First Impressions – Haikyuu!

Time for some epic high jumps~

Yessss, it’s here! The first awesome looking sports anime of the season. I have been really looking forward to Haikyuu and the first episode did not disappoint at all. I haven’t read the manga but the character designs and overall sporty feel were the things that attracted me to this. Let’s hear from my tag partners Cools and anaaga on how this fared with them.

I always feel a little more invested for anime about sports I actually play, even casually. Since I already know the rules, it makes it easier to focus on the action without wondering what the heck is going on. However, I was dubious that volleyball would be the best sport to base an entire anime around (although there are more niche sports chosen, for sure). Time to find out if Haikyuu! was an ace or didn’t even make it over the net.

Haikyuu!! turned out to be better than I expected. Way way waaaayyyy better. I’m so glad this anime exists now. Viva volleyball. Viva sports anime.

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The Orange Fireball

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//Kyokai: Usually protagonists these days are victims of the typical tropes. In terms of sports anime specifically, they are either hyped up perfect players or hidden geniuses who are suddenly discovered by another party. However, there are some stories where the protagonists actually have to work hard to get better and these are the kind I like. In life nothing is dished out for anyone, except if you were born with a silver spoon. Even in this case, there are a lot of decisions and choices that make up how you really do in life. If you want to achieve something, ‘you gotta work it’, rather than sitting on the sidelines. That is exactly what Hinata did after being inspired by a volleyball play: working hard and trying to find friends who would play it with him. He even went to the limit of trying for school competition even when it all looked impossible. Whiling watching, his positive spirit and will to play awesome volleyball rubs on you to the point that you want to hug him just because he’s too adorable for trying so hard.

If this was your typical sports anime, Hinata would have won the first match single-handedly or failed with a narrow margin. Though, what really happened was even with Hinata’s talent, his team could not win because well, they were a bunch of newbies. And that was totally fine! How Hinata took everything though is another story altogether. His inner fight-on and the will to do better is what really makes him a prominent protagonist. Throughout the match, he kept a positive attitude and improved his play even while the play was in progress; his last jump being one of the best even at raw stage. He also has actual faults rather than being perfect; lack of training and even being not so good in studies. However, he overcomes all of this by working hard and looking towards a future where he would come face to face with his rival and not only show his progress but show him down.

The Perfect Rival

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//anaaga: The fated rival and teammate for Hinata, Kageyama Tobio exceeded my expectation as a character. He is nothing like the kind of rival I have seen in sports animanga I have ever read/watched. Seriously, he is the kind of character that is hard to find in animanga nowadays.  Usually, a rival would be someone who is extremely talented in that certain sports, but he would also be a jackass everyone would love to kill. Why? Because apparently, beng good in that certain sports gives him the right to act like a jerk to everyone else. Y’know, the typical rivals in sports anime these days coughKurokocough. I’m not saying that Kageyama is not a jackass. Yes, Kageyama Tobio is a jackass… But in a likable way. This is probably due to his dedication to volleyball, which I actually liked. There is no drama about friendship or personal issue that is mixed with volleyball. He just has an issue with teamwork, probably due to his skill that exceeds normal people and his refusal to match up with them. Basically, he has a teamwork problem, and that’s it. But that’s what I love about this guy. He is all about volleyball and nothing else. More sports anime character need to be like him.

Taking One for the Team

//Overcooled: Kageyama and Hinata are both really intense players, but in different ways. They both eat, sleep and breathe volleyball and treat every game as seriously as a life or death situation. These aren’t newcomers to the sport who suddenly excel and get drafted by the main team, but seasoned veterans who have been playing for over 3 years to hone their skills. They’ve got all the drive in the world, but they’re plagued with either lackadaisical or worthless teammates.

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Although Kageyama clearly has the superior team, he’s still not content to see them slack off. Winners get too comfortable when they get a lead, and that’s how they get taken advantage of. On one hand, it seems ridiculous to play at 100% when the opposing team barely even know what a volleyball looks like and you can get injured quite easily. Even playing safely, bruises come easily and jammed fingers are common. Don’t even get me started on diving on a hard, gym floor without hurting yourself (I never got the hang of that). It’s reckless, but it’s Kageyama’s code of honour. There’s a different between teams who are content at the skill level they are and teams who constantly use each game as an opportunity to get better. Although Kageyama is a real jerk, it’s actually quite impressive to see a player love the game so much and not rest of his laurels.

