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
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.
Uh oh, I'm about to do something not many have done: bring up problems with Haikyuu! Disclaimer: I do play volleyball, so please understand where I'm coming from.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Haikyuu! and will be watching the second season, but in this review I'm going to talk about what I didn't like because everyone else gushes over it. Remember, I did genuinely like it.
When I first found out there was an anime about volleyball (and not only that, it was really popular and well-liked) I kind of got really excited and placed it near the top of my "Plan to Watch" list.
I'm not quite sure what I expected, but this wasn't it. I had expected something intelligent, engaging, and meaningful, what I got was a typical shounen.
Let's start with the plot. Nothing really special about it. A band of unlikely heroes come together one year to form a volleyball team that just so happens to be really good, they set their goals to be in the Nationals, they go through certain hardships to get there only to come up short when they near their goal. But fear not! There is a second season! The plot was pretty generic sports anime for me. Not much else I can say about it.
Here's where the problems I, personally, have begin. Everything feels dumbed down, like it was made for someone who knows absolutely nothing about volleyball to watch. Now I'm not saying "You should only watch sports anime if you've played the sport", on the contrary, in fact. But they shove down explanations of the most basic moves into your throat, even down to the second to last episode. They always try to mask it (by explaining to other people the rules), but they never do a good enough job at it. It should be implied that your viewer is smart enough to be able to pick up on certain things with the sport after watching, rather than having everything explained in crystal-clear clarity. Take [i]Ping Pong the Animation[/i] as an example. They lay everything out to you clearly, but don't tell you specifically what it is you're supposed to see. It's your job to figure it out. That's a smarter show with more subtlety and more respect for the viewer's intelligence.
There were so many weird volleyball technicalities. I didn't understand if volleyball in Japan was that different, or if Haikyuu just honestly thought nobody watching would know anything about volleyball so they could cheat a little? I tried to look up the rules for Japan, but could only find certain things, nothing decisive. Here are all the little, weird, things happened:
Kageyama is supposed to be a genius setter and yet he's never set a back-row attack up until this point? And he's never even attempted to do a jump-float? Those are things we learn to do in club volleyball when you're like 12. And it also seems like he never dumps despite it being an easy strategy to get 2-3 points per match (also, he's tall and can jump high, it'd be even easier for him than most).
They don't use any conventional terminology when being set. They just say "set me". This doesn't tell the setter how fast or where you want it. A Go ball, a Shoot set, and a 4 set are very different sets, but all to the same person. There's never any indication anything changes. They also have a position called an "Ace", which I have looked up, but cannot confirm to exist. I know that Japan has "Wing Spikers" instead of Outsides and Opposites, so no problems there, but I don't know if Ace actually exists. It seems to just mean their best player?
How is there always a triple or double block on every hit? Most of the time, you're lucky if you can get a double block on a outside hitter, but they get triple blocks, even on quicks! Even at the Olympic level they don't do that. And when every hitter goes up to hit the ball, they always hit straight down the line. I honestly saw 3-4 cross hits the entire series, no joke. They always hit straight, which leads to them getting blocked. Then when they do get blocked, they don't go "Hey, next time roll/tip it over the block, put pressure on the back row to get that", they just say "[b][i]Hit it harder![/i][/b]", like that's not how it works. They also never intentionally aim out so the other team accidentally blocks it straight down out of bounds, and they never wipe the ball off the block. There's never any strategy in their hits.
And there's almost zero free balls (or "chance ball!") in the show. Even if it's a bad first dig, they somehow manage to get a full attack almost every single time. That's just not how it works. And one of the one times the opponent's had to just pass one over, everyone was downright amazed with how smart it was to pass it to the setter. That's not that clever at all. A common strategy to break teams with really good setters is to hit, pass, and block everything in their direction to either force them to have the libero set or to get them out of rotation to compensate for it. It's something almost every team of every skill level does, surely a team that has a chance to go to nationals would know this stuff.
This is more of a minor detail, but the portrayal of the females in this show was slightly derogatory. I'm not going to go full SJW and preach to you right now, but this stuff was kind of obvious. The females were all strung over the hotshot athletes, the female volleyball team was the weak and helpless team that needed the boys' team's strength to pick them back up after the loss, and all the explaining that got done to help the audience was 80% of the time done to some "helpless and confused" girl watching from the sidelines. Sure, the main girl (if you can even call her main) had some strength, but it was just stereotypical, shounen strength, nothing resembling a real personality.
I'm going to be honest with you, I just absolutely couldn't stand Hinata, the MC. He was the stereotypical genuine, happy-go-lucky protagonist. His motivations were extremely one-dimensional and weak. You lose 1 game in Junior High to a good team while you have a shit team so you swear revenge for life? And that's your driving motivation for the rest of the series? To beat him in a 1-on-1? His personality was so bad. Every interaction he had with other people was a "feel-good" talk, something to pick another guy back up on his feet, which got really stale after about, hmmm, 2 episodes. This problem existed with lots of other characters as well. Interactions that just started with someone feeling down and ended with them magically being inspired again, after like 2 sentences. Super cliché, shounen nonsense.
Kageyama and Asahi were the only ones who went through any type of development (although Asahi's was condensed within about 4 episodes), which isn't [i]too[/i] big of a problem, if I actually liked any of the other character's personalities. Honestly, the only 2 I liked were Tsukishima (because he has the same kind of "wtf are these people doing" attitude I have) and Nishinoya because all liberos are cool.
The art and animation were definitely great all-around, but I did have some issues with them as well. For one, some character's necks were really long or really weird, which honestly made some characters look like literal dickheads (Oikawa I'm looking at you). Also, there were tons of reused and recycled animations. Because everyone hit line, all they had to do was switch the character who was "receiving" the ball and reuse the animation over and over. There was no variety with the hits so they cut corners on animation. I don't know if this was due to limited budget, but it was quite noticeable.
One thing I do have to commend them on are the volleyballs themselves. They were well-detailed and looked almost exactly like the ones we use in real life, down to the little tiny ridge details on the ball.
I have no complaints, but I honestly don't think sound matters that much (unless it's awful or amazing).
[b]Personal Enjoyment: 7[/b]
I genuinely did like this show and I will be watching the second season as it airs. I'm just confused as to why so many people heap praise upon this show. It's a good shounen, absolutely, but it's too much of a shounen.
Thank you for reading my review and if you have any feedback (positive or negative, I don't mind) feel free to message me.
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.
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.
Some characters are funny because of all the crazy antics they get up to. But others just have the right kind of physiognomy, which make them prone to pulling off some funny anime faces - intentionally or unintentionally.
Been watching too much Berserk? Need something to brighten your day? Give one of these shows a whirl! Every anime on this list is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, even if you've just watched Grave of the Fireflies.