Haikyuu!! [MANGA REVIEW]

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Marco Polo
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Volleyball.

Two teams, separated by a net, bounce a ball back and forth between each other. The ball is not allowed to touch the floor. It cannot be carried. Once it is in the air, a team has no more than three touches to connect, and take the ball from recieve to attack.

Whilst it's not a globally popular sport like football (soccer if we're calling it by its incorrect name) or basketball, and not one that was particularly popular in Japan at the time the manga started its serialisation in Weekly Shonen Jump, it was the sport that Haruichi Furudate chose to write a manga about. A former player in middle school, it perhaps made sense that if they were to write a sports manga, it should be about a sport they played. And what a fantastic decision it was. For eight years, Haikyuu (which translates into english as "volleyball") was one of Weekly Shonen Jump's most popular series, attracting a large, global fandom through highly consistent, detailed storytelling and a vibrant, loveable cast of characters. And not only that, Furudate's series has allegedly increased the popularity of the sport amongst young boys in Japan, inspiring a whole new generation to play volleyball.

Strap yourselves in, as we're about to relive all 402 chapters of the sports manga sensation that is Haikyuu!!.



Note: This review will contain minor spoilers related to plot details. I will include spoiler warnings where they are necessary.

Synopsis

The story begins with Hinata Shoyo, a third-year middle school student, arriving at his first competitive volleyball match. Having been inspired by a high-school student known as the "Little Giant" that he saw on TV, he began to play volleyball. Unfortunately, his middle school didn't have a volleyball team, and the group he eventually leads to the tournament are that of first-years and a couple of friends he roped into playing. Their first opponent? A powerhouse school by the name of Kitagawa Daiichi, who have superstar setter Tobio Kageyama on their side. Hinata's first middle school game ends up being his last, with Kitagawa Daiichi being far too much for his team to deal with. But this game doesn't end without him managing to make a rival of Kageyama, the only team member who takes Hinata's school seriously, and Hinata even shows off his incredible athletic prowess - despite his lack of technique, skill, or most crucially height, he's incredibly quick and has ridiculous jumping ability. As they leave the gymnasium, a tearful Hinata vows to Kageyama that he will one day beat him, and be the last man standing on the court. Kageyama accepts this challenge, and the pair separate.

Flash forward to Hinata's first day at his new high school, Karasuno High. The former school of the Little Giant, and the school Hinata had wanted to go to since the time he saw that volleyball game on the TV. At a school with an established volleyball team, it should only be a matter of time before he gets to face Kageyama again, right? Well... guess who's there in the gym, practicing his serve when Hinata arrives?

That's right.

None other than Kageyama himself.

No longer able to conquer his rival in high school, Hinata is forced to team up with Kageyama. But as it turns out, they make a pretty good team...

The Hinata/Kageyama Dynamic


As you may have guessed by the synopsis, one of the central story dynamics is the relationship between Hinata and Kageyama. Whilst they're initially completely unable to get along with each other, due to Hinata's stubborn nature and Kageyama's disdain for Hinata's lack of volleyball skill, they eventually find a way to work together through the use of their "freak quick", which makes use of Hinata's freak athleticism and Kageyama's precision setting. Although this quick is initially completely controlled by Kageyama, and is the only reason Hinata is a regular in games (his beginner-level fundamentals mean that even an average player would be a safer bet without the quick to fall back on), as Hinata grows in skill this quick begins to develop into something that both players have control over. Their quick attack is, in some ways, a microcosm of their relationship and rivalry. Whilst Kageyama acknowledges Hinata as a rival from the get-go, it takes a while for him to gain respect for Hinata's on-court ability. And as that respect grows, their quick evolves, as does their rivalry.

As far as manga rivalries go, Hinata and Kageyama's is one of my personal favourites. Whilst both are determined to best each other, and Hinata's goal of beating Kageyama doesn't change, it's one that comes with an ever-increasing amount of mutual respect. Hinata acknowledges Kageyama as an incredible player and even a role model as far as volleyball goes, and as Kageyama watches Hinata's growth he slowly comes to believe his declaration back in middle school. It's a relationship that develops organically, with their strengthening friendship only adding fuel to the fire of their rivalry, and one where both parties are unafraid to get into conflict with one another (in fact they spend just as much time fighting and teasing each other as they do building each other up). They begin as rivals, but finish up as friends (but also still rivals). And not only that; the strength of this relationship is reflected in the series' supporting cast of characters.

