The sports genre in anime almost always has the same formula. It’s tried and true, but for some damn reason I’m a sucker for it when it’s executed properly. That’s the case with Haikyu which is a men’s volleyball anime. Does the character want to be the best and go all the way to nationals? You better believe it. Does he possess raw natural talent that people haven’t seen in generations? Again, you better believe it. What grabbed me about the series was the different approach with the main character and the story in general. The main character Shouyou Hinata comes from a small middle school which has no men’s volleyball team. He refuses to join the women’s team and so he becomes a one man volleyball team. We meet him at his first tournament ever as he’s finally convinced enough of his friends to be on the team. His first tournament also turns out to be the very last tournament of his middle school life.
He goes on to meet the “King of the Court” which is what Tobio Kageyama is known as; they’re to face each other in the first round which spells trouble for Shouyou as Tobio’s team is favored to win. It goes about as well as you’d expect, but of course we see a display of Shouyou’s raw talent and the problem that Tobio has as a team player.
Fast forward to the second episode and Shouyou has made it into the school that inspired his love for volleyball; only to discover Tobio is attending the same school and trying out for the Volleyball team. The team itself is in a state of rebuilding. Once viewed as a top ranked team, but now referred to as a fallen rival. Shouyou and Tobio start in with each other instantly and eventually the captain tells them that if they can’t be a team they can’t play for them. This of course will set the stage for them to stop being rivals and become friends… well friends that yell at each other and are very competitive, but friends none the less.
While there are plenty of tropes to the genre present, they’re working very well. That’s why they are almost always the same. When you do it right, it’s magical and the little touches that Haikyu adds is great. The first time “the King” is introduced we see a flash of a red rob and crown or when Shouyou sees the character he calls “Little Giant” play for the first time and we see a flash of black Crow feathers as he leaps into the sky. Little stuff like that is what will keep Haikyu from being typical and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon. I’m disappointed that I have to wait for the next episode already because with any sports series you really just want to marathon through it, but isn’t that the best kind of disappointment?
Director: Susumu Mitsunaka Writer: Taku Kishimoto Creator: Haruichi Furudate Studio: Production I.G.