This is a continuation of the probably the longest review I ever hope to write. Even I think this is too much, but it’s better than me feeling like I didn’t cover all the topics I wanted to. I promise my other reviews will be shorter. At least, I’ll try to make them shorter.
Haikyuu is so subtle with their character growth. It takes forever for the team to utilize everyone’s strength and become a cohesive unit. They don’t just show them training and doing drills to show their improvement, you also get to see how they grow mentally. I thought the best example of this was Tsukishima. He had tremendous growth, both physically and mentally. At the beginning he really didn’t seem all that interested in playing. I was starting to wonder why his character even bothered to join the team in the first place, but as they showed more about his specific position, I saw that he actually did have some sort of skill and usefulness on the team. But even after seeing his character play, it didn’t look like he was being all that effective during the games. I was concerned because he seemed to be one of the few people on the team who weren’t actually honing their skills.
I think his issue had more to do with where he was mentally than physically. He had no interest in developing more as player and appeared to lack the same drive that Kageyama and Hinata had. This possibly could have stemmed out from frustration of the main characters’ abilities that caused them to become important pillars in the team. I also think Kageyama and Hinata beating him in the first practice game hurt his pride. It wasn’t until they played against a blocker from another team, whose skill way surpassed Tsukishima’s, that he got interested in bettering his skills. I think he realized what he could actually do for the team. He basically spent the rest of that season trying to figure out the best strategy to block hits and didn’t become decent at it until half way through season 3.
I’ve already talked a great deal about the main characters of this anime, but this show would be pretty bland without all the supporting characters. And they didn’t go for typical tropes. Not that I mind typical tropes, I just like them well done. With the exception of a few characters, almost every player on the team gets some to show some of their past or family life. And they don’t just limit this to Karasuno players either, they do this for a lot of other players on other teams. It’s impressive how they were able to make me kind of cheer for both sides. Of course, in the end I wanted Karasuno to win, but I didn’t think the other team was unlikable. Actually, if they had switched it around and made any of the teams that Karasuno played the main characters I would still be invested in the show and that’s a very difficult thing to pull off. As you all know, I have a hard time trying to keep track of characters in anime when there are more than 8, but this might be one of the few anime where they spend enough time fleshing out characters where even if for the life of me I can’t remember their names, I know who the character is and can describe them. The only characters the anime doesn’t really seem to care about are the 3 other people on the Karasuno team. (Chikara, Hisashi, and Kazuhito). They left the team when Coach Ukai was still there. They thought his training methods were too hard and quit. Since they weren’t loyal to the team, I don’t really mind that they barely get any screen time. They get no respect.
This anime wouldn’t be anything without the dynamic between all the characters. Since I don’t know the other teams as well, I’ll mainly be focusing on the dynamics within Karasuno. Now, what do I mean by dynamics? I don’t know how other people would define it, but I understand it as the way the characters interacting and grow from their interactions. Yes, there are other things that make the character grow, like constantly practicing, but that’s not all the characters need to change in order to get better at the game. They had to build up team work and understand how their unique skills benefit the team. I already talked about Kageyama and Hinata separately but I didn’t dabble too much on who made them start to change. For both of them, their biggest factor was each other. The anime showed Hinata when he first started taking on Kageyama’s sets with his eyes closed and trusting him completely. This triggered the first change in Kageyama. The team Kageyama had before abandoned him, and before that they were unable to satisfy Kageyama’s demands. This caused Kageyama to not to rely or trust anybody else but himself. But now sharing a team with Hinata, who can actually hit his insane quick-sets, he slowly started realizing there might actually be some who can match with him. I think without someone like Hinata, who can keep up with Kageyama, there was no way he was going to change.
Why Hinata needs Kageyama is not as straight forward. You could argue that Hinata would’ve grown as a player no matter who happened to be on his team. That’s true, but he wouldn’t have had the exponential growth that he experienced without the help of Kageyama. Hinata needed someone with Kageyama’s level of mastery as a setter. As I explained in the beginning, Hinata was absolutely terrible at the beginning of this anime. Firstly, Hinata needed someone very skillful to make up for the lack of his abilities. In the first season, Hinata was unable to hit Kageyama’s sets in the practice game. He was only able to hit them when he closed his eyes and relied in Kageyama to toss the ball right in the path of his hand. Besides using his reflexes and jumping abilities, Hinata wasn’t really thinking about his actions while spiking, he was just mindlessly swinging his hand. It wasn’t until later where he got comfortable just blindly hitting it that he started to keep his eyes open while jumping. And what did this slowly lead to, you ask? Hinata actually freaking strategizing where he should hit the ball to, thus making him a significantly better player. Kageyama also challenged Hinata a lot, which turned out to be a good thing in this case because he strived to become a better player than Kageyama. Even when Kageyama was fighting with Hinata when he first started opening his eyes to spike, I feel it was because Kageyama was challenging him that Hinata took it upon himself to want to prove him wrong. This crap is pure gold.
Last Minute Miscellaneous Topic(s)
There is just one last thing that I wanted to mention that’s completely random and didn’t fit anywhere else: I never thought that they could make an entire season out of one single volleyball game. Before seeing this anime, if someone told me a whole season of it was based around a single day I would think it would be the most boring season in the world, and I would’ve been totally wrong. I don’t know how they managed to make something that takes maybe 3 hours in real life, stretch that across 10 episodes and still keep it interesting. Whose genius idea was it to organize the third season the way that they did? The third season was my favorite season because I cared about almost everyone on that court by the end. I didn’t want the other team to lose, but I also thought it was about time that Karasuno won something. They worked so hard to get that win… and then they barely won… just barely.
This review is still not finished… You’re almost done reading my ramblings now, so you might as well finish it, right? I swear there’s just one more part, and then you won’t have to hear about this anime again… at least, not until they come out with another season.