• Pablo Lario

Fly High, Karasuno! "Haikyuu!!", The Watch Anime Review

Welcome, welcome back to another wonderful, hilarious, and unexpected anime review, we're your favourite otaku will show you the pleasures of watching good Japanese cartoons (IT'S NOT CARTOONS! IT'S ANIME!). Anyways, this time I want to talk to you about one of my favourite sport animes of all time, and no, it's not about football.

The name? HAIKYUU!!

It's been a while since I last watched this great anime (last week; watched it twice) about friendship, rivalry, teamwork, laughs, boys, and a lot of balls... Volleyballs to be precise. But, I thought to myself "Pablo, why don't you share this wonderful Japanese cartoon (IT'S ANIME!) with the rest of the world who don't know about it?" and that's why I'm here, to show you the wonders and laughs this anime will give you if you give it a try. Even if you don't like volleyball, you'll love it. So, quit your Netflix and chill session; AND START READING THIS!

Firstly, why is 'Haikyuu!!' better than the other Spokon anime out there ("Spokon" is the term used for sports anime... Japanese people things I guess)? Probably, because all Spokon anime are totally random; sports you'll never expect to have an anime. For example, basketball: 'Kuroko no Basket', football: Too many to count (That's not the name of any anime, it's just that there's a lot to count), swimming: 'Free!!'... EVEN CYCLING HAS ONE CALLED 'YOWAMUSHI PEDAL'!? IT EVEN HAS A MOVIE!?

I guess it all depends on the likes of people, and I believe volleyball plus the amazing story of hard work, teamwork and the multiple laughs it provides are what make 'Haikyuu!!' a must-watch anime. But, how do all these come together to produce this masterpiece of sports anime?

Our story starts off with the first main protagonist, Hinata Shoyo (an orange-haired little boy, who's a pure ball of energy), and his elementary volleyball team getting completely destroyed on their very first volleyball tournament match. Their opponents? Kitagawa Dai Ichi: a powerful school team with a genius-level, but largely uncooperative, setter named Kageyama Tobio (The second main guy). Vowing vengeance towards Kageyama, Hinata joins Karasuno's volleyball team at high-school, months after that tournament, only to find out that... SURPRISE! Kageyama... IS ALSO ON THE TEAM! NANI!?

From that point, the series follows the struggles of Karasuno's volleyball team and their dream of reaching the top, no matter how high it is. So far, sounds good, right?

Now, for 'Haikyuu!!', the plot is mostly focused on going to the earliest tournament and practising really hard to win; much like what you’d expect from shows of this genre. But, what makes 'Haikyuu!!' stand out from other sports anime is... Probably, 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. But, please, don’t get me wrong: 'Haikyuu!!' has plenty of heart-pumping, exciting moments and its simplicity doesn’t make it boring in any way. The simplicity of this show adds a layer of realism to it, making it so much more relatable/believable and realistic. So, NO SPARKLING AND CRAZY TECHNIQUES THAT WOULDN'T EXIST IN THE REAL WORLD! (Sorry Inazuma)

Moreover, the comedy in this show is pretty spot-on, with apparent visual and acoustic changes to match the comedic moments. The volleyball matches are clearly the best part of the show, abounded with exciting moments, however, the little moments between characters are also something that make this anime better and... SOOOOOO FUUUUUUUN TOOOO WAAAAATCH!

Now, how do you carry a sports anime, besides with the action-oriented games? By creating 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. Notice how I said “supporting characters”; with 'Haikyuu!!', I’d like to believe that there is no protagonist. Sure, you can argue that Hinata is the main protagonist, or maybe Kageyama, or maybe both of them. But, to me, every single member of Karasuno’s volleyball team is the star of the show (Especially Nishinoya and Tanaka; they're my favourites).

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 learn about their personal motives, their abilities, their qualities, their defining strengths and weaknesses, and how they interact with other members of the team. Probably, 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 animes require for their characters: that irreplaceable dynamic between the cast.

The characters' development is also the flavour of the day, as this show does a great job in providing change for the characters with plausible reason. This makes those characters a lot more relatable and, thus, likeable. There's also every kind of character in this show, so expect to see a lot of surprises (Where's my psycho Satori Tendo?).

More points to show 'Haikyuu!!' is... AWESOME! Let's see:

The character designs for this show are very well done, as each of them have a specific look that also, in some way, mirrors their personalities, and that you can also normally distinguish one character from another. So, as they say "There's never two people alike, not even identical twins, mate!"

Also, the fact they show you how volleyball is played with the different positions (team stars, liberos, even "the definitive bait"), combination plays, and rhythms/tempos is probably one of the main things that actually made me love volleyball as a sport (I'm volleyball's fan Numero Uno, baby!). The animation is great; 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. The soundtrack is also spot-on, but the openings... OH MY GOD! Overall, I have no complaints with it, really.

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. Clearly, 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. OK, I know I sounded a little bit cheesy there, but...

'Haikyuu!!' definitely hits the ball outta the park. LITERALLY!! It does a lot of things well while being thought-provoking and enjoyable at the same time. 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 (Nice drink, man!).

Also, the anime isn’t technically over yet (A fourth season is coming Winter 2019? Hell yeah, baby!). So, if you're a volleyball fan, any sports fan, not a sports fan at all, or you even have some weird fetish with volleyball balls... THIS ANIME IS FOR YOU! So... STOP YOUR NETFLIX AND CHILL AND GO WATCH 'HAIKYUU!!' YOU WON'T REGRET IT!

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