Haikyu!! by Haruichi Furudate
While Haikyu!! is not the first manga focusing on men’s volleyball, it’s probably the first most of us American fans have heard of. The current season of anime just wrapped up so it seemed a perfect time to re-experience the series from the beginning with the manga.
From the start Haruichi Furudate’s detailed art caught my attention. Sense of movement, strength, and atmosphere are well-composed to capture the intensity of volleyball; a sport that many may have not considered so intense prior. The facial expressions and humor get an equal amount of artistic love, plus the comedic timing is great whether it is breaking up a moment, showing the bonds between comrades, or creating a rapport with other teams.
But one of Haikyu!!’s biggest strengths lies where is should: with the main character. Hinata’s exuberance is infectious. His moment of epiphany towards volleyball happened years earlier, and he is now pursuing his dream. He is not a total novice, he doesn’t need to be taught the basics, but he hasn’t gotten to experience a full team. He is the little guy who jumps with wild abandon in a sport that often prioritizes height. His ego is in check. He simply glows so much when it comes to volleyball that you can’t help but smile. Perhaps best of all is how quickly his rivalry sputters out when his rival ends up being on the same team.
That rival, Kageyama, is as sour as Hinata is bright. Once nicknamed “The King of the Court,” Kageyama has fallen from grace because of his attitude towards his teammates. Hinata and him make an unlikely but essential duo if they hope to see their team gain glory on the court.
And you really, really want to see their team regain their former title. The emotional hooks of Haikyu!! are the strongest I’ve found for the recent crop of popular shonen sports series. This is in part because so many of the other teams we meet are just as interesting as our main group. Do I ultimately want to see Hinata and crew stand proudly at the top? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I won’t shed some tears for the other teams along the way.
Reading the manga has served as an excellent reminder that the series has been strong from the get-go.