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The Untold Truth Of Haikyu!!

If you're in the mood for some wholesome, hard-working characters, and volleyball matches that will keep you on the edge of your seat, "Haikyu!!" is the anime you need. You don't need to know volleyball or even like sports to enjoy this show, and if you like to have a favorite character to show support for, "Haikyu!!" has a brilliant selection to choose from. Following the training and development of these characters is really what makes the show shine — the well-paced improvement and well-timed setbacks build up to satisfying and exciting pay-offs that really keep viewers hooked.

The "Haikyu!!" anime has been providing us with these high-stakes sporting thrills since 2014, but there's a lot of context and content that doesn't reach us in the West. Events, spin-offs, one-offs, collaborations, and all manner of merchandise are available in Japan, but it can be hard for fans in the U.S. and Europe to join in on the fun.

If you want to get a little peek of what sports clubs in Japan are really like, and what crazy collaborations "Haikyu!!" has been a part of, then keep reading. We've put together a list of five untold truths about the "Haikyu!!" franchise, and we bet we'll be able to teach you something you didn't know!

The Inter-high tournament is real

The big goal for the Karasuno volleyball team in the very first season of "Haikyu!!" is a tournament known as the "Inter-high." When the team plays in the Spring Inter-High in Tokyo for the first time, they are amazed by the scale of the event — the huge arenas, the number of courts, the number of teams, and the TV filming crews are all beyond expectations. You may not know this, but the Inter-high championships are actually a real tournament in Japan, and they are just as big of a deal in real life as they are in "Haikyu!!"

When the Inter-highs were canceled in 2020, the team behind "Haikyu!!" put together a project in support of the students that wouldn't get to play that year. The staff collected 165 uniforms of real teams that had been hoping to play in the tournament that year and arranged them in a special commemorative photo.

For third-grade students who would graduate later that year, the cancellation meant that they lost their final opportunity to play in a high school tournament, which can be quite disheartening. The photo included a message to the players which can be translated into something like: "Your stories don't end here. From here on out, you can do anything you set your minds to!" The official "Haikyu!!" website also publishes free posters using anime and manga art which school volleyball clubs can use to recruit new members in style.

Japanese school clubs are intense

School sports clubs, or "Bukatsu," are a big deal in Japan, and the majority of students take part in a club from the age of 12 until they graduate high school at 18. The first thing a parent needs to prepare for when their child joins a sports club is the cost. Many teams aim for quality and for big competitions like the Inter-high, which means they need to have proper equipment that is well looked after. The second thing to prepare for is the amount of time students need to dedicate to their club.

In "Haikyu!!," Karasuno team members are seen turning up at the gym before school begins, and staying after school past sundown. They attend practice matches and tournaments on weekends, and club practice is still held around three times a week during the summer holidays. Because of all this, it can be easy to think that the protagonist and his team are going above and beyond the usual, but in actuality, all of these activities are standard practice in the world of Bukatsu. It's an extreme commitment for the kids, their parents, and even the teachers, who often need to look after the clubs during the summer and outside of work hours, but may not get any extra pay for it.

Unsurprisingly, club activities can also take up time students would otherwise spend studying, which can lead to some conflicts of interest. Just like the exam troubles Hinata has at the start of Season 2, real students can also miss out on important club outings if their grades are not up to scratch.

There's a Haikyu!! stage play

As odd as it may seem, stage plays are actually pretty common in the world of anime and manga. Once a manga has an anime adaptation, the next step is often a live-action drama or a theater production. Many popular franchises, such as "Naruto" and "Tokyo Ghoul," have produced stage plays, and "Haikyu!!" is no exception.

The "Hyper Projection Play: Haikyu!!" stage performance ran in 2015 and 2016 and used a mixture of manga art, video animation, and live performance to tell the story of the formation of the Karasuno team. The play involves a lot of dancing and singing, unlike the original material, but still has plenty of "Haikyu"-style goofy comedy. Merchandise for the show was also made, which can still be found on certain sites even in the West.

Although the play is in Japanese, performances held in Tokyo offered "subtitle glasses," which displayed English subtitles for the show when worn. A DVD of the performance was also released in 2015, which included bonus features such as interviews with the cast.

The play is a completely standalone project and does not involve any of the voice actors from the anime, but the world of anime theater has its own stars. For example, the actor playing Kageyama also starred in the "Prince of Tennis" musical, and both the Hinata and Kageyama actors starred in a "Naruto" stage play as well.

There are pop-up Haikyu!! cafes in Japan

Collaboration cafes are a standard "otakatsu" (which essentially means superfan activity) in Japan, and many popular franchises such as "Final Fantasy 14" or "Kirby" have permanent cafes in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. For anime, however, it's more common to see "pop-up" cafes, which run for a limited time, often when new content for the franchise is released. For instance, when "Haikyu!! To The Top" was airing, a limited-time Animate X Haikyu!! cafe opened in Tokyo.

The cafe provided a place for fans to sit and eat themed food while surrounded by art of their favorite characters, and even be served by waiters in character cosplay. The drinks were themed after different Karasuno team members, such as Hinata's Orange Drink, or Kageyama's Concentration Cocoa, and each menu item came with a special coaster with original character art. Most themed cafes also serve as special pop-up shops, which sell limited-edition merchandise, often with special art drawn especially for the cafe.

Multiple franchises can sometimes join forces to present special cafes too, and in 2022, "Haikyu!!" collaborated with the popular video game "Monster Hunter: Rise" for a special Capcom cafe. These cafes can be especially popular, as fans get to see their favorite characters in outfits and contexts that would never exist in their own universes. However, collaborations are not limited to cafes; for instance, "Haikyu!!" has collaborated with an underwear brand called "Tutuanna" on a set of loungewear, and "My Hero Academia" has teamed up with Tobu Zoo in Saitama.

The Haikyu!! manga author's gender is unknown

Despite penning an award-winning manga with a successful anime adaptation and a loyal fan following, the author known as Haruichi Furudate is a mystery. The popularity of "Haikyu!!" has continued for over a decade now, and yet Haruichi's face has never been revealed. Since "Haikyu!!" is a "shonen" manga, meaning it is aimed at young boys, it is often assumed that Haruichi is male, and this is reflected in Viz Media's decision to use male pronouns in their official translation of the manga. However, Haruichi's gender has never been officially confirmed.

In the Japanese language, pronouns don't need to be used at all, so Haruichi is simply referred to by name and no gender-specific language is used. Other kinds of information on the author are also scarce, so it's not really possible to infer gender that way, either. Though Haruichi is a male name, it could easily be a pen name, and while we know that they played volleyball in junior high school, girls' volleyball clubs are just as common as boys'.

When Haruichi's comments or interviews are published on the "Shonen JUMP" website, the icon used is a strange bird character wearing some sort of suit. Additionally, some fans in Japan believe that "Haikyu!!" is written from a very female perspective, despite being published in a magazine for young boys — and they suspect that the author could be female.