The bold journey of Karasuno High’s volleyball team in Haikyuu!! has been captured in dynamic animation. Production I.G has delivered thrilling matches and hilarious comedic moments in the anime. Haikyuu!!‘s third season ended off with Karasuno finally making it to Nationals, a dream they have been working tirelessly towards for three seasons.
Season 4 marked a turning point for the team, the start of their time in Nationals. This momentous occasion was also animated in a new animation style. Concerns about the action not being animated as excitingly as the previous seasons began to rise, as this season is more important than ever, now that the boys have made it Nationals.
Why the Change?
Apparently, the producer of Haikyuu!! wanted the art style to look more similar to the manga’s style of drawing. The manga and season 4 have a simpler artistic style than that in seasons 1-3. Apparently, a lot of animation studios are creating anime that closely resembles the drawing style of their original mangas to appear more interesting. As a result, Haikyuu!! getting the same treatment may not be a surprise.
From 2014-2016, Susumu Mitsunaka (Weathering with You and Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween) served as director of Haikyuu!!. After three seasons, Mitsunaka stepped down and handed the directorial reigns over to Masako Sato. Sato has worked on projects such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and the Naruto Shippuden movie. Before Haikyuu!!, her only known directorial project Anima Yell!. Chief Animation Director Takahiro Chiba also stepped down from Haikyuu!!. Chiba worked on key animation for anime such as Blue Exorcist, Naruto and Love Hina, to name a few. Yū Kobayashi (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Spy x Family and Fairy Tail) was subsequently promoted from Key Animation to Chief Animation Director for season 4.
With key staff members resigning from the anime, the new end result of season 4 unfoubtedly felt a bit jarring to fans. Sato has worked with major studios like Production I.G and Ghibli before, so it was to be expected that a certain level of creativity and passion was to be put into Haikyuu!!. Sato has also worked in smaller roles on previous seasons of the anime, so she is not totally new to the project. Just like Sato, Kobayashi has previously worked on Haikyuu!!, however, this is the first time he is in the role of Chief Animation Director.
The general consensus is that the initial art style is preferred over the new one. One Quora contributor noted that Hinata and Kageyama’s classic bickering is still prevalent in the fourth season, so at least the character’s personality traits did not change. Another opined that the art style fits the manga just fine, but did not translate to anime very well, as the characters look more “flat and cartoon-ish” in the fourth season.
One Reddit user stated that the action is not as dynamic, which is to be expected considering that two important staff members resigned. With many staff members from the previous seasons still on board, the familiarity with the anime is evident, but the lack of experience from some staff members is forgivable as season 4 is still enjoyable. Another user said fans were being overly critical of season 4. The perfection of seasons 1-3 is hard to maintain, but season four’s action sequences were still exciting. All in all, fan reception to the new animation style was mixed. While some were more open to the new direction the series was going in, others were expectedly more critical of the change.
Sources: Quora; IMDb; SakugaBlog; Reddit; CB
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