In junior high, Shōyō Hinata gained a sudden interest in volleyball due to seeing a match on television, which featured a star player nicknamed "The Little Giant", and yearned to follow in his footsteps to become a volleyball ace despite his short stature. Hinata starts his own volleyball club, which no one joins, and practices rigorously by himself. Eventually he convinces enough people to make up a rag-tag team consisting of a couple of members who haven't even played volleyball before just so he could compete in a tournament. His team is quickly annihilated by Tobio Kageyama - "King of the Court" - and his champion team. After suffering a miserable defeat, Hinata vows to defeat Kageyama and surpass him as a volleyball player.
Upon entering Karasuno High School - the school "The Little Giant" attended - Hinata learns that he's now on the same team as Kageyama. The two must learn to work together so they can restore Karasuno to its former greatness.
Haikyuu!! (meaning "Volleyball") is a manga written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate, which was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from February 2012 to July 2020, with 402 chapters in total being published. An anime adaptation produced by Production I.G premiered in April 2014, and has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks in America. The second season premiered in October 2015, and the third season (subtitled "Karasuno High VS Shiratorizawa Academy") premiered in October 2016. The fourth season, subtitled "To the Top", begain airing January 2020 as split-cours, and the OVA "Land vs. Sky" was released in the same month; unlike the previous OVAs (which are anime original), this one contains manga content and adapts the Tokyo Preliminaries arc which star Nekoma and Fukurodani, taking place prior to Season 4. In August 2022, a two-part anime film titled Haikyuu!! Final were announced. The series has also been adapted into a series of stage plays in Japan that ran in 2015-2021, called Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyuu!!.
Haikyuu!! has two Gag Series spin-offs penned by other authors - Let's Haikyuu!!, a chibified yonkoma which parodies the original manga storyline, and Haikyuu-bu!!, which focuses on teams and characters other than the Karasuno boys' team.
Spoilers prior to Season 4 are unmarked.
Haikyuu!! provides examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny:
- On one occasion Daichi calls Asahi a dumbass. The tone he uses sounds similar to how Kageyama calls Hinata one, which amuses Asahi so much that he (along with Sugawara) asks Daichi to do it again.
- Nohebi members trashtalk Lev in an attempt to rile him up, saying he's going to miss his spikes. Kenma (who scolded Lev for poor play earlier) fails to hide a chuckle, much to Lev's annoyance.
- In Tsubakihara's Round 1 Nationals match, their pinch server is subbed into the first set. However, he's so nervous that he sends the ball flying into the ace Teradomari's head, much to everyone's shock. Despite having just lost the set thanks to this error, the captain Echigo can't contain his laughter because he finds it too hilarious.
- In a flashback when Osamu and Atsumu got into a physical fight, their teammates were mortified... except for Suna, who proceeded to take photos of the fight on his phone.
- Bokuto yells out mid-match, during a tense moment, that he's tired and that volleyball is tiring. Everyone around him is dumbfounded by this sudden Captain Obvious outburst. The captain of the opposing team, Kiryuu, can't help but let out a chuckle due to the ridiculousness, something he would usually never do during a game if the shocked reaction from his younger teammate is anything to go by.
- Adaptation Induced Plothole:
- At the Miyagi Spring High Preliminaries final, Karasuno's cheer squad solely consists of the Karasuno Neighbourhood Association (contrasting Shiratorizawa who boasts a mighty student cheer squad). Since no one from their school watches it, Hinata's classmates assume he's just a benchwarmer who does chores, not believing him when he says he's actually a regular on the team. This scene makes less sense in the anime adaptation where the vice-principal organises a Karasuno student cheer squad the very last minute to bring to the match, meaning students would have seen Hinata in action.
- The stage plays omit Narita due to constraint issues. This creates a problem in the adaptation of the Shiratorizawa match when Tsukishima needs to get medical attention and is temporarily taken out of the game. In the original, Narita is the one to sub in for him since he's a middle blocker and so usually replaces Hinata or Tsukishima; in this adaptation, Ennoshita is used despite not being the right position (wing spiker) with no proper explanation given.
- Adapted Out: Multiple characters are not present in Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyuu!! plays due to budget and time constraints. Often their parts are given to other characters in the play, for example Shimizu's lines getting delegated to the third-years and Ennoshita in the first play. Some characters get added in later installments, for example Shimizu and Kinoshita.
- An Aesop:
- Tsukishima's Character Development in the Training Camp arc addresses an important issue with one's commitment to their extracurricular activities: you don't need a big dream goal in order to justify your hard work on a sport, or even to play that sport at all. Even if it's just a school club activity, you can play it seriously because it just feels really good to win, and to have a personal awesome moment. It doesn't need to be grander than that.Yamaguchi: A reason to work hard...? What more do you need besides pride?!
- As exciting as this series makes it out to be, high school sports isn't everything. You are perfectly okay to move on to another interest, and it doesn't invalidate your passion or or dedication to your club. Alternatively, you have more sport to look forward to as an adult (whether it be pro or casual), so it's not the end of the world if your high school experience isn't as great as you wanted it to be.
- Tsukishima's Character Development in the Training Camp arc addresses an important issue with one's commitment to their extracurricular activities: you don't need a big dream goal in order to justify your hard work on a sport, or even to play that sport at all. Even if it's just a school club activity, you can play it seriously because it just feels really good to win, and to have a personal awesome moment. It doesn't need to be grander than that.
- Ambiguously Brown: Reon Ohira and Nobuyuki Kai, while not having shaded skin in the manga, are some lighter shades of brown in the anime or official coloured art and share some features commonly associated with the black community (thicker lips and/or frizzy hair). It's never made clear if they have any foreign heritage or belong to any particular minority groups.
- Animation Bump:
- Tsukishima letting out a victorious shout after his "moment" in season 3 is animated in a way that looks more like CGI than traditional animation and it is glorious.
- Season 4 has noticeably more dynamic animation, with certain details (such as hair and jumps) having more fluidity than seen in previous seasons.
- Animal Motifs: Volleyball teams are symbolised by animals so often that it could be considered a signature of the series. Some characters in those teams even have their own distinct animal motifs.
- Crows for Karasuno. The Karasuno players are compared to crows several times:
- The fact that like small birds breaking the egg's shell and learning to fly, they're continuously trying to evolve.
- They eventually learn how to unify the team's strengths like a color blend that achieves pure black (black, naturally, being the color of crows).
- Crows are omnivorous, which relates to the team's hunger for victory and evolution.
- Cats for Nekoma. In their very introduction, Ukai compares them to cats due to their flexibility (in the context, their power of defense). They also have other similar motifs inside their own team, with the "Inu" in Inuoka meaning "dog", fitting to his role as Hinata's 'chaser' during the practice match against Nekoma, and Lev meaning "lion" in Russian, owing to his large build and seeing himself as Nekoma's ace. Karasuno and Nekoma's games are referred to as "battles at the garbage dump" to reflect the imagery of a crow vs. a stray cat.
- Owls for Fukurodani. Bokuto in particular greatly resembles the animal thanks to his spiky hairstyle.
- The 'shiratori' kanji in 'Shiratorizawa' means 'swan'. Interestingly enough, Ushijima is shown symbolically with an eagle instead.
- Snakes for Nohebi, which comprises rather unpleasant players that sneakily rely on cheap tactics to win points.
- Foxes for Inarizaki. Inari is the Japanese god of foxes, and most of the members are named after different species of foxes.
- Seagulls for Kamomedai, with the ace Hoshiumi strongly resembling one.
- Crows for Karasuno. The Karasuno players are compared to crows several times:
- Armor-Piercing Question: Yamaguchi, of all people, dramatically delivers a question to Tsukishima in Chapter 88 which stuns him.Yamaguchi: Motivation? WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED THAN PRIDE?!
- Artistic License – Sports: Haikyuu!! sometimes plays things up for epic effect, but otherwise generally follows the rules and keeps things to realistic levels unlike other sports anime and manga. An exception is Kageyama's "falling toss" in the updated freak quick; it has the setter (Kageyama) setting the ball incredibly fast yet also killing its momentum by giving it spin and having it stop right where the spiker (Hinata) is about to hit it (ie. if not spiked, it will fall right at that spot). Even if it's possible to do, it would likely break the rules since the amount of spin suggests Kageyama would have to do a double touch in real life.
- Art Shift:
- The manga and anime can go from Super-Deformed drawings (often for comedic effect) to amazingly stunning artwork (especially in epic or emotional scenes) in one page or second.
- Whenever powerful attacks are shown, the art style shifts into a highly frenetic, heavily-inked style more reminiscent of Street Fighter than the rest of the series. This includes Asahi's spike against Date Tech, Oikawa's serves (particularly the ones that emphasize force), Kyoutani's first play against Karasuno, and Ushijima's spikes.
- During the Tokyo Expedition arc, Takatora, Tanaka, and Nishinoya are drawn more akin to the art style of Jojos Bizarre Adventure when trying to "protect" Shimizu from the other players.
- Art-Shifted Sequel: Season 4 of the anime adaptation marks the debut of the new art style. While Seasons 1-3 of the anime matches the initial manga design, it does not reflect the gradual Art Evolution the manga underwent; and so by Season 3 the anime had some stylistic differences compared to the manga chapters it was adapting (such as the slightly different hair and eyes and the toned down muscles). The Season 4 designs follows the later manga art more closely.
- Back for the Finale: Every character makes their series return in the final arc after the Time Skip. Some characters, especially Hinata and Kageyama's main circle, are frequently shown watching their match, while everyone else is given brief one-two panel appearances. The audience is updated on their ages as well as current status (whether it be studying, working in a common job and/or working as a pro volleyball player.
- Backstory: You can bet that every character who says at least a few lines has got some sort of backstory, whether it be the main characters or players from a team that has only appeared for three chapters.
