It’s this oxymoronic phrase that inspires Hinata Shouyo to start playing volleyball—he’s short, and in the world of volleyball, that’s a big problem. But, inspired by a match on TV in which the “small giant” from Karasuno High jumps to amazing heights, even getting over blockers, Hinata gets his middle school friends together to form a volleyball club and sets his sights on one day getting into Karasuno and playing volleyball in the footsteps of the small giant he idolizes.
It’s the quintessential underdog story—Hinata is tiny, but he wants to be a spiker and aims for the stars, never letting anything stand in his way. The fact that his middle school team is made up of friends he swiped from other sports teams? Not a problem! That they lost bitterly in their first and only official match? Just reason to train harder for the future! His philosophy is that as long as you haven’t lost, there’s no reason not to give it your all, and it shows. He’s even got a great set-up rival—the setter from the team that defeats them in middle school, Kageyama Tobio— who recognizes his raw talent and yells at Hinata to get stronger and face him again.
Hinata is a spiker with fast reflexes and an amazing jumping ability, able to cross the court in a matter of seconds to respond to a missed set by a teammate, but he is set back by his inexperience with volleyball and his lack of teammates. Kageyama is a setter with a passion for the game and intense talent, but who is harsh in his expectations. All in all, they make a pretty good rival set-up.
(With one problem. They’re both new students at Karasuno High, and thus on the same team now. Oops.)
Haikyuu!! is a lot of fun. Hinata’s passion for the game and dedication to improving is clear and portrayed well. We get some good first-person angles of practicing tosses and spikes, and of his “view over the wall” over the net, all of which really convey the movement and tension of the game.
It’s clear the set-up is going to be about teamwork; from the beginning, Hinata states that the view he seeks can’t be achieved by just one person. This is quickly followed by more shoes joining his on the court line and, “but if we all work together…”
At heart, that’s what’ll make Haikyuu!! succeed: a solid team working together. And so far, I’m rooting for them.