Hinata may not be happy that his rival Kageyama is now his teammate, but they’ll have to work together if they want to get back on Karasuno’s volleyball team!
Shoyo Hinata waited and trained for a year to join Karasuno High School’s volleyball team to avenge his loss to Tobio Kageyama, the King of the Court, but in a shocking turn the two are now teammates! The two rivals have trouble putting aside their differences and are summarily kicked out of the gym, and now the two have to work together to win a game against fellow first years Kei Tsukishima and Tadashi Yamaguchi to earn their way back on the team. Later, Karasuno plays its first practice game against powerhouse school Aoba Johsai, putting Hinata and Kageyama to the test as the ultimate duo once more.
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Haikyu!! Vol. 1 was a strong introduction to this series because of how meaningfully it established the motivations of Hinata and Kageyama respectively as the driving pillars of this series, and this volume continues this trend in a compelling way by showing the two slowly working together to earn their way back on the team. The end of their game against Tsukishima and Yamaguchi is emblematic of this in showing the slow process of the two beginning to connect, and I really liked the way that their successes were shown bringing them together in a tangible way with every set and spike. The enthusiasm here is also infectious as we see their own little fist-pumps and celebrations, and I really liked the way that both of these characters were shown begrudgingly realizing the potential their combination has in to help them reach their respective goals. The clever use of recurring bits of symbolism introduced in the first volume - from Hinata seeing “the view from the top” during his spike, to Kageyama’s intense targeting skills - really added to the thematic cohesiveness while making for an emotionally resonant beginning for the duo.
The remainder of the volume follows the team as it prepares for and then plays their first practice game against powerhouse school Aoba Johsai. This ends up being an enjoyable mix of comedy and action that was thoroughly pleasing to watch as Hinata and Kageyama run the gamut of emotions before, and then during, the game. Much like the volleyball action in the first was both intense and thrillingly portrayed, the action in this volume does not disappoint in showcasing the differing strategies used over the course of the game. This is done once again through several incredibly detailed panels which emphasize the speed and power with which the characters are moving - for example, we see Tohru Oikawa’s serve depicted with smoke trails to highlight its speed. The art here never failed to impress me, and I was consistently pleased with how clearly the stages of each play were shown especially in depicting the blocks and spikes being made. It’s also worth noting that this volume dives more heavily into explaining the rules of volleyball for the uninitiated, and I was pleased that this never felt overwhelming or clumsily shoehorned into the story.
Perhaps the best part of this volume was the way that Kageyama’s character development was interwoven in the game between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai. I was really pleased in the previous volume how much attention his backstory got to ground his personality, and this was built on in this volume as he plays against several of his goading middle-school teammates who are now on the BlueCastle team. We see his effort to change himself and be part of the team very visibly shown in the context of this game as he works with Hinata, and I was definitely impressed with how early Haikyu!! has been able to show returns on the development of its characters. That doesn’t mean that there is a sense of finality in terms of this development, but I really liked it constantly felt like Kageyama was learning as he becomes a greater part of the team.
Hinata’s character arc in this volume is also advanced satisfyingly in this volume as he prepares to compete in his first game, and his arc focuses on his nervousness at playing well so as not to disappoint his new teammates. It becomes a real joy to watch Hinata because of his enthusiasm and genuine love for playing volleyball, and I was definitely immediately cheering for him with every spike because of the way that his emotions are emphasized to go along with his actions. Much like Kageyama, Hinata grapples with trying to become a part of the team in this volume, and this linked very nicely into the previous volume’s emphasis on him really valuing having a team to stand by him. This helped to ground the events of the game against Aoba Johsai well when he gets off to a rocky start, and I was really impressed with the way that this was interwoven with Kageyama’s aforementioned development to show the two growing in tandem because of one another. The rest of the cast is equally interesting in adding to the development of the main two, with Sugawara’s calm, Sawamura’s leadership, and Tanaka’s brusque (and hilarious) humour rounding out this cast really well. The volume ends with the team incomplete and searching for a coach and a few more players, and I’m definitely interested to see the cast become rounded out as the series continues.
Haikyu!! Vol. 2 is pure fun, and is a near perfect continuation to the Hinata and Kageyama’s respective character arcs as they learn to be teammates. The growth in their respective personalities is skillfully incorporated into the action here as they finish their game again the other first years before playing again Aoba Johasi, and I’m really enjoying how quick yet tangible their development is. The action is intense and thoroughly enjoyable thanks to the clear way that Furudate-sensei is able to portray the various volleyball plays in his artwork, and all of this definitely made for an exciting read which shouldn’t be missed by any fans of sports manga.
Haikyu!! Vol. 2 was translated by Adrienne Beck and published by Viz Media on August 2nd, 2016. Created by Haruichi Furudate, the series began in 2012 and runs in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. The series has an ongoing anime adaption produced by Production I.G., with season 3 airing in October. Volume 3 will be published in English on September 6th, 2016.
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