Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: HAIKYU Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Haruichi Furudate
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
LETTERS: Erika Terriquez
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8766-0; paperback (July 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 US, $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Haikyu!! is a sports manga from creator Haruichi Furudate.  The series focuses on a teen boy's quest to become a national volleyball champion.

Haikyu!!, Vol. 1 (entitled Hinata and Kageyama; Chapters 1 to 7) introduces Shoyo Hinata.  Ever since he first saw the legendary haikyu (volleyball) player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever.  However, in a sport in which tall athletes dominate, Hinata's height of 5'4” is considered too short.  Still, he does not believe that a player needs to be tall in order to play volleyball, especially when a player can jump higher than anyone else – as he can.

After losing his first and last volleyball match of his middle school career, Hinata enters Karasuno Public High School, once considered an elite volleyball high school.  He is shocked to discover that his opponent is a guy he considers his rival, Tobio Kageyama, "the King of the Court."  Now, Hinata and Kageyama must learn to play together if they want to make it onto the school's volleyball team.

The Haikyu!! manga will likely draw comparisons to Tite Kubo's legendary basketball manga, Slam Dunk, which I think is one of the world's all-time create comics.  Spiritually, Haikyu is related to Slam Dunk, but the former is a bit darker than the latter.

Haikyu Volume 1 introduces two ambitious athletes who find themselves on the outside of the sport they love.  Haruichi Furudate depicts a situation in which “guts and determination” are not enough to take an athlete to the top.  There may be thousands of competitive track and field athletes out there “giving it a 120%,” but almost none of them will beat Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt when he is at his physical peak – no matter how hard they try.  I'm just keeping it 100, folks.

Furudate's other conceit is that even the best and most gifted athlete can find himself on the outside looking in unless he functions in a team setting.  Teammates may find such an elite athlete too taxing and abandon him, which essentially neutralizes an elite athlete.

In spite of its comedic leanings, Haikyu is likely a high school sports comedy-drama.  Its creator seems determined to take his characters, the volleyball players, to task, forcing all, from the best to the least, to learn how to be a team, if any of them are going to succeed.  So far, it makes for captivating reading.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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