Shoyo Hinata is a high school freshman who dreams of becoming the ace on his volleyball team. But there’s a problem: it’s only 5’4 ″. He joins the Karasuno High School volleyball club, where he becomes teammates with his high school rival, Tobio Kageyama, a prodigy with an antisocial streak. But they are forced to work together and become an unexpected dream team amid a colorful cast of characters coming together to become the best team in the country.
Why Visualization Is Essential: What’s Better Than This? Just guys being guys.
Everyone loves a homeless sports story. Generate immediate sympathy: You support the one with the biggest obstacles to face and the biggest obstacles to overcome because you know that when you do, it will be the greatest feeling you have ever had. Now imagine that feeling, but it comes crashing in waves every three episodes. That’s what it’s like to watch a sports anime, and that’s definitely what to watch Haikyu !! it is like.
There is nothing particularly special about Haikyu !! when you first start to see it. There’s the obvious underdog Shoyo Hinata, the short-winged attacker with abnormally fast reflexes who dreams of becoming the ace. The old rivalry between him and his personal and professional opposite, Tobio Kageyama. The coming-of-age story of a group of misfit kids who must put aside their differences and overcome their own demons in order to be a better team. They are all familiar elements and yet something about Haikyu !! just sing.
There’s a reason it’s one of the most successful anime of the last decade. First up, there’s the crisp animation, courtesy of Production IG, that shows the action with blunt, breathless energy, working on motion blur, lines, and even steam to communicate how fast these kids are moving.
But it all comes down to the cast of incredibly lovable characters. The guys at Karasuno High are all extremely personable and highly detailed and have been given their due in terms of storytelling and character arcs, beyond being Hinata’s story. Even the rival team members get their own bows, with Haikyu !! willing to delve into the backstories of the darker supporting characters. Most of the action takes place on the court, both in volleyball and in character. The number of times characters go through an existential crisis while the ball is in the air or make a passionate speech to their teammates in the middle of games can be ridiculous to first-time anime viewers, but that’s what makes Haikyu !! so devastatingly serious and compelling to watch. Volleyball is the world for these characters, and every time they lose a point or make a humiliating mistake, the viewer feels the world falling apart with them.
I’m the furthest you can get to being a sports fanatic, but Haikyu !! turns the ins and outs of high school volleyball into the height of drama. And about 10 episodes in, I found myself crying over these guys’ emotional challenges and dreams. They are not just friends, they are teammates.