Anime: Haikyu!! Season 1 Complete Collection
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Retail Price: $99.98
Much like films, novels, television and other mediums, there are dominating genres to cater to people’s individual needs. In anime, one that differs from others is the major success behind a sports centric series. Whether you’re talking about the insanely successful swimming series Free, the delicacy of competitive figure skating in Yuri On Ice or even the testosterone filled Kuroko’s Basketball, sports series truly standout to anime lovers and often end up becoming franchises down the line to depict every athletic moment they can. While many contain creativity (with others being lazy) one that truly stands out for a lesser publicized sport is none other that Haikyu!! the volleyball series that offers us a look at an anime differing from other sports in a slew of wonderful ways.
Our series begins with the protagonist Shoyo Hinata, a fairly petite athlete who is taking on a new endeavor to dominate volleyball in high school. In the past, his team succumbed to a devastating loss in the only match he participated in, but he’s hoping to put it all behind him in pursuit of finding athletic success. To increase his chances, Hinata joins a high school with an intimidating track record and strong volleyball team - but he quickly discovers that someone he considered a rival of sorts from his former defeat is also attending the school. Tobio Kageyama (Hinata’s rival) is generally viewed by his peers as an MVP and the team collectively hope to make this the year to put the school back on the map as one of the elite volleyball teams.
From the jumping off point, it becomes crystal clear that this will be the story of Hinata (and Kageyama.) Hinata has the desire to be the best he can be and even though he doesn’t have the best track record, his hard work is evidence of his passion for the sport. He has this carefree demeanor at first glance, but through flashbacks and progression of the anime, you can determine that his devotion to volleyball is his life. On the other hand, Kageyama has a less friendly persona and is more stoic and or rigid towards others. He does have an adoration for the sport like Hinata, but he takes things so serious that his personality is a great contrast to his rival turned comrade. When it comes down to it, Hinata is the true gift from Haikyu!! for just wanting to be his best without feeling like he has anything to prove to others. In a series like Haikyu (or a sport like volleyball) the team aspect is crucial, giving us plenty of other characters from afar to enjoy in smaller doses - making it such a well-rounded dynamic that Haikyu succeeds over other sport anime series with ease.
Now normally, my intellect on sports related topics wouldn't be anything worth bragging about - but being a former volleyball player at the same age range as the anime, I felt like I could get a better grasp at the situational moments/conflicts. With Hinata being the one with less visible "talent" initially, I can relate to the feeling of wanting nothing more than to bring out what you know you are capable of. Scenes such as his practicing relentlessly with friends as a kid hits home with me when I can recall practicing with a friend just to make myself feel less embarrassed when it came time to put your skills to the test. Sure, it can be comedic at moments (both in real life and in the anime) but the truth of it is that showing a desire to succeed is what gives the anime the showing of heart from beginning to end. From my own experience, it does pay off (you're talking to a former most-improved and coach's award winner funny enough) and much like what I witnessed from the sport, enough work and passion will truly guide you to being your very best. No matter what the struggle (setting, serving, etc.) Hinata meets it head on with endless practice and spirit, making it easy to root for both the character and the all important sports aspect of the anime as well.
If the storytelling, characters, writing and competitive nature aren't enough to convince you to give Haikyu a chance - the impeccable animation quality should be persuasive. From the very first frame of the series, the sharp lines and use of bold colors makes a beautiful atmosphere for the volleyball anime. It falls more along the lines of a unique anime for providing characters with vastly different appearances to make differentiating much easier from a standard uniform, exuding individuality in art (and character conception) - a necessity to making it something much larger than a standard sports anime. When witnessing the original Japanese dub cast, I had virtually zero complaints but Sentai Filmworks went above and beyond to turn Haikyu into an English dubbed anime and catered to the personalities the series presents. With some being more passive and others showcasing a exuberant side, the selection for casting felt like Sentai knew they had a massive hit on their hands and needed to give it the best chance for fans of the entertaining series. In the very first episode of Haikyu, I knew it was something special and after binge watching the entire first season I can say that it is not only the best sports themed series but has worked its way up to becoming a personal favorite too.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Aedan's Final Thoughts:
- I couldn't help but appreciate the realistic method to their storytelling
- Hooray for volleyball getting the spotlight for once - it doesn't happen often!
- I wouldn't mind seeing the anime eventually show a more competitive side such as the Olympics, but I'm probably just jumping the gun out of excitement.