Someone help me. I have watched all three seasons of Haikyuu!! at least three times. It’s like a disease. Why am I so obsessed with this show?
I was never interested in anime until a bunch of people on my Tumblr dashboard started getting into Yuri on Ice. I thought maybe I should check it out for myself. (By the way, if this situation sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how I’ve gotten into most of my fandoms since I joined Tumblr in 2010.) Now I suddenly find myself in some sort of sports anime death spiral. First it was Yuri on Ice, then I moved on to Free, and then I started Haikyuu.
…And then I kind of re-watched Haikyuu. And started reading fic. And the manga. And listening to the soundtrack. And looking up how much it would cost to get some of those adorable Nendoroids. (Hey, does anyone want to buy me Akaashi? I will love you forever.) I have fallen into a high school volleyball anime hole, and I don’t think I could pull myself out even if I wanted to. I’m not sure what it is about this show, but damn, am I hooked.
For the uninitiated, Haikyuu is the story of Hinata Shōyō and his quest to be the ace of a volleyball team. There are a few stumbling blocks in his way. First, there’s the fact that his middle school doesn’t have a volleyball team. Then there’s the fact that he’s kind of short. In his first and only middle school tournament, his team is paired with a powerhouse school and loses in spectacular fashion, but not before Hinata’s fast reflexes and super high jump catch the eye of the school’s prodigy of a setter, Kageyama Tobio. Hinata vows to destroy Kageyama, which will prove difficult considering they end up as teammates at Karasuno High School.
In trying to think of why I love this show so much, one of the main reasons is the characters. Of course I love Hinata with his neverending enthusiasm and his drive to improve, but I have a soft spot in my heart for dear, socially awkward Kageyama, with his perpetually grumpy face and his desire to truly be a member of a team. Actually, I can’t think of a single character I actively dislike, even among Karasuno’s opponents. (In fact, I love some of their opponents to unhealthy degrees. Oh, my precious alien trash Oikawa and his faithful Iwaizume.) Each character has a backstory and some sort of development, though, granted, some don’t have as much as I would like. It’s very difficult to not like anyone; they all have their moments.
It’s not just the characters, though; it’s their relationships as well. While I do have my ships, their interactions as friends are amazing. I’m particularly fond of comparing the setter/spiker relationships between the different teams; they’re all so different yet somehow similar. There are a lot of different dynamics among all of the characters, with lots of great platonic interaction – or shippable moments, if that’s your jam.
The dialogue is clever, with many great and uplifting speeches, usually on the importance of teamwork or not giving up. There are a lot of explanations about the various strategies in volleyball, which can sometimes seem tedious, but they make it work by having their new school adviser be unfamiliar with the sport. Not to mention, this show is legitimately funny; make sure you especially pay attention to what is being said in the background, because it’s usually those conversations that give me the biggest chuckle, even after multiple rewatches.
There is a lot of really great animation as well. You would hope that in an animated show there is good animation, but this isn’t always the case. Not so in Haikyuu. One of my particular favorite moments is from the third season, during a particularly intense game, displaying the older members of the team helping the first years as they get overwhelmed by the opponent. But this is far from the only well-drawn scene – there are a lot of them, especially in the beginning and end credits sequences.
Speaking of the credits, I am a big fan of pretty much every song used for them. So far, there are ten, but my personal favorites are the opening and closing songs for the first half of season one: “Imagination” by SPYAIR and “Tenchi Gaeshi” by NICO Touches the Walls. It isn’t just the songs, though – the entire soundtrack is spectacular. I’ve found myself listening to it at work via YouTube playlists. There are a lot of great tracks. (For example, check out Oikawa’s theme.)
After I devoured the show, I turned to the manga, which is obviously ahead of the show’s timeline. The great thing about a story like Haikyuu is that there are a lot of places they could go with the story. Obviously the main goal of basically every sports anime is for the team to make it to nationals, but with the focus on Hinata and Kageyama, who are first years, there is a lot of potential for development, both personally and as a team. I’m really enjoying seeing how all of the characters grow.
Basically, I like pretty much everything about this show. It’s funny, it’s well-drawn, it’s got great characters and good music. I’m a big sports fan, which is probably why my descent into anime started with this genre, but I really think that even people who aren’t super into sports can enjoy Haikyuu. And hey, there are 60 episodes for you to watch, so get started!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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