Haikyu!! is an anime based on a manga by Haruichi Furudate. The series is produced by Production I.G and is directed by Susumu Mitsunaka. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American streaming rights for Haikyu!!, while Sentail Filmworks holds the North American home video rights for the series.
Shoyo Hinata is the main character of the series. At the beginning of the first episode, we see him catching the National High School Volleyball Championship on a television in a store window. He’s impressed by a small-statured player who made the play that won the game, and it turns out the team is from a high school relatively nearby.
When Shoyo starts junior high, he wants to be on a boys’ volleyball team. Unfortunately, all the boys have is a fan club for volleyball but not an actual team. He’s told he can join the girls’ team, but Shoyo insists he’ll be a team of one. While the girls practice in the gym, Shoyo is working on his form by hitting the ball against a wall and hitting it back. He keeps trying to get his friends to join him, but they decline.
During Shoyo’s last year of junior high, he’s finally able to assemble a team of six players, and they compete in their first match. They’re up against Kitagawa Daiichi, a team with guys much bigger than Shoyo and his friends, and they’re also expected to go on to nationals. They also have Kageyama Tobio, who has been called the “King of the Court.”
Shoyo and his team go up against Kitagawa Daiichi. At first, they’re losing miserably. However, thanks to Shoyo’s desire to not give up, along with the fact that he’s a good jumper, they start scoring points in the second set. Unfortunately, the match ends when Kitagawa Daiichi reaches 25 points.
After the tournament, Shoyo talks with Kageyama. Kageyama tells him that if wants to make it in volleyball he has to become strong. Shoyo takes this to heart, and begins training with the girls’ team.
At the end of the episode, Shoyo has his first day at Miyagi Prefectural Karasuno High School. He rushes to the gym and finds that Kageyama is already there, practicing volleyball…
This first episode establishes Shoyo as a character, as well as the rivalry between Shoyo and Kageyama. The way a lot of the episode was done was to intercut flashbacks of Shoyo and how he got to where he is at the point he’s participating in the junior high match with the actual match itself. When I realized that the junior high match was going to take up most of the episode, I ended up predicting how the episode would end.
So far, Haikyu!! seems to be following many of the tropes associated with sports anime. However, the main character of Shoyo, along with his backstory, are intriguing enough that it’s not feeling like “just another sports anime” by the end of the episode. However, time will tell whether or not Haikyu!! will continue to feel like it has uniqueness, or if it’ll end up feeling like “just another sports anime.”
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