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What You Didn't Know About Haikyuu!!'s Creator

If you've ever watched "Haikyuu!", there are a few things about its creator you can guess. Clearly, the person responsible for the shonen manga (and the anime that follows) that focuses on the sport of volleyball is definitely a skilled artist, rendering volleyball moves in drawn-out, loving detail. This is someone who also cares about character development, too — creations like Hinato Shoyo and Tobio Kageyama and all the supporting characters, from coaches to players and opponents, have plenty of depth. Furudate's attention to detail even got him a spot on Charapedia's top 30 manga artists list, compiled back in 2015. 

But there's plenty we don't know about Furudate. After all, many English-speaking fans of "Haikyuu!!" are separated from series creator Haruichi Furudate by language, which doesn't help. Who is this rock star, anyway? Here are some things you might not know about the person responsible for the super-popular anime that made Crunchyroll's Top 25-100 list of the best anime of the 2010s, along with IGN's list of best anime from 2010-2019 and Polygon's list of best new anime of the decade — not to mention Looper's best anime of 2020 list.

Despite referring to himself in the masculine, Furudate's gender is unconfirmed

While Furudate refers to himself as a "he" in the pages of the "Haikyuu!!" manga, where his bio appears each issue, some people think this could be a result of the American translation by publisher Viz Media, or by Furudate's actual attempts to obscure gender. His gender has not actually been confirmed and there are some fans out there who speculate he's actually not male — only his public persona is. On Reddit, in a discussion about the mangaka's gender, one user notes that "Haikyuu!!" seems to be written from an "almost entirely female gaze." Others agree that the show seems to have feminine qualities, including the depth of characterization and the fact that the female characters aren't just accessories. 

While some point out that "Haruichi" is a male name, this could very well be a pen name. One user swore he saw the author in a video about volleyball, and he was male. But no one seems to have met the creator, and the evidence either way seems scant and speculative. 

It's not unusual for mangaka, those responsible for authoring mangas, to be pretty cryptic characters. And of course, plenty of people think the gender of the creator doesn't really matter. As @upvotesverytime said, "I guess as far as I'm concerned Furudate's a harried penguin looking creature and that's good enough for me." As long as Furudate keeps bringing on the amazing volleyball drama, hopefully everyone else will feel the same.

He is from Iwate and Miyagi Prefecture and started his manga career at 25

As must be obvious by now, English-speaking fans really don't have a lot of information about Furudate. What little there is actually comes from just a few sources that can be accessed in English. In an interview with Japanese-language Volleyball Magazine, the mangaka said that he (or she! Or them, if non-binary!) is originally from Iwate Prefecture, where he was born. He spent almost a decade in Miyagi Prefecture after graduating from high school, though. In fact, these locations helped inspire settings in the artist's famous volleyball anime. He said he decided to set the show in Miyagi because he didn't know his surroundings in Iwate as well as he could have, given its remote location. "However, when I draw the area around Kasuno High school, which is the main setting, I imagine Iwate, where I actually spent my school days," Furudate said.

Even back then, Furudate wanted to be a manga artist, the mysterious character notes, but this didn't actually happen until the age of 25. The author's first manga was a one-shot called "Ousama Kid," and it won an honorable mention for the 14th Jump Treasure Newcomer Manga Prize. Furudate's first series in 2010 was "Kiben Gakuha, Yatsuya Sensei no Kaiden," according to the biographical note on the "Haikyuu!!" manga.

Furudate played high school volleyball and still loves the sport

Of course, Furudate is a volleyball lover and a former player. He belonged to his school's volleyball club in junior high and high school — and prioritized the sport over academics. "When I was in high school, I just loved playing volleyball, so I went to school just for club activities," the author said in Volleyball magazine. "I started drawing because I wanted to play volleyball." Furudate said that as a student, he was a fan of Chukyo University director Shigeru Aoyama, and as of 2014, his favorite players included Yuta Yoneyama and higher school libero player Taichi Kawaguchi from Seijo High School. 

Who else but a true fan could render the sport with such minute accuracy, in a way that makes it interesting and easy to understand for anime fans who haven't necessarily seen it played? "The hard part is the explanation of the rules and play. I think the majority of jump readers aren't originally interested in volleyball, so I'm always worried about incorporating it into the story without the readers thinking it's annoying to read," Furudate said. 

Of course, that doesn't mean the artist doesn't think his job can be absurd, at times. "I was watching a real-life V-League game while I was working when I caught myself thinking, 'Why am I going through all the trouble of drawing this volleyball game on paper? People can just go watch it themselves.' I was very confused," Furudate said in an author's note to Volume 44m (as posted to Twitter). Fans of "Haikyuu!!", though, are glad Furudate continues the work, no matter how confused he (or she! Or non-binary!) gets.