I’m not the biggest sports fan. Even when I was slightly interesting when younger I’d much prefer to actually play than watch because I just didn’t see the appeal. I watch TV to experience things I couldn’t normally, what’s stopping me from going to the field with some friends and playing soccer? A team I did join in middle school was volleyball. I’m not really sure why but I found it fun. The high school team required you to tryout and I didn’t even bother knowing I wasn’t all that good and just played for fun. Seeing a highly rated anime series on volleyball got me interested however so I decided to give it a shot.
Haikyu!! starts off with our main character, Shoyo Hinata, discovering a short volleyball player nicknamed “Little Giant” standing on court. Having a bit of a height complex himself Hinata is inspired by the Little Giant and reforms his school’s volleyball club (though he’s the only one on the team with any real interest, most just joining for their friendship with him) and make it to a tournament. Their first game happens to be against one of the best setters around, Tobio Kageyama or “King of the Court”(the nickname is not using king as a compliment) and needless to say, they are dominated. Hinata vows to one day defeat Kageyama in high school and, following the Little Giant, goes to Kurasuno and joins their team only to find, Kageyama has done the same. The captain (Daichi Sawamura) decides since the two can’t get along Kageyama can’t be setter unless they win against two other newcomers with each team having a senpai for help (Hinata and Kageyama get Ryunosuke Tanaka who is quick tempered and the other team with have Koshi Sugawara who is Kurasano’s current setter).
The two end up being able to work together but that’s still a while off.
Other team members include the other first years, Kei Tsukishima and Tadashi Yamaguchi, second year Libero, Yuu Nishinoya who won’t return unless Kurasuno’s ace Asahi Azumane returns who left after having a game with every single spike blocked. The team’s manager is third-year beauty Kiyoko Shimizu, their advisor is Ittetsu Takeda who knows almost nothing nothing about volleyball and their coach is Keishin Ukai.
Going through every character would take much too long as we have 4 teams aside from the main one and all but one gives decent characterization to multiple characters. The one I feel was the worst developed was actually Kurasuno’s female team and this was actually a disappointment. They were setup very similarly to Hinata’s middle school with the captain (Yui Michimiya) being the only one to really care about the team with most of the others just skipping practice. We only see one game from them which was disappointing as I’d like to see their growth as a team.
One of the things I like about Haikyu (I guess sports series in general) compared to other shounen series is the stakes, while high, are never “if the good guys lose the world will be destroyed!” and rematches actually make sense as they’re sports teams.
Production IG did a great job with visuals. I love how the art changes to a more rough version when a high energy moment (such as Hinata’s spikes) happen. Music was also great with the OPs both causing massive hype.
I have a few negatives to bring up however hype the rest may be. For one is how quickly Hinata and Kageyama’s super quick is discovered. It’s an accident coming from an off-hand comment about “not watching the ball” so Hinata closes his eyes. It would be nice if it took longer or if them perfecting it at least took longer. My other issue is just one that comes along with any huge cast. There’s a few characters that get a lot of spotlight time but others that we barely even know their names after the first season (like I had to look up Yamaguchi’s name). I also wish Kurasuno switched players more often as we see Suga is a really good setter but Kageyama plays probably 90% of the time just because of the quick only him and Hinata can pull off.
I also wish we saw more of the school lives of the players, we only got sprinkles of it but I wish there was an arc with Hinata’s grades slipping or something. Maybe if the sprinkles weren’t there I wouldn’t want this but it just seems weird we don’t see any issues of balancing volleyball and school.
Overall Haikyu!! is a very enjoyable series that’s able to portray both the ups and downs of playing a sport competitively. There’s a few minor missteps but nothing super intrusive to the plot and for all I know, these issues might be fixed in the second season (which I will get to soon). I’d suggest checking Haikyu!! out as it’s the first sports anime I’ve watched (unless you count cute girls playing air soft) and I’m already looking for more.
Haikyu!! receives a 9/10 from Blazekick.