As a massive fan of the shounen genre, I have watched and read many different series in my lifetime. But as a person that has competed in sports at various levels, I tend to love sports series more than any other series that is based around action packed fights or the more tame school life/slice of life genres that I also do love very much. I’ve found that some of my absolute favourite series of all time include: Slam Dunk, Eyeshield 21, and Hajime no Ippo. However one series that I absolutely loved, that I didn’t see myself loving so much was Haikyuu!!, and in its third season it has cemented itself, in my opinion, to be probably one of the greatest works to ever grace the sports manga/anime world – and it does it in a way that demonstrates how less is more when it comes to storytelling. Well alas here are my thoughts of Haikyuu!!
How does it stack up with other sports series?
There are two ways to go about telling a sports anime. The first method is being the author choosing to create larger than life characters with abilities that exist outside of the human realm. Examples of this include Sena in Eyeshield 21, being able to run faster than anyone currently playing in the NFL or the multiple variations of The Zone
exhibited by the already out of this world athletic ballers in Kuroko no Basket
. Like are we actually supposed to believe that a high school freshmen can dunk from the mother fucking free throw line, REALLY? Like there are almost as much dojustu in KnB as there are in Naruto. The second method is when the author is quite realistic with their characters and their abilities. Examples of this include Slam Dunk, and how the characters in that series are very average sized considering their sport and their age, and they don’t really have anything like the zone or different skills that make them out to be superhuman. And of course – Haikyuu!! falls in line with this as well.
|This shit is so funny
A comparison that is made a lot in the sports shounen genre comes between KnB and Haikyuu!!, probably because they were in serialization at about the same time, are both court sports, and are both properties of Shounen Jump. But as mentioned before, they are completely different series although very similar. KnB does tell the underdog story very much like Haikyuu!! but it also does not at all. Some of those characters on Seirin are ridiculously OP – REALLY? A HIGH SCHOOLER THAT CAN DUNK FROM THE FREE THROW LINE? They are also all ridiculously handsome – don’t try to tell me that the Generation of Miracles couldn’t also be a boy band. Haikyuu!! on the other hand is very average. The tallest guy on their team is not even close to being the tallest player among their opponents, they don’t possess some Naruto-like ability and they cannot go into a zone and become possessed by the ghost of Giba (had to look that guy up). Personally speaking, Haikyuu!! is more for me, as I can relate to it a lot more than KnB. If anything, Haikyuu!! is probably more like Slam Dunk than KnB is like Slam Dunk, regardless of which series is based around basketball. When I watch KnB I know that Seirin is going to win because Kagami is like a saiyan as he only gets better and better. Because volleyball is a win by two sport, it is actually really hard to tell who is going to win, also, Karasuno rarely ever has the more talented team, rather they are balanced, and are often going against players with incredible skill like Oikawa or Ushijima.
Haikyuu!! has some of my favourite characters in shounen anime right now. The cast of characters seen here probably couldn’t star in their own series but that’s what makes them all so good. In order for this series to work you must have a bunch of average characters with their own unique quirks and put them together to make their story interesting as they absolutely need each other. Oikawa said it best in the last episode of season 2 “Six who are strong are stronger.”Obviously the synergy between Hinata and Kageyama is the star of the series but for me, it’s the rest of the team that steals the show. Nishinoya and Tanaka clearly are the comedic backbone of this series that keeps it so light hearted. While the three seniors on the team make up the emotional backbone. But most importantly it’s the relationships that are not so obvious that makes the show so successful. Like how Tsukishima vibes with his teammates or the connection between Nishinoya and Azumane, and the relationship between the two Karasuno managers, they are all unique relationships reserved only for those characters.
But how does it make you FEEL?
Animation, music, voice acting, and comedic timing are all on point. I especially appreciate the dynamic visuals that are spliced into very dramatic scenes in the series. I think my favourite one so far would be the season finale of season three, where Ushiwaka is appeared to be pushing down on the entire Karasuno court but is pushed back by the seniors on the team. Fuck, that made me feel. Or all those animations of Hinata soaring through the wind like a crow. I’m a pretty emotional guy when it comes to sports anime but rarely do they ever make me cry. And I can tell you that watching Karasuno beat Shiratorizawa, it made me cry. I don’t know why I was crying at the time but I realized that as a person who has been in their scenario, I understand all of it. I understand being a senior and playing the last game of your life for a team that you’ve given your heart to. I understand what it means to work your hardest and how it feels like to be a loser but how great it is to stand at the top, to achieve your dreams and aspirations. I know that feeling so well. So when Karasuno loses I feel that, I feel that for the seniors, I feel for the juniors who wanted so badly to win it for their seniors. I know that feeling better than anyone and I can’t help but cry when something you have worked for so many years to achieve finally happens because to even describe that kind of joy would not do that joy justice. It’s better than any drug, or sex, or thrill. Achieving my dreams that I had worked so hard to attain with my best friends is something that I don’t think I will ever forget.
But alas, let’s not pretend that this series is perfect. My main gripe with this show is that it’s third season is ridiculously redundant. Fans did not need 10 episodes to watch one volleyball match. I understand that this one match was going to be huge but to use 10 episodes on one match, well it could have been executed better. I pretty much can’t remember any of the more important parts that happened between episodes two to seven. I can’t tell you who won what sets in what order and who scored the point that won the set. It was just very unnecessary and as a fan who watches anime other than Haikyuu!! I forgot a lot and instead of 10 episodes it became one big mush of an episode. It was almost like a really long movie. I feel like executing it like Initial D’s third season/movie might have been a better move.
|M-my senpai ;_;
Overall, Haikyuu!! is probably the best anime of all time because it’s made me cry and I don’t even play or have much a history with volleyball. Just kidding about that first part but yes Haikyuu!! is pretty freaking amazing and I love it and was super cheesed that it ended with 10 episodes centered around ONE match. The characters have made me fall in love with the sport with them and I am deeply invested into their story and ambitions. The editing, timing, and cuts for the anime especially in moments of deep intensity or comedy really highlight the emotions felt in this series. I highly suggest this to anyone who is into an underdog story. If you think I’m full of shit and that KnB is still the best sports series of the past 5 years please feel free to shit post me.