I’M BACK, Y’ALL.
……..no applause, okay.
Sooo, yeah, I haven’t quit reviewing yet, I was just a little busy with school stuff and all, and I also decided to prioritize on minor articles during the summer break, so my apologies for the lack of reviews over the past while. I’ll have a separate article summarizing how I’m gonna do things from now on But, here I am now, with a brand-new review and we’re kicking it off with this little nugget.
These past two seasons, we’ve been seeing quite a number of sports anime being released to the general public. From Toei Animations’ spin on sumo wrestling, to Baby Steps’ tale of tennis, to the lovingly animated Ping-Pong The Animation (it’s actually pretty good, go check it out), to the H2O-someness (wink wink) of the second season of Free.
And then, there’s Haikyuu: an anime about a sport I am not too familiar with.
To be honest with you guys, I never had any intention to review this anime when I first started watching it a few months ago. It seemed rather……..unremarkable, I guess is the word. Sure, it was produced by the animation powerhouse Production I.G, but I figured that it would just be one of those shows that you just watch and then eventually, after its finished, you just move on afterwards, kinda like…uhm….ah, Cup-A-Soup: you eat it because you’re either hungry or there’s just nothing else to snack on.
I thought that this show was gonna be an average piece of entertainment, a plain bagel on a plain-white plate, a bucket of butterless popcorn, a cup of tea without…well, the actually tea flavor: they fill you up, but there really isn’t anything else that makes you enjoy eating/drinking them, and thus, you don’t really prefer those kinds of dishes as opposed to the more flavoured ones (sorry, I was hungry when I was drafting this review).
However, after I found myself constantly doing this:
I decided that this anime definitely deserved a review from your’s truly, so that I can preach its awesomeness to the anime community around the Internet world.
Seeee? Ain’t I nice?
What’s up everyone, my name is Ken from thebuttonsmashers.com and today we are looking at one of the hottest sports anime to hit the anime year, from the animation company Production I.G.: Haikyuu.
Now, a little background check:
Haikyuu was animated by the wonderful blokes over at Production I.G and was adapted from a Shonen Jump serial created by Haruichi Furudate. It aired during the spring anime season of 2014 with 25 episodes, was directed by a guy named Susumu Mitsunaka, written by Taku Kishimoto, and falls under the shonen-sports-comedy genre.
Being a show made by the same production company as the ever-popular sports anime, Kuroko no Basket, naturally there is quite a tumultuous expectation for Haikyuu. Add that to the fact that it is an ongoing Shonen Jump-liscensed manga (more publicity for both the anime and the source material), and you’ve got a bubbling soup of hype.
But the question is: does this bubbling soup of hype provides both a filling AND delicious experience? Or does it end up leaving a bad taste in our mouths by being bland and insubstantial? (again, I was hungry)
Well, that’s what I’m here for. So sit back and relax as I take your hands (yes even guys, I’m not sexist) and lead you into a magical story filled with black feathers, awesome uniforms, flightless crows, iron walls, city boys, and balls.
Yes I’m talking about volleyballs.
Although, the male count in this show does provide another meaning to the phrase “lots of balls”………..
………..aaaaaanywaaaaay, I digress:
Shall we begin?
Our story starts off with Hinata Shoyo (our orange-haired little ball of energy) and his elementary volleyball team getting trampled on their very first tournament match. Their opponents? Kitagawa Dai Ichi: a powerful school team with a genius-level, but largely uncooperative, setter named Kageyama Tobio. Vowing vengeance towards Kageyama, Hinata joins the volleyball team at his high-school months after the tournament, only to find out that SURPRISE! Kageyama is also on the team. The series then follows the struggles of the Karasuno Volleyball team and their dream of reaching the top, no matter how high it is.
Now, for Haikyuu, the plot is mostly focused on going to the earliest tournament and practicing really hard to win; much like what you’d expect from shows of this genre.
But, what makes Haikyuu stand apart from other sports anime is its simplicity. Simplicity in a way that makes it different; it doesn’t have as much hype and it’s not as edgy as most other sports shows out there, but it has a sort of calm, simple nature that makes it…well, divergent from all the action-packed, energy-filled sweaty-ness of meta sports anime. Don’t get me wrong: it has plenty of heart-pumping, exciting moments and its simplicity doesn’t make it boring in any way. What I am saying is that the simplicity of this show adds a layer of realism to it, making it so much more relate-able and realistic. Again, I don’t mean “realistic” in a dull way: that layer of realism makes every match, and every moment for that matter, believable and presented for what it is.
And, by the way, “dull” is word that no one who watches this show will ever use to describe Haikyuu.
The comedy in this show is pretty spot-on, with apparent visual and acoustic changes to match the comedic moments. The volleyball matches are abounded with exciting moments, albeit it can get just a tiny bit tedious in between, and can be edgy and hype-filled when it needs to be.
Most of all, this show is sooooooooooooo much fun to watch.
Now, I know it is kind of an aesthetic of a sports anime to be fun, but this show just contains BUNDLES UPON BUNDLES of fun. Every point I’ve said about the show up to know all contribute to how fun it is, and that list is just beginning to unroll itself.
Now, how do you carry a sports anime, besides with the action-oriented games? You create a bunch of well-rounded, supporting characters that give the show its flavour whilst at the same time being downright amusing and fun to watch on-screen.
Now, notice how I mentioned “supporting characters”; with Haikyuu, I’d like to believe that there is no protagonist. Sure, you can argue that Hinata is the protagonist, or maybe Kageyama, or maybe both of them. But, to me, every single member of Karasuno’s volleyball team is the protagonist.
