It’s not easy to feel alone when it comes to depression. When life doesn’t seem to go just right, isolation can keep us from seeking the right support system to make a change. This is why manga and anime can be an inspiration to make that change.
A common theme in manga and anime is the hero’s struggle and eventual success to overcome the odds and beat the best. One Piece is an epic manga of over 100s of volumes with one main goal set for the lead character Luffy: to be the king of all pirates. What’s fun about these series is the idea of overcoming the odds in multiple genres outside of fantasy and action. So with the manga and follow-up series Haikyuu! we still have a story about the accomplishment of being number one, but a story told through a high-school story of a budding volleyball team. Here is a series that focuses not just on the battle to rise in the ranks, but one that also believes that to be number one means being part of a team.
While the protagonist of the series is a spunky red-headed student named Shoyo Hinata, he is supported by a group of other solid players. There’s the student named Tobio Kageyama, once known as “the King of the Court”. His steely reserve prevents him from wanting to practice seriously with Shoyo Hinata, partially because of the youngness of the new kid on the team.His reputation exceeds him, and he doesn’t want to lower his level to train new blood. Part of it is also the fact that the team hasn’t had a real win in years, and the lack of motivation that comes with that. Also, the nickname “King of the Court” turns out to be more of an insult than a compliment, with the truth revealed that his ego and “mighty rule” over the rest of his past team led to him being exiled from another team. But Hinata believes in his talent. He works with Kageyama to benefit each others’ skill-sets, with “the King” using his setting skill to decimate the opponents with Hinata’s killer spiking skills.
While Hinata is the young blood of the team, he brings a positive energy that can’t help but warm the icy pessimism of the rest of the team. He marvels over new nicknames for the team and the reveal of his own,, and first jersey. This jersey also has a number bearing a volleyball legend, another element to inspire Hinata for higher aspirations. With the added characters of other players each defined by their own unique personalities, the team is balanced to the best of their ability. It’s also inspiring for viewers to see how something like a high-school sport can be a metaphor for working together in life. The experiences of each player helps determine them to bigger wins, even despite some initial losses. There’s a lot to love in both the 40+ manga volumes that started in 2012 and the parallel series (which is available on Netflix and Crunchyroll). My introduction was to the anime series, but I fully intend to explore the manga as well.
With negativity and depression in the world, anime shines through in stories of achievements and believing in yourself. Haikyuu! is a story that not just shows the value of confidence and optimism, but that it doesn’t just take one hero to reach that goal. There are people and resources everywhere for individuals when it’s tough to see the light. Don’t forget you are NOT alone, and out there are always people to back you up when you need it.