A Cast Full of Main Characters

Whilst every Haikyuu fan will have a different set of favourite characters, whether its Karasuno team members such as the prickly Tsukishima or "group mom" Sugawara, or members of rival teams such as the effervescent Bokuto or the petulant prodigy Oikawa, each character that's introduced into the series is memorable in their own way. Whether it's practice games or crucial Inter-High qualifiers, every team that Karasuno face are treated as the main characters of their own story. What does that mean? Well, most simply put it means that Furudate has put incredible amounts of time and care into creating rival teams, even ones that only show up once and never again. To explain in more detail, I'll use the example of Kakugawa High School, a name that even the most ardent of Haikyuu fans may not recognise.

Kakugawa High School are Karasuno's opponents in the early rounds of qualifying for the Spring Tournament, and the second opponents they face after a summer of intense training and evolution as a team. Watching them, we get the impression that Karasuno would have been able to beat them at any point in their time together, but with their "power-up", they're pretty much set to wipe the floor with them. However, Kakugawa have a secret weapon in the form of a 2-metre (6'8") player known as Hyakuzawa. Despite him being a relative beginner in volleyball, his height and natural athleticism make him a troublesome opponent for the 1.6 metre (5'4") Hinata. Over the course of the game, Hinata shows off his ability, eventually managing to get past Hyakuzawa on a number of occasions. Karasuno eventually win pretty comfortably, with Hyakuzawa being impressed by Hinata.

Whilst in a lot of series, this relative no-name school may have been brushed aside as a quirky opponent that we never see again, Hyakuzawa is a character that ends up re-appearing in an inter-school training camp. At this camp, his relative lack of ability compared to his peers is highlighted, and he eventually confesses to Hinata, who is at the camp but not able to be on the court, that he envies him to the point where he says "you should be here instead of me". However, instead of agreeing in the knowledge he's the better player, Hinata instead manages to lift Hyakuzawa's spirits, not only by making him feel valued as a player, but also by giving him tips to make sure he keeps up with the people more skilled than him on the court. This motivation carries Hyakuzawa not only through the training camp, but to a point where he ends up playing volleyball at the highest level possible by the end of the series (I'll talk more about this in a spoiler tag later). Whilst Hyakuzawa is the most prolific example of a minor character having a meaningful arc, this kind of writing can be seen with other smaller teams, with all of Karasuno's opponents being players you can root for.

And if the minor rivals are written this well, just wait until you experience some of Karasuno's major rivals. I won't go into too much depth as I don't want to spoil, but each school's team is incredibly well fleshed out to the point where Furudate can switch the focus onto one of these teams and we're still just as excited for them to win as we are Karasuno. One such team is Karasuno's "fated rivals" Nekoma, whose players draw some interesting comparisons with the Karasuno group. Their captain, Kuroo, a pretty smug character contrasts heavily with Karasuno's captain Daichi, who is in a lot of ways the model captain. The other third years, the quiet but reliable Kai and star libero Yaku, are very similar in personality to Karasuno's third years, backup setter Sugawara and shy ace Asahi, but their on court roles are notably different. Nekoma's loud, skinhead spiker Yamamoto is... well, just like Karasuno's loud, skinhead spiker Tanaka. Nekoma's quiet, unathletic setter Kenma has a completely opposite playing style to the very flashy Kageyama. And Nekoma have a "Hinata" of their own in the very athletic, but very incompetent Haiba Lev (who is a foot taller than Hinata). Another team that gets the spotlight is Tokyo powerhouse Fukurodani, led by powerhouse ace and the man who proclaims himself as Hinata's mentor, Bokuto, and his quiet but quirky setter, Akaashi. Nekoma and Fukurodani don't just serve as on-court rivals; the Karasuno team gain a lot from interacting with these schools. Kuroo and Bokuto serve as the trusty senpais who manage to inspire Karasuno's talented but unbothered middle blocker, Tsukishima, to get better at volleyball in the hopes that he'll one day enjoy himself. Yaku sets a benchmark of ability for Karasuno's own star libero, Nishinoya to one day reach. And Fukurodani's wide range of connections with other schools allows Karasuno to train with and play against top-level schools over a series of intense training camps.

