Haikyū!!, a Japanese manga series about volleyball turned into an anime, was one of the least expected means of relaxation I would’ve thought to partake in. After attempting to watch another popular anime, Demon Slayer (but too scared to watch it alone at night), Haikyū!! proved to be the light-hearted relief I needed in the midst of the heaviness of the past year.
When my sister first told me about Haikyū!!, I didn’t know if I would fully understand it. My knowledge on the technicalities of volleyball was very little. Who knew that it would end up being a show I looked forward to watching? The progression of volleyball comprehension throughout the episodes could be enjoyed by veteran fans of the sport to those who’ve never played it before. Mix that with the plot development, personal growth of the characters and team, and the childlike joy from watching an upbeat anime; and you’ll want to watch episode after episode to see what happens next.
Without getting into too many spoilers, the story is focused on the journey of an unforeseen, exceptionally-talented underdog named Hinata Shōyō.
He strives to play in the high school volleyball National Tournament like his idol “The Little Giant” from Karasuno High School. Seeing himself in his inspiration, Hinata works out a way to play for Karasuno, the once powerhouse school he admired growing up. There, he becomes a part of a team encompassing a wide range of characters with distinct personalities; but all equally dedicated to being the best in the sport.
As the story goes on, we watch how this group becomes a team as they learn the volleyball skills and synergy they need to grow together to become a force to reckon with. The makers of Haikyū!! do an outstanding job developing the depth of each characters’ individual efforts to contribute to the team as a whole. Every persons’ breakthrough moments were beautifully weaved with their successes in a well-thought-out balance highlighting each player, giving them all a moment to shine. Their victories become your victories to celebrate as you watch the work and progression it took to get there, becoming as emotionally invested as many other viewers in the Haikyū!! fandom.
Despite some of the players’ superhuman abilities, one reason why so many resonate with the show is because the characters are so relatable in very human experiences.
Moments of perseverance and determination to keep moving forward amidst challenges; having a support system in response to feelings of anxiety and isolation; and many other emotions we experience in our personal lives are featured throughout the episodes as a reminder that the anime’s journey is not just about the game.
To add to the wholesome nature of the show, Haikyū!! not only makes you fall in love with Karasuno’s team, but also with the team’s staff, mentors, and even opponents. Since the creators include the backstories of other characters, there are moments where although you’re happy for Karasuno’s triumph, you can’t help but feel a mix of emotions since you’ve fallen in love with their rivals, too. Blend that with the story’s flashbacks and parallels that unexpectedly tie everything together, and this combo may cause you to become a blubbering mess in the show’s sentimental moments (like me).
Haikyū!! is a well-crafted story that masterfully compiles animated innocence, humor, Japanese culture, sports, and a vast array of relatable experiences.
It gives you hope, and is an enjoyable outlet for relaxation that releases you of day-to-day worries. It’s no wonder why there are so many fans of Haikyū!! around the world, various adaptions from stage plays to films, and growing momentum; even eight years after its inception. This is particularly true now that the fourth season finished in December 2020. The final season is projected to be released in 2021. Until then, you can catch up on the series on various streaming platforms.
All in all, Haikyū!! has been one of the greatest unexpected stress reliefs for me — other than having to avoid spoilers. The inspiring story kept me motivated through the last push of 2020 and has me hopeful for what’s to come. It reminded me to keep simple joys — like enjoying this anime —within my perspective as I grow older; and cherishing connection even if it’s through watching a show with someone.
Best of all, Haikyū!! has also brought me closer to my siblings; and allowed me to recognize an uplifting shared love for its story from people of all walks of life.
Will you fall in love with Haikyū!! next?
Header: Haikyu!! (Sentai Filmworks)