[Nov. 2019 OWLS Tour] Haikyuu: Failure Means Growth

Hello newcomers and people that still continue to come back to my OWLS post for the second to last month of this annoying year of 2019. It looks like my plan of not talking about my usual fair of anime for OWLS post is almost over for this year. Then I will be free from my own mental limits and annoy people with things they mostly aren’t interested in. Like Mecha and space. For now though, it’s time to talk about sports manga on my blog once again. I’ve finally been indoctrinated into the OWLS Haikyuu collective since I’ve caught up to the manga it seems. I was trying to think a way to talk about me catching up to the manga and then this tour prompt showed up on my feed. Perfect. Absolutely perfect for me to talk about this show finally.

But more on that later. For now, a message about what OWLS is and our month’s prompt.

About OWLS

For those of you who haven’t heard of what OWLS is may be asking me and other people what that is. Well, that’s an easy question to answer. OWLS, also known as Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, is a group of otaku bloggers who promote the acceptance of all individuals. There will be no judgement of people based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or disability here. All of this is about humanity for humanities sake and hopeful betterment. Each month, our members are given a topic to write about and each of us approaches that topic in our own way. If you want to know more, please click here to go to our OWLS Blog Page. Find us here and maybe you can join us! We are always looking for more people.
And with that comes this month’s prompt!

This Month’s Topic is Failure. It was requested by Lita and written up by our wonderful chief creative officer LynLyn. To be more specific on this end:

One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favorite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.


(This is a mostly spoiler free post, but some character spoilers are here. You have been warned for a small amount of things.)

My Haikyuu Journey

It took me a long time to get here. I first tried to watch the anime which I found too slow to get me interested, but there was something magical about the manga that drew me in. Maybe it was the ability to read through it at my own pace without dead air that I didn’t seem very reasonable. I really mean that. The second I started reading through the manga, I was hooked. After that little bit of failure on the launch pad, I had to restrain myself so I didn’t binge read this loveable thing. How is that for a fitting this Tours prompt?

Sports Manga and Haikyuu

Something I didn’t realize until recently is that sports anime and manga aren’t just anime and manga about sports. Those are there, but they are all character dramas that center each characters wants and desires around the sport and uses that sport as action. It’s almost as identical to a lot of shonen jump battle series except no one dies or gets too seriously injured unless things go seriously wrong. Instead, the stakes are mostly about whether a team wins or loses. You know, unless the sport is boxing and is about beating the other opponent up so they don’t get up causing all sorts of permanent damage and doctor bills. That’s not what this is. It’s all tournament style play with one team’s wants, desires, and skills against the others. Whoever wins usually wants it more.

Karasuno Team!

That’s where Haikyuu being slightly different then other series comes into this equation. Now I am not the sports manga expert here, but what makes Haikyuu special is these aren’t super hero characters with limitless powers and abilities being on display like Kuroko’s Basket Ball. Instead, these are people that don’t always win and have a whole bunch of weaknesses. That means that there is a little bit more edge to these games because it’s always possible for these volley ball boys to lose at any moment resulting in them being knocked out of the tournament. The character drama that comes off as a result of that failure and how they deal with it is incredibly interesting and wonderful, which is another strong point in Haikyuu.

Karasuno’s Failures

Haikyuu is a volley ball manga centered on the boy’s volley ball team from Karasuno High School. Karasuno is a team that used to be good a short time ago and had the capability of going far in the national tournament, but now they are stuck with being number 8 or so in the prefecture they are in. Because of that, there is a meme that travels around from school to school of Karasuno having clipped wings. The school uses a crow as their aesthetic, so a flightless crow is a powerful image of failure and sadness which carried the thing over it’s first few arcs.

A Karasuno Loss (Before I learned I can trim things on my phone)

That’s only the top point of the tip of Haikyu because a Volley Ball team has a cast of characters with their faults. The seniors of the team are weighed down by their own doubts from years of failure. Asashi is an ace who feels like he has failed his team due to constantly being stuffed by Date Tech’s offense. The other players, including Daichi and Sugawara are skilled but they feel like they aren’t playing at the level they should be able to play and haven’t helped Asashi at all. Second years Tanaka and Nishinoya are great players, but are just individuals on a team that hasn’t come together.

Then there is the fact that the first years that appeared on the team are full of problems. Two epic newbies showed up with untold amounts of baggage. Hinata is a shorter player who wants to spike the ball and has great athletic ability, but is constantly weighed done because most of his life is an up hill battle. On the other end, Kageyama is a player whose exceptional skilled but refuses to lower his player level to those around him. The fact that they were rivals who met during middle school and see each other as rivals is interesting. Not to mention Tsukishima who has an attitude problem who can’t take anything seriously despite being intelligent and Yamaguchi who isn’t as skilled as the others. There is a lot of awkward pieces here that just don’t work together well.