- Bait-and-Switch: The Johzenji team attempt to imitate Karasuno’s synchronized attack after seeing it just once, surprising everyone. The build-up hints that a really badass moment is coming… and they just fail spectacularly, much to Karasuno's confusion (and Johzenji's coach and manager's embarrassment).
- Birds of a Feather: You can count on the more like-minded players to get along, whether they're from the same or opposing teams. This includes the hot-blooded Tanaka, Nishinoya and Yamamoto (who all also bond over their admiration for Shimizu) and the fellow boisterous shorties Hinata and Nishinoya.
- Blank White Eyes: White lifeless eyes are comedic staple, often used to express extreme emotion such as anger or shock.
- Book Dumb: Tanaka, Hinata, Kageyama, and Nishinoya are talented regulars of the Karasuno volleyball club, which contrast with their terrible school grades. They're forced to amp up their studying when they find out the supplementary exam period clashes with their first trip to the practice games in Tokyo – while Tanaka and Nishinoya scrape by, Kageyama and Hinata fail one exam each (although Hinata would have passed it if he hadn't accidentally missed a line on the answer sheet) and miss part of the trip in order to retake the exams. Kageyama in particular wouldn't have been at Karasuno if he was smarter, since he'd applied to Shiratorizawa but couldn't pass their entrance exam.
- Book Ends:
- One of the first things Hinata does with Kageyama when applying for the Karasuno volleyball team is attempting to receive his serves at the gym. A flashback of their third year, on the day of their graduation (and so at the end of their high school journey), shows him and Kageyama doing the same thing—only this time, Hinata is able to receive it perfectly.
- The series begins with Hinata and Kageyama competing against each other in junior high school, and ends with the two competing again but at the World Championships in their respective pro teams.
- The cover of the final volume of the manga recreates the cover of the first volume, though with a few differences (like Hinata and Kageyama being visibly older).
- The manga starts with elementary school Hinata being introduced to volleyball when he catches the Little Giant's nationals match playing on the display tv of an electronics store while riding by on his bike, and in the final panels of the manga we see a different boy on a bike watching Hinata's olympic match.
- The first full match covered by the manga is heavily paralleled in the last full match to show the growth of Hinata and Kageyama. The middle school match is even alluded to on the first page of chapter 401 where Hinata once again tries to spike past Kageyama's block.
- The opening and closing narration to the manga are the same:Haikyu also known as volleyball. Two teams separated by a net bounce a ball back and forth between each other. The ball is not allowed to touch the floor. It cannot be carried. Once it is in the air a team has no more than three touches to connect and take the ball from receive to attack.
- Boring, but Practical: Although flashy moves are often in play for epic effect (especially by Karasuno which boasts the freak quick attack), many mundane techniques are also effectively used in matches. In particular, it's emphasised that no matter how good or ridiculous one's attacks are, receives should also take importance as they can render even the most crazy of attacks useless. Nekoma's entire strategy is to polish their receives to a near-perfect degree; they're known for being a slow-starting team who finds it difficult to score points until their receives have worn down their opposing team's energy.
- Brick Joke:
- Washijo grumbles that he'll make his team do a hundred serves later when Ushijima misses a serve during the Shiratorizawa vs Karasuno match. After the match, Washijo has a Pet the Dog moment with his team by telling them to get on the bus (instead of running back like he threatened them to), before adding that they still have to do a hundred serves.
- When Shiratorizawa's assistant coach Saitou is about to dig into some oysters, his former underclassman and Johzenji's coach Anabara reminds him of the time they practised on their own as students because their coach got sick from eating bad oysters. Later, the First Year Miyagi Camp participants are suddenly made to do a practice match with Shiratorizawa's second and third years because Saitou is feeling unwell... from the oysters.
- At the Tokyo summer training camp, when Tsukishima tries to ask some of the Tokyo upperclassmen why they're so passionate about volleyball, Kuroo and Bokuto go offtrack when they start discussing how tada no bukatsu ("just a club") sounds like a name (Tada Nobukatsu, in Japanese naming order). When Karasuno and Nekoma play each other at Nationals, Kuroo teasingly addresses Tsukishima as "Nobukatsu-kun" while trying to give him advice.
- Bust-Contrast Duo: Yachi and Saeko develop a two-girl rapport while they support Karasuno from the stands alongside Takinoue and Shimada. Yachi is the younger and flatter girl who's timid and sweet; Saeko is the older and bustier girl who's fierce and boisterous. Both are equally nice and strike up a good friendship in the short time they spend together (although Yachi briefly gapes at Saeko's chest in horror while covering her own). Interestingly Yachi is more knowledgeable in volleyball than Saeko; the former is a manager and has thoroughly studied the sport, while the latter is supportive of her brother but otherwise never had anything to do with volleyball until now.
- Call-Back: When Aoba Johsai plays Karasuno at the Spring High Preliminaries, Matsukawa is the first to neutralise their new quick attack by using pressure to narrow Hinata's spike direction. When Hinata is desperately trying to think of the most terrifying one-on-one block he's faced when trying to counter Inarizaki, he channels Matsukawa and successfully pressures Osamu Miya to spike to Nishinoya, helping Karasuno gain momentum at a critical time in the first set. In typical Haikyuu!! fashion, this call-back ends with a Sneeze Cut to Matsukawa on the train somewhere back in Miyagi.
- Calling Your Attacks: Calling out one's attacks is occasionally parodied by players during comical moments, and it's also sometimes downplayed when players mentally yell out the name of their techniques during a match (as saying it out loud is naturally not practical). At Nationals, this is replaced with sports commentary of the match.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Although only few of the male players are explicitly stated to be attractive (such as Oikawa), the character designs of most guys are generally easy on the eyes and strongly outnumber the female cast (justified as this series focuses on boys' volleyball).
- Cast Herd: This being a sports story, characters are sorted with the team they're affiliated with.
- Cast of Snowflakes: Every single player on a team gets a name and has very distinct features. A lot of detail is put into the spectators too. This is more obvious in the anime.
- Character-Driven Strategy: In the first OVA "The Arrival of Haiba Lev", the Karasuno boys take turns playing a video game (hinted to be Monster Hunter). The way each of them plays the game showcases their personality and/or their playing style in volleyball. Nishinoya receives all of the monster's attacks (leading to a quick game over), Daichi only defends, Asahi gets scared and runs away, Hinata gets overexcited and plays like a kid, and so on. They end up not getting anything done.
- Childhood Friends: There's often at least one close pair of players in each team who have been friends with each other since childhood (Tsukishima and Yamaguchi, Kuroo and Kenma, Iwaizumi and Oikawa, etc). This can have a positive effect on how well they work together on the court; this is why spectators regularly mistake Hinata and Kageyama to be longtime friends when they've actually only known each other since their match in junior high, considering how fluidly they play together.
- Combat Commentator: Match commentary is often provided to the audience by benched players, coaches, or veterans like Shimada, Takinoue and Akiteru. Nationals, being televised, has actual commentators emceeing the event.
- Compressed Adaptation:
- The 10-episode Season 3 adapts the Shiratorizawa match, which is about 40 chapters in the manga and so adapted at a rate of four chapters per episode. In comparison, Seasons 1 and 2 altogether adapts 150 chapters, which equals to three chapters per episode. Season 3 glosses over some details as a result, going as far as to skip Set 3 altogether.
- The Tokyo qualifying matches for Spring High lasts for 26 chapters (almost two volumes). These were adapted into two OVA episodes totalling to 45 minutes, leading to a lot of skipped content (including reduced screentime for characters like Konoha, Yamamoto and Kuguri, as well as less development for plot points like Nohebi's dirty tactics).
- Continuity Nod:
- At one point when we first meet Lev, he apologizes to Kenma for being so forward and demanding when he calls for the ball, and Kenma tells him that he doesn't need to be so formal about it. Later on, in one of the national qualifier matches, Lev yells for Kenma to "Give it here – please and thank you!" and Kenma thinks to himself that he keeps telling him not to be so polite.
- The second "Land vs Sky" OVA ends with Hinata running into a boar back at home and having to fend it off offscreen. In Season 4 Episode 1, Hinata brags to Kageyama about how he once defeated a boar.
- Cool Old Guy: The old men in the series are usually impressive in some way.
- The elderly volleyball coaches are experienced and wise, which is what helps their teams become strong and Nationals-tier. Most of them also have sharp tongues and keep their teams on their toes.
- Nishinoya's grandpa is shown to act as youthful and energetic as his grandson. He whipped a young "scaredy-cat" Nishinoya into the boisterous and confident guy he is today, and taught him to tackle any new or unknown challenge no matter how scared he was.
- In Chapter 387, Kageyama's volleyball background is revealed to have been greatly influenced by his own grandfather, who coached a team and often babysat him and his sister. He let his grandkids tag along to his training sessions/matches, practised with them and offered a lot of good advice to Kageyama. Notably, Kageyama's King of the Court days are implied to only have started after his grandfather passed away.
- Cross-Referenced Titles: Chapters are sometimes named "[previous chapter title] 2" whenever they're meant to reference those aforementioned chapters in some way:
- Chapter 357 is called "Guide Part 2", referencing Chapter 298. Both chapters have Tsukishima and Yamaguchi successfully carrying out their serve and block tactic, gaining momentum and also showing off their friendship. This tactic is what helps win Karasuno the second set in Chapter 357.
- Chapter 361 is titled "The View From the Top Part 2", which references Chapter 8. Both chapters have Hinata spiking over a wall of blockers; Chapter 8 is the first time he and Kageyama do their freak quick, whereas Chapter 361 has the two pulling off an even more absurd quick attack at Nationals.
- Chapter 365 is "Endings and Beginnings Part 2", referencing Chapter 1. Much like Chapter 1, Chapter 365 has Kageyama "beating" Hinata by standing on court the longest (Hinata is forced to retire from the match due to illness).
- Crowd Chant: The more established teams tend to have set team chants at matches.
