The Netflix Anime Everyone Should Watch

Do you like volleyball? It doesn’t even matter! You will love Haikyu !! no matter what.

Netflix

Prestige TV, from now on, died for me.

In a universe where humanity faces the double existential threat of climate change and a slew of increasingly terrifying COVID variants, I’m not sure I have the time, energy, or impetus to consume complex, award-winning TV.

No thanks. I prefer to watch disposable and easily consumable shows like Haikyu !!

Haikyu !!, currently available to watch on Netflix, is an anime. A sports anime to be precise. Just like Slam Dunk, the show he is most clearly inspired by, Haikyu !! focuses on a motley group of high school students: teenagers obsessed with volleyball.

Wait … volleyball? That niche sport that no one really watches or plays?

Yes. Volleyball. This niche sport that no one really watches or plays.

Indifferent to volleyball? This is understandable. It is not the most fascinating or the most popular sport. As someone forced to play volleyball during an incredibly painful semester in high school, I hated volleyball, but I love Haikyu !!.

And in Haikyu !!, volleyball barely counts. While this is a show that spends much of its running time in volleyball practice arcs and intense volleyball matches – in Haikyu !!, volleyball is almost unimportant.

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

After Hinata Shoyou, a shorter than average high school student trying to succeed in a sport where size is everything, Haikyu !! – much like most sports anime – is primarily a show about overcoming adversity. Despite a vertical challenge, Hinata is blessed with incredible jumping power and athleticism and leads her high school team, the Karasuno Crows, to new heights. Much of Haikyu’s power !! just watched Hinata dismantle the giants he must compete against.

If you’ve watched an anime, you’ll know exactly what to expect: long, never-ending flashbacks, slow replays, drama, contests that go all the way and plenty, unending crowd reaction photos as protagonist Hinata shoots incredible volleyball spikes against all odds.

I love it. I can’t get enough. Let this serotonin flow right through my veins.

Inspired by a vast canon of high school sports anime, there is a heartwarming familiarity with Haikyu !!. The aforementioned Slam Dunk provides the model, but Haikyu !! borrows elements from almost any sports anime you could name: Prince of Tennis, Ping Pong, Hajime No Ippo. Just like these shows, Haikyu !! takes the grind of high school life and elevates it into something dramatic and spectacular.

Points are won and lost. Rival teams and enemies are introduced. Overwhelming losses are overcome and glorious victories are assured. Everything is done with the studied efficiency of the creators who have clearly absorbed a legacy of this type of storytelling and refined it to a razor sharp shine. Haikyu !! is the end product of decades of sports anime and, therefore, is unbelievably easy to consume. Every second is a condensed and hedonistic joy.

But what uplifts Haikyu !! beyond the ordinary sports anime, there are the characters themselves. Each member of Hinata Shoyo’s team, the Karasuno Crows, has their own difficulties and doubts and volleyball is just the common thread through which these issues are overcome. The ‘ace’ of the team, Asahi, is shy and struggles with feelings of inadequacy. Kageyama, the team’s passer, is determined, but riddled with anxiety after a previous team abandoned him mid-game.

Even the members of the opposing teams are incredibly well drawn. Tōru Oikawa, the outwardly friendly but manipulative captain of main rivals Aoba Johsai is perhaps the most compelling character study. He’s meant to be the main villain of the series, but is ultimately made likable. Oikawa, who overcomes his talent deficit by raising the level of the team around him, has his own demons to take down. You can’t help but support everyone in Haikyu !! and that makes the stakes in every game soar.

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

The show’s first two seasons are available to stream on Netflix, but there are four seasons in total. If you’re impatient, you can watch seasons three and four for free on Crunchyroll.

I took one more step. After watching all the episodes of the show, I needed more. I have now read all the chapters of the manga source material that the anime is based on. Friends, you have a lot of good things to look forward to. The rabbit hole is deep.

But, for now, every journey begins with a first step. The first step of your Haikyu !! the journey begins with episode 1 on Netflix. You will not regret it.


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