Karasuno’s match with Inarizaki is solidly underway in “Found”, and we are approaching the end of the first set with the two teams neck-and-neck. But as it was explained, Inarizaki is a much more experienced team, and while they have been routinely surprised by Karasuno’s eclectic play style, eventually our crows are going to run out of surprises.
“Found” as an episode contains a lot of highlights from the manga. I was quite looking forward to seeing several of these events animated. Unfortunately, this episode was very much a letdown. The animation was outsourced to a different studio and seems to have been rushed; the characters are drawn inconsistently and at times the whole look is just…ugly. It’s hard enough getting reacclimated to the new character design without missteps like this pulling you out of a story.
The pacing has also been off. The first cour of season 4 was fairly well done, but they are speeding through this Inarizaki match. In only two episodes, we’re already near the end of the first set. I had imagined this match taking up the entirety of the second cour, but at this rate, we’ll be finished with plenty of time to spare. A normal episode of an anime adapts about 3-4 manga chapters, but this one squeezed in around 6, which is just way too fast of a pace.
Perhaps it’s because for these episodes, I’d read the manga first, but I’m used to the chapters’ ending points, and seeing those happen in the middle of an episode are throwing me off a bit. Saeko’s entrance in last week’s episode was a dramatic moment in the manga, and while it still packs a punch in the anime, its location makes it slightly more forgettable than it should have been. This is why I’m glad that they kept showing her throughout this episode.
Hinata’s Matsukawa block, likewise, is an extremely emotional moment in the manga and honestly should have been where the episode ended. Instead, it happens in the middle of the episode and is quickly brushed aside, thereby losing almost all of its impact. Hinata trying to develop his defensive skills is a huge arc for his character, and I wish they wouldn’t rush it.
Instead, “Found” ends on one of Yamaguchi’s serves, which is the only part of the episode where we get a moment to breathe and even take things in, and even that moment felt rushed. For a moment, I thought we were seeing a flashback of their match against Tsubakihara and not his current serve. Jumping right into that instead of giving him time to focus, combined with the tint that resembles a flashback, and I was extremely confused.
Tsukishima stopping the Miya brothers’ version of Hinata and Kageyama’s quick was another moment that did not get the gravity it deserved. Moments like this, in earlier matches, were given the weight and gravitas of a big shonen manga moment. Now they are being treated as normal things happening in a normal match, and that’s not what I want at all.
Haikyuu!! is my favorite anime and manga, and I know it can be better than this. The Inarizaki match is one of my favorites, and I do not understand why an anime that has previously devoted so much time and attention to the individual matches would suddenly decide to omit large numbers of scenes from the source material and breeze through the games the way it seems to be.
That said, there are some moments in this episode that redeem it. I love getting to see more of the relationship between the Miya brothers, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Atsumu is, as I’ve said before, The Worst, and it’s hilarious that even his twin brother agrees with this assessment.
Haikyuu!! is able to get away with making some of their characters unpleasant because there is usually a member of the same team there to balance them out. For example, Oikawa on his own is a petty, jealous, pompous pr*ck, but with Iwaizumi there to call him out on his behavior, he’s a loveable petty, jealous, pompous pr*ck. (Oikawa is my lock screen.)
Also, while the animation in this episode is largely subpar, the facial expressions are still to die for.
If there’s one thing that Haikyuu!! does well, it’s the humor, and Atsumu and Osamu bickering while their team just looked so done wasn’t the only thing that “Found” had going for it in that department. I loved Tsukishima snickering over Asahi’s missed spike, and Asahi, in general, being apologetic because instead of the powerful spike he was going for, he had to settle for a dink. I also loved Hinata’s joy at managing a respectable emergency set being tempered with Kageyama’s curt declaration that it was luck.
The soundtrack continues to be amazing. I’ve had many a day at work where I’ve put on YouTube playlists of the soundtrack from the first three seasons. I also think it’s really neat that they will apparently be updating the ED every week so the other Miyagi teams are watching scenes from the current episode.
All in all, I did enjoy “Found”, even though the inconsistent look of the characters was a distraction. I hope they slow down the pacing as we continue. This is Nationals, after all, and it would be crazy not to give these matches the same care and attention that, say, the Shiratorizawa match had.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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