- Date Tech High School's team chant is lampshaded to be rather catchy:Date Tech crowd: GO GO LET'S GO LET'S GO DATEKOU
- Shiratorizawa has a very impressive cheer squad at the Miyagi finals which frequently chant the team and players' names in between points, and this intimidates Karasuno's much more humble squad (even in the anime where the vice principle has gotten a last-minute student team to come along). When Saeko manages to get the Karasuno cheer squad fired up at one point, they simply get drowned out by the Shiratorizawa side singing their school song. This is what motivates Saeko to gather her taiko team and act as Karasuno's cheer support at Nationals, so that the team doesn't have to deal with an overwhelming rival cheer squad again.
- One of the teams at nationals, Inarizaki, even uses the cheer chants and music to their advantage. They know that they're a popular team with a wildly large crowd following and school cheer squad, so their cheer squad has specific cheers designed to destabilize the other team while they're serving or trying to make snap judgements. The stadium gets noticeably quieter and more positive when Inarizaki is serving, and the crowd goes as far as to boo players on the other team who made a good save or scored a point. During the opposing team's serves, the crowd starts at 60 BPM, but slowly increases it to make the server think they have less time than they actually do. Overall, it's a stunningly effective demoralizer.
- Date Tech High School's team chant is lampshaded to be rather catchy:
- Crushing Handshake: A Running Gag is Daichi and Kuroo shaking hands with a lot more strength than necessary. Kuroo even lampshades to himself how much it hurts when the two have a handshake right before their Nationals matchup.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Prior to the Spring High preliminaries final, any high school volleyball team in the Miyagi prefecture are usually on the receiving end of brutal scorelines when faced against the powerful Shiratorizawa Academy. One of Shiratorizawa's qualifying sets ended 25-6 in their favour.
- Hinata’s first match against Kageyama went poorly, with their scores not even surpassing 10 points. Hinata’s team was composed mostly of amateurs, while Kageyama’s team was the championship favorite.
- Karasuno's match against Date Tech prior to the story was so one-sided that even Asahi, the ace, couldn't fight against their height.
- Karasuno's performance at the Tokyo summer training camp is a lot less impressive than usual, since they've only just started to learn their new techniques. Their end results? 70 losses, 4 wins.
- Cute Sports Club Manager: Attractive amicable female students acting as the manager are very prevalent amongst the boys' volleyball teams, including Karasuno and the other teams at the Tokyo training camp. The boys often have crushes or soft spots for them, and teams without female managers usually bemoan their lack of this trope. Although played straight, the focus and development of Karasuno's managers remind the audience that their jobs genuinely are important: Shimizu takes her duties very seriously which is what spurs her to look for a successor, and one of the first things Yachi does as manager is to make a poster advertising Karasuno to (successfully!) raise funds for their trips.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: A Discussed Trope in the series when it comes to receiving left-handed spikes; their rotation is opposite that of a right-hander's spike, and makes them more difficult to receive properly because the receiver will be used to a right-handed spiker's rotation. Even Nishinoya, the best receiver in the series, needs time to adjust to it.
- Dark Horse Victory: The unexpected result of the Spring High preliminaries in Miyagi. No one sees Karasuno coming since everyone's focused on powerhouses like Shiratorizawa and Aoba Johsai (who Karasuno previously lost to at Interhigh). When Karasuno defeats Aoba Johsai, the TV news focuses on Aoba Johsai's loss and laments how they wouldn't be participating in the finals. When Karasuno wins in the finals, the audience is completely stunned since Shiratorizawa were the expected victors of the Miyagi tournament and even expected to do well at Nationals.
- A Day in the Limelight: Due to the large casts, many characters other than the main duo Kageyama and Hinata get some attention and development at some point, especially the other members of Karasuno and the star players of their rival teams. Every team they play against generally gets to have perspective shots and flashbacks to when they were practicing and stating their own goals, which usually are very similar to Karasuno's own.
- In particular, the main focus often shifts to Nekoma and Fukurodani later on whenever the story takes a break from Karasuno's side, giving the teams some development and backstory. The first OVA, The Arrival of Haiba Lev, mainly shows the Nekoma team back in Tokyo and the difficulty in training Lev. After the conclusion of the Spring High Preliminaries in Miyagi, Chapters 190 to 206 (adapted as the OVA prequel to Season 4) shifts the attention to the Tokyo preliminaries which is where Nekoma and Fukurodani are competing. The arc focuses on two matches — Nekoma vs. Fukurodani, and Nekoma vs. Nohebi. Afterward at Nationals, the series breaks away from Karasuno's matches to dedicate a couple of chapters to Nekoma's Round 2 match and Fukurodani's Round 1 and quarterfinal matches.
- The Haikyuu-bu!! spin-off is specifically dedicated to characters other than the Karasuno team. While most of the stories revolve around other teams, there's also chapters focused on other characters like Karasuno's alumini and Yachi's mother.
- The Day the Music Lied: When Takeda is talking about next month's Tokyo training camp Karasuno's been invited to, the background music is excited and upbeat... then he mentions that finals are going to be next month too, meaning anyone who fails has to retake the exams which is the same time as the camp. Cue the music stopping and the four idiots (Kageyama, Hinata, Tanaka and Nishinoya) going Blue with Shock, Blank White Eyes and Color Failure.Yamaguchi: Kageyama's not breathing!
- Delayed Reaction: During the Miyagi training camp, Tsukishima asks Hinata to come with him. It takes a few seconds for Hinata to realize what he said and give him a shocked look, since Tsukishima usually goes out of his way to avoid him.
- Description Cut:
- When overwhelmed by Shiratorizawa's cheer squad (or underwhelmed by Karasuno's cheer squad in the anime), Shimada and Takinoue reassure themselves that the Karasuno members are surely keeping themselves together. The next scenes have 1) Kageyama gushing about being on centre court, 2) Yamaguchi and Asahi asking Yachi for stomach medicine, 3) Hinata wanting to go to the bathroom (again), 4) Tanaka and Nishinoya geting fired up over cheerleaders, 5) Daichi telling Tanaka and Nishinoya to shut up, and 6) Takeda telling everyone to calm down while being anything but calm himself.
- In the manga, during a flashback of one of the training camps, Hinata gushes over Bokuto's t-shirt he got from Nationals which describes the three rules of being an ace (he must inspire his teammates, break all walls, and hit every ball decisively). Right after the flashback ends, the ever-so-reliable Bokuto (with a pained look on his face) asks his team mid-match, "How do I normally hit cross court shots again?"
- Desperate Object Catch: Desperate diving saves are common during the climaxes of matches. One particularly notable example is during Karasuno's Interhigh match against Aoba Johsai — Hinata's spike gets blocked and three people try to save the ball as it does a Dramatic Drop, but all of them fail.
- Distant Finale: The final chapter goes through multiple time-skips. It jumps from 2018 to 2021, with a lot of emphasis on the Olympics (where many characters are participating, such as Hinata and Kageyama). The final scene then takes place in 2022 with Hinata and Kageyama facing off once again in their respective volleyball teams.
- Dope Slap:
- Iwaizumi comically whacks Oikawa often, and threatens him with it just as frequently.
- Kageyama tends to grab people's head and squeeze them in annoyance, with Hinata (unsurprisingly) the most common target.
- Down to the Last Play:
- Karasuno's Interhigh match against Aoba Johsai goes to the maximum three sets, with the final set score going into the thirties.
- Karasuno's Spring High preliminary final against Shiratorizawa. The match goes to a full five sets, and Karasuno has to fight through deuces for every set they win. Even the final set, which only needs to be won in 15 points minimum, ends up being a final score of 21-19 in Karasuno's favour.
- Dub Name Change: Downplayed. Aoba Johsai's nickname "Seijoh" is changed to its literal English translation, Blue Castle, in some official English releases.
- Dutch Angle: Slanted angles are often used on the teams for more dramatic effect. The fourth ending sequence is strong example, with three of the five teams (including the protagonist team Karasuno and the favourites Shiratorizawa) shown walking in this angle as they make their way to their Miyagi Spring High Preliminary matches.
- Ear Worm: Date Tech's cheer squad chant is noted In-Universe to be very catchy.GO GO, LET'S GO, LET'S GO, LET'S GO DATEKO
- Everyone Went to School Together:
- The Little Giant, Tanaka’s older sister Saeko and Tsukishima’s older brother Akiteru all attended Karasuno at the same time, with Akiteru being a year older. However, only Akiteru and the Little Giant were acquainted with each other at the time thanks to being club members. Saeko had personally encountered the Little Giant just once during one of his practices; and she only knew Akiteru by his surname which she remembers when finding out (Kei) Tsukishima is on the current Karasuno team, and she doesn't seem to recognise him when she catches him at the Shiratorizawa match.
- Ukai, Shimada, and Takinoue were teammates on the Karasuno volleyball team. They maintain their friendships through adulthood and play on the neighbourhood association team together. Their connections end up being important for Karasuno, as Shimada and Takinoue often support the team in their practice and official matches and Shimada in particular mentoring Yamaguchi.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Many chapters/episodes are often dedicated to a single match or tournament. For example, the Shiratorizawa match takes up about 40 chapters of the manga (nearly a year's worth of weekly serialisation); even as a Compressed Adaptation in the anime, it lasts all ten episodes of Season 3. As for the Nationals arc, Karasuno is knocked out on Day 3 in their fourth match; the tournament is covered in almost 140 chapters, totaling nearly three years of serialisation.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The word haikyuu (排球) is an obscure way of saying "volleyball" in Japanese. This series is about exactly that.
- Eye Catch:
- In Seasons 1-3 different eyecatches are rotated around each episode, and consist of players attempting to hit the drink bottle on the other side of the net with the ball with various results and reactions (such as Kageyama succeeding and getting excited about it, and Hinata failing to even get the ball over the net with Tsukishima and Yamaguchi snickering beside him).
