Right now, I’m 15 episodes into the first season of Haikyuu!!. I’ve been watching it at a slow pace over the last few weeks with a friend as we both deal with the onset of college finals for the current semester, but I’ve become absolutely entranced with the show. I’ve grown to love the characters for their own reasons and the matches are as glorious and hypey as I had them built up to be by fans. However, there’s something about this show and a central theme the show has been pushing that I have been known to absolutely love, as can be seen earlier in my “How Agari Kamiya Stole My Heart” write-up about my favorite character from Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume.
I love ambition as a core theme of character development.
For as long as I can remember now, ambition and personal drive has been a trait that has drawn me to characters and made me like shows. Some of my favorite characters of all-time, like Nico Yazawa from Love Live!, Agari Kamiya from Ping Pong Girls, and Karin Miyoshi from Yuuki Yuuna, are characters that have become known for their drive, ambition, and the hard work they put in to reach their own personal goals. As I’ve been watching Haikyuu!!, I’ve come to notice that the idea of ambition and passion is something that the show doles out in droves among its many main characters and in regards to the school’s volleyball team at large. While there are a lot of instances of this theme I could talk about with the show’s characters, I’m going to hone in on the team as a whole and also the show’s two main protagonists, Hinata Shouyou and Tobio Kageyama.
Starting first, we have the orange-haired bundle of energy that is Hinata Shouyou. Hinata, clocking at a mere 162.8 cm, is the second shortest member of Karasuno’s volleyball team and has often been looked down on by opposing players because of his short stature. However, Hinata’s speed can barely be matched by opposing players, as well as having an incredible jump range for his size. Hinata initially chose to attend Karasuno because of a player that once played for the team who he had come to idolize, referred to as the “Little Giant”. He was Karasuno’s “ace”, their best player, despite being one of the shortest members on the team and gained the adoration of Hinata, who strives to be like his idol. Hinata’s drive to achieve this goal motivates him as a character and makes him strive to always perform better, desiring to one day be the school’s “ace”. This ambition fuels Hinata’s character and motivates him to get better, to the point of desiring rematches again and again during the practice match with Nekoma High School. Hinata’s love and passion for volleyball shows through his play on the court, becoming a player that is relied upon by the team along with Kageyama as his setter.
Speaking of Kageyama, Tobio Kageyama was a prodigy setter during his time playing for Kitagawa Daiichi Junior High. However, Kageyama’s ability and prowess at the game caused him to gain an ego and develop an arrogant attitude, which led to teammates and others referring to him as the “King of the Court”. Regretting his past and insecure at himself, Kageyama hates when others refer to him as the “King” and greatly dislikes when people use the moniker. However, through playing with Karasuno and Hinata, he begins to regain the confidence and team attitude he had lost in his Junior High days. While he may not be as open about his passion or drive as someone like Hinata, Kageyama lets his passion for the game carry in his play on the court, acting in a methodical manner and choosing to trust in his teammates. His desire to play on the team can easily be seen through the first few episodes of the series as the upperclassmen force Kageyama and Hinata to work together in order to play on the team.
The biggest point to come up for me in the episodes I watched today in particular is the ambition of the Karasuno volleyball team as a whole. In the high school volleyball circuit, Karasuno is referred to as the “clipped crows” because of their current standing as a team. In the past, Karasuno fielded a renowned volleyball team that had been to the national tournament several times. However, the team had since fallen from grace and failed to pass preliminaries for several years, earning themselves the “clipped crows” nickname due to the club’s association with crows. This leads the team, both staff and players, to have a desire to break past this name. It is a backbone of the story that I feel is accomplished excellently in Episode 15, coincidentally the last episode I watched at this point. In a tough bracket featuring many up-and-coming teams and the renowned Date Tech, Karasuno desires, with their new team, to break free from their “clipped” reputation and “fly” once more within the tournament. It’s a passion and ambition that drives the team as a whole and carries further the ambition I’ve been loving so much from the first season.
I’m still relatively early into Haikyuu!! but have already been thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen from the show as a whole. Aside from the charming and likable characters, excellent animation and OST, and the fast-paced matches that get your blood pumping, the show carries messages of ambition, self-betterment, and passion that resonate closely with my heart. I try to mirror this level of passion and ambition with whatever I put effort into and this show has connected with me on a personal level through its masterful use of these key themes.