Along with the "friendly" rivals Nekoma and Fukurodani, Karasuno also have rivals who want nothing more than to take them down. Aoba Johsai, a school filled with a lot of Kageyama's ex-teammates, most notably third-year setter Oikawa, a highly talented player who is widely recognised within their prefecture despite never making a national tournament. Many members of this team resent Kageyama for one reason or another; his former classmates are frustrated with him for his less-than-welcoming behaviour when they were teammates, and Oikawa envies him on the grounds that Kageyama is more naturally gifted than him (despite Kageyama initially looking up to Oikawa). There's also Shiratorizawa, the school widely regarded as the strongest in Karasuno's prefecture, and are lucky enough to have a star spiker who is a national level ace in Ushijima Wakatoshi, who, after encountering Hinata on a run, sees him as an opponent he must take down due to Hinata's overconfidence despite his lack of technical ability. We also meet other rivals for Hinata and Kageyama later on in the story who become very important in its conclusion, but for spoilers' sake I'll discuss them later. Through Ushijima and Oikawa, we get two players who are seen to be the best of the best, that not only serve as benchmarks of ability for both Hinata and Kageyama, but also rivals that they have to take down to continue to grow stronger and reach even higher. This description might sound familiar, because it's very similar to how Hinata and Kageyama view each other. And I think that's what makes Haikyuu work so well - whilst all of these characters are rivals and have to battle each other constantly, there's always a sense of respect between the players and a feeling that even when a match ends, their rivalry isn't over. It's a love of the game that keeps these rivalries alive, and also allows them to be friendly with one another.

The Love of the Game

The character work in Haikyuu is ultimately what makes it stand out, and Furudate does with his cast something that I've only really seen Eiichiro Oda do as effectively in making each character unforgettable, and keeping their stories open ended enough that they can re-enter the story at any time, and we're interested to learn of their progress. Every character, no matter how intimidating or abraisive they are on first glance, is simply an "idiot who loves playing volleyball". And that core love of the game is built upon excellently throughout the course of the series.

However, it's not just through the characters where we see Furudate's love of volleyball - it permeates throughout the story through explanations of key concepts of the game. Whilst other sports manga go into some detail to explain how the sport they're writing about works, none do it in as much detail or with as much clarity as Haikyuu. We're taught about basic concepts, like positions, rules, rotations and universally used techniques such as serves, receives, spikes and blocks, but we also get more in-depth explanations of these as the Karasuno team grow. In a sense, the reader grows alongside the team. When the crowd are shouting and cheering about how good Hinata and Kageyama's back minus is, or about how tricky Yamaguchi's jump floater is, we know exactly what they're talking about. The knowledge of volleyball we gain here is enough that we could go out and watch a real game and understand what's happening, or even go and play volleyball ourselves and have a basic understanding of how to play. To me, that's Haikyuu's most impressive aspect and the "true beauty" of the series - it's genuinely given its readers a taste of "real" volleyball to the extent where readers go out and watch games, or even pick up a volleyball themselves. It's revitalised interest in the sport in Japan (whose national team are currently on the up), and shown just how much fun it can be to a wider, global audience.

I think this is the note on which I want to leave the spoiler-free part of my review. In the next few paragraphs, I will be going into spoiler territory for events that haven't yet been covered in the anime, so if you haven't read the manga I wouldn't advise clicking on the spoiler tags.

