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Haikyuu Animator Boya Liang Breaks Down That Show-Stopping Mad Dog Scene In Season 2

"Haikyuu!!" is a highly praised athletic anime all about volleyball. Like most mainstream anime, the series is based on a manga series of the same name. Running from 2014 to 2016 and then returning for the 4th Season in 2020, "Haikyuu!!" tells the story of Shoyo Hinata's obsession with volleyball and the lengths he goes to play and excel at the game. While the animation team struggled with the creative process, the anime speaks for itself.

Often praised for its stunning animation, "Haikyuu!!" stands out as a work of art all its own. It's clear that the animators behind this series put a lot of work and love into it. The Mad Dog spike scene in Season 2, Episode 20 still has fans buzzing. Known for his feral play style, Kentarō Kyōtani was nicknamed "Mad Dog" due to the way he throws himself around the court in an almost animalistic fashion.

The scene in question features an intense hyperfocus on Mad Dog mid-game where he jumps up in front of the ball, throws himself forward, and spikes the ball back to the opponent's side of the court with a powerful blow. Highly stylized, these few moments of animation drowned out everything that wasn't Mad Dog, and it was impactful and striking to watch. The animator who created this scene is a talented woman by the name of Boya Liang.

This Mad Dog scene wasn't easy to create, but it paid off

Boya Liang has worked on many popular anime throughout her career, including "Attack on Titan," "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba," and "Hunter x Hunter," just to name a few. She sat down with Wave Motion Cannon to discuss her role in bringing the iconic Mad Dog spike to life.

"I was not so confident at that time, but I thought it was a chance to promote my skill, so I took it!" Boya Liang described being asked to take on such a powerful scene. The interviewer even mentioned this was the most powerful animation they'd seen all year, so taking the chance paid off.

"As for the spike, it was demanded in [the] storyboard, but I didn't have any spike drawing experience, so I referenced the spike scenes which others worked on before. But to my surprise, the lines in every spike scene have totally different personal styles. So I tried to find inspiration among them," Liang continued, emphasizing that she has little experience with this type of scene, which made the process more difficult for her. She said it took four days to finish.

Liang goes on to describe her inspiration pulled directly from the manga, and why she decided to style the scene the way that she did. "This idea came to me one night when I was reading the manga. I noticed the harsh style of Haruichi Furudate-sensei's lines were so cool, so why not use it in the anime?"

Boya's work on the scene speaks for itself. As Mad Dog jumps into the air, everything around him fades away to focus on him — and the line work that she added to emphasize the power of his spike. It definitely looks like she emulated the manga's style well to bring the scene to life.