed into tables at the side of the court to create a set up for Seijo’s #4 . But of course the match had to conclude with a quick attack from Karasuno’s famous duo.

The whole season was used as a build up for this match and although the victorious team had to be Karasuno, I second guessed it so many times, Although I couldn’t help but cheer for both teams.

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There are two things I want to mention. The first is the lack of repetition. You would think that a four episode match would get boring and repetitive but this was not the case at all. The pace was constantly changing. Flashbacks of the players past as well as narration from audience members and coaches were used to break it up and to help keep the audience up with what was going on. Some rallies would be shortened sequences and would only show small cuts of it to show the progress of the match without dragging it out. And despite the match’s duration I did not notice the use of many repeated shots, if they did reuse animation it was not obvious at all, with the exception of some of Oikawa’s serves and the impressively styled frame of Seijo’s #16 spiking.

Which brings me onto my second point. The detail to animation was incredible throughout the match. It was consistent and clean and a few times they used these brilliantly drawn frames that amazed me. It’s hard to explain them so I’ve just put a photo above of them to showcase it.

All in all, it was a great match that I really can’t fault. Production I.G did a great job with this one.

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale

*warning: minor spoiler alert

Over the last 6 months the U.K. Anime scene has been treated with titles such as Your Name and A Silent Voice, both of which received great reviews and were hyped beyond belief, although it was well deserved. It was the same before I went in to see Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, however, the negative comments greatly outweighed the positive and as someone who bowed out of the SAO franchise after binge watching the first series, my hopes weren’t set too high on this one.

SAO continues to do what SAO does best, the battle scenes were incredible and the last half hour of the film looks like half the films budget was used to make it, absolutely stunning. The audience was taken through climax after climax, every time you thought the boss fight was over, another would be brought in along with more people from the series and weapons to help them fight until it was almost ridiculous.

Actually the battle scenes throughout the film were consistently well executed, each had great detail in them and when close ups were used it really showcased it. But there was one issue with the animation that bugged me throughout and that is their design for noses. It may seem trivial and it wasn’t necessarily a big problem as they were animated well for the most part but when a character who was perfectly well animated the frame before suddenly appears with some sort of misshaped circle in the middle of their face, it does throw anyone who’s looking at it that closely off but maybe I’m just being picky.

And I will continue to be picky, the rest of the film to be honest was quite average, don’t get me wrong, the storyline, which could have been made repetitive or could have appeared rushed with the sheer quantity they wanted to include, worked perfectly for the timescale they had but the pacing which seemed to work at first started to fall apart with flashbacks and memories that would have been better off used earlier. The first half of the film seemed to be used as filler before it got to what the film was actually about and although I did enjoy the use of ordinal scale battles to pass the time, I am aware that it wasn’t as favourable with others who saw it as pointless. But as Ive said the animation for it was really good so I can’t fault it on that too much.

Although in regards to the narrative I am going to have to say that if Asuna’s mum hasn’t even met her boyfriend yet she’s going to be really shocked to see the ring on her finger by the end of the film…

Honestly I am being too critical here I did really enjoy it and would rate it above anything I’ve seen from the SAO franchise so far.