REVIEW | HAIKYŪ!! SEASON 1

Maybe you’ve already noticed in articles that deal with japanese animation, I regularly refer to Kuroko No Basuke, my number one series in the sports genre and one of my favorites all genres combined.

When I just finished season 3, my friend Jess recommended Haikyū : “If you liked Kuroko, you’re gonna love Haikyū… In my opinion, it’s even above… There’s even a crazy twist at some point, just watch it”...the girl told me.

ID Card : HAIKYŪ

Type : Shōnen
Genre : Sport
Original title : ハイキュー!! (Haikyū!!)
Author : Haruichi Furudate
Director : Susumu Mitsunaka
Studio : Production I.G
Broadcast dates : April 6th 2014 – September 21st, 2014
Duration : 25 episodes of 25 min ∼

Trail (english subs) :

Synopsis :

Inspired after watching a volleyball ace nicknamed “Little Giant” in action, small-statured Shouyou Hinata revives the volleyball club at his middle school. The newly-formed team even makes it to a tournament; however, their first match turns out to be their last when they are brutally squashed by the “King of the Court,” Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to surpass Kageyama, and so after graduating from middle school, he joins Karasuno High School’s volleyball team—only to find that his sworn rival, Kageyama, is now his teammate.

Thanks to his short height, Hinata struggles to find his role on the team, even with his superior jumping power. Surprisingly, Kageyama has his own problems that only Hinata can help with, and learning to work together appears to be the only way for the team to be successful. Based on Haruichi Furudate’s popular shounen manga of the same name, Haikyuu!! is an exhilarating and emotional sports comedy following two determined athletes as they attempt to patch a heated rivalry in order to make their high school volleyball team the best in Japan.

My review : season 1

On my friend’s recommendation, I put myself into it. I watch episode 1, 2, 3…6…9… 12… and one thing strikes me : NOTHING happens in this series!!!

It’s boring, it’s monotonous, it drags in length, you can feel webs of spiders growing on your hair at each viewing. I guess you’ve understood I wasn’t hooked at all, I was even outraged.

In my opinion, three factors contributed to this rejection. The first is greatly related to how the series was sold to me. You’ve surely already experienced the sensation of not being excited a bit by a film, a book or a musical album that has been hyper-mediatized or described as an interstellar bomb. It’s the expectations/disillusions effect in front of an ocean of praises or many favorable opinions. Contrary to my habit, I didn’t approach Haikyū with a neutral mind but rather a desire to be dazzled… as it has been the case for Kuroko No Basuke.

And yeah, here we come. This famous comparison comes again and again (it seems unilateral thoug : Haikyū is often compared to Kuroko and Kuroko is compared to Slam Dunk). That’s the second factor. Looking back, I think these two series remain fundamentally opposed although they have many points in common. Moreover, I’m well aware that watching a series while having another one for reference stacks the decks in a way. However, KNB gave me strong emotions so this is what I expected from Haikyū, I didn’t want it to be just nice.

Finally, third factor, regarding the content this time: I find the series banal, it’s more than ever anchored in the sports shonen mold. It brings nothing special in my opinion while there’s material to do so. For example, they could have done a terrific thing with the “rivalry” between Hinata and Kageyama but no, they become pals* very quickly. Another example : one wants to become a great player but he’s unskilled as hell ; the other wants to break his individualistic nature and put his genius at the service of the team. A little more work could have been put on that too.

* “Pals” is a bit too much but let’s say they get along real fast. I would have liked it a little bit more stormy between them, like “I make the effort for the team sake but know that I can’t stand your ass…”

I also feel there’s no message, no goal, it’s just a group of young high school students who play volleyball, that’s it. I would have enjoyed it more if there were some side-stories or a well-identified purpose** which they tend toward.

** Example : Luffy wants to find the One Piece and become the pirates king. I think it will take him ages to reach his goal. But still, there’s a goal. I thought it was barely existent on Haikyū – season 1-. They play to play and that’s it.

In fact, Haikyū season 1 is too documentary. I think this aspect pleases a lot, this purely volleyball side without the surronding fuss. That’s what makes – I imagine -one of the anime’s strengths. Personally, even if I like the sport side of an anime, I need it to fit into a story. And it’s not because there are 3 guitars and 2 violins in background that it makes a story…

Moreover, the rhythm seems particularly slow yet nothing is brought on the table. Realism and slowness do not bother me per se, but I have to win somewhere else, such as a parallel plot, a well-executed character development, or a truly original approach of the sport.

Ex: Chihaya Furu which in my opinion possesses the 3 points mentionned above.

Overall rating, totally subjective and non-binding : 6/10

Anyway, I kept watching in the name of the twist – ahem *cough* big scam on that too – my friend talked about. I won’t spoil but let’s say the situation arrives at the very end of the season, and I didn’t see nothing surprising about it, being a big sports shōnen consumer.

In summary, I felt ripped off on the good. Like “is this your better than Kuroko?”

But since season 2 was already on-going, I still wanted to have a look, with hope for improvement… To be continued.

Chrys Prolls

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