Haikyu!!, one of the most popular sports manga on the scene has finally packed up and called it a day, with the final issue appearing in Weekly Shōnen Jump late last month. This coming of age story about underdog volleyball player Shōyō Hinata started back in 2011, and like most popular manga, made its first steps as a one-shot comic in Jump NEXT! Magazine. The story was quickly picked up and made it into Weekly Shōnen Jump in the first few months of 2012. Fast forward to 2020 and series author and illustrator Haruichi Furudate finally announced the long running series was coming to an end.
Haikyu!! managed to include plenty of tropes from the Shōnen genre. Hinata met adversity both on and off the volleyball court, with taller rivals looking down on him in terms of both height and respect. Every Shōnen hero needs some kind of weakness to hold them back not to mention, challengers to conquer and ultimately win the approval of. New friendships, fun characters and sports action were at the core of this manga, and were the key features which helped draw in such a huge fanbase.
Part of the manga’s appeal – for me at least – was how the show managed to stay grounded, taking a more realistic approach to problems than series which resort to magical solutions or just ‘training harder’ (looking at you Dragonball franchise).
The manga recently passed 38 million copies in print, just another achievement to add to the list. Haikyu!! has made it into Japan’s top 10 best-selling manga more than once in the past few years, and as the final arc hit its climax in 2020 it was second only to the currently insurmountably popular Demon Slayer.
The manga and anime series are credited with helping Japan’s high school volleyball scene surge back in popularity as well, an impressive real world impact for a Shōnen story.
Heartbroken though fans are, there is some consolation available in the spin-off media from the series, and the anime still has a while to go before it too reaches its end.
There are films based on the TV series, as well as a handful of video games and appearances by Shoyo in the super collaboration Jump fighting game ‘J-Stars Victory VS’ where he stars alongside Naruto and Luffy, and looks excited to be there but not quite ready to trade punches with ninjas and pirates.
If theatre adaptations of manga are your thing, there’s a whole series of stage plays based on the manga, entitled Hyper Projection Engeki: Haikyu. There was even a radio show featuring the anime’s voice actors!
The spin-off that fans are most likely to get invested in is Haikyū-bu!!. A new mini-series created by writer Kyōhei Miyajima. Taking a look into the teams, schools and side characters from the world of Haikyu!!, it’s a series which might leave fans wanting more but should help to soften the blow of such a well-loved manga reaching its final issue. More characters, more depth, and just enough time for a little more volleyball!