The sports genre.. if you're not a fan of it then it can't be helped but GODDAMN how much you're missing out. Most people don't start watching anime with the sports genre and even when they dive deeper into the vast sea of anime genres, it is one that usually is missed out.
Now how does Haikyuu, a simple series mean that you miss out a lot?
Well, a lot of sports genre is usually thought the same way as battle shounen where "friendship is magic" since many times in sports anime, as well as in Haikyuu also, shounen genre plays a great role. Even tough there are some moments that give you the shivs, make your hair stand up or get you super thrilled by a game, that's just one part of what makes Haikyuu so amazing. The real awesome parts are the most memorable characters, their individual in-depth development and the great comedy.
The story isn't anything new. A team sport: our main characters are obsessed with winning and want to make it to the nationals with their team. This is the basis for many team sport or solo sport game. It's just executed so well that you forget that it is kinda generic. While Haikyuu's storyline revolves around their team progressing towards the nationals, the ultimate goal, it is not the focus point of the story. In other sports animes, like KnB (Kuroko no Basket) or DnA (Diamond no Ace) where the team aspect is important they focus more on the skill aspect rather than, like in Haikyuu, the team synergy/team synchronization.
As the story progressess the team evolves. Sure their individual skills grow as well but that's beyond the point. One of the main characters, Hinata Shoyo, is a great example of that. The only time when we have focused on his individual development and skill growth a lot was in one or two episodes. Before that, we were given a quick flashback in the beginning of the first season of how he became what he is now. The first seasons' story as well as the seconds' focus on the combination plays of the team more than Hinata's solo growth.
there are two main art styles here. The shounen artstyle, very riveting and intimidating which makes your heart throb. The other one is the more comedic artstyle, which is actually used quite a bit. One great plus of the show is how they use these two styles together. Because of the nature of the main characters, the comedic artstyles can be used everywhere. Because one of our MC's is so hyper and energetic it creates many great opportunities to use both artstyles. And when it comes to the former one, the shounen style, it makes everything extra exciting because we normally see our main character used in the more comedic artstyle.
The other main character that our story focuses on, is Tobio Kageyama. As he is seen as Hinata's partner throughout the series, he is characterized on the contrast side to Hinata. Where Hinata is energetic and easy-go-happy, Kageyama is more silent, serious and intimidating most of the time. Because he is the counterpart to Hinata and is the complete opposite of him, you can almost guess it, when he is normally used more in the shounen style, and suddenly used in the comedic style.. it is super hilarious. These two create one hell of a combination which benefit from each other in every aspect.
While other shows usually use quite flashy colors *looking at you KnB*, Haikyuu actually is one of those series where the color differentiation is not that flashy. Sure you can make the argument that Hinata has different colored hair than anyone else and one member of the core team, Nishinoya, has one part of his hair way different than the other but that's about it. It isn't used as generically as in KnB (it is the easiest one to compare this show to xD).
The general artstyle of the show, how the characters are drawn and what kind of backgrounds there are is very simple but still unique. I just love the way Haikyuu looks like.
I guess there is not much to say about characters anymore. The one and only being that Haikyuu really explores one or two players of the opposing team always. To some of the antagonistic characters we are given a full detailed backstory and Haikyuu really does that well. In the long running series it's always great to have a full in-depth backstory to every main- and side character (well at least to the bigger side characters).
What really is the advantage of this show is the fact that you can't hate anyone (at least I couldn't). Every single character is made so lovable, so interesting in their own way or relatable that they just seem to stick in your head. It is rare for team sport games to have memorable side characters since they usually are shown only for a little while and are not given much of a perspective. This is what separates haikyuu from every other sports anime. The second season of this show is the prime example of this.
The shounen aspect of this anime really brings out the greatness of the voice actors/actressess. Be it Hinata's screaming "give me the ball!" Or the whole team giving the simultanious "bring it on" it is always a great moment that really highlights the characters themselves as well the team aspect and Haikyuu's own athmosphere. During the intense matches there are always playing these 'shounen type' songs which really lift the athmostphere to to max.
It isn't only during the games that the sounds are great. When giving a flashback, or Hinata and Kageyama are riling themselves up for the upcoming match, there can be heard awesome music playing in the background. So the soundtracks and voice actor/actress performances are alwyas top notch but what really highlights the most Haikyuu's sounds are the openings. The opening songs are probably one of the most intense, mood lifting and hyping song you could've hoped for.
You are most likely familiar with One Punch Man or Fullmetal Alchemist. Their openings are really the ones that get you riled up. They set the mood and get you ready for the epicness that is going to be unfold. Haikyuu rivals if not for some, exceeds these two. Haikyuu's openings, be it from season 1 or 2, are the best to get you ready for the show when it comes to the sports genre.
ENJOYMENT & OVERALL
Most of you who are reading this probably are a fan of sports genre. Then you should know that sports genres' anime are really enjoyable, especially when there are lovable characters and epic moments to share. These are what Haikyuu offers to you. Great characters, awesome shounen moments, intensive games featuring aspects from comedy to drama.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series and can proudly say that this is one of my all time favorites. As far as a single season by itself, it did pretty frickin' well. You can easily see that from MAL's score. Throughout the season it was always in the Top 20 highest rated of all time. When the season ended, no surprise, a sudden increase came, and now it is almost rivaling a place in the Top 10. That's how good it is.
Should you watch this series?
Fan of sports genre or not, yes. Absolutely yes. This is a great show to start the sports genre with or if you're familiar with it, why haven't you already seen this? Sure KnB was probably more popular but this is what sports anime should be like.