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After waiting such a looong time, our thirst for more sports action has now been quenched! This week marks the first episode of Haikyuu!! Karasuno Koukou vs Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou. This is already the third season of the popular manga-turned-anime Haikyuu!! by Haruichi Furudate.
Japanese Original Episode Title: ごあいさつ
— アニメ「ハイキュー!!」 (@animehaikyu_com) October 7, 2016
Haikyuu!! season three’s first episode continues from where the last season left off. After winning the match with Aoba Jousai, Karasuno earned themselves the right to battle against the favorite team to go to the nationals – Shiratorizawa Gakuen. As usual, the episode begins with Hinata’s monologue that tells his feelings about playing volleyball despite being a short player. The episode then builds up on Karasuno’s and Shiratorizawa’s respective support system, reputation, and strength – which basically sets the hype and expectations for the rest of the season. Even if you haven’t read the manga or watched the first two seasons, the plot is easy to understand.
You get to meet again characters who had appeared in season one and season two as they gather to cheer for the Karasuno Gakuen Boys Volleyball Club. I was happy to see Hinata’s two friends from junior high. After all, their appearance in this episode gives an emphasis on our ‘Little Giant’s growth throughout the series.
There are lots of exciting highlights in the first episode of Haikyuu!! Since this is the first episode of our long-awaited sports series, there’s no way I would miss out on any highlight that’s actually worth mentioning.
Highlight #0: OP and ED Songs
You might be confused as to why I named it ‘Highlight #0’. Well, I believe that’s just befitting because what I’m going to highlight here is the opening and ending songs of this new season! The opening song of Haikyuu!! season three is entitled Hikariare (ヒカリアレ) and it is performed by Burnout Syndromes. The OP sequence is really amazing since it shows a symbolism of Shiratorizawa – specifically Wakatoshi Ushijima – being the tall mountain that our Karasuno crows have to overcome in order to soar to the skies of nationals. When watching the OP, you’ll get the idea that a murder of crows have come to hunt the mighty eagle!
As for the ending theme song, the title is Mashi Mashi (マシ・マシ) and it’s performed by Nico Touches the Walls. The ending song has a funky beat to it. The sequence also shows all the teams that our Karasuno guys trumped over in the past seasons in order to get to where they are now.
Highlight #1: Gathering of Characters
The episode gathers some notable characters who played a role in the lives of our crows. Some characters worth noting are Daichi’s admirer Michimiya, whose crush on our captain seems to get the better of her, Tsukishima-oniichan with the suspicious disguise, Hinata’s junior high friends Koji and Izumi, as well as the Karasuno Gakuen students and teachers. The usual gang of supporters are there for support too – the neighborhood association’s Shimada and Takinoue, Tanaka-neechan, Yachi, and even that old grumpy guy in the crowd!
Highlight #2: Display of Power
Here’s what we are always anticipating in Haikyuu!! episodes – the display of power! In this episode, Coach Ukai was explaining to our crows how different Shiratorizawa is from Aoba Jousai. While Aoba Jousai may be a mature team, Shiratorizawa is just the opposite. When their receives are in disarray, they always make sure to get the ball to their wing spikers – specifically Ushijima – simply because they know that they can secure a point that way. To further cement that flashback explanation from our crow coach, Ushijima then smashes the ball full-power during warm up. And guess what? The ball flew all the way up to the audience’s stand!
However, do you think that our baby crows would just let that particular display of power go? Our oddball first-year duo returns the favor by displaying their own forte – a quick where Hinata spikes the ball straight down. This is a new weapon Kageyama and Hinata have been honing ever since their last match.
The fight has already begun during the warm up!
Highlight #3: The Official Lineup
You can see the difference in how the starting lineup was introduced here in this season compared to the ones during the last two seasons. In this season, the introduction of the starting lineup is more elaborate. Each player is first introduced to the crowd and the player then comes in. It’s pretty much like how it would be in a real life qualifying finals volleyball competition! This part of the episode made me feel that this is certainly an ‘official’ match. The game is now on!
Our Karasuno crows have indeed come a long way. In this episode, the overall theme focuses on the growth of the team and their motivation to prove that they aren’t ‘grounded crows’ anymore. They understand that Shiratorizawa is a big hurdle they have to overcome. Despite knowing that there is a difference in strength, they are driven to defeat the opponent and bag the ticket to the nationals.
While it may be true that there is a serious vibe starting from the beginning of the episode up until the end, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be finding any humor here. The idiosyncratic second year duo – namely Tanaka and Nishinoya – are still up on their usual antics. They got themselves fired up after thinking of how the girls, especially Kiyoko-san, will come to admire them after seeing how strong they are on the court. They are even imagining themselves to be the ikemen-type of players on the court! During warm ups, our players are filled with anxiety too. Who wouldn’t be in the last stage before the nationals, right? Their shenanigans during their nervous fits are worth a good laugh though. It’s also fun to see how the vice-principal now gives his all in cheering for the volleyball club when he was some sort of ‘villain’ (not really!) for the team way back in season one!
Starting from this first episode of Haikyuu!! season three, your heart will surely go ‘waku waku’! Our Karasuno team is facing a powerhouse team who regularly takes a spot in the nationals, after all. How will this qualifying final turn out in the end?
Let’s support our beloved crows together, here in Manga.Tokyo!
NEXT TIME: The Threat of “Left”, “Hidari” no Kyōi (“左”の脅威)