Haikyu!! is back and so am I.
Anime loves to present the audience with extraordinary characters. People who can achieve the greatest of feats, despite the odds being stacked against them. They take that one special trait that they started with, be it some kind of special ability or talent or just sheer determination, and use it to achieve greatness.
Haikyu!! is no different. Many of its characters are amazing in some way or another. Hinata is super quick and jumps high. Kageyama is a volleyball machine with incredible skills. Tsukishima is ultra tall and super good at reading his opponents. Ushijima is a left-handed monster.
And then there’s Yamaguchi. Plain, boring-looking little Yamaguchi.
At first glance, Yamaguchi just seems like a typical lackey character. Someone to shadow Tsukishima. When he wasn’t put on the starting lineup, like all the other first years, it was easy to assume that the kid would just be a benchwarmer. A character only there to give Tsukishima a friend.
After all, what did he have? Nothing about the kid really stood out. He was just ‘Tsukishima’s friend’. End of character. Right?
Well, no. Because, as it turns out, Yamaguchi himself felt much the same way. Seeing himself as the only first-year left out, he became determined to earn a spot. So, with the help of an alumni from his school, he begins practicing his jump floater serve. He didn’t have some insane starting ability to earn him his place.
This is why it’s so easy to root for Yamaguchi. If our protagonist, Hinata, is starting from the bottom, then Yamaguchi has to start by clawing his way out of the earth! He had to train with all he had for two whole seasons to earn his place on the team!
Yamaguchi feels like a truly real person. He’s not extremely loud, energetic, or confident. He’s not some prodigy with magic powers. Hell, he doesn’t even have colorful anime hair! The kid’s just a normal, shy kid.
But he has two qualities that make him just as amazing as all the others: pride and determination. What can be more relatable than that?