"Because people have no wings… we search for ways to fly."
(An informal Haikyuu!! Review)
Let me start off by saying, in case this gets TL; DR’d that Haikyuu!! has become what is probably my favorite sports anime to date. Maybe it’s because I actually used to play volleyball
(though I really only filled up the team and wound up spending a lot more time cheering and watching rather than playing) but there’s just so many things about this anime/manga series to fall in love with.
The plot starts off centered around Hinata Shoyo
(endearing little orange-haired ball of energy over there) and how he eventually ends up teammates with Kageyama Tobio (black-haired genius setter number 9) whose team had defeated his during their middle-school days, and who he’d declared his rival-for-life.
As the series progresses though, you’ll see it’s not really all about just Hinata or Kageyama and their wonderfully executed ‘friends/rivals’ dynamic
(that kind of remind me of Naruto and Sasuke if they lived in a less harsh world) - it’s about the entire Karasuno Volleyball Club and how they work together and grow and eventually, hopefully, reach nationals and become champions. That’s what sports anime are all about!
If you’re not into exciting volleyball matches, cheering crowds, inspiring speeches, occasional sports theory, or watching sports in general, this is probably not for you.
Though, coming from a shonen anime loving background, I’d probably be able to live off from all the friendship/camaraderie/teamwork feels alone because this series has them in very well-executed droves. I also like that the characters do grow - both in their volleyball skills and as people - realistically. You’ll see them train hard and work hard to reach their dreams, no instant power-ups or deus-ex-machina handing over superhuman skills, you’ll see them lose - and learn from it too… you’ll even remember that they’re still in high school because they do still need to study and keep up on their academics and think about their futures and the third-years have to make decisions about graduation. (
It’s painfully relatable sometimes, the graduation themes)
The Karasuno team is definitely has a strong cast of characters - they all come with distinct, memorable, consistent personalities. Ranging from always-intense Tanaka, reliable-captain Daichi, looks-like-a-rebel-but-is-actually-a-dork Asahi, cynic-with-a-backstory Tsukishima, cool-genius-but-critically-self-aware Kageyama, and a host of others… there’s something interesting about each and every one of them, and they’ll eventually be so endearing that you’ll end up caring about everyone, even the three non-regular second years we see very little of.
(I wish we knew more about them)
Even the enemy teams are interesting - everyone has a little story or personality quirks and sometimes you’ll end up wishing they showed us just a little more down-time between matches just so we’d get to know more about what else they do aside from practicing and playing volleyball.
The bonds that thread the characters together are also endearing and interesting to explore - the dynamics between Hinata and Kageyama, the third-years, and how the teams work together and treat each other in general.
The animation in this series is A++ definitely. I still can’t get over how fluid and realistic the animation is for their moves - special mention to Kageyama’s jump-serve animation because it just looks so goddamn awesome. Also, though everyone’s got a generally athletic build, the characters seem to still have something unique to their look, and man, the facial animations are so top-notch that you can probably guess how a character feels or what he’s thinking just by the look on his face and his body language.
Oh, and it’s all very realistic - most of the plays that go on are possible in real life, or at least look realistic enough that you’d believe they did. No exaggerated special effects
(except maybe Kageyama’s crosshair-aided toss, but I think that was more a visual cue for the viewers)
Voice acting, as expected from anime, is top-notch. The opening and ending themes are uplifting and seem to fit the series’ themes quite well - and the sound effects, like shoes screeching on courts, balls landing on the floor and such, are very well done too.
What I do like most about this series though, is just how powerfully uplifting it is - you’ll see characters become friends, and do their best, and fight, and work together, and sometimes they’ll lose - but they’ll never give up, and they’ll turn every loss into a learning experience.
I’m just a sucker for those things.