What Makes the Character Dynamics in Haikyuu!! So Compelling? (ft. Jorja Ayres)

Hello folksies! 😀 😀 😀

Okay, if you can’t tell already, I’m super excited for today’s post. You may have watched Haikyuu!!, you may have not (if you belong to the latter, I’d highly recommend you change that status). But if you have, first of all COME TELL ME SO WE CAN FANGIRL TOGETHER and second of all, you would know that Haikyuu has some of the most iconic character duos in the anime world.

So my good friend Jorja and I, being the writerly people that we are, embarked on a mission to know why. It turns out there are a lot of reasons why Haikyuu is so popular even out of its genre, but we won’t be getting into those today because trust me, it’d be way overwhelming. The basics are that Haikyuu is an insanely well-written story with an insanely well-written cast. And part of what makes any cast well-written are good character dynamics.

In this post, Jorja over at Polka Dot Pens is going to be discussing the dynamics of five iconic duos from Haikyuu and going into some of the ways each individual character is used to strengthen their relationships with each other. I’ll be running some commentary… on her commentary, of course, because she makes some really insightful points! As for my part of the post, I’ll be discussing the same five duos over at her blog, so make sure you go check that out HERE 🙂

Jorja will be in normal font and color, while my comments will be in bold. BUT BE WARNED: There are some minor character-related spoilers in this post! So if you don’t like those, then please don’t continue xD

And now I’ll let Jorja take the stage!

#1: Bokuto Kotaro and Akaashi Keiji

Bokuto and Akaashi are excellent examples of character foils. Bokuto is loud and doesn’t think much before he acts. Akaashi is quieter and thinks everything through, probably more than is necessary. On the court, Bokuto is a useful weapon, but he’s also unpredictable. Akaashi has discovered how to use Bokuto efficiently. Off the court, they’re close friends. Bokuto is always there to lift Akaashi up, and Akaashi is always there to keep Bokuto grounded. They’re not the kind of people you would look at and think that they would work well together, but their commitment to their common goal (volleyball) and the work they put into their friendship has made it so that they’re better when they’re working together.

I don’t have much to say about this one because it’s on point and Bokuto and Akaashi are undisputedly awesome, and their relationship is too wholesome. So I’ll just leave this:

#2: Yamaguchi Tadashi and Tsukishima Kei

Though at first, these two may appear to be the ‘cool kid’ and his little follower, the depth of their friendship is revealed through their arcs over the course of the story. Tadashi Yamaguchi has always felt like he needed Tsukishima around. They’ve been friends since they were little kids, but Yamaguchi has always tried to prove himself useful to Tsukishima, who generally is indifferent towards absolutely everything. However, as we see Yamaguchi grow and change throughout the story, a new side of him emerges. He tries his best to get better at the one part of the game he has skill at: serving. He’s not on the court very often, but he does his best to make sure that when he is, he does his job well. He works long hours, practices after dark, and hones his one weapon. He never takes his time on the court for granted.

Tsukishima, however, always takes his time on the court for granted. That is, before his arc. He’s tall, and a good blocker, so he rarely leaves the court during a game. He carries his trademark indifference with him as he plays games, though, and rarely shows up for extra practice. And eventually, Yamaguchi gets fed up with his best friend wasting his potential. In one of the most powerful moments of the show, we see Yamaguchi yell at Tsukishima. And in that moment, we see Tsukishima complement Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi finally gets the recognition he was fighting for, and Tsukishima finally goes to some extra practice. They pushed each other to grow, even if it was somewhat unconventional.

I never thought about it this way before, but I wish other stories took advantage of this method more often. Yamaguchi’s main strength serves to highlight Tsukishima’s main weakness. The depth of their friendship makes the funny moments–“Shut up, Yamaguchi” “Gomen, Tsukki!”–even more enjoyable, and seeing them both grow to the point where they come to heads in season two is just so rewarding.

#3: Hinata Shoyo and Kageyama Tobio

These two knuckleheads are the main protagonists of the show for a reason. Their dynamic is one of the most rewarding in the show. They start out as rivals, and even as they grow to become excellent teammates, they never lose their competition with each other. They’re constantly challenging each other to do better if only to keep up with one another. 

Even their designs assist in revealing their differences. Hinata, with his bright orange hair and small stature. Kageyama, with his black hair and tall stature. Hinata has an almost constant smile while Kageyama has a scowl on his face half the time. And yet they understand each other in a way that no one else on the team does. They both trust each other completely on the court. They can communicate exclusively through sound effects. They’re familiar with one another’s weaknesses and strengths. They become good friends over the course of the story, even if they may have a hard time admitting that. 