The Little Giant

One of Haikyuu's biggest "mysteries" for the majority of the series was the identity of Karasuno's "Little Giant". We were given very little inclination of who he was, other than he was a dark haired kid in Saeko Tanaka's class. It's not something we thought about a lot while the series was actually happening, but knowledge of his identity seemed to be very limited to the Karasuno circle. And for a player who was an ace on the national scene and the hero of our main character, you'd think people would know more. I mean, that's how it is in shonen manga, right? Luffy and Shanks. Midoriya and All Might. Gon and Ging. The heroes of shonen MCs tend to be these larger-than-life legends within their world. However, Udai Tenma, Karasuno's Little Giant is... entirely normal. When we finally meet him during the Spring Tournament, we're just as excited as Hinata is. We're expecting this guy to be this charismatic, heroic figure because that's Hinata's perception of him. But when we find out that he stopped playing volleyball at the end of high school because he wanted to do other stuff, it's somewhat of a surprise. However, it's not disappointing at all - Hinata himself even acknowledges this. The reason for it not being disappointing is really very simple. It's because whilst Hinata wanted to be just like the Little Giant to begin with, he's forged his own path. The Little Giant was never the benchmark for Hinata as far as ability was concerned - it was always the players around him. The likes of Oikawa, Bokuto, Ushijima and even Kageyama. The Little Giant was simply the spark for Hinata's love of the game. Hinata would likely have succeeded in any sport he tried his hand at because of his immense athletic ability, but it was that moment on his bike outside of the electronics store that made him choose volleyball. For that, the Little Giant will always be an important part of Hinata choosing the path he did, but he was never central to his identity.

The other important idea that's communicated through Tenma's character is that there's more to life than volleyball. Yes, all our characters love the sport. But, even when their last spike is hit and they step off the court for the last time, life goes on. It's not just those who are currently playing that love the sport - the people that go to games, get involved with managing teams and watch the sport on TV also have a love of the game that's equally as valid as those who play it. Furudate never explicitly says this, but through Tenma, this idea is very clearly spelt out to the reader, in case the likes of Shimizu, Yachi, Saeko and all the Karasuno OBs who watch the games didn't communicate this clearly enough.


Final Arc and Ending Thoughts
One of the most common complaints from fans of a manga series that follow it for a long time is that the ending doesn't live up to expectation. The most recent series I followed that have ended, Shokugeki no Soma and Seven Deadly Sins, definitely ended very weakly (that's a discussion for another thread), and I know that many readers of long-running series like Naruto and Bleach were disappointed by their conclusions. However, I haven't seen a single fan complain about the Haikyuu ending. Is this me setting up a big rant about the ending of Haikyuu? No. In fact, I think the final chapters are some of the series' strongest, and the ending is so incredibly satisfying that I couldn't possibly complain. The series truly comes full circle, but despite all these satisfying conclusions to character arcs and rivalries we get in the final game, we don't dwell on those endings. Instead, the story simply continues. For our characters, life goes on. And for this type of series, I think that's the best ending we could ask for.

The final arc is a parfect culmination of the events of the series so far, with a lot of callbacks and nods to Hinata and Kageyama's first year at Karasuno that make the story feel so overwhelmingly consistent that it feels like a real thing that actually happened. The beach volleyball arc was a very fun excursion that allowed Hinata to justifiably catch up to the very high-flying Kageyama, and allowed us to explore a totally different volleyball setting that arguably fits Hinata even better than Japan does.

The Black Jackals vs. Adlers match is also fantastically written, and the characters chosen for each team fit wonderfully. On Kageyama's Adlers, we have Ushijima and Hoshiumi, making the three "familiar" faces on the opposite side of the net Hinata's three biggest rivals from his high school days. And on Hinata's Black Jackals team, there's Miya Atsumu and Bokuto, two powerhouse players that actively expressed interest in Hinata during high school - Miya wanted to set quicks for Hinata, and the two share the same childlike excitement for flashy moves. Bokuto, as Hinata's self-proclaimed mentor, is one of those who would be the most invested in his development, and was always a cheerful and friendly face for him. The final "familiar" player in this matchup is on the Black Jackals side in the form of ex-top 3 ace Sakusa Kiyoomi, who Kageyama met at the national camp all those years ago. Sakusa was somewhat of a mystery over the course of the story, with many fans speculating he'd be a "final boss" of sorts in a potential national finals matchup. However, he was saved until the very end, and I think this works as his character is one that revolves around being consistently reliable to the highest standard possible. I also don't think he would have provided the same kind of threat or tension that the likes of Ushijima, Oikawa and Hoshiumi did as rivals, so I think this use of his character was a wise decision. We get satisfying conclusions to all of these character arcs, and the outcome of the match is the one we've been hoping for since Day One. However, as I said, life goes on. Both Hinata and Kageyama are ready for the next challenge, ready to face each other again.

