What They Say:
The drama heats up, both on and off the volleyball court, as the rivalry between teammates Shoyo Hinata and Tobio Kageyama continues to develop in new and unexpected ways. After the team’s dramatic setback in Inter-High Preliminaries, Karasuno gets the unexpected opportunity to go to a training camp in Tokyo alongside other top schools in the nation… including their rival team, Nekoma! In order to attend, though, the dynamic duo must pass their exams, and getting Hinata and Kageyama through that challenge will be the trial by fire for Hitoka Yachi, who could be joining Kiyoko Shimizu as a team manager. With the eyes of their opponents fixed on their progress, will it be the spark needed to get the team moving in the right direction? Passions burn, and tempers flare as the fuse is lit for HAIKYU!! SEASON 2!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language end the English dub in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec to bring the game to life. The show works the full forward soundstage well here to bring an engaging mix to the table where the squeak of the shoes, the impact of the ball and just the woosh and swoosh of everything as it goes along. Sports shows definitely need a solid presentation in this area and it gets it here to make this a very fun mix. The dialogue works in a similar manner where needed when there are multiple characters on the screen and across the net as well, giving it some good depth and placement at times. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set brings twenty-five episodes to the table with a nine/nine/seven format that gives it plenty of space to work with as we’ve seen with other similar releases. Animated by Production I.G., the series has a very strong look and design here that blends in the CG side in a great and smooth way that really elevates the content. Production I.G. is definitely the right studio for this since they went all out as the colors pop vibrantly and there’s a great smoothness to the play and blending of the animation itself. It’s one of those shows that just reveals its quality the more it goes on and the end result is striking in a way that doesn’t feel like it should be for a school sports show. The transfer captures it beautifully and it’s a great looking release all around.
The packaging for this release is presented in a standard sized Blu-ray case that works pretty well when matched up against the heavy oranges of the artwork. The front cover brings Hinata and Kageyama together as expected with them looking backward and up toward the viewer while the shadowed threat is under them. It’s awkward looking to a degree with the crow feathers floating around it has a lot of good elements to it. The back cover plays the color design well with the black, white and orange stripes and framing, making for a good looking release that does the rare thing of making orange as a dominant color work. The shots from the show are good, we get a fun action shot of the group going through a run that makes you grin with all their expressions. The production credits along the bottom are in white but still legible, while the technical grid covers everything very well in a clean and easy to read format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release definitely fits the right look with the design and theme of it all as it draws in the colors well while adding in the court and a green look about it as the navigation along the left or right as it breaks down the episodes by numbers and titles in a clean and very easy way to read it. The mix of colors works better than one might think it would, but it provides the right contrast that just screams sports. The menu beyond that shows off some great artwork and promotional imagery that just ties it all together well so that it’s all smooth and clean looking, very vibrant and appealing with minimal need for the submenus since there’s no language selection.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Haikyu was a whole lot of fun that I think surprised a lot of people that ended up getting into it. It really shouldn’t have as we regularly get these kinds of sports anime series where the cast just clicks in a really good way that reaches outside of the usual “niche” fandom that is sports material. The show was strong out of the gate getting a two-cour run and then followed up with this second season that also ran for two-cour. This season largely carries things forward and works some good growth for the characters but is also kind of front-loaded with the character material. Some of that is explored through the playing of the game, which is again part and parcel of sports material, but there’s a lot going on early on to help set up the bigger tournament pieces.
While the team has come together well they didn’t make it into the Inter-High Preliminaries and that has them practicing, practicing, practicing. There’s some good news in the offing with a training camp with the folks from Nekoma but there are a lot of things to achieve before then. A lot of the early fun was seeing the study sessions since several of them needed to get their grades up in order to participate in away events and seeing how both Hinata and Kageyama struggle in their own way is a lot of fun. It’s also welcome in that it allows us to see more of the team and their own pros and cons when it comes to school getting involved and has some nice touches with the faculty as well. The school element in these kinds of shows can be hit or miss, little more than a backdrop to the game itself, but Haikyu has found a good balance so we are regularly reminded that they are in high school.
The training camp side overall takes up a decent chunk of the first half of this set as we get the gang heading there to grow as players. There’s plenty of little rivalry moments but I love that Hinata is just so in love with volleyball itself that he’s just excited to be there and to experience it. He’s the kind of player that the more he’s exposed to it the more he learns and grows. We get some of that here as he starts to realize he can do more than just spiked returns and that it can make him a better and more versatile player. It’s an area where it’s hard to actually instruct him on it but when he learns through play on the court itself it becomes hardwired into him why it’s a good thing. The different in how the players learn has been part of the show from early on because of just how different Hinata and Kageyama are so it’s welcome to see that. Even Kageyama has his moments where he’s trying to dial down his more aggressive impulses toward Hinata in order to handle him better and be a better team player himself.
The growth of the players is instrumental in keeping the series engaging and watching the range of interactions across the training camp is a whole lot of fun. But it’s the back half of the series that I become a lot more interested in with the next round of the Inter-High Preliminaries as we see the kids a bit more confident going up against some solid to higher seeded teams. There’s the awkward moments, such as Hinata being mistaken as a middle school student and later going up against that player with some surprises for all involved, and just the thrill of seeing the Karasuno kids really coming together in the right way. What helps with a show like this is that the matches aren’t as drawn out as they could be. As much as I really enjoyed Kuroko’s Basketball as a series it suffered from some really extended matches. There, it kicks off with Ougiminami High and then Kakugawa before setting things up for the Johzenji match. This one is actually really fun with the captain being taken down with an injury and we end up with Ennoshita taking over which has its own baggage with his particular past with the club and the uncertainty by others with how he’ll handle the team. The idea that a smaller team like Karasuno wouldn’t have a proper backup captain because of its size is interesting, and it’s never really been detailed, but seeing how they come together really works well.
As the show moves into its final round of episodes we get lots and lots of action on the court. It’s all focused on Aoba Josai but it starts off in getting to see Date Tech going up against them before getting taken out. That puts a lot of pressure on the Karasuno kids and this run covers about five episodes of material in the back and forth. While the win is hard fought, it’s watching the hard fight that lets it work so well. We’ve seen these kids grown very well over the course of the two seasons but this one feels like they’re coming into their own and finding new ways to handle everything. While we do get lots of small moments to several characters it is largely focused on Hinata and Kageyama to good effect, particularly with the rivalry they both have with the other team. Watching these two push each other yet find ways to work together within that realm is really well done, especially with the mix of Hinata’s more good-natured side and the kind of intensity that Kageyama brings to the game.
I enjoyed the first season of Haikyu a whole lot but it was what it was, mostly introductions and setup that propelled the kids forward to try and do their best while facing some real struggles and setbacks along the way. This season does a good job of humanizing them more and doing a lot of things off the court in the first third of the series before digging deep into the training camp and then the qualifiers. The game material is great with some strong animation design and flow to it that really stands out among the better of the sports anime series. But it works so well because we’re invested in these characters and their stories – which are even more accessible to fans with the bilingual presentation here. Sentai’s got a solid release with a great sounding and great looking show that should please just about everyone – and more so if you picked up the premium edition.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos, Commercials
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 17th, 2018
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.