At first look, Haikyuu!! appears to be a typical sports shonen manga, with a bunch of adolescent lads pursuing their dreams and a protagonist accomplishing the impossible through collaboration and perseverance. While it is about sports, the manga’s message is broader than that. Haikyuu!! is about teamwork, camaraderie, and what it means to go above your limits — all of which are themes that can be applied to real life.

The messages that the teams, coaches, and players left behind will be remembered long after the manga has concluded. Everyone who has ever watched, read, or loved Haikyuu!! will carry them with them for the rest of their life. Here are a few of the anime/recurring manga’s themes.


Volleyball is a sport where you can only touch the ball for a few seconds. As soon as it hits the ground, the game is over. That’s why it’s been drilled from the very beginning how important it is to touch the ball — to connect even if the receive is bad or you can’t get it to the setter to score a point. Just the fact that the ball is still in play gives the teams hope and morale is extremely important in a game.

In fact, Nekoma High School’s team banner says “Connect” and they’re often the more frustrating team to play against. They’re not particularly strong compared to Karasuno’s offensive style, but just like cats, they’re agile and won’t let the ball hit the floor no matter what. If the ball is still in play, that means there’s still a chance.

Connection is about relying on and trusting your teammates, such as the liberos who always seem to pull off impossible digs or Hinata’s habit of closing his eyes and jumping, confident that Kageyama would deliver the ball his way. The players have developed relationships throughout their life, whether through their professors, coaches, friends, teammates, or even opponents. Even after the team disbanded, the relationships between the members continue since they were drawn together by a shared passion and objective. There comes a time when the ties formed while playing volleyball extend beyond the court.

Use Defeat As Strength

“Volleyball is a sport where you’re always looking up!” said Tanaka Kazunari, the seiyuu for Coach Ukai, in the third season at Shiratorizawa’s match point when it looked like Karasuno was going to lose. In a literal sense, you have to keep looking up to see where the ball is going in order to know how to react to it, but Coach Ukai was figuratively telling his players that they can’t start beating themselves up when they lose a point or find themselves at the opposing side’s match point. It’s much more crucial to keep looking forward and forward when things are looking grim.

Despite Takeda-sensei having never played volleyball, he recognizes and empathizes with the team’s disappointment when they lose. He sees how hard they work in every practice session and in every match and he knows how much winning means to them. He tells them that defeat is a recognition of their current strength and is not proof of weakness. What will you learn from this defeat and how can you use this loss to get stronger?

There is no guarantee that you will ever win: Aoba Johsai and Shiratorizawa were known to be two of the strongest schools in the prefecture and yet they lost to Karasuno. There will aways be someone stronger than you: No team is invincible but all of these teams have used their loss as strength such as Karasuno creating a new offence strategy, Tsukishima improving his blocking and Hinata and Kageyama developing a new quick in Season 2. Although Karasuno loses in the Nationals arc, it doesn’t end with despair — it ends with a question: “Today you are the defeated, which will you be tomorrow?”

The Limit Does Not Exist

haikyuu shiratorizawa karasuno season 3

Coming into the Interhigh prelims and nationals, Karasuno was essentially unknown, and no one expected them to win against champion schools, yet they did. Because of his height, everyone doubted Hinata’s ability to score points, but he proved them wrong. Coach Ukai tells Hinata while he’s in bed with a fever that “it’s not about surpassing your limits, it’s about raising them,” essentially telling Hinata to aspire higher, go further, and become stronger.

Oikawa and Hinata are two characters often faced with the challenge of pushing beyond their limits: Hinata and his physique and Oikawa and his fear of Kageyama’s genius setting. However, neither of them gave up when faced with those obstacles — they surpassed them, reaching for their dreams and goals regardless of what stood in their way. Only the strong remain on the court and only those raise the limits can become strong.


haikyuu hinata fly

Coach Ukai Sr. points out that humans lack “wings,” thus they must find a means to fly. Karasuno has always been associated with crows and flight, and they are known as the “fallen champions,” which is actually a blessing in disguise. Their tagline “Fly” refers to Karasuno’s ability to fight in a variety of ways and achieve the seemingly impossible. They observe their opponents at the summer training camp, copying their skills and honing them as their own. They’re omnivores as crows, eating everything and everything that would make them get stronger, something Hinata emphasizes during the nationals arc when she says, “Being good means being free.”

Volleyball is a sport where height is highly valued. After seeing the Little Giant play, Hinata’s height has never really been a huge deterrent for him to not play volleyball. It only means he has to find another way to fight like using his stamina and agility to run faster, to jump higher so he can see beyond the wall that are the blockers. “Fly” means striving for the impossible.

Volleyball Is Fun

haikyuu oikawa iwaizumi

Although much of Haikyuu!! is focused on Karasuno training, winning or losing, that has never been the central emphasis. Because it was never about winning — it was always about playing the sport — the last chapter does not indicate who won the Olympics competition or what transpired in the match between Hinata and Kageyama. All Hinata and Kageyama ever wanted was to be able to play.

Even when things get hard, players like Hinata and Oikawa think back to what got them to play in the first place. For Hinata, it was the Little Giant, and for Oikawa, he had already started playing at a young age but it wasn’t until he saw Jose Blanco that he wanted to be a setter. They never forget their roots of why they play volleyball in the first place: it’s because they love it and it’s fun.

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