The guys over at Animatsu and Manga UK have spoken in recent years about their wish to bring some sports anime to the UK and, by popular demand, we now have Haikyu!! Season 1 Collection 1!
Sports anime have been a hot topic among fans, alongside their wish to see more released here in the UK, unfortunately sports anime is a rather risky business apparently; thankfully, the times are changing. Haikyu!! Is receiving the honours of being one of the few sports anime titles to see a UK release and I’m so grateful to Animatsu Entertainment for taking a chance on this fantastic series. Production I.G has done an amazing job at adapting this series and it’s also one of my favourite mangas.
Sports series can be easily overlooked sometimes, especially if they happen to focus on a sport you’re not particularly interested in. In my experience I have found myself enjoying many series that I had no interest in the particular sport they portray. Slam Dunk is one such sports series and easily ranks in my top ten manga, with Haikyu!! very close behind. Even though I may not have any interest in the sport within a series this is rarely the drawing point for a series. Sports series generally have a great cast of characters and manage to balance a good level of comedy and series competition. I always give sports series a try regardless of the sport because I’ve yet to find a subpar addition to this genre.
The story follows Shoyo Hinata, a boy small in stature, but with giant ambitions. Ever since he witnessed a small volleyball player score at the National Championships, when passing by a television store, he has been determined to play volleyball. Having struggled to even find enough players to put together a team during junior high school, he finally gets his first match only to be squashed by a team led by genius setter Tobio Kageyama. Hinata enrols at the same high school as his idol and finally gets a chance to play volleyball as part of a proper team, but another freshman hopes to join – Tobio Kageyama. Known as the King of the Court, how can Hinata hope to compete against this new rival, well, they must find a way to get along or they can’t join the team!
Haikyu!! was an instant must-watch for me due to having been familiar with the manga which is great, and with Production I.G at the helm of this adaptation I knew this would be great too. Oh boy is it great, it’s better than great, this adaptation is perfect; I will even go as far as to say that this adaptation is better than the original, solely because we get to see it in motion. Rarely are series based on a manga so well adapted, some fail horribly and others do a very decent job, but to adapt a series with this level of perfection is rare. Even though I am familiar with the story already, I was riveted to my seat, so engrossed in this brilliant adaptation my heart beating continuously just waiting to be blown away by the fast-paced action of a volleyball match. The characters are portrayed perfectly, the voice actors fitting their roles instantly, it all just feels right and how it should be. I really can’t sing enough praises for this series and the production quality, it’s a must-watch!
Visually I dare anyone to fault it, Production I.G is a big name and when it comes to the visual look and animation quality they are among the best. If there was one area of the visuals that might turn people off it would most likely be in the character designs, while I personally love them, they do give off vibes of a darker nature. Fitting because Haikyu!!’s author Haruichi Furudate’s previous work, Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya-senpai no Kaidan, was of a much darker tone. That said, I personally love the designs and find they work really well within the series and it helps to set itself apart visually from other shonen and sport series.
The series only comes with Japanese audio and English subtitles, a continuing trend that I’m personally not bothered by. While it’s nice to include English audio in the hopes of reaching a wider audience it delays a series potential release within the west. Thankfully the Japanese cast does an absolutely brilliant job on this series and I couldn’t imagine the characters any other way. The awesome opening theme song is “Imagination” by SPYAIR and while the ending theme song “Tenchi Gaeshi” is performed by one of my favourite Japanese bands – Nico Touches the Walls.
Extras available on this release are pretty standard, including clean opening and closing animations and the usual Sentai Filmworks trailers. Trailers included are for Gingitsune, Campione!, Medaka Box and To loveru Darkness.