終わりと始まり – The End & The Beginning
Fresh from producing last season’s Kuroko no Basuke 2, Production I.G brings us yet another sports series. It is time to toss the basketballs aside and make room for volleyballs this Spring 2014.
As one of the leading animation producers in Japan, Production I.G has a most impressive resume to brag about. Not only did it have a hand in producing the great likes of, most recently, Shingeki no Kyojin and Psycho-Pass, but it also has some notable sports series to its name *cough Kuroko & Prince of Tennis cough*. The backing of this production label stirred quite the hype around this series, launching it fairly high up on my ‘to-watch’ list.
Having said that, it was a rather slow first episode. We were given a lengthy introduction of our two main characters, Hinata Shouyo (Murase Ayumu) and Kageyama Tobio (Ishikawa Kaito). Chancing upon a volleyball match on the tele one day, Shouyo became obsessed with playing volleyball. However, playing the game itself proved to be a challenge as he was the only member in the boys’ volleyball team in his junior high school. Through sheer persistence, he managed to get a team and even experience an actual inter-school match.
Cue his first encounter with Kageyama, aka the “King of the Court”. The match was Shouyo’s first and final match of his junior high school life. It was understandable, as his school lost out to the opponent in almost every aspect – height, skill, number of members, etc. What shone through, however, was Shouyo’s passion for the sport. Hence, although his team lost, Kageyama could see that he had so much potential and raw talent. This sparked some negative feelings between the pair and Shouyo vowed to one day beat him. Unfortunately again for Shouyo, fate decided to put a damper on his plans as it just so happens that the both of them end up in the same high school.
This first episode was introductory enough, setting the premise for what looks to be an intense rivalry between two equally intense volleyball players. As is with these types of situations, I am sure that this rivalry will turn into a very strong friendship between the pair. They both seem to want the same thing and this same goal might just be what spurs them on to be the best that they can be.
Production team and storyline aside, the seiyuus are another huge factor in making this series a much-anticipated one. In yet another starring role, Ishikawa Kaito is back to using his non-baka aggro voice (gosh I really did not enjoy listening to his Harutora in Tokyo Ravens). Rounding up the rest of the made-me-want-to-watch seiyuus, we have Hosoya Yoshimasa (aka captain in Kuroko), Okamoto Nobuhiko, Namikawa Daisuke, Hino Satoshi, Irino Miyu (you might or might not want to look out for him as the lead in this season’s otome-game-adapted Kamigami no Asobi) and the ever-lovely Kamiya Hiroshi. There is also Murase Ayumu (Rui in Gatchaman Crowds) who plays our other main character. His voice is reminiscent of Tsubasa Yonaga – the high-pitched slightly girly cutesy kind of boy voice, which I am just not particularly fond of. Yes, it is seiyuu galore in this series so be sure to tune in to listen them in lots of volleyball action.
Here’s hoping we get some real volleyball action in the next episode. Till next week~