Well I certainly have… a lot to say about the episode and it’s not necessarily what the episode is about. I’m going to be honest, I had a lot of trouble watching this episode because of the very apparent drop in animation quality. Looking into it, this episode’s animation was outsourced to a smaller studio, which explains the extremely clunky and wonky animation. And I am aware that this was done due to the Covid situation, but it was still a difficult episode to watch not only visually but the pacing was very off as well. So not only was a small studio responsible for the drop in quality, but they fit 6-7 chapters in one episode when they typically only have maybe half of that amount in a typical episode.
There was A LOT going on this episode and I found it difficult to really follow most of the time. Which is a shame, because there were some spotlight moments for particular characters like Kinoshita, Tsukishima, Hinata and Yamaguchi at the end. Ever since the 2nd and 3rd seasons during qualifiers, I had hoped that Kinoshita would have some development since he was literally the only one who didn’t get to play at all during those two seasons. So having him finally be given a chance during nationals would be a really big thing for him. Unfortunately, due to the pacing and production quality, it didn’t stand out to me as much as I would have wanted it to. He’s no Yamaguchi, but he did fine for his first national play. And with the amount of stuff that was crammed into this episode, his actions felt a bit overlooked due to Hinata and Tsukishima’s moments being a lot more memorable.
Speaking of which, both Hinata and Tsukishima had very liberating moments this episode. Due to the Miya twins being able to copy Hinata and Kageyama’s quick, both were given chances to feel what the other teams had to experience when going against them. Which I’m sure gave both a thrill in their own way. Tsukishima gives a snarky comment on how much he wanted to shut them down after seeing it done so many times. And he finally got the chance lol. Hinata on the other hand probably saw it as another challenge to overcome and I’m glad to see him actually make some shutting out blocks, especially since we generally see him only do one-touches. But his shining moment had to be when he mimicked what Matsukawa did to him in the Aoba Josai match, forcing him to spike where he wanted him to spike, sending Otsumu’s spike over to Nishinoya. He was probably frustrated by his failure to beat Otsumu in height and strength when trying to push the ball over the net. So he more than redeemed himself with that block. It’s interesting to see what kind of block Hinata found the most frustrating to deal with as that was the last block I expected him to name. Especially since the block got spotlight like once or twice during that match. But I guess it had a bigger impact on Hinata than I expected. Hinata’s journey to become a better player rather than focusing solely on spiking has been really great to watch and how he is utilizing new techniques in the matches. I feel like such a soccer mom watching Hinata grow. KEEP IT UP, YOU’RE DOING GREAT!
Also, can we just talk about how amusing Tsukishima has been lately? With each passing episode, I find myself liking him more and more, even if he’s a snarky little punk that deserves a punch to the face. His laugh when Asahi unintentionally did a dink tickled me harder than it probably should have.
After Yamaguchi had his enlightening moment back in season 2, he hasn’t had much of a chance to shine again. So I’ve been looking forward to him scoring more points like that again and hopefully he’ll have that chance now. And I honestly wish this moment had been done better as with the pacing of this episode, it felt like it came and went too fast. It didn’t feel like we had enough time to get a sense of why Yamaguchi was so nervous and why he freaked out so badly when he couldn’t see the exit sign. I might have to go back and read the manga for this part because I didn’t quite get it within the context of this episode. (Edit: I totally forgot the part where Shimada gave him the reset advice, my bad) And I wish I did because Shimada helping to snap him out of his nerves by waving the market bag was a really sweet moment. Well, hopefully next episode will fix the weirdness of this episode and give a better spotlight to Yamaguchi’s moment that it deserves.
Alright, time for my Ted Talk. Right away, I could tell something was off and the more I watched, the more I realized how terribly off model everyone was 90% of the time and the animation felt very stiff and limited compared to how Production I.G. animates the series. The last time they outsourced the animation was for episode 15 of the first season. But because that episode didn’t really have that much action, it felt acceptable and it wasn’t too important of a match. However, because so much action was happening this episode, it was impossible for me to ignore especially since I’m a very visual person. The movements were stiff and the usual fluidity was missing. Not to mention characters lacked a lot of expression and just looked dead inside. The animation overall lacked so much life and that’s such a shame because this series would put in so much detail even in the smallest action. I also noticed there were a lot of awkward shots and still frames where I can tell that they were cutting corners intentionally. Overall, the production of this episode felt very lazy and that’s something I never wanted to say about Haikyuu animation because it’s always been top-tier. Did you see the shot where Daichi looks like his neck is broken???
Well, things should be on track with the usual production next week so hopefully I won’t have to complain about that anymore because WOW that was bad.