- Season 4 adopts a new eyecatch and mainly has a chibi Hinata-crow flying up or down, varying each episode. Eyecatches of the chibified animal forms of Kenma/Kuroo and Bokuto/Akaashi as cats and owls, respectively, are also used when the characters in question star in the episode.
- Face Fault: When Kageyama and Hinata are the last two relay runners for their club at the school sports festival and race against each other in the last leg (because of their instincts as rivals), Sugawara falls flat on his face in shock and embarrassment.
- Flashback Within a Flashback: In Chapter 372, which takes place a year into Hinata's arrival in Brazil, Oikawa recounted the time he met a Argentinean player as a child and went to him for advice during high school.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Being forced to work together as teammates is what causes Hinata and Kageyama to become friendly with each other.
- Flipping the Bird: Tanaka is a regular offender of flipping the middle finger to intimidate or provoke others.
- Flung Clothing: Jackets are sometimes thrown off right before a match for dramatic effect. Played for Laughs with Bokuto, who's shown twice flinging off his jacket to make his epic entrance to the court... followed by Akaashi scrambling to retrieve it.
- Foreshadowing: Events are often hinted at, sometimes well over a hundred chapters before it happens.
- Ukai mentions Wakutani South being one of the schools to look out for prior to the Interhigh Preliminaries, and they're briefly seen on TV in the manga. Although none of their matches there are shown, Karasuno later faces them in the Spring High Preliminaries and are indeed made to work hard to beat them in three sets thanks to the ace Nakashima (not helped by Daichi's absence due to injury).
- When Tsubakihara's pinch server lands his first successful serve at Nationals, Kenma watches the match with a perplexed expression. When Nekoma plays Karasuno, Teshiro is subbed in as a pinch server and he uses the ceiling serve — an uncommon serve that happens to be the exact same one Tsubakihara used. Seeing this serve again annoys the Karasuno group, and Kenma notes that Teshiro's serve would have had a bigger impact if Tsubakihara hadn't already used it.
- Tsukishima requests Hinata to help him with his blocks during the Miyagi First Year Training Camp. At Nationals, it's shown in a flashback that he had Hinata specifically help him recognise block-outs; this becomes crucial for Karasuno winning the second set against Kamomedai, with Tsukishima baiting Hoshiumi into doing a blockout and then moving his hand to let the ball go out of bounds at set point.
- During the Kamomedai match at Nationals, Kageyama looks puzzled after Hinata furiously shakes his "hands of God". A few chapters later, Hinata's revealed to have a fever, which Kageyama noticed because he felt how hot Hinata's hands felt.
- Takeda makes a speech about how sometimes two people simply meeting each other can set off "chemical reactions"; when he mentions how these kind of encounters can be happening even in another country, a shot of Brazil is shown, which could be attributed to the country being considered the most successful at volleyball. Over 300 chapters later, Hinata temporarily relocates to Brazil for beach volleyball to train himself; not only that, he did in fact set off some much-needed development after running into Oikawa when he first moved.
- Atsumu Miya promises to toss to Hinata one day. He fulfils this promise a whopping six years later in-series when Hinata joins the MSBY Black Jackals, a V-League team that Atsumu plays setter for. The very first point of their match with the Schweiden Adlers ends with Hinata scoring a point from Atsumu's set, and their next attack together is their own version of the freak quick.
- Hoshiumi tells Hinata he will wait for him, after the latter falls sick and has to put a stop to their Little Giant clash at Nationals. Cue Chapter 378 where MSBY Black Jackal and Schweiden Adlers are due to play each other — and both are Hinata's and Hoshiumi's teams, respectively.
- Forgotten First Meeting: In the stage play adaptation, Hinata first encountered Nakashima after they both saw the Little Giant play at Nationals on TV. Hinata vaguely recognises him when they run into each other again in the present day but never figures out why.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The first year players of Karasuno:
- Hinata is Sanguine, as he is a hyperactive and optimistic guy who's passionate about volleyball and communicates very well with others.
- Kageyama is Choleric, as he's a perfectionist who takes volleyball very seriously and can be bossy.
- Tsukishima Melancholic, as he has an analytical approach to volleyball and is very aloof and unpleasant at times.
- Yamaguchi is Phlegmatic, as he's a timid and gentle boy who lacks confidence early in the story.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In Season 1 Episode 5, a closeup of the idol poster in the locker room is shown. If paused, one can read the little labels assigned to each girl — these labels reveal the, erm, preferences of the the second and third years (barring Asahi and Nishinoya who have not appeared yet).
- Season 4's first opening has a few blink-and-miss-it details:
- During the shot of Nishinoya receiving a ball at Nationals, the scoreline of Karasuno vs Tsubakihara can be seen in the background.
- During the quick pan-shot of all the Nationals teams lined up with their signs, the captains of the Tokyo representatives (Kuroo, Bokuto and Itachiyama's captain) can be seen if paused at the right time.
- Friendlessness Insult: In a season 3 episode, Hinata says to Kageyama, "that's the reason why you don't have friends". Kageyama takes offense to this, possibly because he genuinely didn't have friends growing up. Though, it's just part of their usual bickering.
- Friendly Rivalry: No matter how fierce the official or practice matches can be, teams often have good alliances with one another especially if they are in the same region. In particular is the Fukurodani Academy Group's training camp (Fukurodani, Nekoma, Shinzen, Ubugawa, and later Karasuno); outside of official and practice matches, they enjoy training with each other and don't hesitate to mingle or give advice.
- Funny Background Event: While Sawamura gives a speech at a school assembly with the other members behind him, Tanaka can be seen throwing in a sneaky peace sign... only to be slapped on the hand by Sugawara, who doesn't even have to look to know what he's doing.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Iwaizumi had to slap some sense into Oikawa during junior high school, after the latter lost it and tried to hit a younger Kageyama (who had only asked for guidance) out of resentment for having lost to Shiratorizawa.
- Gotta Pass the Class: If a member of the volleyball team fails their exams, they can't attend the summer training camp in Tokyo as they have to do supplementary classes, so the more Book Dumb members of the team scramble to get tutored in time. In the end, despite Tsukishima's and Yachi's efforts, Hinata and Kageyama flunk their finals; luckily they only fail one exam each, allowing them to quickly retake them in the morning and then hitch a ride with Tanaka's sister, eventually arriving at the camp late.
- Gratuitous English: Romero has some English exchanges with his teammates Kageyama, Ushijima and Hoshiumi during his match (which is in Japan), when he notices that Hinata is the famous Ninja Shouyou who excelled in beach volleyball back in Brazil. The teammates can barely make sense of what he's telling them, but Kageyama manages to reply back in kind. Foreigner Tomas is shown doing the same with his Japanese teammate Hinata. The English isn't grammatically correct, although it's not clear if it's intentional (most of the characters in question are not native speakers so mistakes wouldn't be out of place) or simply the author's error.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Having now lived in Brazil for about a year, post-Time Skip Hinata is occasionally seen communicating in Portuguese with the residents there. Since he still has his heavy Japanese accent, the pronunciation doesn't come out completely right (eg. acoruda instead of acorda (wake up), voce atorazara instead of voce atrazara (you'll be late). Portuguese is frequently included throughout the Brazil arc, although not always accurately.
- Groin Attack: Non-intentional. At the Miyagi training camp, Hinata doesn't pay attention and receives a spiked ball from Kindaichi... right in his own. All boys present share his agony.
- Hair-Contrast Duo: Contrasting hair colours are often used to compare several pairs of characters.
- Vibrant, Hot-Blooded Hinata's personality matches his bright orange hair, and contrasts with the dark-haired, aloof, and collected Kageyama. Together, their hair colors are orange and black, which are Karasuno's official team colors. When they're paired with Tsukishima (Karasuno's other first-year starter) or Yachi (their second manager, whom they befriend) it becomes Blonde, Brunette, Redhead.
- Karasuno's managers. Quiet and composed Shimizu has dark hair while friendly and neurotic Yachi has blond hair.
- Team Mom Sugawara has blonde/ash gray hair and is the vice-captain to the Team Dad and captain Daichi who has dark hair.
- Takeda (dark-haired) and Ukai (yellow-haired) are a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man duo.
- Kenma's hair is naturally dark, but it's dyed blonde, which helps highlight his shy introverted nature versus the dark-haired Kuroo's cooler, confident, more extroverted personality.
- Energetic Manchild ace spiker Bokuto has white-gray hair with dark streaks, contrasting his quiet deadpan setter Akaashi's dark hair.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Player's skills and results coming down to hard work vs natural talent is a frequently discussed trope in the series, with those doing hard work sometimes falling short of the naturally talented. However even the ones with natural talent are still made put in some effort into the training to improve themselves.
- Hate Sink: Nohebi Academy. In a series where almost every opposing team is treated as sympathetic and honorable, they stick out for having a Smug Snake as a captain and using dirty tactics like provoking their opponents with trash talk, deliberately obscuring the view of the flag referee, and sucking up to the net referee so that when they do make a foul it's overlooked. Considering that their match is a direct follow-up to the Nekoma vs. Fukurodani match, between two teams of lovable rivals, it makes quite a contrast.
- Height Angst: Smaller players such as Hinata tend to angst a bit about their height. Justified as volleyball is a sport where height is advantageous, and it's extremely difficult to face off against players who are 6+ feet when you're below 5'8" or so. The libero is the one position where being small isn't a disadvantage, so players like Nishinoya aren't as fazed (although he is shown to be annoyed when Hinata points out his short height).
- Height Insult: Happens to Hinata all the time:
- He usually gets called "chibi-suki" or "chibi-chan" (translated as shrimp-chan) by others around him, especially Oikawa and Kuroo, for being too short to play volleyball which he overcomes by jumping higher and improving himself. However, when Oikawa grows closer to Hinata by the end of the series, he drops it completely and starts addressing him by his given name.
