Review: Haikyuu!! volumes 1 and 2
Haikyu!! is a sports manga serialized in Shonen Jump that’s been out in Japan for awhile, but is fairly new to North America.
Despite his unfortunate lack of height, Hinata Shoyu has a dream – to become a star volleyball player. When he starts Karasuno highschool, he’s looking forward to finally joining a real team, but with no game experience, they’re pretty critical of his abilities. Hinata immediately finds himself at odds with another new player, Kageyama, who’s clearly skilled. Kageyama also happens to be the player who crushed Hinata’s junior high team during his one and only match. But dreams wouldn’t be dreams if they were easy, right?
Team members and rivals alike are curious as to why Kageyama – who was previously part of a top team – has come to Karasuno. Soon it’s revealed that while Kageyama had great talent, he also had no capacity for teamwork. Having earned himself the backhanded title “King of the Court,” he was ultimately rejected mid-game by his own team.
Annoyed by Kageyama’s “I’m the best” attitude and his relationship with Hinata, the team captain gives them an ultimatum – learn how to be a team, and win a game together, or Kageyama can no longer play in his setter position. Faced with a challenging opposition, Kageyama is forced to really utilize Hinata’s talents, and everyone is surprised to see them win.
Once a top school themselves, the Karasuno team is ready to start winning again, and maybe even find themselves back at nationals for the first time in years. With Hinata’s inexperience and Kageyama’s lone wolf attitude, can this patchwork team pull themselves back to the top?
The art is a little meh most of the time. There are some great pages, for sure. I also really like a lot of the character design – it’s easy to tell who’s who. But most of the panels are really simplistic, focusing on action and plot rather than carefully-crafted character details, and quite often it seems like the artist is in a hurry to get from one scene to the next. Since Haikyu!! is more of an action-oriented series with a lot of movement, it doesn’t really detract from the experience.
I don’t have much experience when it comes to sports manga, so I can’t really comment on how Haikyu!! competes against others of the genre. However, I like this one so far. Volleyball is (at least in my opinion) one of the more interesting sports, and the characters are all likeable. Reading the story feels like really getting to know the ins and outs of a team, which makes each character a little more alive.
I expected Haikyu!! to be a pretty fast read, but it’s actually quite dialogue heavy. There was a story to pay attention to, instead of just absently flipping through pages watching people run across the court. There’s some good humour (and very little of it is slapstick!), and some great inspiration. It’s impossible not to root for Karasuno’s victory as they come together as a team. I’ll definitely be picking up volume 3, which comes out September 6th!
Hi! Like a lot of people, I enjoy popular series, manga that spawns hit anime, and all the other obvious things! But I also like exploring the whole big world of comics. If you’ve got a favourite lesser-known or underrated manga (or manhwa) that can be reasonably obtained as an official English-language release, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can consider it for review!