Expectations were high for “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team,” a brand-new volleyball anime released hot on the heels of the season four finale of “Haikyuu!!”
It’s impossible not to compare the two volleyball anime, especially with how wildly popular “Haikyuu!!” has become over the years. The moment the trailer for “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” dropped, thousands of fans flooded the comments proclaiming that they were ready to watch the show as soon as it aired, while others begged people not to compare the two shows.
This show's main characters are Yuni Kuroba and Kimichika Haijima, two childhood friends who promised to play volleyball together in middle and high school, only for Haijima to move away to the city abruptly. He suddenly returns amid their last year of middle school under mysterious circumstances revealed later in the show.
“2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” missed the mark when it comes to writing its characters in a way that makes the audience sympathize with them and want to keep watching.
It’s difficult to care about these characters because the show didn’t give enough of them a chance to appeal to the audience. Throughout the 12 episodes, the audience only gets a glimpse into the motivations of Haijima and few others.
Kuroba is the main protagonist of this show, yet the audience knows so little about him and his motivations.
This is where comparisons between this show and “Haikyuu!!” are primarily made. It’s easy to compare the two because of how similar the base storylines are — two high school volleyball players, a setter and a hitter who barely get along and play the center court in tournaments. There are several other background aspects of the setter characters in the two anime that are very alike. It makes the audience wonder if it’s just a coincidence or if the show is genuinely just ripping off of “Haikyuu’s” Tobio Kageyama’s entire character arc.
“Haikyuu!!” did a fantastic job of allowing viewers to know each character while still focusing on the main protagonists. Hitter Shoyo Hinata had his desire to become like his role model, “the Little Giant.” Setter Kageyama desired to become the best setter in volleyball and pass his seniors in skill.
Here, “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” chose to focus on Haijima’s inner turmoil and only give a superficial look on fellow main protagonist Kuroba. Even while they put most of their focus on Haijima, his development is mostly complete by the end of episode five.
This anime felt less lighthearted than what most might expect, but it does a good job of injecting humor to lighten the atmosphere of tense moments between team members.
While some may watch sports anime for more of the plot and character development outside the matches, others also care for the actual sport and the matches' animation. In most cases, the volleyball match scenes were still image montages of players jumping to hit the ball while the game score was shown in the background, giving the audience less action than one might expect in a sports anime. The ability to hold viewers in suspense is another aspect that “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” fell short on.
Users on AniList.co rated the anime at an overall score of 63%, which is relatively low compared to its fellow sports anime, such as “Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club” and “Kuroko’s Basketball.”
One review called it a “poorly executed mess of a show with few redeeming features” and cites the poor character development as a huge factor that affects the show's overall reception.
Audiences agree that if “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” had given them more opportunities to learn more about the characters, the show would have been better received.
An essential part of storytelling is letting the characters grow and learn about why they’re doing what they do because it gives the audience a reason to root for them and continue watching.
Despite the future story arcs hinted in the finale, it is unclear whether “2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team” will be slated for a second season.