And the last chapter, where we go to the Tokyo Olympics (they were also delayed due to COVID in the Haikyuu-verse) and see our two fledgling crows take on the world with the Japan national team. We get a fancy shot of the big guns from the highschool arc, ready to take on the world together. The squad is filled with star names - Hinata, Kageyama, Ushijima, Bokuto, Sakusa, Miya and Hoshiumi all make the cut. Also making the cut are Yaku, Nekoma's guardian deity, Hakuba, Hoshiumi's 2m tall teammate, Komori, Sakusa's cousin and star libero, Aran, the ace on Miya's high school team, and Hyakuzawa, the player Hinata inspired to play all the way back in the Miyagi training camp. Oh, and Oikawa's ex team-mate and former Aoba Johsai ace Iwaizumi is one of the team's trainers. Speaking of Oikawa, what happened to him? Did he fail to make the cut for the national team? There's two very strong setters there, after all...

Quite the opposite. Oikawa has made it onto the world stage, and his vow to beat everyone is still intact as he sets for Argentina, the country he plays professionally in and is now a citizen of. In fact, it's implied that he is beating everyone, as the commentators say Argentina have won their last two games against Japan. Whilst his story was ultimately very different to the other high school players we met, it's a satisfying conclusion for someone who was generally under-appreciated in Japan due to his failure to play on the national stage. And in fitting with the "full circle" feelings of this show, he's Hinata and Kageyama's final opponent in the manga - he was also their first way back in a practice match in one of the earliest chapters (pre Asahi and Nishinoya).

And then to ram home the full circle home run, we see a kid on a bike in front of an electronics store watch Hinata nail home the signature "Hinata-Kageyama quick", suggesting to us that Hinata himself has become someone else's Little Giant. Whilst it's a very small panel contained on a double page with a very big, powerful image of our two main characters, it's the standout moment of the chapter and a perfect summary of just what Furudate wants to show off with this series.

Oh, and the last panel is Hinata, now 25-26 years old, in the Brazilian League, getting ready to face off against Kageyama, who is playing his trade in Italy, in a Club World Championship game. Ten in-universe years finish with one very simple message - even though the series is over, life goes on for these characters.



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Zanekin
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Marco! You always write things I want to do myself in a way I never could. I know this won’t get a lot of replies so I’m going to take the time and reply to this thoroughly! Still not used to quoting different sections on this new forum so pardon me if my formatting isn’t the best.
 
“Whilst Kageyama acknowledges Hinata as a rival from the get-go, it takes a while for him to gain respect for Hinata's on-court ability.”
 What I really liked about the start of their rivalry was that it had nothing to do with ability in Kageyama’s eyes. Instead it was someone who put in just as much effort and had just as little give-up in his blood. Neither of those two ever take a play or moment off and, from my experience in college athletics, that’s absolutely frightening to even the highest level athletes.
 
“They begin as rivals, but finish up as friends (but also still rivals).”
 
Again, I’m a sucker for sports manga because of the things like this that they capture. It’s a funny thing in any type of competition how some of your best friends can be your fiercest rivals once the game/match/fight begins. I both love and hate that through the timeskips they don’t ever end up on the same team (until obviously it’s time to be on the biggest team of them all).
 
“Whether it's practice games or crucial Inter-High qualifiers, every team that Karasuno faces are treated as the main characters of their own story.”
 Exactly. It almost creates a conflict because you’re dying to know more about so many characters and see more from them. It’s wild to me that there are team members on Karasuno that we don’t ever really hear about or care about for that matter (the second years outside of Nishinoya).
 
“The character work in Haikyuu is ultimately what makes it stand out, and Furudate does with his cast something that I've only really seen Eiichiro Oda do”
 I couldn’t believe that almost every single named character received a panel towards the end with an update on their job and if/where they’re still playing. I’m 100% here for whatever project Furudate does next.
 
“The Little Giant was never the benchmark for Hinata as far as ability was concerned - it was always the players around him.”
 I loved this. It makes Hinata’s journey much more interesting to follow. Without the comparisons to the Little Giant of old he gets to be his own unique character. Like his fellow shorty makes the point of noting though I love that Hinata becomes a good volleyball player period. He’s not impressive for his size, he's simply impressive.
 
