The manga that inspired the anime hit, Haikyuu is the story of volleyball. It’s about the underdogs, the overachievers, the team-players, but most of all it’s a story of perseverance. The story predominantly revolves around the Karasuno volleyball club. Once a powerhouse school in the sport, Karasuno’s reputation is a shadow of what it once was. However, the addition of this year’s first-year students provides a glimmer of hope as two of their newest members show plenty of heart and incredible skills. The biggest challenge is learning to work together as allies instead of rivals.
The first four volumes of this manga revolve around the establishment of the years Karasuno volleyball team. Hinata Shoyo is our titular characters alongside his greatest rival/ally Kageyama Tobio. After a staggering loss against Kageyama’s middle school, Hinata vows to improve his skills to beat Kageyama. What he wasn’t expecting was for Kageyama to enrol at the same school, forcing the two to work together as teammates. What follows is a hilarious sequence of a reluctant Hinata and Kageyama try and pull together to prove to the team captain and each other that they can thrive as teammates. The two display raw talent in the sport, but Hinata lacks the skill to capitalise on his talent, while Kagayama, for all his talent, struggles to work with his teammates, earning the nickname of King.
These volumes are all about establishing a base of trust and understanding, getting a full team together to prepare for the upcoming tournaments. Hinata and Kageyama are the prime focus, but the other members of Karasuno’s team show plenty of character, all of which have their strengths both on and off the field as we learn more about how their past experiences affected the dynamic of the team. While these conflicts are often humourous, there is a weighted depth to them, and one thing that becomes clear is that the team has an abundance of heart as members carry the weight of their failures collectively and individually. The team at first glance appears to be a ragtag ensemble of players, but it’s clear that Karasuno has the drive and passion to win and restore the reputation of this once powerful volleyball team.
The art in the manga oozes personality, brilliantly conveying the emotions of the characters, heightening them for comedic effect and making it a joy to read. The character profiles we’re treated to before each chapter are a welcome addition as it provides a brief introduction to their strengths and weaknesses in the game and adding a few quirks to their character. The flow between each panel makes it easy to follow letting readers to immerse themselves in the competitive nature of the game. The mechanisms of the game are also woven throughout the story, allowing readers to invest in Karasuno’s journey and understand the role each character has to play on the team as they meet new and future rivals. There are a lot of holes in their game, and here we get to see them work on their weaknesses and build the team chemistry. The highlight of these first four volumes was in seeing the hard work they put in to prepare for the upcoming tournament. While Hinata and Kageyama serve as the lead characters, the other members of the Karasuno team are just as significant. No character is sacrificed for the sake of another, and you can already see the depth in these characters, highlighting their individuality.
It’s impressive to see how the anime takes the art of the manga and brings it to life. It’s a testament to the vivid characterisation and depth found within the manga that makes it so easy to translate onto the screen. The fluidity of the story is immersive and addicting, making this reader eager to follow the rise of Karasuno’s High School Volleyball team.