I’ve spoken about Haikyu!! before and was one of those waiting for a UK release and lo and behold, Animatsu are bringing over one of the best anime I’ve seen.
I am a big Haikyu!! fan. I mean, this show is in my top ten of all time and it’s going to take a lot to knock it out of the list as it’s so feel-good, aesthetically gorgeous and features fantastic writing and characters. Honestly, everything about this show is of such a high quality that even if sports shows aren’t your thing, this could be the one to change your mind. You don’t even need the rest of the review (though I’m going to give it to you) but go buy it. Go buy it right now. Or pre-order it because it isn’t released yet, but if you’re reading this when it’s on store shelves, then you should buy it. Got it?
Haikyu!! is the story about Shouyou Hinata, a short boy who starts a volleyball team at his school after being inspired by an ace player nicknamed “Little Giant” who is of a similar stature, but they’re crushed in their first tournament by Tobio Kageyama, known as the “King of the Court”. With Kageyama now considered his rival, Hinata promises to defeat him in volleyball one day but they find themselves on the same team in high-school having graduated middle-school, and they struggle to work together despite having a lot of potential between them. Karasuno was once known as a powerhouse school, so the team practice hard to bring back their former glory. It’s heartwarming and exciting, and I was glued to it – I just had to know what would happen next!
What I loved most is how earnest the cast is in their ambition to become the best Volleyball team, and how each character develops with no one being left behind. Haikyu!! respects its cast and the sport, creating a realistic, exciting take on a sport which doesn’t get a whole lot of love in anime. I quickly fell in love with the writing and characters and found myself hooked, and it wasn’t long before I’d watched all the episodes. Revisiting Haikyu!! for this review was just as great as my first viewing, and I’m likely to watch it again someday because it’s so utterly wonderful.
Animated by Production I.G, who’ve also worked on Kuroko’s Basketball, Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell and Usagi Drop, show off their visual prowess once again as Haikyu!! is undeniably one of the prettiest shows out there – I couldn’t take my eyes away and not just because I needed to read the subtitles! Haikyu!! is grounded in reality more so than a lot of other sports anime, but Production I.G had no issue in making it look dynamic and exciting as sports should be, and going into first-person sometimes was thrilling. I enjoy the unique shadowing too, where there’s a heavy use of lines interspersed in the shading. It’s a really feel-good show and even though I’m not the biggest fan of Summer, Haikyu!! has made me excited for it.
There’s a large amount of characters in Haikyu!! as teams tend to have twelve people on them, not including coaches and managers, and although some stand out more than others, it’s impressive how much detail went into each character. Sure, I might forget the names for some of the characters (even now in season two!) but the amount of creativity on show is undeniably gorgeous and Haikyu!! is a thrill to watch. I certainly wouldn’t mind playing Volleyball having watched Haikyu!!, and it’s easily become my favourite sports anime.
Haikyu!! is one of those shows that’ll never receive and English Dub now, possibly due to how risky it is to release sports anime and manga in the West where it’s got a history of underperforming, but it doesn’t hinder Haikyu!! in any way as the original Japanese voiceover is nothing short of excellent. Whilst the voice talent certainly does its job in keeping me hooked, the OST is arguably one of the best around. Not only do I regularly listen to the OP’s and ED’s, I listen to a good few of the other tracks included on the OST. It compliments the show and emphasises the themes of friendship and competition that are rampant in the show.
Haikyu!! is a show I think everybody should give a chance. It’s one of the best shows I’ve had the pleasure to watch, and the cast of characters quickly shot into one of my most loved. I appreciate Animatsu for taking a risk on releasing Haikyu!! in the West, especially when some other sports shows such as Kuroko’s Basketball are arguably more popular and well-known, and I hope Haikyu!! sells well because it wholly deserves the success. If, for whatever reason, you’re still on the fence then please give it a chance as it truly is a beautiful anime.
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