Because people don’t have wings…we look for ways to FLY…
Let’s face it: Sports animes have really predictable plots and story lines.
Usually it’s about this underdog team surprising everyone when they manage to beat the bigshot teams–usually because of a shrimpy prodigy who joins the team at the start of the story–and their journey to the nationals, or whatever’s the equivalent.
Somehow, Haikyuu!! positively has every single one of these predictable plot elements but I still love it.
Haikyuu!! is the story of Hinata Shouyo who becomes a volleyball player after becoming inspired by the so-called “Little Giant” when he saw a game on TV in passing. His dreams get ultimately crushed when his patched up team back in junior high gets destroyed by the “King of the Court” Kageyama Tobio and his team, but one of the most constant things in the whole story is Hinata’s perseverance, and he tearfully vows to Kageyama that they will meet again and he (Hinata) will be the one to defeat the King of the Court.
“Giving up” basically doesn’t exist in this guy’s dictionary.
At the risk of being a spoiler, I’ll say it now: Kageyama and Hinata end up in one team in their first year in high school–Karasuno, the champions that fell down the in the dumps after their glorious prime. Hinata’s idol, the Little Giant, went to Karasuno as well and the match that inspired Hinata to become a volley player is actually Karasuno at the nationals.
The plot revolves not just on Hinata or Kageyama but their team’s struggles to train their patchwork of a team, and their struggles to complement each other’s abilities instead of hindering each other.
The anime is already well on its way to its second season, the first season focusing on Karasuno sticking together to develop their teamwork with the help of their new coach and adviser plus their first taste of major wins and losses as a team.
I can’t say I don’t love the anime because I honestly do.
The graphics are all right–there’s nothing special and it’s not mediocre either. Character designs are A+–there’s a mix of damn son level of fine bishounens and unique-looking individuals. (Tanaka, one of the wing spikers, cracks me up all the time LOL.) I love how the animators choreographed the games and the movements of each player, especially with a very quick-paced sport like volleyball.
I have a love-hate relationship with the “special techniques” incorporated in sports anime. At one end, it makes the animation really “animated”–the edge of anime over manga, I guess–and although they’re obviously not scientifically possible, I still find myself entertained.
However, I’m also kind of peeved with too much special techniques because it removes the semblance of realism in the sport itself. It’s probably one of the reasons why I can’t get myself to watch Kuroko no Basuke–because of the unrealistic elements. I play basketball, and let me tell you: It doesn’t work that way. At all.
Granted, I don’t play tennis (TeniPuri) or American football (Eyeshield 21) but still. I guess it all boils down to the fact that I really prefer the classic SlamDunk over KNB any day. In fact, SlamDunk is one of the best sports animes ever, even with the cheap and ancient graphics and the simple plot and characters.
I love that the anime lacks the Western-oriented themes that some has, e.g. TeniPuri and Eyeshield 21, because it has been a recurring sports anime theme to have the protagonist and/or his team to hop on a plane to train or compete in the US.
Haikyuu!! seems to be focused on dragging Karasuno to the nationals no matter what it costs, and so far, I see no America in the horizon. It makes the story kind of small town-ish, and a little private and more intimate to grow awesome players. Albeit, there’s still the presence of a foreigner as a character–in this case, half-Russian half-Japanese Haiba Lev. I guess it’s really a thing? I’m not really sure lol.
Officially, Hinata and Kageyama are the main protagonists but it doesn’t feel that way. I feel like they’re not the owners of the story line, that their other teammates are just as equally interesting and “protagonist-like” as their duo.
Even the supporting characters like Ennoshita are super fucking lovable–go figure.
I liked how growth was never just for the main duo (KageHina) with a brief mention of their teammates training; instead, growth was a team effort as well. As a person who has experience with team sports, I personally commend this because it’s how a team is supposed to be. I love that improvement is never solely Hinata’s or Kageyama’s, that when one of them evolves, the other is quick to catch up to remain the complements of each other’s abilities.
It’s mentioned a lot in the anime, how Kageyama is a genius on the court–and he is. But I love that his genius would never be exposed in the story without his teammates, and it’s cute that we all get to realize this along with Kageyama, who used to struggle being in a team when he was in junior high.
