Inspired after watching a volleyball ace nicknamed "Little Giant" in action, small-statured Shouyou Hinata revives the volleyball club at his middle school. The newly-formed team even makes it to a tournament; however, their first match turns out to be their last when they are brutally squashed by the "King of the Court," Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to surpass Kageyama, and so after graduating from middle school, he joins Karasuno High School's volleyball team—only to find that his sworn rival, Kageyama, is now his teammate.
Thanks to his short height, Hinata struggles to find his role on the team, even with his superior jumping power. Surprisingly, Kageyama has his own problems that only Hinata can help with, and learning to work together appears to be the only way for the team to be successful. Based on Haruichi Furudate's popular shounen manga of the same name, Haikyuu!! is an exhilarating and emotional sports comedy following two determined athletes as they attempt to patch a heated rivalry in order to make their high school volleyball team the best in Japan.
To be honest, I'm guilty of being biased and judgemental, and more than once to boot. A few years ago I had seen my friend's collection of Naruto manga. I scoffed and even teased him a bit, having seen what appeared to be ridiculous anime promos on TV aimed at children. Within a year, I had discovered anime and manga myself. I have since apologized. Then, a year ago in the fall FAL league, I found myself incredulous at how popular and highly praised the sequel to Kuroko no Basket was. Subsequently, I stumbled across a volleyball anime with what seemed to be an interesting premise.
Therefore, I believe apologies are in order. I'm sorry, sports anime genre. I'm sorry I looked down on you. I'm sorry I didn't give you a shot sooner. I'm sorry I wrote off Kuroko no Basket and Yowamushi Pedal and the several other of the genre I have since added to my plan to watch list. If you want to give thanks for my change of heart, you need look no further than a wonderful little gem called Haikyuu!!
Quickly becoming one of my favorite anime, Haikyuu!! was the show I looked forward to most each week. It is a well-rounded work that made every Sunday a little better. As today is the day it finished airing, I'm a bit surprised that more people haven't completed it and/or written reviews. Hoping to help others that may not have given Haikyuu!! a chance, here I am now expressing my humble opinion.
Adapted from a Shounen Jump manga, the story could be boiled to to pretty typical shounen stereotypes. It contains an underdog, teamwork, perserverance, etc. However, in my opinion, Haikyuu!! integrates these themes incredibly well, and also sets itself apart from your run of the mill Jump product. The protagonists are relatively inexperienced and are far from being the best volleyball players out there. Crazy quick 'level up's don't exist, and you will find no inexplicable victories here. Instead, we receive a well crafted story with good pacing that follows the formation of the Karasuno to their foray into the high school volleyball circuit.
Another issue people typically have with the shounen genre is flat, 2-dimensional characters that have little or poor development. I like to think this problem does not plague Haikyuu!! In fact, I'd say this is a strong point in relation to many other anime/manga. Haikyuu!! mainly focuses upon the exploits of the two main characters and the team as a whole, but does take the occasional detour to explore backstory, relationships, character development, comedic moments, and minor characters. That last item especially separates this show from the rest. A recurring theme throughout this sports anime is, not surprisingly, losing. I was very impressed with Haikyuu!! on how it depicts the emotions and point of view of nearly all minor characters, whether they appear again or not. For me, the level to which they were explored is rare among any story I've come across. On a side note, having not experienced not much from the sports genre, I am no authority on how others deal with losing games. However, subjectively, I think it handles the concept fantastically, and possibly better than the above-mentioned basketball and biking anime. It spends a fair amount of time presenting how the characters react and cope with loss.
As far as technical aspects go, Haikyuu!! does not disappoint. The artwork is clean and the animation fluid. Production I.G. did a wonderful job putting together a great visual work. In addition, the OST is superb. Personally, the background tracks helped set the scene and kept me emotionally invested throughout intense, comedic, and dramatic scenes. I cannot compliment the audio side of this anime enough with how well it worked. As a bonus, I fell in love with all of the openings and endings. Hopefully, you're as lucky as I was.
