I am not a sports fan. This should surprise nobody. It’s not a lack of enthusiasm for the mechanics of most sports, but more a confluence of apathy around celebrity athletes, an absence of appreciation for any team’s history, and a decade-long lack of a cable subscription. Sports anime, however, has a bizarre hold over my affections. It offers a human story under the play-to-play excitement of a game. Unlike many action shows, it allows the protagonists to fail without the weighty consequence of death or serious injury behind it. As a well-travelled practitioner of failure, few things connect me to a character so much as seeing them trip. Many of the best series allow for a broad focus on a number of characters, bringing some of the best elements of a long-running shonen show into a more focused package.
While I’m usually willing to try a sports anime, I’d avoided Haikyu!! due it its focus on a sport I care little for—volleyball. Upon finally giving it a shot, I find myself looking at all the series I’ve skipped for shallow reasons over the years and kicking myself. Not only is Haikyu!! possibly the best sports series I’ve ever seen, it easily earns a spot among my favorite anime series of all time.
Minor spoilers for the first episode follow.
I’ve spent a few months filling my gaming time with newer games, especially MMOs and deeply involved action RPGs. While these are games I love playing, they often require a lot of time investment and often lack the ability to pause. That becomes a problem when you’re looking at an hour or two every other night, with any other free time necessitating regular stops to look after a child. This led me to go back in a time a bit, to find something I could play a bit more idly, and something that I could drop at a moment’s notice. It led to me going back to some older turn-based RPGs, especially those I had beaten before. It’s been over a decade since I last played the original Suikoden game, and after diving back in I started to realize what made the series so special. Konami, being a pretty awful company by most accounts, is unlikely to circle back to the series. However, it had a five game run with a handful of spin-offs and I’m rediscovering how well they hold up. I plan to burn through the series over the next few months (including the fourth entry, which I’ve never put significant time into) and having completed the first game, it’s a good opportunity to convince others to check out a classic series. We’ll start here with the first game, which is available on the PSN for PS3 and PSP/Vita as you read this.