- Similarly, the old coach Hinata visits for advice refers to him as "Shrimpy" at first but upgrades it to "Shrimpo" (chibitaro) after Hinata starts improving and the coach warms up to him.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: During the Karasuno vs. Shiratorizawa match, Tsukishima takes the brunt of Ushijima's spikes through the five set match, eventually resulting in Tsukishima getting injured in the fifth set via a bleeding dislocated pinky. While the Shiratorizawa team thinks this spells the end for Karasuno since Tsukishima has been the pinnacle of Karasuno's defense up until that point (and Shiratorizawa only needs 15 points to win the set), the break ends up leading to Tsukishima spending the entire time in the medical office building an elaborate strategy for Karasuno to beat Shiratorizawa.
- Hot-Blooded: Multiple characters are over-enthusiastic especially in anything related to volleyball, which often annoys their teammates to no end.Tsukishima: (referring to Hinata and Kageyama) Uselessly Hot-Blooded people irritate me...
- Hourglass Plot:
- What kickstarts the story is an awestruck Hinata watching the Little Giant play at Nationals and do a spike off an incredible jump. The roles are reversed when the current Karasuno goes there again, with an amazed (and perhaps even emotional) Udai watching Karasuno's new little giant Hinata show off his jumping skills to do a quick attack in the opening point. Despite Karasuno losing, Hinata does leave a strong impression on his idol.
- When Hinata feels down thinking that the decoy is unimpressive compared to the ace, Kageyama is the one to convince him that being a decoy is actually awesome and useful in its own right. Hundreds of chapters later, Kageyama senses that his old bad habits as the "King of the Court" are coming back and fears it'll sour his relationship with the team like it did with Kitagawa Daiichi; Hinata is the one to point out that it's actually not a bad thing, since everyone appreciates his efforts to push the team to improve (and they can always disagree with him if they want to). This helps Kageyama to drop all the emotional baggage he felt from his "King" nickname and be more direct with his teammates in matches (within reason).
- Akaashi, on multiple occasions, calms down a moody and unstable Bokuto with the help of his team, by giving him time to cool off and creating opportunities for him to get back into the groove. During the Mujinazaka match, Akaashi is the one who panics for majority of the first set and is sent to the bench so he can regroup. During this time, Bokuto leads the others into closing the score gap and getting back on their feet. Although they still lose the first set, this is enough for Akaashi to clear his head and properly focus for the remainder of the match, with Fukurodani eventually winning in three sets.
- Huddle Shot: A shot of any team huddling together is a prerequisite before matches.
- Hypocritical Humour:
- In the first OVA Yaku calls Hinata "shrimpy", despite not being that taller than him. Just don't point that out to him though, as Lev learned the hard way.
- Tanaka calls Ohgi Minami a "team full of punks", which Sugawara notes is quite ironic coming from him.
- A minor example. Oikawa keeps calling Tsukishima megane ("Glasses", "Four-eyes", "Bestacles") during the game against Shiratorizawa, while he himself is wearing glasses at that exact moment.
- While waiting for the opening ceremony for Nationals to begin in the manga, Kuroo and Daichi tease each other for being too nervous, both while sweat-dropping and looking awfully anxious themselves.
- During the Fukurodani vs Nekoma match at the Tokyo Prefectural Qualifiers, Kenma directs his team to target Akaashi with serves and receives to try and keep him in check. Later, whilst watching Fukurodani vs Mujinazaka during Nationals, he expresses disgust at Usuri for adopting a similar strategy.
- Chapter 14 of Haikyuu-bu!! has the Miya brothers complain about their individuality not being recognised by others. When they swap bodies with each other, they're willing to go along with Suna's plan to just flip their hairstyles because it's too troublesome to fix the situation and nothing's really changed anyway (prompting Aran to point out the hypocrisy).
- I Can Still Fight!: Defied most of the time. Injuries naturally come up and players will try to convince their teams they can play on; however often the injured players get taken out for at least part of the match since they're in no shape to continue and need to prioritise their health.
- Identical Twin Id Tag: Osamu and Atsumu Miya are identical except for the fact that Atsumu has died blonde hair and Osamu has died grey hair.
- Identical Twin Mistake:
- An omake sketch shows Kageyama and Hinata getting the Miyas mixed up, with Kageyama struggling to look at the right twin when greeting Atsumu (which he gets called out on) and Hinata mistakenly admiring Osamu instead of his famous National Youth Camp setter of a brother. The kicker is that the Miyas, while identical, have easy Identical Twin ID Tags and everyone else can tell them apart fine — Kageyama and Hinata are just that airheaded.
- In Chapter 378, , a few people new to volleyball are shocked to see famous pro-player and setter Atsumu Miya working at an onigiri stall right before a match. It's pointed out to them that the guy at the stall is actually Osamu — he's wearing a hat (which hides his darker hair) and has quit volleyball (so the Miya twins are no longer famous as a duo), making it an easy mistake for the new fans.
- Idiot Crows: Crows appear in the anime after Hinata and Kageyama realize that they've run too far and have no idea where they are, crying "Aho! Aho!" and flying away, leaving them all alone. This is a Stealth Pun for some of the dumber members of Karasuno.
- In-Series Nickname: Some schools are better known by shortened versions of their names, which usually come up in their school cheers:
- Aoba Johsai → Seijohnote
- Date Tech (Date Kougyou) → Datekou
- Wakutani South (Wakutani Minami) → Wakunannote
- Inarizaki High (Inarizaki Koukou) → Inakou
- Insult to Rocks: Ubugawa High's captain Gora (who has thick lips) and Shinzen High's captain Ogano (who has curly hair) call each other Fish Lips and Broccoli Head during one of their Tokyo camp practice matches. Kuroo snarks at them to stop being offensive to food.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: In a flashback of Hinata's first year in Brazil, a few locals mockingly called Oikawa Jackie Chan while inviting them for a match, having assumed they're Chinese. Oikawa corrected them, saying to call himself and Hinata Ken Watanabe instead.
- In the practice match against Aoba Johsai, Oikawa points out that Karasuno is still very inexperienced at receives, and repeatedly aims for their weakest receivers (Tsukishima and Hinata). In their Spring High preliminaries match, Aoba Johsai loses their decisive and last point thanks to an unsuccessful receive, and from Oikawa, no less (although it is pointed out that if Aoba Johsai's block hadn't touched the ball and changed its course, he probably would have received it pretty well).
- Ushijima makes it clear he disapproves of Kageyama as a setter and doesn't consider him worthy of being a part of Shiratorizawa (a school he had tried to apply for). Several years later, when Kageyama is at the locker room and sees the selfie of Hinata and Oikawa, who does he show it to? His V-League teammate... Ushijima.
- Ironic Echo:
- Kageyama delivers one to Oikawa on Chapter 49 (Episode 19 in Season 1). After the latter scores by delivering a dump shot (in volleyball terms, a bold surprise attack executed by the setter), he tells the Karasuno players to "pay attention, because I'll be doing the same thing next time". Not long after, Kageyama also scores with a dump shot and repeats the exact same line to Oikawa.
- Tsukishima gives one to Tendou after the latter calls him "the ordinary one". Tendou tries a one-man time differential against him (a move that previously fooled Hinata), but Tsukishima smacks it down with minimal effort.Tsukishima: Hello. I'm the ordinary one. A one-man time differential may be able to fool our team's resident wild child, but it won't have any effect on me, so please go right ahead.
- Large Ham: With the boys' volleyball teams often being rather colorful in personality, it's not unusual to have at least one member who acts over-the-top in everything they do. This varies from Nishinoya and Tanaka from Karasuno to Bokuto of Fukurodani.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A rather sad example. After losing to Karasuno in the Interhigh preliminaries, Ikejiri comments that if they were in a work of fiction, those that won and go on to nationals would be the protagonists, and those who lost and had their season cut short were just the extras. Even if it does miss a little after Karasuno lost in the first tournament, it's a little heartbreaking.
- Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: Hinatanote and Kageyamanote have this in their names to drive home just how different they are. This also reflects in their appearances and personalities, since Hinata is a cheerful redhead and Kageyama is an aloof guy with black hair.
- Magical Security Cam: Characters are sometimes shown watching video footage of current or previously-shown matches, and in the anime the camera angles are exactly the same as what was given to the audience. While this could be plausible at Nationals where a proper camera crew is used (since the tournament is televised for the whole country), at the Miyagi tournaments it makes less sense since the camera crew is more simplistic and wouldn't be able to capture certain shots in the same detail.
- Manly Tears: It's not unusual for the losing boys' volleyball team (or even the winning team, if the victory means a lot) to tear up after the match.
- After the painful loss to Aoba Johsai at the Interhigh preliminaries, Ukai shouts the Karasuno team out for a meal. While eating, most of the team goes on a conjunct silent crying.
- Oikawa and Iwaizumi shed bittersweet tears at the end of their middle school lives where they narrowly lost to Shiratorizawa, while swearing to defeat them in high school.
- Karasuno's third years all hug each other and tear up after just beating Shiratorizawa, realizing they are finally going to Nationals in their final attempt.
- Martial Arts Headband:
- Shimada, Takinoue and their cheer squad are fond of wearing red hachimaki headbands that say "certain victory Karasuno" to Karasuno's matches, along with happi coats to complete the traditional cheerleading look.
- The members of the Tsubakihara team wear yellow hachimaki headbands when they play at Nationals. The headbands also has their school name written on them, but this detail is ommited in the anime adaptation.
- Meaningful Name: Characters and their school names often have some significant and relevance, whether it be Theme Naming, Animal Motifs, or to highlight certain characters being Foils to one another.
- Meat-O-Vision: When Aoba Johsai is stranded in Haikyuu-bu!! with little food resources left, Hanamaki starts hallucinating cream puffs (which he keeps craving for). The first instance is when he mistakes a volleyball for one; the second instance is when he mistakes Yahaba's head for one.
- Miracle Rally: A team having to come back from a one-set deficit to win a match comes up now and then, especially if saving match points are involved. Karasuno's victory against Shiratorizawa is one such example; originally down two sets to one, they have to fight off multiple match points in both Sets 4 and 5 thanks to some miraculous play.