I pray you give Haikyuu!! a chance. If you are new to the genre, this might be a gateway to a new horizon for you. If you have enjoyed sports anime before, Haikyuu!! will continue your enjoyment of the genre. Inevitably, this show is and will be compared to Production I.G.'s other sensation, Kuroko no Basket. In the interest of bipartisanship and brevity, I will simply say that the main difference is that Kuroko no Basket relies more on spectacle, whereas Haikyuu!! integrates more realism. Regardless of opinion, I believe that you will really enjoy Haikyuu!!and, quite possibly, like me you will be eagerly awaiting season 2.read more
The most important thing in a team sports is, without a doubt, the team. This holds especially true for volleyball. Having six talented players is all fine, but as long as they aren’t a team and don’t show team spirit, that talent is surely in vain. But what if it’s the other way round; is it a surefire way to win when you have one team where not everyone is talented?
Not really. But the chances are higher when there’s one team, rather than six players.
Haikyuu!!, or High Jump in English, is about Hinata and Kageyama, two players who originally stand at the opposite side of the volleyball net – plus are personality-wise polar opposites too - and are, due to the fact that they attend the same high school, forced to work together. During that process, they learn the importance of a team and that you don’t lose or win alone. The show eventually does focus on the entire Karasuno volleyball team (and on other teams too), but it’s still obvious who the main characters are.
As with most sports anime, the plot starts with Hinata and Kageyama meeting (and fighting), then joining the Karasuno volleyball team, and the team battling others all the way to the Inter-Highs. The volleyball aspects are well explained though and nicely weaved into dialogues. We learn about the libero when the libero appears. We learn about Quick As when Kageyama and Hinata perform a Quick A. There is no huge info dump in that manner; the viewer is pretty much spoonfed with information, one term explained at a time. The plot isn’t very original and average at best, but to be fair, Haikyuu is an anime where it’s more about the characters than the story.
What I liked about Haikyuu was the fact that the show doesn’t rely on superpowers, even though it was somewhat unbelievable at some points. There is the fact that Kageyama can exactly pin-point where to toss the ball, for example, or Hinata jumping a felt hundred metres high. But except that, there are no laser beams emerging from the player’s eyes, there is no “super saiyan”-mode, nothing like that. And the best part is: Even the supporting cast thinks it’s weird. They think it’s weird when Kageyama perfectly tosses the ball to Hinata, who jumps a felt hundred metres high. They laugh when a character names his moves. I simply loved that because most sports anime tend to take those things for granted, which isn’t realistic at all.
As previously mentioned, Haikyuu lives off its characters. The first eleven episodes are about the main team, Karasuno, which helps the viewer to learn and love the boys one by one, as most are characterized well, have good interactions with each other and their motivations are shown too. Then the opposing teams and characters kick in. There is the ”fated rival” Nekoma, who appears in three episodes and then vanishes into thin air with the promise to meet again in the Inter-Highs. There is Tokonami, the loser team, and Dateko, the team that caused the ace Asahi to have a volleyball trauma. But the only opposing team truly worth mentioning is Aoba Johsai which we get a lot to know of, as many of the players were once teammates or upperclassmen of Kageyama, but especially so Oikawa, who can be seen as the antagonist of Haikyuu. He gets such strong characterization and his motivations are laid out so well that it makes him easily one of the best characters in the series. Other characters who develop really well are Karasuno’s Tanaka – who gets introduced as one of the comic relief characters in the beginning and gets fleshed out properly later on – as well as Nishinoya, who is introduced as a hot-blooded, loud character, but quickly turns to one of the pillars of the protagonist team.
