Haikyu!! Volume 1 by Haruichi Furudate
I’m always curious to check out new sports manga, mostly because we tend to get so few licensed over here. Haikyu!! is a shonen volleyball title. I still have fond memories of the shoujo series Crimson Hero, so I was curious to see the world of volleyball manga yet again.
Shoyo Hinata saw a volleyball tournament when he was younger, where a shorter than average player made up for his height with some wonderful athleticism. Shoyo is determined to become an elite volleyball player, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s the only member of his volleyball club in middle school stop his dreams. Eventually by his third year, Shoyo manages to put together a small team and play in a tournament, where he faces down Tobio Kageyama. Tobio is a star player, and he knows it, yelling at his teammates constantly and trying to win on his own. Shoyo loses, but displays a ton of heart in the process and manages to score some great points.
Fast forward to the following year, and it is no surprise that Shoyo and Tobio are starting on the same volleyball team in high school. The captain Daichi Sawamura immediately sees a problem with the two new rookies and tells them that they can’t even practice until they can work as a team. While undisciplined enthusiasm and athletic snobbery might not be the best thing for the disgraced former champion team of Karasuno High, Daichi thinks that they could be an unstoppable team if they are able to work together. Shoyo and Tobio have to earn their way back to the team by facing off against the other first-years.
The art in Haikyu!! uses plenty of action and unconventional angles to display the tension of the volleyball game. Shoyo leaps all over the place for the ball, and Tobio tends to lurk around in a gloomy manner, then suddenly strike like a snake. The character designs are well-executed, with a large supporting cast all given distinct looks and personalities, making it easy to navigate the mass introductions that come with reading the first book of every series. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the upperclassmen on the team, who range from being able to give wise volleyball philosophical advice, to being knuckleheads. The dynamic between Shoyo and Tobio is interesting, because it is so antagonistic but it is clear that there’s a lot they can learn from each other. This first volume mainly served to set up the characters and their long road to a possible championship, but it was definitely entertaining.