Having only a passing interest in volleyball meant that I hadn’t ever given the Haikyu!! anime series a second thought. But then one day it made its way onto my Netflix suggestions and I thought “Why not give it a go?”, and I’m so glad that i did!
Haikyu!! is an incredibly lively yet effective anime. Following the exploits of volleyball newcomer Shoyo Hinata, an effervescent 5ft 3in redheaded bundle of energy, as he moves to Karasuno High School and starts to learn much more about the game that he fervently loves. Season 1 lays all the groundwork of explaining the main characters, tying them into how they relate to the world of volleyball and the way this is done completely draws you into their world while it teaches you all about volleyball and manages to keep you right there with the team every step of the way.
As I said earlier, there is a good amount of work that goes in to fleshing out the 2 main characters, Hinata and Kageyama, and you learn much more about their team-mates (and what drives them) as the season progresses. They are all likeable characters to be fair. Even the arsey ones (I’m looking at you Tobio Kageyama!). And because of this you really find yourself rooting for the Karasuno Crows in whatever situation they find themselves in. And this is down to some superb writing and pacing (from Taku Kishimoto adapting creator Haruichi Furudate’s Manga) as the fine line it draws between the team’s success and failure is perfectly done: too much one way and it’d be boring, too much the other and it’d be not worth watching.
The end result is that season 1 of Haikyu!! is highly entertaining and superbly paced with wonderful animation which not only manages to balance the humour and action sequences but puts drama and excitement into the game sequences by mixing up success and failure so that you cannot guess which way the games are going to go. The only gripe I have is that sometimes it feels like it is overtly spoon-feeding the viewer with super detailed exposition about the game. I didn’t know much about volleyball before but even this felt a little over the top.
This season of Haikyu!! has been a fantastic, thrilling, entertaining watch and I’m fully excited to strike (or should that be spike) on with Season 2!