- Mistaken for Romance:
- In one light novel, Yachi accompanies Kageyama to Ukai Sr's place where he and Hinata practice together, and couple of kids assume she's either Hinata or Kageyama's girlfriend. Luckily for her, Ukai Sr corrects them and snarks that she's actually their baby-sitter.
- When Akane gushes over how high Lev spiked the ball in the Nekoma vs Fukurodani match, Alisa mistakes it for Akane crushing on Lev. Her train of thought goes off the rails, with Alisa fantasizing about going shopping with her potential sister-in-law. The misunderstanding immediately ends after Lev misses his serve and costs Nekoma the set in embarrassing fashion, which brings out a disgusted look from Akane.
- When Tanaka runs into Kanoka outside their accommodation, an older man shows up and talks to her in a familiar manner. Tanaka assumes he's her older boyfriend and runs off in embarrassment, since he was in the midst of rejecting her (thinking she was going to confess to him). The audience immediately finds out that man is actually Kanoka's cousin who came to pass a good luck charm to her, but Tanaka himself only finds out the next day.
- Mixed Ancestry is Attractive: The Haiba siblings are half-Japanese and half-Russian. Lev's tall height (an advantage in volleyball) is favorably attributed to his Russian heritage, while his teammates have crushes on his beautiful sister Alisa. Both of them became models during the time skip.
- Mr. Exposition: Since the average reader/viewer isn't expected to be that knowledgeable about volleyball, multiple characters' main roles (often as Combat Commentators) are to talk about various rules and techniques to someone else, usually to The Watson. For example, whenever he's not coaching, Ukai will often explain things to Takeda early in the series since he doesn't know much about the sport yet, and Shimada and Takinoue's constant presence in Karasuno's matches usually brings a lot of commentary which is handy for the ignorant like Saeko.
- Night and Day Duo: This motif is present in the contrast between Karasuno's two first-year middle blockers, Hinata note , who is friendly, vibrant, and warm, and Tsukishimanote , who is cold, aloof, and distant. Tsukishima is the core of Karasuno's defense, an area where Hinata is lacking, but Hinata excels in stamina and is the core of their offense, the only places where Tsukishima is pretty much just passable. Hinata also syncs up with Kageyama almost instantly, and Kageyama has to make the most of his athletic ability, while Kageyama, when paired up with Tsukishima, starts deliberately setting too high because he's positive that Tsukishima isn't making the most of his jumps and he feels he needs to draw it out of him. It's acknowledged◊ in-series.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Romero, a famous Brazilian player who plays alongside Kageyama with the Schweiden Adlers after the Time Skip, bears a strong physical resemblance to real-life Brazilian volleyball star Gilberto Godoy Filho aka Giba, who is acknowledged as one of the best male players in the world. The character in question receives similar treatment and admiration in-series.
- Nonuniform Uniform:
- Downplayed with the school and volleyball uniforms. Variations of the school uniform are sometimes seen to help show characters' personalities (such as the energetic Hinata wearing a hoodie under his gakuran) but not often, since teams other than Karasuno are rarely seen outside their volleyball clothes; and there's not much that can customised with the volleyball uniforms, so subtle changes or additions are seen at best (such as the length or number of knee pads).
- As per volleyball rules, the libero uniforms are purposely different from the other members, often by reversing the colours (for example Nishinoya's uniform is orange with black details, while the rest of Karasuno's uniforms are black with orange details). Liberos frequently go on and off court, so being in different uniforms makes it easier for the referee to know who they are. The uniforms are flipped when they're in their away uniforms.
- Odd Friendship: Many characters befriend those with opposing personalities, ranging from Hinata and Kenma to Bokuto and Akaashi. This puts more fun in their interactions which highlight their differences and makes their good friendships all the more nicer.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Chapter 370 has Yachi mentioning a few impressive feats during her narration detailing what happened during the Time Skip offscreen.
- Date Tech finally made it to the Nationals stage for the first time in 11 years at the Summer Interhigh competition in Yachi's second year, and did it by beating Karasuno (fresh off their Spring High run) no less.
- Karasuno successfully made it to Spring High in Yachi's second and third years. While they didn't win either of those times, it shows that their run in first year was not a fluke and they've truly regained their status as a powerhouse school; the opponents they did lose to were Inarizaki and Itachiyama who are strong opponents to begin with, and with the loss to Itachiyama they placed third at Nationals overall which is impressive.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Hinata looks terrified when he realizes he's accidentally served the ball into the back of Kageyama's head in their practice match against Aoba Johsai.
- During the Spring High preliminaries match against Aoba Johsai, Hinata panics when he jumps to avoid the blockers and ends up way too close to the net.
- Shirabu looks horrified when his toss to Ushijima is off at the end of Set 2 and he realizes Tsukishima is about to take full advantage of that.
- The rest of the Karasuno team are shocked when they notice Tsukishima doubling over in pain after a particular block from Ushijima that was strong enough in force to make him bleed and dislocate his pinky.
- Tendou mutters "Dammit!" in horror during the final set of the Shiratorizawa vs Karasuno match when Karasuno are about to do their synchronised attack on their match point and he realizes no one will be able to stop them.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Players or teams not wanting their opponents to lose so that that they can play against each other sometimes comes up. In particular is Karasuno and Nekoma wanting each other to pass the qualifiers of Interhigh and Spring High in their respective prefectures so that they can square off at the national stage.
- On the Next: Seasons 1-3 have a few characters exchange banter with one another during the next-episode previews. Season 4's next-episode previews are simpler, simply showing 1-2 shots with the character saying the episode title.
- Opposing Sports Team: Mostly averted, as the opposing teams are honourable and passionate about volleyball, and are shown in a sympathetic light when fleshed out (often through backstories). The closest team that fits this trope is Nohebi at the Spring High Tokyo qualifiers — the members have bad personalities, provoke their opponents in a nasty way, and suck up to the referees and linesmen so that any fouls they may have committed are overlooked. And even in their case, it's eventually shown that they too can be worthy opponents and are not that terrible.
- Oral Fixation: Saeko's sucking on a lollipop when driving Hinata and Kageyama to Tokyo, and the camera focuses on her lips a few times.
- Overly-Nervous Flop Sweat: Characters often over-sweat in a comedic manner when uncomfortable in some way, such as a nervous Hinata whenever he's faced with taller, burlier opponents.
- P.O.V. Cam:
- In the first Season 2 opening theme, part of the footage of the practice match between Karasuno and Nekoma is through Yaku's point of view. This allows the audience to witness Karasuno's gameplay, in particular Hinata and Kageyama' quick attack, through the opponent's eyes.
- The camera twice switches to the receiver's point of view when they're about to receive a nasty serve or spike. First is Daichi receiving an infamous Oikawa serve on Aoba Johsai's match point at the Spring High Preliminaries, while he has flashbacks of all the horrible serves he faced during training (including one from Ukai Sr). Second is Hinata when he makes a perfect receive on Aran's spike (which no one else anticipated), and he has a flashback of all the first years at the Miyagi camp (and Ushijima) spiking the ball.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- Since accurately recreating every single Haikyuu volleyball play is impossible in real life, the stage play adaptation reinterprets the volleyball matches as choreographed acrobatic/dance-like sequences. The screen provides visuals like the "volleyball" and the scores, and an actual ball on a stick held by a props person is also used for some scenes when the ball is specifically needed. This is effective, as basic volleyball movements like spiking and blocking are still kept while the choreography and music helps show the teams' different styles and how well they're playing.
- Story-wise, many minor details are cut out in order to fit the running time and push the focus to the more plot points without affecting the pacing. For example, the stage plays take out minor matches (such as Ohgi Minami/Kakugawa and Tsubakihara) to push the major ones in the spotlight (Johzenji/Wakutani and Inarizaki, respectively); and in order to fit two matches in a single play, points/sets are shortened or skipped over in favour of the more dramatic sets, such as the Aoba Jousai rematch and Shiratorizawa match in The Strongest Team.
- Pyrrhic Victory: While Spring High usually only has one round of matches a day (and that's already tiring due to the high intensity), the third day is known as "Day Three Hell" because both Round 3 and the quarterfinals are played that day. That means teams that win their Round 3 match will have to deal with the exhaustion carrying over to their next match mere hours later, which can affect how well they play. This is a factor to Karasuno's loss to Kamomedai in the quarterfinals — putting aside the latter being very formidable opponents, Karasuno's condition is affected by their draining three-set win against Nekoma earlier that day. Two of the players hit hardest are Tsukishima and Hinata in Set 3; Tsukishima's stamina issues kick in and forces him to the bench, and Hinata is taken out of the match altogether because he's developed a fever from the lack of rest in between matches and concentrating a lot more than usual.
- Quizzical Tilt: Common in the series, but happens the most with Hinata and Kageyama. They often tilt their heads in confusion when someone says something they don't understand, which is quite often.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The final chapter, where the remaining characters who qualified for the Olympics are shown facing each other in the event itself, coincided with the week of the original start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the last chapter moved the dates up to 2021.
- Relative Error: Tanaka sees Kanoka with an older man and assumes he's her boyfriend, much to his embarrassment (he was in the midst of rejecting what he thought was a love confession from Kanoka). It's only after he runs away that the audience finds out the man is her cousin. Tanaka himself finds out the next day.
- Repeat Cut: Multiple cuts of one scene are often done in the anime, such as Tsukishima's epic block against Ushijima during the Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa match which is repeated from three different angles.
- Rousing Speech: Takeda is fond of giving motivational speeches. They tend to be full of analogies, though sometimes he ends them wondering if his words were too flowery or pompous for the boys to understand. Hinata and Kageyama indeed sometimes don't quite get it, but intention is what counts.
- Running Gag:
- Hinata is frequently vomiting during bus or car rides (especially when he's nervous), which is Played for Laughs.
