A tradition that my partner and I share with millions of other people around the world is that we like to have a TV show that we can watch while eating dinner. Sometimes that show is an Anime, sometimes it is live action and sometimes it is animated but not an Anime, but the shows are always scripted (none of that ‘Reality TV’ or sports). Reflecting on what I have been watching recently I now have a new Anime which I’d strongly recommend: Haikyu!!
We have been watching a few Anime lately and there has been a theme: they’re all life or death, intense and serious (with the exception of the filler arcs of My Hero Academia, which is what is putting me off the show now) with huge stakes on the line. We have rewatched Death Note, Berserk and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood to show our current flatmate, are currently watching the newest season of My Hero Academia and eagerly anticipated the weekly episodes of Attack on Titan in the first half of the Final Season while I also watched the two new series of Zoids when I had the flat to myself once a week.
See, all pretty serious with high stakes.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, I enjoy being invested in a series where you can feel reasonably certain that the characters have to make decisions based on high stakes and, although you know they have a certain amount of plot armour, their lives or the lives of the ones they care about could be irrevocably changed. Most of the live action series that we watch fall into this type of category. Lately we have watched Dark and rewatched the first season of True Detective (once again for our flatmate’s sake). But this is all setting up the context for why Haikyu was such a breath of fresh air: it is a sports anime set in a world so similar to our own that there aren’t any magical elements or feats of physical prowess that seem to break the laws of physics as we know them.
Further context: I’m not someone who enjoys watching sports. I have tried in the past but sitting so high up that players in team sports events seem to be the size of the pilots in HMM Zoids Model Kits so that you have to rely on the screens to see what is happening detracts from the engagement, and while the commentary provided in higher level games can bring the engagement back a bit it focuses more on what just occured instead of strategy and the mindsets of the players. The sport which I think was the most engaging for me to watch was the Mayweather vs McGregor boxing match and that may have been that we went to a bar to watch it and so were in the thick of the emotions of other people who actively watch the sport.
So now we get onto Haikyu itself: because its an anime the players thoughts can be known by the watcher and the plays which the characters perform can be shown from shots which are impossible in a real sport without future tech (eg. tiny drone cameras with sophisticated enough sensors and programming to avoid collisions with the players erratic movements). These two things, combined with the fantastic musical score by Yuki Hayashi (who also created the music for My Hero Academia) makes this series so engaging.
I will admit, I was a bit sceptical going into it as my partner said it was a rainy day Anime, to be kept as a last resort when we ran out of other stuff to watch (HA!). In my mind this meant that I shouldn’t have high expectations for it, and the first few episodes of season one didn’t do much to dispel that feeling … until the rivalries between different schools began and there were stakes.
Don’t get me wrong, the stakes aren’t that high compared to the end of civilisation as losing this year meant that the main duo had another chance again the next year. However, the characters believed that the stakes were high and that bled out of the screen to us. We got so engaged with the series that we were actively whooping at badass plays and cheering with the players when they won. Haikyu quickly sucked me in and my emotions got caught up with the characters’ emotions both in the high points and the low.
Season One built up to Season Two and Season Three was the best of the dubbed seasons. We aren’t going to continue with Season Four until its dubbed too as watching subtitles makes it difficult to eat your dinner at the same time. If Season Four never gets dubbed then that’s just fine because the ending of Season Three is very satisfying.
I have to say, I’m glad that we didn’t have to watch Haikyu episodically as there were usually several episodes per set of a match. Perhaps I wouldn’t’ve enjoyed the series so much if I wasn’t able to binge it?
So, the question you’ve all been waiting for: who is Best Boy?
Tanaka (the short haired one in the white shirt) struck me as an entertaining character right off the bat. He is one of the comic relief characters and a very reliable member of the team.
Without Daichi to lead the team it probably wouldn’t be the same show that Haikyu is and I’ll be sad to see him go at the end of his third year of High School.
Another character who I’ll be sad to see go at the end of the school year; Sugawara is a reliable and analytical member of the team who can step up in a pinch and ground the team when the chips are down.
Tsukishima had the most character growth throughout the three seasons, and while he’s still not the most likeable member of the team, his character development led to some great scenes in Season Three.
So in conclusion, if you were like me and had this on a backup list of Anime to watch if the other regular shows you watched were running out or dropping in quality so that you didn’t feel like watching another episode of what feels like filler *cough* My Hero Academia *cough* then Haikyu is like a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this Anime and it is easily going in my Top 10, if not my Top 5!
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