I wish I could say the same about Hinata, but sadly, that isn’t true. While his motivations do get shown early in the series – as he is the main character – he still acts most of the time like a “volleyball Naruto”; hotblooded, highly friends-focused and especially annoying in matches, when he screams “Bring it on!” for the tenth time (even if it does get revealed that it has a reason why he screams that way). As for the other main character Kageyama, he certainly develops from the mean, oppressing attitude which brought him the nickname “King of the court” (no, that’s definitely not praise), to a person who learns to depend on others and to listen to them for once. I really like Haikyuu’s cast, save one or two characters, and they make the show very good.
The animation, as the studio behind the series is Production I.G, certainly does not disappoint. The scenes look crisp, the matches look fluid, and what I loved especially was, in some parts of the show, when the characters smash the ball – that was when the animation became a lot like a sketch and that was very impressive in my eyes. There is also a scene which was reminiscent to the Monogatari Series to me in Episode 21; when the vice-captain Sugawara wants to tell Kageyama to “do his best”, but stops in the middle of the sentence and the plain text “Let’s win” gets shown for two seconds. Sometimes the characters look off-model (especially the ones watching the game), and sometimes scenes are reused over and over again, but overall, it’s certainly a visual feast.
As for the sound, it always fits to the mood, and varies from electronic to straight up swing over rock; this applies to the opening and ending themes as well. A special mention belongs to the voice cast; there were many familiar and unfamiliar names, and all of them did a great job. All of them suit to their respective characters, but the one that shined the most was Oikawa’s voice actor and my favourite, Namikawa Daisuke, who made Oikawa to the great antagonist that he is.
When I watched Haikyuu on a weekly basis, I was looking forward to every next week, and loved every single episode. When I rewatched it once the show was over, I didn’t enjoy it that much. I thought the events before the Inter-High (which starts in Episode 15) to be average at best. But after the Inter-High started, that was when my enjoyment had a peak, especially so in the last match, Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai. To me, that’s when the series really evolves from the average sports anime to a great one.
Haikyuu’s core theme is the team. It’s about learning to trust each other when you’re in a team, it’s about winning and losing as a team, it’s about overcoming obstacles as a team. For being that team-focused, Haikyuu really spends lots of its time for the viewer to get to know the team, and handles its characters with great care, even though the plot is by no means unique. It has great animation, a fitting sound and a wonderful voice cast. If you are debating whether or not to watch this, then don’t hesitate and start Haikyuu. You won’t regret it. read more
So if you can tell from my score, I really freaking love this anime. I have to preface this by saying, I am NOT a sports anime fan. It's one of the last genres I look to because I've disliked/dropped over 90% of the ones I've seen. So I'm incredibly biased.
The story in Haikyuu! is what amazes me most possible.
It's all volleyball, volleyball, volleyball, yet I'm never tired of it (despite not being an avid volleyball fan). The relationships between the players develops in all aspects: the relationships between the players as friends, as teammates, as students in different school years, as a cohesive team against other teams. In between is volleyball. At every corner is volleyball. This is literally a volleyball explosion. But you really see the story behind why the characters love it. How the love developed for them. How much of themselves and their past they've put into the game. What torment and triumph they feel from the sport.
Like every other sports anime, Haikyuu! there are out of this world, impossible moves that even pros can't do. BUT I never feel that way. They don't drag it out or make it ridiculously over the top. It happens, then they move on with the game.
In sports anime, another thing I noticed that can drag a story down is when they try to work in explanations of how certain aspects of the sport works. Haiykuu! manages to work it in flawlessly. My knowledge of volleyball stops at the grade school level (where all we did was rotate, the positions weren't named, and players weren't allowed to even dive or roll). The explanations are short, to the point, and staggered. But now I know all the positions, the rules, the different types of moves, special attacks, formations, etc., without really realizing at the time I was being schooled on the subject.
Every single sports anime I've seen, I'm guilty of fast forwarding through games or matches or tournaments. Literally every one. I've never done it with Haikyuu! Not even when I rewatched the whole series.