- Hinata tends to run into people from opponent teams while going to the restroom before a match. It even gets lampshaded in Chapter 108.
- People from other schools often misread the kanji in Karasuno as "Torino".
- Anytime Nishinoya does a rolling receive, expect him to yell out "ROOOOOOLLING! THUUUUNDERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!", with Hinata in utter awe and begging him to teach it.
- Whenever a stealthy reference is made to another school when they are absent, one of them will sneeze. For example, at the mention of an iron wall, a guy from Date Tech starts sneezing. Most apparent when Nekoma is mentioned, and Inuoka starts wondering if he's catching a cold.
- Karasuno's "four idiots" have an obsession with Tokyo landmarks (namely, Tokyo Tower and the Skytree), and each idiot mistakes mundane buildings for them during the Tokyo training camps (to Nekoma's bemusement). They finally see the actual Skytree on their way to Nationals, and Kuroo teasingly asks if they got to see it for real when they reunite at the tournament.
- Extra sketches promoting the manga frequently show Oikawa and Kuroo sulking together over how they still don't have a solo volume cover to themselves.
- Characters (especially Hinata) often get flustered and respond to praise or gratitude with "Yes! No!" (Hai! Iie!), much to the confusion of the other person.
- It's common to see the ball thrown at Hinata's face during games.
- Whenever Takinoue's introduced in the manga, instead of his full name the words "Takinoue Electronics" is shown alongside a good deal the store is currently offering.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Has a series of stage play adaptations called Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyuu!!, which uses a mixture of choreographed acrobatics and dance movements to interpret the volleyball matches.
- Senpai/Kōhai: High school teams comprise at least first and second years (third years too if they've not retired yet), so upperclassman/underclassman interactions typically seen in Japan are in play. They're usually straightforward (with the juniors being polite to the seniors), but it plays some importance in some relationships:
- Nishinoya and Tanaka are delighted to have -senpai added to the end of their names by Hinata and Kageyama, to the point that it draws Nishinoya back to practices (even if he still wouldn't play in games). Tanaka especially takes pride as the first year's upperclassman, feeling obligated to beg his sister to drive Hinata and Kageyama to Tokyo so they wouldn't miss the training camp.
- Kenma appears to resent this kind of relationship, because his former upperclassmen from the volleyball club used to ignore him and see whatever he had to say as impertinence, just because he was an underclassman. He even promptly stops Hinata from getting worked up (he assumed Kenma was his age and wasn't using formal speech) just because he's an upperclassman.
- Oikawa was Kageyama’s senior in junior high and still considers him his junior, calling him Tobio (or Tobio-chan if being extra "affectionate"); coming from him and given that he used to flat out reject Kageyama's requests of teaching him to serve (which goes well against a proper upperclassman's behavior), it's almost certainly an example of Terms of Endangerment. Kageyama doesn't enjoy getting chummy with him in the present but still highly respects his skills, and even swallows his pride to ask him for advice when a fight with Hinata leaves him confused.
- Share the Male Pain: During the Miyagi training camp, Hinata fails to catch a spike and gets it right in the family jewels. All the guys present are absolutely mortified, and Kindaichi even mentally comments that he actually can't help but feel bad for him.
- Ship Sinking: The series introduces Tanaka's childhood friend Kanoka, and it's shown she has a big crush on him. Despite already swooning over Shimizu up to this point, Tanaka does blush around Kanoka when he runs into her at Nationals and panics when Ennoshita tells him he has a "chance". Ultimately, nothing else comes out of their friendship, with Tanaka going on to marry Shimizu during the Time Skip.
- When comparing Hinata's height (roughly 160 cm) to Hyakuzawa (roughly 200 cm), Yachi and Yamaguchi remark how there's a whole Ketty-chan or Tekachu size difference between the two of them.
- Kuroo and Yaku argue over their preferences, which (in the manga only) includes which member of Perfume they like.
- In Chapter 370 in Hinata's room, copies of the One Piece manga and Dragon Ball anime can be seen. They're also in different languages, helping Hinata get by while he is staying in Brazil for training. One Piece is referenced again, along with Naruto and My Hero Academia, a few chapters later in a flashback when Hinata and Pedro started hitting it off after Hinata first moved to Brazil, with the two bonding over their mutual love for One Piece and Pedro offering to show Hinata his Portuguese-dubbed recordings of Naruto and My Hero Academia.
- Oikawa in a flashback got called Jackie Chan by a few Brazilians, who assumed he was Chinese. Oikawa retorted to them to call them Ken Watanabe instead. When the Brazilians lose their rematch and became friendly with the Japanese duo, they still called Oikawa "Ken". When they see him on TV for the Olympics several years later, they still recognise him as Ken.
- The second Inarizaki chapter of Haikyuu-bu!! is titled "Miya's Name"/"Miya no Na wa", parodying Your Name. Appropriately, the plot involves the Miyas (and Aran) getting their bodies switched; when it first happens, the Miyas Title Drop the movie's Japanese name and ask each other, "Kimi/Omee no na wa!?"/ "What is your name!?" note
- Shower of Angst: In the manga extra (adapted in the movie recap) that focuses on Aoba Johsai after their loss to Karasuno, Yahaba is shown sitting in the bath looking annoyed. Complete with a Scenery Censor when he stands up to yell out his frustrations, with his butt conveniently covered by a flying rubber duck.
- Significant Birth Date: Almost all of the characters with listed birth dates are significant in someway. Here are some that stand out:
- Asahi and Nishinoya have mirrored birth dates (01/01 and 10/10 respectively) to fit with the theme of the two being complete opposites in every way.
- Oikawa and Iwaizumi are born on Alexander the Great's birthday and day of death respectively. Oikawa is called the Grand King (which in Japanese is similar to Alexander the Great's title) and has exceptional leadership abilities. Iwaizumi's presence humanizes Oikawa as a character, much like death would to a king.
- Significant Double Casting:
- In the stage plays adapting the Tokyo training camps and the Miyagi Spring High Preliminary matches, both Ukai Jr and Sr are played by Hayashi Tsuyoshi, emphasising how the grandson looks just like his grandfather. Hilariously made obvious in the Miyagi matches, where Ukai (Jr) loudly excuses himself or characters wonder out loud about his whereabouts every time Ukai (Sr) is about to make an appearance.
- In The Strongest Team play, a younger Washijo is played by Hinata's actor Suga Kenta, which emphasises how Washijo subconsciously sees himself in the first year.
- Significant Name Shift: Oikawa is prone to nicknaming other people and often uses them as Terms of Endangerment for his rivals like Hinata (who he calls "chibi-chan" ("shrimpy", "shorty-pie"). This changes later when the two surprisingly bond after teaming up in a casual match during the Time Skip; before parting ways, Oikawa switches to calling his rival by his first name Shouyo, signifying their new-found friendship as well as the new respect he's gained for the latter.
- Sleep Cute: Nishinoya and Tanaka are seen sleeping closely next to each other on the bus ride home from tournament match, showing their close friendship.
- Sneeze Cut: To the point of becoming a Running Gag. Nearly every time a character, usually someone from Karasuno, mentions a player from another team, there’s a panel showing said player sneezing and a teammate suggesting they caught a cold before it goes back to the original scene.
- Spoiler Opening:
- The first opening spoils that there are two more Karasuno players, Nishinoya and Asahi - when the first years join the club, Asahi had quit and Nishinoya was briefly suspended from club activities. It also spoils Ukai becoming Karasuno's coach, first as a temporary one after giving in to Takeda's pestering, then their official one after he becomes determined to win again Nekoma.
- The second opening of the second season spoils the outcomes of Karasuno's matches in the Spring High. It's shown like a highlight reel of the tournament, showing big plays and, since they're playing four different teams, the fact that Karasuno must have won at least three matches.
- Spoiler Title: Don't want to know who wins the Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai match at the Spring High preliminaries in Season 2? Good luck avoiding the Season 3 title which is Karasuno High School VS Shiratorizawa Academy.
- Strange Minds Think Alike:
- Nishinoya and Tanaka mistake a transmission tower for the Skytree upon their first arrival in Tokyo, much to Kuroo's amusement. During the second Tokyo trip Hinata (who was late to the first trip) mistakes a transmission tower for Tokyo Tower, to which Kuroo snarks that he's heard a similar conversation before. Afterward a sleepy Kageyama (in the same situation as Hinata) is shown to have thought the same thing as he can be heard thinking/muttering, "That isn't Tokyo Tower?"
- During the V-League match, Kageyama, Ushijima and Hoshiumi all share the same confused thoughts when Romero speaks to them in English.
- Stylistic Suck:
- When Hinata forgets to spike the ball in the manga, he turns to Kageyama whose face is replaced with a poorly drawn cheerful version of himself inside Hinata's thought bubble. The Kageyama drawing sappily forgives him for his mistake, which is what Hinata is hoping will happen; when the thought bubble goes away, it shows that the real Kageyama is pissed.
- The Hamlet performance Karasuno puts on to begin the third stage play adaptation is poorly done, with subpar acting and frequent mess-ups (such as Kageyama missing his cue and Nishinoya/Tanaka yelling at Sugawara from the sides off-stage). The play falls apart completely when Hinata throws the script completely, prompting the whole Karasuno cast to come on stage to stop him or do their own thing.
- Superior Twin Teamwork: The Miya twins from Inarizaki High School are able to figure out and near perfect Kageyama and Hinata's freak quick in the same match they first encounter it. Up until this point, no other team that Karasuno has faced has been able to pull it off, let alone in the middle of a match. This trope is explicitly discussed as being the reason why they managed to do so.
