I’ve said this again and again,and I would never get tired of reiterating: Haikyuu brings something new and something extremely important to the world of sports anime.
That is advancing the perspective of the defeated, the characters in the periphery, the characters that we often forget and bypass when we watch sports series.
We’ve had a lot of sports series in the past years—series that emphasize the value of determination, teamwork, patience, and talent—the key to catching that win. But is that all there to is? Is competition just about winning, or more importantly—
Is it just about WINNERS?
I must say, this has been the most emotional episode of Haikyuu for me. Why? Cause we get to see that losing is something unnatural. Okay. Yeah. Losing is inevitable, but the way we focus on the story of the winners makes us forget how the other teams have felt. In this case, Furudate-sensei has achieved something I haven’t ever seen from the other sports anime that I’ve watched. He knows that these other teams also have their stories. It makes me glad that this episode was told from the perspective of the losing team. If this was the conventional sports anime, we would’ve shrugged our shoulders over this other team, went full force on supporting the protagonists. But no. It made you feel like, “Hey, it doesn’t really matter who wins. Everyone is doing their best, aren’t they?”
Another point of contention is the fact that the rival teams have always been presented in an antagonistic way—arrogant players who just wanted to bring down those who get in their way, athletes who only think of winning, blah, blah, blah. In the Nekoma vs. Karasuno match, I did not see any antagonist in Nekoma. They were supporting each other. To quote the Nekoma Coach, “they bring out the best in each other, that’s why they are called ‘rivals’.”
Watching this episode only made me realize again that in essence, their is no useless team. Every single player, every single team—all of them has their own story, their own purpose. Their relationships might rest on rivalry or friendship—but these two things all boil down to the fact that they are “bonds”, reactions that make the competing teams better and improve themselves. After all, this is the essence of sports—continuing to challenge yourself and come out as a better, stronger, and serious player.
I do hope, and sincerely so, that Haikyuu continues to be like this. :)