Even if I’ve watched a lot of sports anime — Slam Dunk, Dear BoyS, Hajime no Ippo, Eyeshield 21, Chihayafuru, Yawara, Initial D, Prince of Tennis, and Kuroko no Basuke — the one I’m currently in love with (along with Chihayafuru) is Haikyuu!!, which, in all honesty, I didn’t plan to watch in the beginning.
There was a lot of hype on Tumblr and Facebook when Haikyuu!! came out which was, I think, right after KuroBasu ended and around the release of Free!’s adaptation as well. I did not become excited then because I was not a fan of volleyball. When I was in high school, the volleyball plays during intramurals bored me that I did not bother knowing the rules or how it was played. I did not watch the matches of the players of the school who competed in the regionals. All I know about the sport was that you have to get the ball by spiking or volleying it to the opposite court. I did not know there were positions as well. After watching Haikyuu!!, I realized that the players during our intramurals were just not good. Anyway, they were all playing more for fun than for competition. After all, intramurals is a festive event.
Anyhow, there was a close friend who became my classmate in my Running class (the PE class I got in). She kept talking about Haikyuu! and her love for the characters, especially for Kageyama. Of course, after hearing praises for it a lot of time, I got curious. I ended up watching the anime and boy was I sucked in their world!
It is written by Haruichi Furudate and serialized in JUMP. The studio that brought it on small screen is Production I.G. with the first season that aired Spring 2014 while the second season during Fall 2015. Haikyuu!! is a story about Hinata Shouyou who has a small stature yet agile, flexible, and quick. He became inspired to play volleyball because he watched someone with a body like him play in the Nationals. The first time he stepped on the court to compete, though, is also the first time he tasted defeat in an official match. He vowed to defeat the genius member of their opponent’s team as he played an important part for the team. As Hinata entered Karasuno High School with all the hopes to win, he discovered that he was to be in the same team as that genius member, Kageyama Tobio.
I loved a lot of things about Haikyuu!!
First, the art and animation. Actually, I did not appreciate it first. I thought it was a bit weird, but it grew on me and I ended up liking it a lot. The character designs are not the usual and each are easily differentiated from each other. I loved how there are scenes when there are those in the foreground and background. People may find it confusing because they may not know which to listen to, but I found it good because it feels more real. Their plays are well-animated, too! (I think how the plays are drawn in the manga is one of its downside because the direction of the ball isn’t clear enough.) I loved watching Oikawa and Kageyama do their jump serves and tosses.
And, of course, the characters. This is probably the best element of the series. There are wonderful chemistry among the teams’ members. From the players of Karasuno to those in Aoba Johsai, Date Kou, Nekoma, Shiratorizawa, and other schools they competed with, we got to know their personalities, thus, it’s easier to love them. Though there are some clichéd characters, there are still something about them that make them interesting. Each of them is made to be in their own teams. Kageyama, no matter how great he is, just can’t be on Aoba Johsai or Shiratorizawa. Same with others.
The players of Karasuno are especially well-fleshed out. It is not just Hinata, Kageyama, Daichi, Noya, Asahi, and Tsukki who got to develop. Yamaguchi, Suwa, and Ennoshita also have their own stories. In the future, I hope Narita and Kinoshita gets to be on spotlight, too! Actually, the character development in this series is what made me love it on top of the other sports series. (It’s still on top with Chihayafuru, though, because I love Chihayafuru for some different reasons.) I like how the development of their skills are not abrupt. They aren’t perfect after just two or three tries. They got to experience rigorous trainings and painful losses. Even so, they continue enduring and persevering, which makes their wins acceptable and admirable.
I also like how even those which played then lost to Karasuno had some background stories. With that, I thought they were not just mere teams that became Karasuno’s stepping stones; they were their own main characters of their own story. Now, in the manga’s present arc, some of them have reappearance.
Like any other sports anime which has teams that compete with each other (ehem TeniPuri, KuroBasu, and others ehem), there are a lot of characters here. Good thing that their character designs are well done. With the help of their eccentric personalities and hairstyles and color, a lot of them can be easily recognized.
Anyway, one other thing I liked is the relationship between and among the characters. Of course, the dynamic duo of Hinata and Kageyama is already given, but there’s also Noya and Asahi’s, Asahi and Suwa’s, Daichi and Suga’s, Ennoshita and first and second years’, Tanaka, Noya, and Hinata’s… in short, Karasuno’s team members’ relationship with each other. It was fulfilling to watch each of them fall in harmony with one another; how each of the “cogs”, as their adviser said, start functioning altogether. Their relationship with other schools are beautiful, too, especially with schools from Tokyo such as Nekoma and Fukurodani. From these schools, Kenma, Kuroo, Lev, Akaashi, and Bokuto have a really good relationship with members of Karasuno. They are the reason why I loved the Tokyo Expedition Arc. A lot of developments and relationships grew then.
Haikyuu!! is one of my most beloved manga now. It is filled with intensity without using some kind of insane superpowers (not saying that Oikawa’s and Mad Dog’s superplays are sane) and fun. I loved it for still closely sticking to reality as much as possible. This series made me watch real life games, in particular, the matches of the team of the university I am attending. I’m enjoying it now because I now know the rules and the roles of each member. Kudos to the mangaka for being able to explain them without being boring.
Haikyuu!!’s 215th scanlated chapter is released yesterday. It’s now on its new arc with its new characters. I can’t wait for the developments and the new matches that Karasuno will have in the future.