Image source: アニメ「ハイキュー!!」 on Twitter

The new Haikyu!! original video anime (OVA) titled, “Tokushu! Haruko Volley ni Kaketa Seishun,” is a compilation episode. But, it’s no ordinary compilation because it shows us the Miyagi Prefecture boy’s volley national tournament preliminaries framed as a news broadcast.

The Karasuno High School boy’s volleyball team worked hard for a spot on the national Spring High School volleyball tournament by winning the Miyagi Prefecture preliminaries. And a local TV station covered five major high schools that participated in the preliminaries. Through the station’s reporting, we get to learn a little bit about each team, their strengths, and their goals.

Local TV news stations in Japan often cover major high school sporting events by airing an entire game, showing highlights, or introducing the different teams. So, taking that idea and applying it to the compilation OVA of Haikyu!! makes a lot of sense. It allows the viewers to see some of the highlights from the series and gives us an opportunity to get to know the characters even more. This is very helpful for any fan, be they newcomers or seasoned viewers of the series. This is because it’s always nice knowing what makes the teams unique and understanding the struggle of the protagonist’s team. In other words, giving us the human story behind the victors and losers of the preliminary tournament.

Image source: アニメ「ハイキュー!!」 on Twitter

The human story is actually the most important part of the OVA and for a compilation, this is rather unique. Instead of just showing us the highlights of each important volleyball game in the series, we really see what each team and the characters want. One way this is emphasized in the OVA is through short introductions and interviews with a handful of the characters. As an example, about five minutes into the OVA, we’re introduced to Tōru Oikawa, the captain of the Aoba Johsai High School team. We’re quickly told about his team over clips of him practicing and through it we see how his team plays. These moments in the OVA help reinforce the differences of the teams and their governing philosophies.

But, it’s in the interviews where we’re shown a deeper level of storytelling in the OVA. In Oikawa’s interview, for instance, he says, “…We know what we have to do. And who to beat.” It’s a very small section, but this allows us to quickly understand what his team is aiming for: victory.

Image source: アニメ「ハイキュー!!」 on Twitter

However, what’s even better is the second part of the quote can be taken it two very distinct ways depending on how you approach the OVA. The first is Aoba Johsai High has to beat the number one ranked Shiratorizawa Academy to advance to the national tournament. As a news broadcast, the average viewer in the Haikyu!! world would assume that’s what Oikawa meant when he said, “And who we have to beat.” But the OVA’s story isn’t being told by an omnipotent narrator. It’s told through the eyes of a reporter with his own bias.

Fans of Haikyu!!, however, can easily take Oikawa’s quote in another direction: he’s pointing at Karasuno High. The reason is because Oikawa recognizes the potential Karasuno High has—especially with the combination of the protagonist Shōyō Hinata and his partner Kageyama Tobio—in their few games they’ve played against each other. This means the interviews aren’t just there to serve as filler for a news broadcast, but to also deepen our understanding of the characters. This means the entire OVA is a very delicate balance of storytelling and presentation where one small hiccup could ruin the premise of the OVA—which thankfully never happens.

The new Haikyu!! OVA is far different from the many other compilation stories because it’s trying to do these two things—i.e., present the story as though it were a news broadcast and show us a highly cut version of the series. And the OVA succeeds at both because it understands the format and style of the former is more important than giving viewers a watered down version of the series. As such we get new insights into the characters and story while seeing the best moments of the series.

Haikyu!! “Tokushu! Haruko Volley ni Kaketa Seishun” is currently unavailable outside of Japan.

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