What They Say:
The Miyagi Prefecture Representative for the Spring High School National Volleyball Championship continues as the Karasuno team advances to take on the undefeated prefecture champions, Shiratorizawa Academy High School. This is the strongest opponent Karasuno has ever faced, and the deck is stacked against them with an extra ace in the form Wakatoshi Ushijima, a powerful wing spiker who’s already played with the National Team!
If they want to win, Hinata, Kageyama and the rest of the Crows will have to learn an entirely new playing style in order to counter Ushijima and his seemingly unstoppable spike… and that’s just the first lesson the Shiratorizawa veterans have in store for the Crows. The game is on as the players hit the court in the third pulse-pounding season of Haikyu!!
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 2016, 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 just ten episodes from a shortened season to the table with an eight/two 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 Ushijima together as expected with them looking straight out with serious expressions that you’d expect, though the amount of white space feels a bit off with it. The layout works good in general and the logo hits the mark it needs to in order to tie things together. 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. I particularly liked the way the Shiratorizawa Academy High School guys looked on the second disc as the color vibrancy really stood out nicely.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and some of the Japanese promos.
The slow process of bringing out Haikyuu to audiences continues as this fall 2016 season has now finally made its way to home video. Even more frustrating in a way was that it’s just a ten-episode season that is almost laser-focused on a single event series itself, so it doesn’t have a lot of room to move around in. After the previous season had a two-cour run that was able to do a number of different things, this one is tighter but also simpler and, in some ways, less character focused. That comes with the increase of more of the match material itself and that continues to be beautifully brought to life, even more so when going up against a team like Shiratorizawa. Shiratorizawa Academy High School
The Miyagi Prefecture Representative for the Spring High School National Volleyball Championship storyline as plays out here is a lot of fun. We’ve seen the ups and downs these kids have faced so far and the main dynamic between our two leads on the Karasuno side so we have a good handle on that. We know there’s a good bit of variety with the other players in their growth and what they can do and several get a chance to shine as the season progresses. Tsukishima, in particular, gets a standout moment in the penultimate episode that shows his own growth and the way they’re functioning as a team. There are naturally issues across the season as they have to get in sync but it does adhere to the usual story elements as it ramps up to those final minutes and we see them really bringing it together even as it’s a struggle to do so. Nothing felt really foreordained overall.
What gets me with this season is that it really does put all the heart out on the court for people to engage with. The Shiratorizawa kids may not get a ton of depth but through their internal dialogue and some of what we get from their back and forth with teammates definitely helps to make them accessible. They’re small moments but we avoid them having being portrayed as a dark group of people, evil players or something, and just highly competitive participants like the Karasuno kids. We just know the Karasuno kids better, which is why I like sports anime series. We could get with Shiratorizawa as the star and follow them up to this point and see where it takes them next and it would be just as engaging, just with a different cast.
Ok, maybe they don’t have their own Hinata though.
The show does bring in a flashback episode and it comes at a decent time, moving between sets, and it helps to flesh out a few more but I almost wish that they hadn’t done one for this season and just devoted it all to the game. It does slow things down from a marathoning perspective but I suspect it worked better when watched on a weekly basis. This series definitely works better overall binged as it’s just an ongoing series of matches until we get to the epilogue section of the last episode. These are always fun areas when they’re given some room to breathe and watching the way these characters have grown both as individuals and as a team is really nicely done. Even with a little youthful love creeping in around the edges at times. I also really enjoyed the way they handled the end of the game emotions for the Shiratorizawa group as their coach knows exactly how to get them to the right frame of mind in order to depart the court and prepare for what’s next. Karasuno works a different way and both are right for their respective groups.
I continue to really enjoy this series (and vicariously as well as my kids watch it during broadcast and I hear their enthusiasm) and that it’s done so well from the folks at Production I.G. for the animation. This season is a little different from what we got before in both length and intent as it’s just a single series of matches to get us to the next phase in full. It’s less focused on the characters and their stories and even their internal rivalries to a degree. It’s far more focused on powering through the sets against Shiratorizawa that is giving them a big run for their money. It’s a lot of strong volleyball action that delivers the goods in great quality, making me eager for the next season.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos, Commercials
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 26th, 2019
Running Time: 250 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.