“For our characters, life goes on. And for this type of series, I think that's the best ending we could ask for.”
 You hit the nail on the head. I actually have some stuff to say about the ending(s) for different characters but I loved this. Truly, it seems like Hinata and Kageyama will compete in some form or another until their bodies can’t physically do so.
 
“(they were also delayed due to COVID in the Haikyuu-verse)”
 LOVED this decision. Grounds the story in our world even more.


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negatibuhige
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This is such a tremendously amazing, accurate and detailed review....... I could say a lot of things about the beautiful way you presented the manga itself and the characters (i LOVED "a cast full of main characters) but I can't because I am so emotionally wrecked right now.
Brb crying.


 
I have an art thread \o/

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I'll try now to add some things that you didn't already cover. So I'm going to take a long-winded approach and discuss how I felt about our Karasuno players and some things I would have liked to see in a world where there was time to cover everything.

Starting with the 3rd Year students for Karasuno:

Daichi Sawamura
Spoiler
"Even if your opponent is so formidable that you definitely don't seem a  match for them, if you don't go into it intending to win, you'll never be able to."
Overall, it makes sense Daichi isn't playing volleyball anymore. He likely has no regrets since he was able to reach nationals and essentially bring Karasuno back from the grave. Plus at 5'9" 154 lbs he's not necessarily built to be an absolute stud in the volleyball world with his slightly above average athleticism. 

He seems like a good fit to be a police officer and I imagine he would climb the ranks over time. The only thing I think Daichi would do different than he's shown to be is that he really seems like the coach type; even if it were a part-time thing for him it seems like he'd be an excellent coach one day.


Koshi Sugawara
Spoiler
"Every player feels the same pride about the fact that they're going to be on the court, no matter whether they're some genius or just a regular guy."

While he definitely had his moments to shine, I think we were robbed of not seeing some more playing time for Sugawara. It seems like the change in styles between him and Kageyama could be really hard for a defense to adjust to mid-game. Overall, I loved the role he served for the team and the calming presence he served for our wild first years.

Regarding his profession, I love the fit of Suguwara as an Elementary School Teacher. It's adorable and I'm here for it. Hope he teaches them a little volleyball during recess! Another one that, especially for a younger club, would make a great coach.


Asahi Azumane
Spoiler
"To strike past all obstacles... That's the Ace!"

Now that I'm thinking about it... as third years it's impossible for them to develop too much character-wise but it would have been cool to see Asahi step up into a little more confidence. He had his moments but it definitely seemed to just be spurts. At about 6'1" 166 lbs he's definitely got the size (my lord he's skinny at that height) but he's never seen really developing much technique. He's essentially "hit ball hard and it go boom".

His post-volleyball career as an apparel designer seems to fit him. Maybe I'm stereotyping the man-bun but it seems like something he'd love. I'm so happy him and Nishinoya's friendship stayed strong after school! Hope people in Tokyo don't think he's a scary thug walking the streets.


ON TO THE SECOND YEARS!!!

Yu Nishinoya
Spoiler
"Alright! There's nothing to be scared of! You guys just keep looking straight ahead. I'll guard your backs with my life if I have to!"

Here is where I'm a little disturbed. Nishinoya is a wild spirit for sure and it's obvious he's living his best life but I was very surprised not to see him playing somewhere. Among the original Karasuno team he was the most polished and skilled before the freaks showed up. Part of what makes his decision not to keep playing makes sense to me though; he chose his high school based off their uniform and how it would make girls look.

Still, I really expected him to be playing professionally and maybe even a national representative for Japan. Overall I'm happy with how he was handled even though he gets very little shine in the series (he's the most consistent member on the team outside of Kageyama so he doesn't have to be highlighted as often).


Ryunosuke Tanaka
Spoiler
"Just sideline the self-reflection and those regrets if you've got them, right now. Hold onto good feelings real tight, so you don't forget them, and then go out there and do it again next time."

My guy ended up with Kiyoko which surprised me but pleased me as well. Him being a personal trainer is kind of cool as we saw him actually be a pretty positive role for the first years initially. His energy is infectious and I bet being one of his clients is probably fun! He's another one I would imagine would play for a community club team for fun.