The art is very good, a solid 8, but not the best ever. It really works to highlight the fluidity of movement throughout sports play. It's not over the top or excessive, so it's a bit quiet with how good it is. I think the best indication of how good the art is, is when you're looking at someone on the opposite side of the net, and the player is basically melding into the net, but it doesn't look weird at all. If you watch it, you'll get what I mean.
I also really like the character designs. The characters are drawn in the more realistic, life-like style vs. cartoon-like. This really adds to the game play; their muscles tensing, their movements, their presence.
The sound is what gets me. It's really effective. Just like the art, it's not over the top. A certain sound happens and you know something is about to go down, like a cool move. A certain tune plays and you know you're about to see someone who is a worthy opponent. It really highlights the mood. Also the sports sounds, the squeak of shoes on a gym floor, the smack of the ball, even the sound of the ball slicing through the air makes everything more believable.
The voice acting is very good as well. The tones and nuances fit each character's personality. I can't say any examples without giving things away (because not all characters are introduced at the same time).
Haiykuu! does a really good job of developing the characters. You know what each character's personality is like. What their role is on the court and on the team. Even the characters that are on the bench, you really feel it and connect with them even if they aren't the ones playing in the main match (i.e. their disappointment at not playing, their desire to be on the court, their feelings of support for their team).
If someone does something hilarious or quirky, as the viewer you can easily think to yourself, "that is SO like so-and-so to do that."
You really get a sense of the character's ability, athletically and emotionally. their maturity levels (both mentally and sports-wise). Their tendencies and characteristics that make them, THEM.
Even a lot of the teams they face, you can easily fall in love with the opposing players, because they make sure to develop them as well. This also makes matches much more interesting and makes you more emotionally invested in them.
I personally love Haikyuu! to beyond the moon and back. I'm going to state it here, that this is the first time ever that I have liked an anime much more than the source manga it's adapted from. I'm just being honest. If someone had told me to read Haikyuu! the manga, I would have eventually dropped it. I started reading it after I started watching the anime, and I'm only continuing because I'm so emotionally invested in the characters and want MORE!
The anime really brings the story to life.
Plus the overall humor woven throughout the whole series, is an awesome bonus
Yeah, 10 out of 10. Again, this coming from someone who is not a sports anime fan. Or maybe I just hadn't been introduced to the right one, ehem, in order to see the light.
The realm of sports usually involve all of this, and needless to say, it was told brilliantly through Haikyuu. Unlike previous sports anime I've seen, Haikyuu remain grounded and down to Earth, despite the obvious impossibility of such talent in a Japanese high school setting. But hey, if you were ever watching anime for the uber realism of it, you're probably not in the right medium.
The story of Haikyuu is fairly straightforward but with a small unique feature. A high school volleyball team which was once a strong team is now slowly rebuilding. The team is joined by 2 1st year students, Hinata Shoyo and Tobio Kageyama, who were originally rivals but now has to work together. As someone coming into a series without any knowledge of its adapted material or volleyball rules in general, I really had no idea what was in store. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, you will get obvious character archetypes and roles. Yes, you will get games that comes down to the last few points. Yes, you will get "lucky" plays. Yes, you will get problematic team mates. And finally, yes, you will get tons of bromance (#nohomo). But, that is sports. If you're watching a sports anime, these are all fundamental characteristics inherent to the genre. What truly elevates Haikyuu is creating a team with players that feel very real, despite their extraordinary talent or potential. There is a consistent dynamic relationship between team members, and progressive buildups that really showcase teamwork, hardwork, and all the motivation involved in these characters.