Not to mention, one of my favorite parts of their dynamic, is how Hinata contributes to Kageyama’s character arc. Kageyama has trouble communicating clearly and tends to get frustrated with people, which has driven people away from him in the past. Because of this, he’s afraid of driving more people away. From a volleyball standpoint, Kageyama’s sets are… unreasonable to many people. Then along comes Hinata, who can not only hit his sets but who also manages to convince Kageyama that he doesn’t have to be afraid of chasing him away. Hinata knows about Kageyama’s flaws, but he doesn’t care. And that single fact helps contribute so much to Kageyama’s growth.

There’s really nothing you can add here. Oh, but I’ll paraphrase something Jorja said once that didn’t make it into this post: Hinata’s character arc is more game-focused while Kageyama’s is a lot more personal, and if you follow the story then you’ll easily see why. I do have to admit that I never really understood either character arc until season four, but now I realize that under the cover of your typical “never give up” storyline, Haikyuu hides quite a few layers of theme underneath. And Hinata and Kageyama are key to understanding those themes 😉

#4: Kuroo Tetsoro and Kozume Kenma

We don’t get to see as much of Kuroo and Kenma’s dynamic as we do some of the other dynamics in the show, but what we do see gives us a wonderful picture of their friendship. These two grew up together. We see them hang out away from school and volleyball more than many of the characters. These two walk home together and hang out often. Kenma doesn’t call people ‘friend’ easily, but he clearly thinks of Kuroo as a friend. 

One of the clearest pictures of their friendship is how well they understand one another. Kuroo understands that beneath his quiet and kinda lazy exterior, Kenma has a burning desire to win. He knows that Kenma loves the feeling of ‘leveling up’. Kuroo uses this information to help push his friend to become better at volleyball. Kenma is a constant friend to Kuroo, and he is very beneficial on the volleyball court, as he is excellent at predicting people’s attacks. 

I love how everyone calls Kuroo a schemer, when in reality his schemes all involve getting other people to scheme. The dude just wants to share something he’s crazy about–volleyball–and Kenma just happened to be available.

#5: The Miya Twins

Am I the only person who is sick of twins in fiction who are just an excuse to have two of the same character? So often when characters are referred to as ‘the twins’ its just a shortcut to have a loveable chaotic duo, but it rarely goes deeper than that. Atsumu and Osamu are different. They may be chaotic twins, but they’re also clearly defined characters apart from one another. Not to mention, their competition with each other is the main reason they’re both such good volleyball players. They have no qualms about smacking each other around or calling each other out. They cause pure chaos when they’re together, but they do more than that as well. 

The moment that their relationship became so well defined, in my opinion, was when Osamu told Atsumu, “You love volleyball a smidge more than I do”. Before that, their personalities had been defined as different. Atsumu is generally the louder, more thoughtless twin while Osamu is more quiet (but no less crazy). But in that moment, you see that their paths aren’t lined up right beside each other. And there’s a bittersweetness to that. It makes every moment that they’re on the court together even more special, because it won’t last forever.

Did you know how long it took for me to write anything about these two on my side of the commentary? I was so hung up over the bittersweetness of their love for volleyball that I spent like an hour not coming up with anything. Also, we do need more realistic twins in fiction whose lives are not perfectly aligned with each other. We do need twins who have actual individual personalities.

And that, me friends, concludes today’s post. I hope y’all enjoyed it! If you’re still interested in what I have to say about these character dynamics, don’t forget to check out Jorja’s post 🙂

Until next time,

~ Merie

Talk to me! Have you watched or read Haikyuu? If you have, which of these is your favorite duo? Do you agree or disagree with these points?

9 thoughts on “What Makes the Character Dynamics in Haikyuu!! So Compelling? (ft. Jorja Ayres)

    1. That makes sense, lol! In my opinion YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD, because Haikyuu is just so much epicness and fun and hilarity + you can learn so much from it. It’s also the first anime I ever watched, and I still don’t really watch that much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay! I’ll check it out then. My friend loves anime and she got me into Avatar The Last Airbender, and she also loves this show called My Hero Academia that I wanna try.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. HELLO it’s taken wayy too long for me to find my way to your blog but here I am now!! and wow, I’ve suddenly gotten into a manga reading spree so I will certainly be checking to see if my library has this!! thank youu!

    Liked by 1 person

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