Chikara Ennoshita
Spoiler
"Don't think I'm gonna warm that bench forever."

So the second years are loaded with guys I think we would have seen more of had we gotten full arcs for the second and third year for our main characters. I can't say for sure but had the author intended on not skipping those years it's likely Ennoshita being the captain would have had more time to shine. Though, when he had to step in for Daichi it was definitely a great moment!

He's now a physical therapist. Don't really know much about him to judge if this fits his character but it somewhat makes sense. He's still involved with sports and essentially still a supporting role so others can continue to succeed.


Hisashi Kinoshita
Spoiler
"...I thought at the very least, I'd be able to... make some kind of dramatic play when my number was called. I thought I would be able to have my heroic moment too, if only just for a flashing moment. Turns out I was... completely naive about everything."

A painfully true quote for Kinoshita. We only hear that he did some pinch serving at nationals but I don't recall actually ever seeing him on the court. He currently is working for a Train Company (cool I guess). Really don't have anything else to say about him. Another character I'd like to have seen step up in his third year.


Kazuhito Narita
Spoiler
"I am always in the back round of my peers, however, I can be the best at failing!"

Fills in momentarily for Tsuki once and for Hinata. He currently works for a realty firm which is cool I guess. While he gets more playing time than Kinoshita he's seen and heard from even less.


Tobio Kageyama
Spoiler
I don't have much to say about Kageyama. He's a prodigy who lived up to his potential and never really hit a speed bump on his way to national recognition (after Karasuno). Part of me wishes him and Hinata would partner together and go to the same team but it's cool they get to compete against each other still. It just seems like they might work better together. But, they might also view anything other than the Japan National Team as a way to get better and learn from new people.


Shoyo Hinata
Spoiler
I love a lot about Shoyo learning a new language and being just as much of a star as anyone else. Here is my one complaint and I have the last chapter opened while writing this:
So Kageyama says "today we have them" meaning that when they lost to Argentina last time they didn't have multiple people on the team that are now competing (we know Hinata but who else wasn't on the team before?) It also implies Ushijima wasn't on the team before and I wonder why?

The announcer says this exactly, "In this, his first olympic appearance, he gets to play alongside his old teammate Kageyama." That can read one of two ways. Either it's implying this game against Argentina is Shoyo's first time in the lineup -or- it's just saying it's his first Olympic tournaemtn. Personally, I hope its the latter because otherwise it makes no sense. He's too valuable to ride the bench until this game unless Japan waxed all their opponents leading up to this point?

Only other thing I would have liked to have seen for Shoyo was maybe him ending up with Hitoka Yachi they're adorable together.


Kei Tsukishima
Spoiler
"Hi. I'm the normal guy. Time difference attacks may have fooled our wild beast over there, but it doesn't work for me. Nice to meet you."

Tsuki has one of the best character arcs honestly. He changes the most and finds a love for the game while coming to terms with his brother and the upsetting past. My only complaint is that he isn't a little better than he is. He seemed to have just as much potential as Kageyama and Hinata (just in different skill sets) and at 6'5" he has real utility.

I don't like that he's only in Division 2. He doesn't have to be a national team member but he seems like a Division 1 player at the very least; though maybe because he's also attending college it would be too difficult to maintain D1 right now? It seems like the D2 guys mostly work another job while D1 only play volleyball.

Still, I'm just glad he's still playing and found a love for the game.


Tadashi Yamaguchi
Spoiler
"Motivation? What more do you need than pride?"
It's a shame he never really becomes more relevant considering how monstrous the first years are. It is interesting he became the team captain in his third year but I guess it makes sense compared to his wild teammates. Honestly, I would have thought Kaguyama would have matured into that role by then.

Still, he's actually a guy I figured would still be playing. Often times the players who keep playing after high school are the ones who didn't feel fulfilled with their time in school. It's alright though, it actually feels more realistic that at least one of the first year players was a more "normal" guy.


So now let's talk about 2014 (the second year for Kageyama/Hinata/Tadashi/Tsuki)
Spoiler
They lost in round 3!!! That's a round earlier than they had lost the previous year! I think the argument could be made here that they might have suffered from losing three big contributors (Daichi/Asahi/Suguwara) and the following 3rd years wouldn't have the same level of experience and composure (outside of Nishinoya and Tanaka who are kind of goofballs to be leading the team).