Yes, the characters have extremely high potential and ability. Kageyama and Hinata have almost an unlimited amount of potential and talent within them. And no doubt would there be some viewers who found that aspect unrealistic. However, their abilities never become the sole premise of the series. Unlike other sports anime that truly go all out on how supernatural the players have become, Haikyuu is rooted in its focus on the emotions and values that change over time in its lovable team members. Additionally, these players have obvious flaws in their characterization that usually limits their full potential. How can Hinata overcome inherent biases against his height and his lack of training? How does Kageyama finally learn essential values of trust and teamwork? So, while a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required, it shouldn't really take away just how brilliant Haikyuu showcases the challenges and achievements a team and its players can go through.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of Haikyuu is its careful consideration to just about every aspect of the sport. One of the most memorable scenes in the series was a short compilation of teams and players facing the effects of defeat and loss. In my viewing experience, this was rarely shared in a story, or even, generally speaking, in sports in general. Usually, a team faces loss as a ground for improvement. And that's about it. However, in Haikyuu, you really feel the intensity, the emotions, and truly, the psychological effects of losing. Losing isn't simply a means to an end. The present emotions are real, the loss is final, and the moments will be remembered.
On a much lighter note, Haikyuu also had comedic moments that felt like comedy relief, but it was incorporated seamless enough that it felt like comedy relief was something these characters would've wanted it as well. Another highlight of the series is the attention it gives to supplementary team members, which again, highlights the dynamic of teamwork. Everyone have a role, even if it's about being a player that can only come once in a game, or a team member that is shadowed by someone with greater talent.
Added to that, the sense of strategy involved in the beautiful game of volleyball also keeps each game interesting, but not overly analytical. Certain series definitely go way beyond in over analyzing plays that viewers can feel bogged down by how complex the game had gotten. Haikyuu, while strategic in many ways, also raises the important concept that sometimes, thinking too much will slow you down in a game that involves quick judgments and reflexes. In general, I believe the consistent touch of realism involved in an obviously extraordinary setting truly elevate the series forward as a whole. It keeps things relatedable, and you feel like you can truly experience the challenges and achievements the team will go through, even though it's just an anime.
The one potential issue I had with the series, though, is how fast developments can be and the pacing in general. You will literally have players going through epiphanies after epiphanies in a single match. On one hand, it had to be that way due to the limited time given for a series. But on the other hand, sometimes it feels like it becomes so plot-driven, the desire to highlight developments, that it might cheapen the changes the character went through. For myself, I watched the series on a biweekly basis, so each development felt important in its own way and it didn't feel like I was desensitized with emotions. For someone who is marathoning Haikyuu, there will probably be a different opinion of the series. Additionally, the pacing through the beginning of the series after the initial two episodes can feel slow, despite necessary introductions to new members of the team and their ongoing developments.
In terms of things like art, animation, and sound, I felt it was a complete package in terms of presentation. The manga-like art quality keeps the animation stylish, while not limiting it to feel simply like it was just a series of stilled images. Each character have some unique physical quality to them, and the art was simple, but not minimalistic enough to feel cheap. The animation can truly highlight the importance of a strategic or power play, and the music only adds to the overall atmosphere of the series. Perhaps I'm a bit too sensitive to music, but when the piano starts to play in an obvious emotional setting, I couldn't help but feel the same emotions the players go through. There are times where you really want to cheer for the team, and times where you want to comfort them. In general, the music, including the OP/ED seamlessly complement the series.
To sum it up, I enjoyed immensely the first season of Haikyuu. I really hope a second season is coming, not really because I want them to eventually win a tournament, but just how invested I have become attached to the characters. Haikyuu truly embodies the concept of teamwork, hardwork, and the challenges and accomplishments of being in a sports team. As being one of the few anime, if not the only anime that was about volleyball, I honestly feel lucky to have this anime graced my viewing experience. Haikyuu is obviously not an anime everyone can enjoy. But even from someone who may not necessarily enjoy sports anime, as long as you're open-minded and wants to watch something that showcases character developments and group dynamics, Haikyuu can be a very enjoyable series. I'd even argue that someone might enjoy the series more if they didn't know much about volleyball. It's seriously that good.read more
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