The story plays out most of the characters in the team in a way that it features them all with a fair serving of screen time for each, most of them having some fairly decent background info. We get to look at their motives, their abilities, their qualities, their defining strengths and weaknesses, and how they interact with other members of the team. That last point is what makes the whole team a well-rounded character on its own, as they share the same experiences, feel the same things every match, and put on the same amount of work into the things that they do, something important that sports anime require for its characters: that irreplaceable dynamic between the cast.
That leads into my next point, which is character interaction. As I mentioned, character interaction for this show was just so well-done. Members of the teams who have known each other for years are really obvious, senpai-kouhai interactions are also spot-on, and so are leader and follower roles, all because of how brilliantly written the interactions are between characters.
Character development is also a flavour of the day, as this show does a great job in providing change for the characters in this show with plausible reason. This makes those characters a lot more relatable and, thus, likeable. The characters who do change still retain some of their old habits, but the overall change is still noticeable, which is a brilliant touch, as it adds a bit of a quirk to them.
Very minute flaws abound the characters department for this show, including the rather timid characterization of one of the few main female cast members, but overall, Haikyuu does characters right and succeeds at making me care about each and every one of them.
Okay, let’s start with the negatives first.
Production I.G. needs to learn about when to line-shade and when not to line-shade. This pencil-style shadow-shading, to me, looks weird as it gives the shaded part an added dimension to them. Also, considering that the line-shaded area was already shaded using traditional shadow-shading methods anywaaaay, I feel they shouldn’t have bothered and stuck to the traditional method.
Another problem I had was how, when characters are talking to each other and the net is between them, the section where their faces are kinda fades away, sometimes entirely. Sure, it gives a better view of the character’s faces and the emotions they currently have when they’re conversing, but it seems unnatural, especially considering how thin the net is anywaaays.
Okay, enough with the negatives.
The character designs for this show are quite well done, as each of them have a specific look that also, in some way, mirrors (or in some cases, contrast) their personalities, and that you can also normally distinguish one character from another. Coming of course from Production I.G., the animation is above average; the way each match was animated was very fluid yet also edgy when it needs to be, giving those epic scenes a lot more impact. Despite having to re-use scenes for repetitive stuff such as serving and receiving, it doesn’t feel too monotonous as the matches are sometimes fast-forwarded to a certain point, thus preventing too much repetitions to the point of dullness.
Overall, I have no complaints, really. But, I mean, come on: this show is from the company who animated Guilty Crown and Kuroko, among other things.
While the soundtrack does a great job in conveying whatever mood is presented in a particular scene, there really isn’t much to say about it. That’s not to say that its below average, but its not totally above average either; it’s just….a little bit above average. It has the right timing and the right tone to basically amplify the current hype level of a particular scene, give the emotional bits a little more impact, and even just provide nice and relaxing melodies during the nice and relaxing moments. But beyond that there’s nothing else worth mentioning too much about the OST.
Now, the opening and ending themes are a different story.
Both of them are just a thrill to listen to, both as themes and even just on their own. The opening themes represent their respective show brilliantly, having a sort of…..well, I can’t really describe what kind of vibe it has; it has an upbeat tone to it that gets you pumped up, but at the same time, its more toned down than something like Kuroko’s opening themes.
Well, whatever it is, it fits the show perfectly.
The ending themes as well provide a fitting end to every episode as well and are also very entertaining to listen to on their own, so thumbs up to that.
As if it wasn’t evident enough: I really enjoyed this show.
There are just a myriad of things that I found enjoyable: the matches were intense, the comedy was spot-on for the most part and almost never failed to make me smile (or laugh at times, which is A LOT by my standards), the animation is fluid and intense and a real feast for the eyes, the characters were just magnificently done to the point where I feel that it wouldn’t be Haikyuu without them, the writing is brilliantly clever and can be emotionally-evoking when it needs to be, the build-up to each episode makes one crave for more; I can go on and on about the things I love about Haikyuu.
Really, the only things that’s preventing this show from getting a perfect score on my sheet are the moments where some cycles become repetitive, but even then the wittiness of the writing makes up for the points in the story that would rather be bland otherwise….which kinda doesn’t make it a flaw……..ah, whatever!
Additionally, this show has heart; you can sense how the characters are really into the game they love and how important every single match is to them. This is a moral that I personally follow: if you are passionate about something, give it your best shot, and you’ll have no regrets.
Cheezy stuff, I know, but let me do this just once, okay?
Overall, Haikyuu definitely hits the ball outta the park. It does a lot of things well while being thought-provoking and enjoyable at the same time. The execution of the entire series, along with fantastic writing and animation, made for a really unforgettable and enjoyable show with essence. As I said, I believe that ANYONE can find something in this show that will pique their interest, because Haikyuu just excels at being a fun show with plenty of things done right and throws it all in a blender to mix into a drinkable form for everyone to enjoy.
While there are flaws, they are too far in between all the intense awesomeness that occur throughout the show. Also, the anime isn’t technically over yet, and that kinda sucks because now I will either have to wait or read the manga to continue, which I’m not doing. However, the good points out-weight whatever flaw this anime has, and I’m sure that anyone, even those who aren’t sports fans, can find something about this show that will have them talking about it for months, or even years, on end.
Never before has an anime swept their way into my list of favorites list with such profound grace.
Never. Until this beautiful, glistening crow unexpectedly flew.
I hereby award Haikyuu with an overall average score of 58 Scary Kageyamas out of 100.
I also hereby award Haikyuu with an additional 23 Angry Kageyamas out of 100-
-for an overall score of 81 Running Kageyama GIFs out of 100.
Haikyuu is available, at this time, for legal streaming over at Crunchyroll, where all the episodes are available for subscribers and non-subscribers alike, although applying for a subscription to unlock all the latest anime content earlier is always a good thing to do, so please go do that if you wish to do so.
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the show itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it.