Failure and Success

I don’t think I would be lying when I say that Karasuno loses more then they win in the manga. Yes, most of those are practice games that are off the record, but each player still feels those losses and they just don’t want to stay the same. There has to be something that each individual player can do to make their results better. Does it help? Will that improve everything? Does that improvement happen immediately or does the player really have to work for it? So many questions to consider and no answer is the same besides work.

Kageyama and Hinata!

Volleyball is a team sport and Haikyuu completely understands that attribute. Two x-factor players of Hinata and Kageyama aren’t going to change how a team plays if the rest aren’t at a similar level. Though, even Hinata and Kageyama have their own struggles. I love that fact about Haikyuu where growth never happens at the same time because it’s always uneven. When finding a style, what one player does might disconnect Karasuno’s flow or push another player to do better. Both happen during these practice games and real games, but what comes out is a solid enough team to make it somewhere in nationals.

My Two Favorite Character’s Journey

Haikyuu has so many character journeys that this post would at least be dictionary sized if I tried to summarize all of them. That’s why talking about two of them seemed like the best choice. I do realize that Haikyuu’s major characters are Hinata and Kageyama because their dynamic does drive a lot of Karasuno’s players to improve, but Hinata’s “short guy learning to surpass his shortness through talent and energy” along with accepting that he doesn’t have to be the Little Giant are pretty general basic things. Same with Kageyama’s arc of learning to play nice and get people to listen to his criticisms when being a setter. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t as interesting to explore and think about.

Just Sugawara Things

Kageyama’s Setter rival at Karasuno, Sugawara, is one of my favorite characters in the show. This is one of those “you can do nothing wrong and still fail” sorts of stories. His arc of learning to cope with his skill level of not even nearing Kageyama’s level of skill. Sugawara does have cunning and thinking processes on his side that give him some sort of edge, but Kageyama is closing in on him too. With Sugawara as his potential’s edge and Kageyama’s level just shooting up and up, Sugawara has to make a lot of concessions when helping Karasuno win.

That is what leads him to be the out of the box player and the central strategist of Karasuno’s playing. You know, besides the coaches suggestions and hints to continue playing onward. Sugawara being sent out as a setter as a stop gap when Kageyama’s setting isn’t working or thrown into the game when more defense and strategy is necessary. His strategic mind is still great, so Sugawara gives his strategies to people that can do them better. He really is a great character who tries in a place where he became pointless and that means a lot to everyone.

Celebrating a Yamaguchi Success. (Tsukishika is the blonde one)

On a similar plane as Sugawara is Yamaguchi. His journey is pretty great as well. As the only first year who didn’t make it to being an instant starter on the court, he had to find a way to make it on the court as well and he chose to master the serve. He became Karasuno’s pinch server. He failed on his serves many times in important situations because of nerves and other things, but Yamaguchi eventually became reliable on achieving points. Even if he didn’t get his ten points in one turn, Yamaguchi found his way onto court in a realistic manner. It’s a simple journey, like Hinata and Kageyama’s, but Yamaguchi’s comes from a place of a normal person who doesn’t have limitless capabilities that are untapped. That’s what makes it more special.

Lessons From Failure in Haikyuu.

I’m a big fan of Mythbusters and one of my favorite qoutes from Adam Savage is “Failure is always an option”. Now that may seem like something for science and engineering problems only, but that applies to everything we try and do as well. In life, there is a larger chance of us failing then achieving anything which is why life is so difficult and painful sometimes. Sometimes failure just happens and we can’t control it. Karasuno’s raise to nationals in Haikyuu was full of failure that they did and did not want. As I’ve said before in this post, I’m pretty sure that Karasuno lost more then they won yet they’ve still made it to the National High School Volleyball Tournament. An impressive feat from a team that didn’t achieve much the year before hand.

There are lessons to be learned from watching Karasuno and it’s great players grow. A lot of things I still need to learn to deal with in my mostly directionless life at this moment. The first one is never give up and never feel depressed from losing. Keep trying and you will succeed some point in the future. A pretty basic one, but necessary none the less. The other one is if something isn’t working for you, try something different. There are other ways to success then repeating Albert Einstein’s theory of insanity over and over again. Life is hard and there are ways through it. Thank you for showing me this again, Haikyuu.

Thank you for reading this OWL’s post everyone. I hope that this post was alright enough to end this OWLS Tour on. If it’s not and I failed, then just know that I tried my best when writing this. If you want to see actual good content, look at Taku’s post from a couple days ago. Please read Lyn’s post who posted a few hours before me. Also go here to find more people involved with this month’s tour if you missed any post. Everybody did great this month. I think it’s worth reading what everyone has to say about this topic.

Until the next post.


    1. I honestly think that you would find a lot of enjoyment in it from the manga, anime, or otherwise.

      It’s honestly one of the best sports series for a reason despite it having the same formula as a lot of sports things.

      Liked by 1 person

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