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[Anime Review] Haikyu!! (2014)

Official Website (Japanese)

Plot Summary: Shōyō Hinata began playing volleyball after seeing the "small giants" who played the sport when he was in elementary school. He suffers a crushing defeat in his first and last tournament in middle school at the hands of his rival Tobio Kageyama. So, Hinata joins Kurasuno High School's volleyball team, vowing revenge against Kageyama. However, Kageyama is also on Kurasuno's team. The former rivals form a legendary combo with Hinata's mobility and Kageyama's precision ball-handling. Together, they take on the local tournaments and vow to meet Kurasuno's fated rival school in the nationals.

Director: Susumu Mitsunaka

Episode Runtime: 24 minutes per episode/25 episodes

Genre: Sports, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life

Studio: Production I. G

Internet Streaming: Crunchyroll

Licensed by: Sentai Filmworks

Main Cast:

  • Ayumu Murase as Shōyō Hinata
  • Kaito Ishikawa as Tobio Kageyama
  • Kouki Uchiyama as Kei Tsukishima
  • Miyu Irino as Kōshi Sugawara
  • Nobuhiko Okamoto as Yū Nishinoya
  • Satoshi Hino as Daichi Sawamura
  • Sōma Saitō as Tadashi Yamaguchi
  • Yoshimasa Hosoya as Asahi Azumane
  • Yuu Hayashi as Ryūnosuke Tanaka

Review: by Anthony

This anime was recommended to me from a few of the other folk here at The Grand Shuckett. They know that I usually only watch shonen anime that involves swords, guns, ninjas, or mechs. I'm so glad I stepped outside of my small circle of anime and watched Haikyu!!

Something about these sports anime are scratching an itch I didn’t know existed. First it was Yowamushi Pedal and now it’s Haikyu!. If I had to try to pinpoint or explain why I’m enjoying these types of anime so much, I’d have to relate it to a shonen anime. Instead of an evil opponent to defeat by learning new fighting techniques, it’s a rival high school sports team and the characters learn or improve upon actual sports techniques.

What I Liked:

There was so much I liked about Haikyu!! from the individual characters to the relationships between the characters, the other teams they encountered, and all the different volleyball skills/tricks that were showcased over this first season.

Shōyō Hinata and Tobio Kageyama are the main characters and I loved how they both were uniquely talented and flawed at the same time.  They were the typical foils for each other.  Hinata was the silly, goofy kid with a sense of humor and Kageyama was serious and straight-faced.  Their respect for each other on the court and the way the brought out the best in each other was what drove this entire anime.

I also enjoyed the relationship between the third years on the volleyball team.  The attitude of this group of senior student athletes was admirable, to say the least. They were all about giving it one last go and not wanting to be upstaged by a bunch of young upstarts, but at the same time, checking their pride and giving the younger players key playing time in the big moments.  These attitudes are best seen with Sugawara in both pushing and motivating Kageyama to rise to his full potential, and in his belief in Asahi to overcome his fear of his spikes being blocked.

What good is any sports team without a rival of equal or greater talent to battle?  It was cool to see some other volleyball teams that Karasuno went up against, and the different things those teams specialized in that made them so formidable.  There was the team predicated on defense, the team that wasn’t really great at one particular thing but they were super well-balanced, and a team with a superstar player that made other players around him great.

Lastly, there were tons of cool volleyball skills and tricks that were showcased in Haikyu!!  There was the powerhouse combo of Kageyama’s god-like quick set and Hinata’s fast spike, the quick spikes from the setter, the fake out spike to set, the fake out set to double set, etc. Not to mention there were the awesome defensive specialists like Nishinoya.

What I Didn’t Like:

One of the few things I didn’t like about Haikyu!! was some of the animation choices.

With this being a volleyball anime, there’s an unsurprising amount of time spent on a volleyball court. In order to make sure you could see the different players’ faces, the volleyball netting was erased in areas.  When I first noticed it, I thought it was an error in the animation, as if the frame wasn’t completely drawn.

Then I saw it again and again. I realized it was probably done for a number of legit reasons: so you could see the determination and jubilation on the players’ faces, to see them talking to the other team, etc. Also, I’ve seen Tumblr, so I know how some ladies feel about these guys and they wouldn’t want some crappy volleyball netting covering their precious Tsukishima.

So, while I understand why it was done, I can’t even say I got all the way over the characters’ faces jutting through the net. Every time it happened, it kind of took me out of the moment a bit.

Images Courtesy of Random Curosity

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