The Netflix anime that has me completely obsessed
Prestige TV, as of now, .
In a universe where humanity is grappling with the twin existential threats of and a variety of terrifying variants of COVID, I’m not sure I have the time, energy, or drive to consume complex, award-winning television.
No thanks. I prefer to watch disposable and easily consumable shows like Haikyu !!
Haikyu !!, currently available to watch on Netflix, is an anime. A sports anime to be precise. Like Slam Dunk, the show he’s most clearly inspired by, Haikyu! focuses on a mixed bag of high school students: teenagers obsessed with volleyball.
Wait… volleyball? That niche sport that no one actually watches or plays?
Yes. Volleyball. Nobody really watches or plays that niche sport.
Indifferent to volleyball? That is understandable. It is hardly the most attractive or popular sport. As someone forced to play volleyball during an incredibly painful semester in high school, I hated volleyball, but I love Haikyu !!
And in Haikyu !!, volleyball hardly matters. Despite being a program that spends a large part of its running time in volleyball training arches and intense volleyball matches, at Haikyu !!, volleyball is almost inconsequential.
More than anything, Haikyu !! is a show about people who play volleyball.
Following Hinata Shoyou, a shorter than average high school student trying to succeed in a sport where height is a priority, Haikyu !! , like most sports anime, is primarily a show about how to overcome adversity. Despite being vertically challenged, Hinata is blessed with incredible jumping power and athleticism and takes her high school team, the Karasuno Crows, to new heights. Much of Haikyu’s power !! It comes from watching Hinata dismantle the giants she has to compete against.
If you’ve watched any anime, you’ll know exactly what to expect: long, wordy flashbacks, slow motion, drama, contests that go to the end, and numerous, endless crowd reaction shots as protagonist Hinata lands incredible volleyball spikes against all odds.
Love it. I can not get enough. Drip feeds this serotonin directly into my veins.
Inspired by an extensive canon of high school sports anime, there is a heartwarming familiarity with Haikyu! The aforementioned Slam Dunk provides the template, but Haikyu !! borrow elements from just about any sports anime you can name: Prince of Tennis, Ping Pong, Hajime No Ippo. Like those shows, Haikyu !! It takes the monotony of high school life and elevates it to something dramatic and spectacular.
Points are earned and lost. Rival and enemy teams are introduced. Crushing losses are sailed and glorious victories are assured. It’s all done with the studied efficiency of creators who have clearly absorbed a legacy of this type of storytelling and refined it to a flawless brilliance. Haikyu !! It is the end product of decades of sports anime, and as a result of this, it is incredibly easy to consume. Every second is a condensed, hedonistic joy.
But what elevates Haikyu !! Beyond the ordinary sports anime are the characters themselves. Each member of the Hinata Shoyo team, the Karasuno Crows, has their own struggles and doubts and volleyball is simply the thread through which these problems are overcome. The “ace” of the team, Asahi, is shy and struggles with feelings of inadequacy. Kageyama, the team’s point guard, is resolute, but is plagued with anxiety after a previous team abandoned him mid-game.
Even the members of the opposing teams are incredibly well drawn. Tōru Oikawa, the seemingly friendly but manipulative captain of main rivals Aoba Johsai, is perhaps the most compelling character study. He’s designed to be the show’s main villain, but he’s understanding in the end. Oikawa, who overcomes his talent deficit by raising the bar of the team around him, has his own demons to slay. You can’t help but support everyone in Haikyu !! and takes the betting of each match to a fever pitch.
On a few occasions I found myself on my feet, beating the air with joy during matches.
The first two seasons of the show are available to stream on Netflix, but there are four seasons in total. If you’re impatient, you can watch seasons three and four for free on Crunchyroll.
I took one more step. After watching every episode of the show, I needed more. Now I have read each and every chapter of the source material of the manga on which the anime is based. Friends, you have a lot of great things to look forward to. The rabbit hole is deep.
But for now, every journey begins with a first step. The first step of your Haikyu !! The journey begins with episode 1 on Netflix. You will not regret.