So, before I even jump into talking about this episode let’s just talk about the elephant that’s been in the room since this anime was announced. A lot of people are concerned that this anime is just riding the wave of Haikyuu!! or on the other side a lot of people think this is going to be another Haikyuu!!. I’ll be honest I had both of those worries coming into this episode and even deep down I still think our blond protag looks similar to Tsukishima, but at least from this first episode I can tell you that this is going to be a different story. Volleyball will still be at the core but the struggles these characters face will be different. Heck, based on this episode alone I’d say the tone is more Hoshiai no Sora, but I don’t want to commit to saying that so early in the season. But for those of you who haven’t watched it I do want to mention that there’s references to attempted suicide in this first episode which will probably be revisited overtime. I just wanted to put that out there in case any readers don’t want to engage with the topic. Alright, with all that said let’s jump into the actual episode.
Right off the bat we’re introduced to Chika as he’s on the sideline of the volleyball court. He’s watching his team get utterly demolished at a game and all the while inner dialogue cards pop up saying that if he were on the court, they wouldn’t have this problem. Initially, I thought this was a future episode prophecy shot, but it quickly becomes apparent that it was current and ultimately leads to his transfer out of the Meisei school. It’s at this moment where viewers get the chance to speculate what might have happened to the other teammate, but the anime leaves it in suspense till the end. Instead, we’re transported to meet our other main character, Yuni. I would describe Yuni as a kid with a good heart, but still struggling to figure out right from wrong. But they’re in middle school so that’s just something they are all dealing with. We’re introduced to Chika and Yuni’s tearful goodbye from kindergarten and then they reunite in a somewhat lackluster fashion. Well, actually…. Yuni is very excited to see his old friend but ultimately gets the cold shoulder. I was a little afraid that this was going to lead the episode down a path of Chika being very rude / closed-off / mightier-than-thou. I’m happy that wasn’t his personality throughout the whole episode. It would have been fine if it was, but I probably would have assumed that the rest of the series was going to be about making the cold-hearted character care about other people (there’s still that potential, but I think that he’s just a moody teenager).
The conflict between Yuni and Chika doesn’t really last all that long since Yuni still cares about his childhood friend and ultimately agrees to join Chika in practice. This has Chika’s personality completely turn around and it’s just because he can play the sport that he cares so deeply about with other people. Additionally, it brings him closer to his ultimate goal of playing in matches. And one thing that I’m actually a fan of is how quickly the other volleyball members joined up with the team. I feel like when we’re in situations of having to rebuild a failing club, there’s quite a bit of time spent collecting other members – which is something I do enjoy watching, but it seems like this anime has some other things that the need to work through more than collecting some characters (I do hope we get to hang out with their teammates more though!).
But I am interested to see more of Yuni and his cousin from college, primarily because there’s something going on in that relationship that it’s all that great. I mean the first time the college student was introduced, it just seemed like Yuni was hanging out with an older guy, which is not something too uncommon to see. There are often older mentors that characters can confide in that just seem to do whatever they want. But after they walk by the second time and the other college kids emerged. That’s when it started to feel fishy for me. First, they call him “rich boy” and even ask about how much he has on him. That could be construed as teasing, but it was more of a power dynamic. But Yuni’s cousin was… very much not thrilled about the situation and Yuni wanted to appease him. Yuni seems like the people pleaser type so he’s willing to be used / stepped on to make others happy. And he may not realize that! But uh, dang college cousin you really did to the research on Chika.
So, one comparison that can be made with Haikyuu is honestly, Chika could be similar to Kageyama. An exceptional setter whose drive for the game pushed people to the edge. But they aren’t bad kids. They’re kids who didn’t really recognize the consequences of their actions until it was too late, and it is rather unfortunate about what happened. Of course, the severity of the consequences between the two is pretty drastic, but I can still see Chika’s story being one about learning to care for his teammates and grow beyond the person he used to be. Of course, that is just speculation and there’s a lot of different directions that this anime can go.
Overall, I think I was pretty satisfied with this first episode. It did a good job of getting everything out there and immediately introducing conflict. Some things that I’m worried about are it falling into an excessive drama for the sake of drama or that it will completely gloss over significant events. I’m worried that it might introduce us to a handful of interesting characters and not have enough time to develop them. I am interested in seeing where this series will go and am excited to see what dilemmas they face! But these next couple episode are really going to lay out the tone for the rest of the series, so I don’t want to hype up or get too excited just yet.
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: High