Haikyu!!, Vol. 1

By Haruichi Furudate | Published by VIZ Media

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It’s been a good year so far for sports manga! Competitive cycling is represented in Yen’s Yowamushi Pedal, August brings the first two-in-one omnibus edition of Kuroko’s Basketball, and volleyball-centric Haikyu!! is on shelves now. I am just about in heaven! (If someone would just license Mitsuru Adachi’s Rough, that would seal the deal.)

At first glance, Haikyu!! looks a little bit like Slam Dunk. Tobio Kageyama is the dark-haired character with talent and experience, and Shoyo Hinata is the enthusiastic redhead with a lot of potential but who lacks many basic skills. They join their high school’s volleyball team in their first year and clash instantly, fueled by a previous encounter where Kageyama’s team trounced Hinata’s in a middle-school tournament, but must put this aside and learn to function as teammates. What’s different is that Kageyama has more obviously negative qualities than Slam Dunk’s Rukawa had, including a perpetual snarl and dismissive attitude, while Hinata has more positive qualities than Sakuragi possessed, like discipline and team spirit.

I really liked watching their relationship develop, as it eventually becomes apparent (as they practice for then participate in a match against a couple other new members) that each is what the other has been waiting for. Kageyama’s previous team turned their backs on his demanding leadership and wound up losing the aforementioned tournament. None of them could keep up with the pace he was attempting to set. Hinata can, though, and he’s so grateful to finally have teammates and someone to “set” the ball for him, that he is positively eager to get in position to execute the plays that Kageyama’s old team grumbled about.

Their rivalry is far from over, but as the first volume draws to a close, it’s clear they’ve begun to appreciate the other more and are warming to the idea that, if they used to be the greatest enemies, then now they could be the greatest teammates. Inevitably, their journey will take them to Nationals, for that’s the goal of seemingly all sports manga series. I’ll be looking forward to it!

Haikyu!! is ongoing in Japan, where the 22nd volume has just been released. VIZ will be releasing a new volume each month through at least January 2017, which is as far as their Amazon listings presently go.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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