By Dustin Cabeal
One thing I didn’t take into account when I swore off reviewing Haikyu!! In manga format, was the possibility of it getting good. When last I left the series, I was kind of bored because the drama hinges on you not knowing what’s going to happen in the matches. It was too much for the first major arc as it stretched itself out a bit too much thanks to the shonen style. The battle between Karasuno and Blue Castle ends up feeling dull when going through it a second time. Perhaps the same will happen when Karasuno reaches its next big opponent, but I’ll have to wait and see.
This volume is the summer training camp in which the third years have all committed to the team rather than focusing on the next step in their schooling. It’s frankly, still one of the best mid moments of the series because of the incredible amount of character development that’s done. The biggest part of the character development is the team learning new skills. What’s amazing is how this comes about, because it’s not the desire as a team to get better, but rather the teams desire not to be overshadowed by Hinata. That’s right, he develops first, and the fastest and it sends a shockwave through the team to the point that Kageyama won’t set for him anymore. Eventually, the coach brings Hinata to his Grandfather to train, and this sparks three ideas. Hinata improves dramatically, but the coach comes up with a crazy technique for Kageyama to use which involves the ball reaching a point in the air and dropping afterward. The last idea is introducing a tempo attack the involves the rest of the players on the court all moving towards the net at once and let me tell ya, that one pisses people off a lot, which is great.
Then the team is back to Tokyo for more training and even more character development. There’s a steady and brilliant buildup of the team getting back in sync. You wouldn’t think they’d need that, but since they’ve all just jumped in skill set, they’re re-finding themselves together again. That and the additional characters introduced are all great editions to the story. Unlike other shonen stories that add a ton of characters, it’s never overwhelming in Haikyu!!
The writing is solid on this volume. Sometimes there’s excess to the story or too much exposition, but this time because of the training camp the explanations are true learning moments for the characters and so it fits naturally. Overall, this volume, in particular, is one that has re-read value because there’s so much to take in and the drama isn’t thick. It’s just filled with these cool moments in which characters grow and learn new tools to attack with.
The artwork, of course, is great. The style for Haikyu!! is still very different from a lot of other manga and definitely different from the vast majority of sports-themed manga. The characters continue to be eccentric with their designs, but this helps the story not feel overwhelming when new characters are introduced. You may not remember their names, but there’s no question of who they are to the story. Something that I find to be more important than remembering 30 plus names and getting a refresher every volume.
While my preferred method of digesting Haikyu!! Is still in anime form, I was pleasantly surprised that the manga could still surprise me. It does need mentioning that the anime is extremely faithful to the manga. If you’ve never watched the series or have never tried a sports manga, I would encourage you to check out Haikyu!! for sure. It’s one of the best paced, better-developed stories in all of manga at the moment and only seems to get better as it goes along.
Haikyu!! vol. 11
Story and Art: Haruichi Furudate
Publisher: Viz Media