- Talent vs. Training: Oikawa has this dynamic with his naturally talented rivals Kageyama and Ushijima, but it's more apparent with the former. Oikawa detests people with innate talent and thus holds a grudge against Kageyama due to his feelings of inferiority surfacing when compared to Kageyama who has been hailed as a prodigy in volleyball. It reaches a point where Oikawa mistreats Kageyama due to the latter gaining more recognition and surpassing him. He also fails to defeat Ushijima which motivates him to push himself harder.In front of [Oikawa] there stood an insurmountable wall. Wakatoshi Ushijima, the "giant" of Shiratorizawa middle school academy... was quickly recognized as the prefecture's undisputed best. [...] So he trained, harder and harder aiming to reach an even greater stage. But for 3 years he never broke through that wall. Then... another prodigy [Kageyama] appeared, this time right in his own shadow.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Characters are free to mentally monologue on the court. Most noticeable when they're in the air for a spike or block or when a setter is waiting for the ball to come to them. Played for Laughs when Akaashi contemplates whether to toss the ball to Bokuto and thinks through three scenarios, all in a span of 0.5 seconds.
- Tantrum Throwing: A dramatic example in Tsukishima's backstory of his brother. Akiteru trashed his room and broke down emotionally the night his brother discovered he was lying, feeling ashamed of himself.
- Team Hand-Stack: Hand stacks are frequently done by the teams.
- Teens Are Short: Zig-zagged. Teenagers in the series range from Yachi (149 cm/ 4'9") and Nishinoya (159 cm/ 5'2") to Lev (194 cm/ 6'4") and Hyakuzawa (201 cm/ 6'7''). The cast is generally on the taller side, as height is advantageous in volleyball, but has their fair share of smaller people.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The plot starts off with two bitter rivals having to compete on the same team, and learn how to work together.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Karasuno's suffered from brief absences of players; Ennoshita, Narita and Kinoshita temporarily dropped out the previous year due to Coach Ukai Sr's harsh training, and Asahi and Nishinoya are missing from club activities at the beginning of the story thanks to a tough encounter with Date Tech straining their relationship and mental fortitude (Nishinoya's one-week suspension also not helping his case).
- Throwing the Fight: Discussed. Tsukishima offers to lose the three-on-three match to Kageyama and Hinata upon meeting them for the first time, mainly to show his indifference towards the game. He isn’t taken seriously, of course.
- Tiger Versus Dragon: Played straight with Tanaka and Yamamoto, whose given names’ first and last characters (Ryuunosuke and Taketora), respectively, mean "Dragon" and "Tiger". When their sisters encounter each other (not knowing who they are) the night before the two teams play each other at Spring High, their respective animals are drawn in the background to symbolise this rivalry; and a later chapter cover features the two girls facing each other with the animals again in the background to signify their battle.
- Time Skip:
- After Hinata's brutal loss to Kageyama in his only junior high school match, the series skips to nearly a year later where Hinata's starts attending Karasuno and is about to join the volleyball team... and finds out Kageyama is also there. All in the first chapter.
- The end of Chapter 369 briefly skips from Nationals to the third years' graduation and then marks the beginning of the final arc, which takes place five years later. Hinata has moved to Brazil for beach volleyball training, and the events of his remaining high school years, as well as the whereabouts of the first years, are briefly summarised by Yachi's narration.
- In Chapter 377, it's March 2018 when Hinata leaves Brazil to return to Japan and go to the tryouts for MSBY Black Jackals, a team that includes Bokuto and Atsumu. The next chapter jumps to eight months later, when MSBY (now including Hinata) is about to play a match with Schweiden Adlers, a team that includes Kageyama, Ushijima and Hoshiumi.
- Trailers Always Spoil:
- The two trailers for the "Land vs Sky" OVAs give away a few things if one has a keen eye:
- Footage of Nohebi's matchplay spoils that Nekoma plays them after their Fukurodani showdown and not Itachiyama. It fortunately doesn't spoil that these two teams play each other in the losers match (the hosting representative match) and not the final itself, thus not giving away that Fukurodani beats Nekoma.
- Clips of the back-up libero Shibayama in the Nohebi match hints that Yaku becomes unavailable to play for some reason, since there's other clips of the third year playing perfectly fine in the Fukurodani match beforehand.
- Two PVs teasing Season 4 Part 2 were released before Part 1 finished airing, and it gave away Karasuno's next opponents and a major reveal: Inarizaki, the team of Atsumu Miya... and his twin brother, Osamu.
- The two trailers for the "Land vs Sky" OVAs give away a few things if one has a keen eye:
- Training from Hell: Coach Ukai Sr. is apparently a specialist in brutal training and put Karasuno through one of these in the previous year.
- Training Montage: Montages of the Karasuno team training are often shown whenever time passes, especially before tournaments.
- Twin Telepathy: Joked about in Chapter 381. When watching Atsumu's serve goes out during the V-League match, Osamu snarks that he's showing off too much. Despite being nowhere near earshot, Atsumu still turns around to glare in his brother's direction, prompting Akaashi to think to himself that twins are scary. The official Viz translation has Akaashi flatout wonder if the two have twin telepathy.
- Underdogs Never Lose: This is played around with. In the scope of sports manga, and shōnen manga more broadly, Haikyuu stands out for being relatively realistic in the match-ups and the outcomes, with teams that are considered in-story as underdogs to lose most of the time:
- Hinata's team of friends in middle school (where two members don't actually play volleyball and the other three are only first years) has the misfortune of playing Kageyama's team from a powerhouse middle school. Despite the few flimmers of hope courtesy of Hinata's excellent reflexes, the match ends with the obviously superior team winning by a large margin, averting this trope.
- The protagonist team Karasuno zig-zags this trope. On one hand, they've been nicknamed the "fallen crows" due to their drop in performance in recent years. On the other hand, they're a former powerhouse and have been described as a mediocre or middling team, and their starting lineup includes two people described in-story as geniuses (Kageyama and Nishinoya) and another described as having inhuman levels of stamina and reflexes (Hinata). So even when they are on the winning side of in-story upsets and this trope is in play, it's toned down. The trope is also averted at times to show that Karasuno still has areas to work on despite their improved lineup.
- At the Interhigh Preliminaries in Miyagi, Karasuno look to be in decent shape when they not only comfortably win their first round match but also surprisingly beat the infamous blocking team Date Tech (who had curb stomped them in their last meeting). However Karasuno has only just recently begun training as a team together and still have some flaws (notably the limitations of the freak quick attack), leading them to lose (albeit narrowly) to powerhouse Aoba Johsai in the third round.
- Karasuno wins four sets and loses a whopping 70 sets during their Tokyo summer training camp with the Fukurodani group. Justified as 1) the group comprises four powerhouse teams from Kanto and 2) the Miyagi school have just started trying out their new techniques at this point.
- In their revenge match up at the Spring High Preliminaries with Aoba Johsai, a school favored to reach the finals to battle it out against Shiratorizawa as they did the year prior, Karasuno wins in three tight sets, surprising everyone and giving them the chance to go up against the reigning Miyagi champions Shiratorizawa in the finals. To everyone's further shock, they succeed, propelling them to Nationals once more.
- The trope comes up at Spring High, but is defied just as often. Spring High emphasises that no matter how strong your team is, victory isn't guaranteed and anything can happen from being outplayed to just getting bad luck. To drive the point home, out of the top four seeded teams, none of them make it to the semifinals; Inarizaki loses to Karasuno in Round 2, the unrevealed third seed loses offscreen in Round 3, and Mujinazaka and Itachiyama (which both boast a Top 3 Ace) lose in the quarterfinals. Out of all the losses, Inarizaki's loss to Karasuno is particularly surprising since they were runners-up at Interhigh, comprise a couple of top-tier members, and were one of the favourites to win the tournament; this shock victory is where everyone truly starts paying attention to Karasuno. Karasuno, meanwhile, isn't able to play this trope straight to the very end, ending their surprise run at the quarterfinals in a three-set loss to the freakishly talented Kamomedai, and in a devastating fashion.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Hinata often pukes from stress or motion sickness, but fortunately for the audience this is done off-screen (typically screams of despair from everyone present will follow). One brief shot does show the aftermath of Hinata throwing up on Tanaka's pants on the bus, albeit coloured in white.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: The Interhigh match with Aoba Johsai is the first official loss Karasuno suffers after their revival, making it clear they still have a lot of work to do (especially Hinata and Kageyama's freak quick attack which is effective but vulnerable). This loss, along with a lot of other losses at their first Fukurodani Group training camp, is what motivates the whole team to sharpen up their skills and come up with new tactics.
- Wax On, Wax Off: During Hinata's stay at the Miyagi training camp as a ballboy, he observes how the players receive and read the spiker's movements while he's doing chores. Whenever he's near the court and has to collect the stray balls during training sessions, he uses this as an opportunity to practise reading the spikers and catching their balls. This does wonders for Hinata's receives at Nationals, as he's able to analyse and correctly predict the spikers' movements a lot more than before and slowly able to start receiving better.
- Wham Line: "Several years later" in the wake of Nationals. Followed up by a Wham Shot, depicting a grown up Hinata, nowhere near Karasuno or Japan, having relocated to Brazil for training.
- Worthy Opponent: Healthy rivalries are common in the story, with opponents (and even teams) developing a lot of respect for each other and knowing not to take each other too lightly in matches. As Karasuno's skills and reputation improve, so does the admiration from their rivals.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In Chapter 370, Yachi narrates how well Karasuno did in her second and third years of high school. What stands out is that she does not include Summer Interhigh of her third year, and it's never revealed what Karasuno's results for that tournament (and/or the Miyagi qualifiying tournament) were.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
- Kageyama, of all people, reassures Hinata (albeit in a rough manner) in their practice match against the nieghborhood association team when the latter starts feeling that his power as a decoy isn't good enough compared to a real ace’s height and power.
- When Oikawa looks down on himself, Iwaizumi always reminds him, most of the time aggressively, that he's the setter of the team and that he shouldn't put so much pressure on himself.
- Yamaguchi gives a surprising verbally violent reassurance to Tsukishima when the latter calls himself lame for not blocking Ushijima enough, by calling him "stupid" then proceeding to tell him they're going to Nationals anyway and all he can do now is work harder.