Hinata, the main protagonist, is not the fucking ace. It’s a pretty big deal in their setting, to be the ace of a team, and it’s not Hinata. It’s actually the unassuming Asahi, the Volleyball Jesus LOLOLOL and I love that about
their team the teams in Haikyuu!!. Shrimpy or the loser or the newbie characters being the key to the team’s success quickly got old–case point: Kobayakawa Sena (ES21) and Echizen Ryoma (TeniPuri).
I get it: They’re small, unassuming kiddies/freshmen with freak abilities and that they’re some sort of prodigy. But team sports aren’t always about the brilliance of one player–although we could excuse Echizen Ryoma here because he plays a one-man or two-man sport LOL. I love that everyone in Karasuno and even the other main teams are brilliant in their own ways.
And while I’m on the subject of other teams, Haikyuu!! has done a pretty good job at exploring non-Karasuno teams like Nekoma, Aoba Johsai, Fukurodani and even Shiratorizawa (although there is no “team” in “Ushijima Wakatoshi” hahaha!). The characters from other teams can stand out on their own and be just as lovable as the Karasuno members.
(As a self-proclaimed #OikawaTrash2k15, I claim that Oikawa can get his own anime and no one will complain–except Iwaizumi, probably.)
Right now, the anime is still at the stage where Karasuno just made it to the regular circuit; not much has been shown about the other teams except for the Tokyo training camp and the Inter-High at the first season. I can’t bring myself to read the manga because I don’t want to be spoiled, although the lure of a glasses-wearing Oikawa can be a little too much for my poor soul.
Speaking of inter-team relations…
Kuroo. Bokuto. Akaashi. And Karasuno’s little chick Tsukishima. Ughhhhh I loved their dynamics!!! I liked the fact that besides Yamaguchi (let’s face it–childhood best friend clearly outranks everybody else in Tsukki’s books), three other people from outside the team (a bunch of senpai, no less) were able to coax out Tsukishima and his potential out of his shell.
The dynamics between Kageyama and Oikawa is also something that I really like. I loved how their characters turned out in relation to each other. Oikawa is obviously superior in his experience with handling a team; older and supposedly wiser as well. And given Kageyama’s natural genius (despite his misgivings as a team player), initially I thought that it’s going to be one of those typical prodigy showdowns.
I was pleasantly surprised when it was revealed that Oikawa is not a natural athlete, and how much he hated (and envied) Kageyama for his inborn skills. It gave me wistful feels and I never expected to be able to relate to Oikawa in this–the frustration because of other naturally-gifted people existing out there, how easy it is for them to achieve something without trying. This little tidbit gave the plot more depth, and it made me fall in love with the whole anime a little more.
I’d like it if Oikawa’s insecurity over Kageyama gets a separate exploration later on, and a sort of resolution between their characters. They don’t have to be friends. The part in season 2 where Kageyama asked Oikawa for help when he and Hinata were not seeing eye to eye–it’s a really nice start to show more of Kageyama and Oikawa outside the court, and how they’d play into their rivalry without a volleyball.
Time and time again I’ve repeated that I really don’t have the will to watch anything with “episodes”–yep, even Star Wars, so sue me–but Haikyuu!! is even making me wait every week for every new episode in the second season. That’s how much I like it. Overall it’s a very nice and entertaining story, lighthearted but very passionate when it comes to volleyball and camaraderie.
A lot of sports animes have started popping out of nowhere but it was Haikyuu!! that eventually caught my eye. At times, the story can be a bit draggy especially with the training but I guess that’s okay because it’s Karasuno’s first year with their current lineup. I hate that there is always the impending graduation for the third years–I could never imagine Seigaku without Tezuka as their captain, and the Deimon Devil Bats could never be captained by any other gun-wielding psycho other than Hiruma–but I guess what makes it okay for Karasuno and the other teams in Haikyuu!! is that the freshmen are cute little shits who possess so much potential.
I’d love it more if in the future episodes, Tanaka and Nishinoya are explored further (although Tanaka’s older sister is a nice addition to the wacky cast); I want to see Suga play in a game, and I want to witness Yamaguchi bloom into the ultimate flower of pinch serves. And more than anything, I want to find out if my guess on Little Giant’s identity is correct–this is literally the biggest mystery that excited me the most.