The Netflix anime that absolutely obsessed me – CNET

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Hinata Shoyo: The protagonist of Haikyu !!


Prestige TV, from now on, is dead to me.

In a universe where humanity faces the two existential threats of Climate change and a multitude of terrifying COVID flavors, I’m not sure I have the time, energy, or the impetus to watch complex, award-winning television.

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No thank you. I prefer to watch disposable, easy-to-consume shows like Haikyu !!

Haikyu !!, currently on Netflix, is an anime. Sports anime, to be precise. Much like Slam Dunk, the show that it is most clearly inspired by, Haikyu !! focuses on a diverse group of high school students: volleyball-obsessed teenagers.

Wait … volleyball? This niche sport that nobody really sees or plays?

Yes sir. Volleyball. This niche sport that nobody really sees or plays.

Indifferent to volleyball? That is understandable. It’s hardly the most compelling or popular sport. When someone was forced to play volleyball during an incredibly painful semester in high school, I hated volleyball, but I love haikyu !!

And in Haikyu !! volleyball hardly plays a role. Although it’s a show that spends a significant amount of its running time on volleyball training arcs and intense volleyball games – in Haikyu !! volleyball is almost irrelevant.

More than anything, Haikyu !! is a show about the people who play volleyball.

Haikyu !! – Much like most sports anime – is primarily a show about overcoming adversity. Despite his vertical challenge, Hinata is blessed with incredible jumping ability and athleticism, propelling his high school team, the Karasuno Crows, to new heights. Much of Haikyu’s power comes from watching Hinata dismantle the giants he faces.

If you’ve watched an anime, you know exactly what to expect: long, drawn-out flashbacks, slow motion, drama, web-based competitions and numerous, endless reactions from the crowd as protagonist Hinata lands incredible volleyball tips against all odds.

I love it. Can’t get enough of it. Feed this serotonin right into my veins.

Inspired by an extensive canon of high school sports animes, there’s a reassuring familiarity to haikyu !! The aforementioned slam dunk provides the template, but Haikyu !! borrows elements from almost any sports anime you could name: Prince of Tennis, Ping Pong, Hajime No Ippo. Similar to these shows, Haikyu !! takes the monotony of high school life and elevates it to something dramatic and spectacular.

Points are won and lost. Rival teams and enemies are introduced. Devastating losses are overcome and glorious victories are secured. All of this is done with the rehearsed efficiency of creators who have clearly picked up a legacy of this type of storytelling and refined it to a razor-sharp sheen. Haikyu !! is the end product of decades of sports anime, making it incredibly easy to consume. Every second is a condensed, hedonistic joy.

But what does Haikyu raise !! Beyond the ordinary sports anime, the characters are themselves. Each member of Hinata Shoyo’s team, the Karasuno Crows, has their own struggles and doubts, and volleyball is just the thread through which these problems are solved. Asahi, the team’s “ace”, is shy and struggles with feelings of inadequacy. Kageyama, the team’s setter, is determined but fearful after a previous team left him in the middle of the game.

Even members of the opposing teams are incredibly well drawn. Tōru Oikawa, the outwardly friendly but manipulative captain of main rival Aoba Johsai, is perhaps the most compelling character study. He is supposed to be the main villain of the series, but is ultimately portrayed personable. Oikawa, who overcomes his talent deficit by raising the level of the team around him, must kill his own demons. You can’t help but promote everyone in Haikyu !! and it drives up the stakes in every single game.

On a few occasions I found myself on my feet and pounding the air for joy during the games.

The first two seasons of the series can be streamed on Netflix, but there are four seasons in total. If you’re impatient, you can watch the third and fourth seasons for free on Crunchyroll.

I went one step further. After seeing all of the episodes of the show, I needed more. I have now read every single chapter of the manga source material that the anime is based on. Folks, you have a lot of great things to look forward to. The rabbit hole is deep.

But for now, every single journey begins with a first step. Your Haikyu’s First Step !! The journey begins with Episode 1 on Netflix. You will not regret it.

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