Hinata has that same passion, but he channels it in a more productive way. Although his teammates are a cobbled-together group of friends from other sports teams (that don’t even want to be there), he still goes 100% until the very end. Even small victories like scoring a single point are significant. No matter how good one player is, volleyball is a team sport. If you have 5 other players who either suck balls at it or don’t want to expend any more effort than necessary, it brings everyone down. Not just skill-wise, but it’s not as fun. It’s an interesting contrast between two teams who are so good they don’t want to try or so terrible that they want to give up. Clearly, Kageyama and Hinata need a new team.

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Starting episode 2, it looks like we’ll get just that.

As I said in our Spring Review, there was a time that I hated sports anime because it seemed boring but I am one of those people who agree to their faults and here I officially say that I was wrong about this genre. Yes, we have had slow sports anime but that is no standard and every good story has a pace of its own. Like how some people dub Chihayafuru slow but I love every second of it and I’m not alone in thinking this at all. The thing that really gets me in this genre is the high that comes with the adrenaline rush of tight moments and actual feats that look impossible but are possible. That nail-biting feeling and rooting for the team you love is literally a drug for the sports watchers.

Production I.G has done a wonderful job for the first episode and the seiyuu work is pretty good along with catchy opening and ending theme. Haikyuu! definitely has its own charm of being engaging with a unique art style (so beautiful and sometimes very distinct!), a protagonist that you can identify with and like because he works hard and adds comic relief with his spontaneity and perkiness. As well, a rival who has an actual personality, even if he’s too competitive rather than being just plain evil or typecasted. Add in a group of interesting members of Karasuno team with Manager-san and you have a winner at hand. This will be mighty interesting. Just you watch.     

 Ahhh, I really liked that first episode! Things were really rushed to get to the point where Hinata and Kageyama go to the same school, but it was still nice to the see the original grudge match that made Hinata so desperate to beat his rival. I wasn’t sure if the animation would be up to snuff, especially since the character designs in the manga are pretty stylized. However, it looked great and was full of action. I didn’t know they could make volleyball look so cool! On top of all the drama, boytears, and action, there’s a ton of bromance for any fujoshi with yaoi-tinted glasses on. Not that they really hint anything. here’s just an endless cast of boys and sometimes they blush or stare at each other in awe of their skill. But to a starving man, a crumb is a meal. Haikyuu! has everything you’d want from a sports anime. It’s not breaking boundaries with anything new (aside from the sport choice), but it’s very satisfying.

What can I say about the first episode except that I LOVE IT SO DAMN MUCH. To be honest, I was having my doubts about this anime. Shounen Jump and all that, and we all know how sports manga in Shounen Jump are these days… *glances at Kuroko* I was afraid that this show will turn out to be a melodramatic sports anime that would rely on magical power and friendship drama. But no, I was wrong. This is confirmed by the first episode and manga chapters I read right away after I watched the first episode. This anime will only be about volleyball, volleyball, and volleyball. Maybe there will be some personal issues, but it won’t become something big where the focus of the story shifts from volleyball to that personal issue. No, this show is about volleyball only, and this kind of focus is what I have been searching in many sports animanga.

Preview:

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Time for some epic face-offs.

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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6 Responses to “First Impressions – Haikyuu!”

  1. zztop says:

    There’s a crossover manga of Nisekoi and Haikyuu penned by both their respective authors.
    http://www.mangahere.com/manga/nisekyuu/c001/

    • Kyokai says:

      Something like what Fairy Tail and Yanki-kun to megane chan mangakas did. Well, it was entertaining for a one-shot, beach episode.

  2. Jrow says:

    I really enjoyed this first episode, and Hinata was a big reason why for reasons you girls stated. I really like his drive to do well and that he wasn’t afraid of a tough challenge (besides the bathroom issue) against a clearly superior team.

    anaaga, good to know that the series should be more grounded than Kuroko is. I tried to watch Kuroko recently, but I wasn’t liking the fantasy stuff I saw early on and apparently what it’s evolved into by this point.

    • Kyokai says:

      Good on ya, Jrow! We need more appreciators of sports anime. :3

      For Kuroko’s defense, I watch it more for the characters than the added basketball ninjitsu, which is literally hilarious sometimes. Though, it’s too late for me because I’m invested in the characters.

      • anaaga says:

        I literally spent 24 hours reading Haikyuu!! And I got midterm the next morning teheh

        Yeah, Kuroko is character-centric now. The thing is early in the manga, the manga actually had decent strategies for the games. But now they’re all about ninjitsu, and it’s pretty disappointing

Leave a Reply to Jrow