If I had to guess their starting lineup for that season it would make sense to have
Tsukishima / Hinata / Kageyama / Tanaka / NIshinoya / Ennoshita? With Ennoshita taking over as the defensive specialist/overall and Nishinoya likely spending more time on the court without a more reliable player to sub in?

Still they lost to the twins who had two future Japan National Team members. I've said this before though, it seems like there success would have brought in some more talented first years the following years and I was really excited to meet some new characters.


Now to 2015 (their final year at Karasuno)
Spoiler
So, looking at both 2014 and 2015 I think it's obvious Karasuno kind of gets hosed on the brackets... Maybe it's not that they weren't good enough to make it further they just happened to run into a good team too soon. This year they lose in the Semi-Finals (the furthest they had ever gone I believe) and were unfortunately met by one of the best Libero's and Spikers in the country (both JNT memers).

Still, it kind of stinks seeing that Kageyama and Hinata never made the finals while at Karasuno. They didn't need to win the whole thing but I feel like reaching the finals their senior year should of happened. Maybe if they were on the other side of the bracket it would have happened.


In the end I'm nitpicking. I loved the series through and through just wanted to hold onto it a little bit longer... just like our main character's I'm not ready to leave the court just yet... also like our main characters my life will go on, new series will come up, and one day I can share this series with a friend who might get to experience it with the same amount of passion and fun as I had.

Beautiful art, great character designs, wonderful character building, fantastically captures the emotions and love that goes into sports and I can't wait for more from this author.

One more thing. I remember when I was a sophomore in high school and I won the Regional Championship which allowed me to advance to the State Tournament. It was the first time in my life I really remember viewing an opponent as another living breathing person who was the main character in their own life. I watched a senior whose career I had ended crying with his family as if his world had ended and knew one day that would be me too. I love that Furudate made the other characters so well because it's the truth; someone wins and someone loses. For one side it's the ultimate thrill and for the other it's a crushing defeat...


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negatibuhige
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Whoa! Zanekin-san did a great character review for the Karasuno boys. I went through anothet nostalgia ride when reading this T^T

Spoiler
i get what you mean by him not having too much growth. But he is naturally a soft and nervous person. That does not go away easily, not even after years of steady accomplishments to boost one's growth. So I think Furudate did the right thing by not changing him much. Also, he did work hard to hone his "hit ball hard and go boom" technique. Like Ushiwaka, he has that 'simple and pure power'?
I'm with you in hoping that he doesn't scare people on the streets xD

Despite Furudate's excellent character focus, Kinoshita and Nartia are kinda.....overlooked? I always felt that they were kind of there to just fill in some space. Totally goes against what we get for the other characters :(

Yamaguchi as captain is totallu believable. I don't think Kageyama could grow into that role at all xD for the same reason Ennoshita became the captain instead of Nishinoya. Kageyama and Hinata are just big babies x'D x'D


I wish they made some side stories or OVAs about the skipped years. Would be great to see them. Maybe we could get more spotlight on Kinoshita and Narita too!!!


 
I have an art thread \o/

My version of Rolling Thunder
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WeebyWitch
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Spoiler
Zanekin wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:59 pm
He's now a physical therapist. Don't really know much about him to judge if this fits his character but it somewhat makes sense. He's still involved with sports and essentially still a supporting role so others can continue to succeed.
I feel like making him a PT highlights the same personality traits that made him a good captain. His ability to see what a person needs, their weaknesses and copouts, and motivate/stimulate them to do and be better. It’s why he was able to step in for Daichi so well. Having both the mentality of an athlete and the drive to want to help people/low BS tolerance is perfect for that.


There was other tiny spoiler stuff I was going to respond to from both but I forgot... basically I agree with @Zanekin that @Marco Polo manages to take the time to write things out in a way that I wish I could. I simply don’t. It’s the thoughts that I have but fail to organize coherently.

Such a beautifully written review of my first sports manga and the first one I’ve read from start to finish. A true masterpiece.


Mobile posting, please excuse typos and errors.
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