Story and art by Haruichi Furudate
Touch-up Art and Lettering by Erika Terriquez
Design: Fawn Lau
Editor: Marlene First
Where does one even begin with Haikyu!! (ハイキュー!!)? It’s a manga series about highschool volleyball. It’s about teamwork; it’s about the individual drive and desire to win; it’s about friends and, like a lot of other manga series, it’s about pushing past your limits to get better and go further than anybody else. It’s about becoming the best.
This series is easily accessible and instantly likable. Even with zero previous knowledge of volleyball, creator Haruichi Furudate adds little notes just outside panels to explain the rules or has characters within the story explain things. It’s so seamlessly added to the story that it really doesn’t feel like you’re being pumped with information or forced into sitting through multiple pages of exposition. Furudate makes it simple and enjoyable to just sit back and let the story take place and learn as you go.
Both volume 1 and volume 2 set up the story for the next 45+ volumes to come in an engaging way. The art is fantastically dynamic when it has to be and straightforward when it doesn’t. It’s a story about high school boys volleyball in Japan. It’s not a story about superpowers, or magical abilities–looking at you Kuroko’s Basketball. It’s grounded in the real world and that adds tremendously to the story, to the team’s victories and especially to the team’s defeats. Obviously main characters Shoyo Hinata and Tobio Kageyama take centre stage in the character-building for the first two volumes, but Furudate spends just enough time on secondary characters to get your interest peaked and get you wanting to know more.
The first two volumes fly by (no pun intended) leaving the reader wanting more, immediately. Furudate has done a magnificent job building this story so clearly in just two volumes while simultaneously setting a pace that keeps the reader glued to the pages. That is, without a doubt, a skill that not every mangaka has and Furudate makes it feel effortless.
Even if you’re not a sports manga person, Haikyu!! is absolutely something you need to pick up and try out. It’s different; It feels clear, more complete, and less like a bunch of superheroes playing a sport that forces the sport to be more of a background–or just a setting–to show off whatever abilities that characters possess. Haikyu!! is an instant win and is worth your time and money so go pick up the physical editions or check out the VIZ app to pick this up.
As a side bar, you absolutely need to check out the anime while you’re at it.