Did Haikyuu art style change after Season 3 and is that a problem?

Shoyo Hinata in Haikyuu Season 4 episode 1

The spark of the Haikyuu art style change debate gained traction when the anime suddenly shifted from its usual art style into a flat and plain form aimed at imitating the manga. This took the fandom by storm and Haikyuu season 4 received a lot of criticism because of that. While on the one hand, it was one of the most important seasons in the franchise so far, on the other hand, it also failed to be as impactful as seasons one to three.

Haikyuu season 3 saw the Karasuno High Volleyball team qualify for the nationals and was captured in a very moving manner. However, all of this was meant to be taken forward into Haikyuu Season 4, at which many believe that the anime failed. The excitement was blown, the expectations weren’t met, and worst of all, the viewing experience was shattered.

But was it really that bad? Was the Haikyuu art season 4 not satisfactory enough? Did the Haikyuu animation team mess it up? So many questions, and yet Haikyuu’s fans stayed with it. To keep yourself updated with all things Haikyuu, subscribe to our newsletter at Spiel Anime!

Changes in Art Style after Haikyuu Season 3

Hinata's first impression in Haikyuu Season 4.
As compared to the previous three seasons, Hinata was presented much more plainly in Haikyuu Season 4. (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)

When we talk about a change in the Haikyuu art style, we must remember that it doesn’t imply a change in animation quality. The art style is a reference of how the characters and the entire dimension looks to the general viewer. Upon a closer look, many realized that the season 4 of the anime was clouded with a simplistic and flat art style, which was much more plain than what was earlier presented.

Moreover, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In cases where animation studios have changed, anime shows have tremendously fallen and suffered. However, Haikyuu made an approach at bringing back a more rooted and refined art style, something that resembled the creators and at the same time the original story’s essence for the manga readers.

Also Read: After the Haikyuu New Movie, will there be another Anime season 5?

Reasons behind Art-Style Shift after Season 3

The Haikyuu art style change after season 3 of the anime is rooted in many factors. While some are prominent and predictable, others are simply assumptions branching out from various fan theories. But some of the frequent reasons that have made various rounds across the internet are as under:

1. A more manga-centric style was envisioned

Haikyuu was always known for its absolutely engaging and enthralling experience of volleyball battles. The way it resembles a shonen is uncanny and even a simple high school volleyball match was transformed into a war-like situation. However, many of these elements were simply introduced by the anime and were absent from the manga.

Hinata's expressions were sharper in Haikyuu Season 3 and his character was much more detailed
Hinata in Haikyuu Season 3 (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)

From the way characters looked to the way certain actions were performed, the anime adulterated a lot of these elements and put out a hybrid infront of its viewers. However, Haikyuu Season 4 aimed at bringing back the original style of the manga and how the creator envisioned the characters during the nationals. A style resembling the manga also allowed for a more real experience of the story, although many failed to find it enjoyable.

2. A change in staff led to a change in style

Hinata in the first episode of Haikyuu Season 4 after the Haikyuu art style change
Shoyo Hinata in Haikyuu Season 4(Image courtesy of Production I.G.)
  • Susumu Mitsunaka (Weathering with You and Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween) directed Haikyuu for three seasons running from 2014 to 2016. However, Mitsunaka stepped down and Masako Sato took over as director for season 4 of Haikyuu. Sato has worked on several significant projects, including Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and the Naruto Shippuden movie.
  • Takahiro Chiba, Haikyuu’s Chief Animation Director, left the show after the third season. Yu Kobayashi (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Spy x Family, Fairy Tail) was promoted from the post of Key Animation to Chief Animation Director for Haikyuu season 4.

A change in key members of the Haikyuu animation and production team led to a change in approach for the anime. This is indeed a very common practice in the industry and such flicks often take place to break the monotonous nature of the anime. Haikyuu has encountered several challenges along the way, but an approach at changing the art style but upholding the quality of animation is truly commendable in terms of what we have seen with other anime in the past.

3. Simple art style and animation allows more investment into crucial scenes

The Karasuno High Volleyball team first look in Haikyuu Season 3
Karasuno High Volleyball Team in Haikyuu Season 3 (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)

It is a well known fact in the industry that intensive battle sequences, and shonen shots, take up a lot of resources or animation hours. Moreover, these scenes are tremendously expensive to compile and construct. In such a situation, many anime series resort to building a simple animation style in general and invest more when required during the major sequences.

Haikyuu Season 4 was about the Nationals, something that couldn’t be fiddled with. Therefore, a lot of theories suggest that a simplistic art style was aimed at providing a holistic approach to the anime, wherein parts were to make up for the whole, and in this case a few parts simple and a few parts visually engaging did the trick.

Art Style Change in Season 4 – Effect in the Experience

Kageyama and Hinata in Haikyuu Season 3 during the first episode of the season.
Hinata and Kageyama – Haikyuu Season 3 (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)
  • The Haikyuu art style change in season 4 was never supposed to be a problem. However, it was seen as a non-familiar entity within the show.
  • Fans observed that when the anime tried to resemble the manga, a lot of the details that were earlier prominent were subsided and erased.
  • Moreover, a change in the art style also resulted in a change in the characters’ expressions. The way they used to react earlier was replaced with a much more straight-faced approach, something that was largely disliked by the community.
Kageyama and Hinata in Haikyuu Season 4 were plain and bland compared to Haikyuu Season 3
Plain and simplistic Kageyama and Hinata in Haikyuu Season 4 (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)

While many did not observe these changes to begin with, a closer look at the fourth season would suggest that these art styles were perfectly fit for the manga but they failed to translate and accommodate into the anime. Some people also suggested that the action was not as dynamic as the previous seasons, however, most of us would disagree to this claim owing to the fact that the season 4 was largely enjoyable and left us wanting for more.

Also Read: How to Watch Haikyuu in Order Before Seeing the Movie

Will an art style change affect Haikyuu Battle at the Garbage Dump?

The expressions on Hinata's face before Haikyuu art style change
Hinata in Haikyuu Season 3 (Image courtesy of Production I.G.)

A change in the art style usually affects just the way an anime is presented. However, when the Haikyuu animators decided to change the art form during the fourth season, they chose to make it more homogenous with the manga. So, when Haikyuu Battle at the Garbage Dump actually releases worldwide, we can hope that a similar art style that is congruous with the manga art form will take the center stage, but it will in no manner or form affect the narrative or the storytelling.

That being said, we can agree on the fact that even though a change in animation or art styles affect anime or have deteriorated viewing experience in the past, Haikyuu has remained unaffected by such changes and has managed to deliver stellar performances throughout and always.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top