Easily one of the most popular sports anime of all time, Haikyuu!! only seems to increase in popularity by the day. Even for anime watchers that don't particularly like the sports genre, Haikyuu!! somehow wins them over. It combines elements of other genres, like shonen and comedy, to make the sports theme more accessible to those who wouldn't typically go for that.
Since sports anime can get somewhat repetitive due to the nature of their frequently-used tournament arcs, it's especially significant that Haikyuu!! remains interesting, dynamic and compelling, using excellent editing, wholesome content and striking characters to lure in viewer after viewer.
Haikyuu!! follows Shōyō Hinata, a rather short volleyball player who dreams of becoming the best spiker that he can be, and his rival/friend Tobio Kageyama, as they become players for the Karasuno volleyball club. Both Hinata and Kageyama are skilled, but when playing together as a setter and a spiker, they are nigh on unstoppable. Alongside their other teammates, the duo faces off against other high schools and strives to become the best.
One of the biggest reasons that Haikyuu!! manages to be so compelling is its wholesome content. Even though it's a sports anime, it focuses heavily on the team-building between the players. In doing so, the anime really develops its characters, showing them being challenged but ultimately growing from the outcome. This not only makes them better players on the court, but also more interesting for viewers to watch. It doesn't seem like just another sports anime -- the show feels more meaningful than that.
In addition to the emotional themes, the anime uses excellent editing to make each game feel more dramatic. When Kageyama sets for Hinata, the whole moment slows down and viewers hear the play-by-play in his head as he prepares for this important moment. The editing ebbs and flows with the emotions of the game -- slow and thoughtful when a character is hesitant, fast and clean when a character is confident. It helps maintain the pacing throughout the anime and highlights important moments when necessary. Especially for anime fans who don't like sports titles, making the games more dramatic is a sure way to reel more people in.
Haikyuu!! also shows why sports anime is so popular, specifically to people who don't normally watch it. Although sports titles can often be repetitive or overly technical at times, Haikyuu!!'s main focus is on camaraderie, teamwork and friendship. This results in a feeling of higher stakes when it comes down to game time, as the viewer has become more invested in the characters individually as well as in the team as a whole.
Sports anime may not be for everyone, but Haikyuu!! seems to appeal to a lot of people -- and there's a good reason for that. Its success is built into the writing, editing and composition of the anime, making it seem almost effortlessly good. Whether it's a good laugh, a high-stakes competition or the heartwarming bonds of brotherhood, Haikyuu!! has something for everyone.