By Dustin Cabeal
After my last review for Haikyu!! I decided I didn’t like reading the manga as much as I liked watching the anime. That hasn’t changed, but right now I’m not watching the anime because its third season is over and so reading these two volumes filled the Haikyu!! hole in my heart now.
Volume 9 picks up after the heartbreaking loss to Aoba Johsai and the resolve of the third years to continue with the team; we get to a transition point for the team. They need to grow, and so over the summer, they’re going to do two training camps with other teams, including their somewhat rivals Nekoma. That is if everyone can pass their tests. Spoiler, they do.
The first training camp is the most interesting because there’s a rift in the team. Most everyone wants to improve, but they don’t know how to at the moment. Meanwhile, Hinata is growing leaps and bounds and throwing off the rhythm of the team. It asks the question; how will everyone respond? Will they grow and fight or let this tear them apart. The answer might not be as obvious as you think. The coach takes Hinata to his grandfather to learn how to spike better, and it’s here that the freak quick is squashed. The reason being that we learn the spiker has all the say in the hit, not the setter. This lights a huge fire under the coaches ass as he thinks of something crazy for Kageyama to practice.
The tenth volume moves into the second round of practices, and the team struggles a lot. They’re not clicking anymore because everyone is trying new things and developing at different paces, but it's great because everyone else seems to understand and might even be afraid of them because of it. This volume focuses on Tsuki’s backstory since he’s the only one that’s not trying to grow and get better. It’s very interesting and the first attempt it the series to develop another character outside of the Hinata and Kageyama. It’s a great story and knowing what comes next only makes me appreciate this volume more.
The problem that I found with the last volume was that I knew the ending. It made all the drama and anticipation that it was building feel flat. It was still a great read, but it was a story building towards something I already knew. With these two volumes, I was able to enjoy the drama again because it didn’t hinge on the outcome of a game. The story was free to build drama between the characters and seeing the team reinvent itself and struggle were amazing. They felt like an incredible team before the training camps, but during and afterward… they’re somehow better. It does make me cautious about reviewing the next big showdown that they have, but we’ll see.
The artwork remains some of my favorite. It just looks so different that a lot of other manga out there. It’s improved a lot in these two volumes as well. The action is fluid and no longer stiff. The characters aren’t awkwardly blocky at times as there were before. The style is intact, but it’s improved to become more rounded and natural feeling with the story. Overall the designs are fantastic and seem to get cleaner and yet more distinct with each volume.
As good as the first eight volumes of this story are, these two are better than anything you’ve read. There’s no game on the line, and yet the story manages to find new ways to be dramatic and develop the world and characters. That and blowing up Hinta and Kageyama’s relationship after it finally settled into a rhythm, was genius. If you need that hole in your volleyball heart filled, then check out both of these volumes.
Haikyu!! vol. 9 & 10
Creator: Haruichi Furudate
Publisher: Viz Media