While sports anime has been around for quite some time there has recently been a resurgence in the genre particularly among young females. While the animation and action of the game can get anyone’s heart pounding it isn’t the game that gets these fans all riled up, it’s what happens off the court. Team sports produce strong bonds among teammates due to their united goal of winning, but sometimes these relationships can come off as something way more…intimate and this is what continues to draw women back to the sports genre. The tiny teases that stoke the flames of yaoi fans everywhere.
Haikyuu!! is unique in that its characters certainly fit the typical otome game stereotypes (megane, shouta, etc…), BUT it is rare that there are any obvious interactions that would suggest these men are in any sort of relationship with each other. THUS it is up to the fans to decide how to interpret each scene giving women’s imaginations full reign.
In the Haikyuu!! fandom there are generally several different pairings that are pretty popular such as Kageyama x Hinata, Oikawa x Iwaizumi, and Kuroo x Kenma. At Winter Comiket 87 a poll was made and the top ten pairings consisted of:
1. Kageyama x Hinata
2. Oikawa x Iwaizuma
3. Kuroo x Kenma
4. Kageyama x Suga
5. Asahi x Nishinoya
6. Oikawa x Kageyama
7. Kuroo x Tsukishima
8. Bokuto x Akaashi
9. Daichi x Suga
10. Iwaizumi x Oikawa
Now what are the basis for each of these pairings? Well, the subtle interactions between characters in the show. Some of the most popular scenes will be covered in this article to give a little more insight (and squeeee moments) to those who are new to the genre.
1. Hinata and Kageyama’s Reunion (Season 1)
After Hinata’s epic failure in his first and only game with this middle school team, he vows to wipe the floor with Kageyama, his newfound rival he met during the tournament. His goal is Kurasuno, the school whose team got him into volleyball in the first place. On his first day of club activities though, everything begins to unravel as he discovers Kageyama in the gym as well. Now he must turn his ultimate rival into a team mate and his best chance of success.
What Fujoshi Sees: The relationship between the two is one typical of romantic relationships. Rivals hating each other, but eventually come together to create something amazing and most of the time end up falling for each other so it is no wonder that this pairing is the most popular not to mention that these two are the main characters of the story. The fighting Hinata and Kageyama endure against each other can almost be seen as an elderly married couple. They spend so much time together perfecting their techniques in order to work together that their relationship draws even closer together. They spend NIGHTS together practicing and DAYS together arguing and practicing more. Perhaps they are practicing more than just setting and spiking?
2. Kageyama asks Tsukishima for Academic Help (Season 2)
When Kurasuno are invited to join a training camp in Tokyo by Nekonoma, everyone is super excited to try out their techniques against potential powerhouse schools. The only problem is that passing grades on their finals are required or they will be forced to miss out due to make up exams. Kageyama and Hinata aren’t doing so well academically due to their constant focus on the game. What makes matters worse is they are terrible at studying! Drastic measure must be taken and so Kageyama is forced to beg Tsukishima for help. Hinata drags Kageyama down the street in order to bow to Tsukishima who derives great pleasure from Kageyama’s…submission.
What Fujoshi Sees: This entire scene has sparks flying everywhere. Kageyama has almost taken a tsundere role the way he blushes as he bows. The reluctance in his voice is just priceless. Even better, Tsukishima’s smugness gives the whole scene an added citric flavor. It seems that perhaps Tsukishima will give Kageyama a more HANDS ON approach.
3. Nishinoya Won’t Rejoin the Team (Season 1)
After freeing himself from juvenile hall, the libero Nishinoya finds himself in a bit of a predicament. Kurasuno’s star, Ace Asahi, has refused to rejoin the team after some bad experiences with blockers. As a result, Nishinoya has also refused to rejoin the team in solidarity with Asahi. Nishinoya looks up to Asahi and therefore refuses to play on a team without him. Nishinoya is utterly devoted to him and it’s quite touching. Eventually, he comes around and decides that it’s better to give Asahi his fighting spirit back then to let him continue to sulk.
What Fujoshi Sees: Nishinoya is loyal to a fault as a good lover usually is. When Hinata and Kageyama begin to question Nishinoya about Asahi, he begins to light up while describing Asahi. Even in season two, this pair can constantly be found practicing together…alone. Once volleyball is over with, I’m sure they will continue to “practice”.
4. Kageyama and Hinata Fight About a New Quick (Season 2)
These two can’t seem to get agree on much most of the time, but that is what makes them the most satisfying pairing of the series. In season two, Hinata is desperate to break out of his stagnant state and wants Kageyama’s help doing it. Kageyama reluctantly agrees to throw Hinata some tosses in order to pacify him. In the end, Hinata is unable to hit a single ball with his eyes open which forces Kageyama to snap and declare his opinion was the correct one. Hinata disagrees and the two devolve into a fist fight on the floor. Kageyama clearly fighting to keep Hinata safe from failure and upset that Hinata cannot see this.
What Fujoshi Sees: Eventually the fight is broken up via dual punches to the face, but before this everyone gets to see the two rolling around on the floor together in a mass of limbs. Each one is passionate about the other. Hinata believes he can be successful with Kageyama and Kageyama only wants to protect Hinata from disappointment. Each of them truly care about the other and seeing them become PHYSICALLY involved with each other is just icing on the cake.
5. Tsukishima Gets Yelled at by Yamaguchi (Season 2)
While the entire team is putting their all into individual practice, Tsukishima seems to be the loner of the group. Even when he is invited by the Aces from two other teams to practice he turns down the offer in a dismissive manner claiming that, “This is only a club.” His brother’s past failures have affected him severely and so therefore he puts forth only the minimal amount of effort into the game so as not to get hurt. As he begins to realize he is being left in the dust he retreats more into himself believing that it is inevitable that Hinata will outshine him.
While Tsukishima has been sulking, Yamaguchi has been keeping a watchful eye on his best friend to the point of stalking his every move. When he has had enough of Tsukishima wasting his potential, Yamaguchi confronts him outside by yelling out to Tsukishima about how “lame” he is acting. Yamaguchi then begins to describe Tsukishima’s finer points and how he could easily stand on the same ground as Hinata if he put some effort into it. Tsukishima relents and begins to practice harder with the Aces.
What Fujoshi Sees: During this entire scene Yamaguchi’s face is priceless. He’s shaking and blushing as he’s never had to cheer on his stronger best friend before. He cherishes their friendship and only wants to see his Tsukishima succeed. The two are constantly together so Yamaguchi knows Tsukishima best. The fact that his pep talk worked even when others had tried and failed only solidifies the strong bonds they have for each other. The two even walk home TOGETHER to “study”.
While all of these pairings are the product of female fans’ overactive imaginations, the writers make sure to stoke the flames by drawing in slight blushes and embarrassing scenes every so often. These small morsels only make the flames get hotter in the fandom, which is something absolutely wonderful. While there are plenty more juicy scenes through the first two seasons of Haikyuu!! there are also plenty more to come.