‘HAIKYU!! The Dumpster Battle’ Film Review

Photo Credit: ©2024”HAIKYU!!”Project ©H.Furudate / Shueisha

The matchup we have all been waiting for is finally here. HAIKYU!! is back with the first new content since the anime series HAIKYU!! To The Top Part Two aired back in 2020. The long awaited game between the crows and cats sets their highest stakes game yet to great results. 

Shoyo Hinata and the rest of the Karasuno High volleyball team continue their run at the Spring Nationals, this time facing their fellow underdog rivals Nekoma High in the third round. It’s a fun matchup where the two teams really know the other well. Their interactions on the court highlights how everyone continues to level up due to their rivalry. It is such a fun match to watch due to the respect, admiration, and desire to win between the two teams. 

I especially loved the way Kenma is utilized in the story. His friendship and rivalry with Hinata helps the story stand out. As with past matches, there are some players who have bigger focuses on them than other this time around. We see their struggles, their inner battles, and the way they adjust when the time is needed. Your favorite player may not have a huge role overall, but everyone gets a moment or two to shine. 

The film retains its classic humor. We’re introduced to some hilarious new Hinata faces. It utilizes its humor along with some of its more lighthearted moments to balance out more intense and emotional scenes. I felt like Yachi watching the movie. Endless stress and anticipation, nerves, and excitement all at once. Time flies by fast in the 85 minute long film as the intensity picks up. It is well paced and flows naturally.

The transition from To The Top to the film is seamless as it feels like the previous season just ended and flows right into the next part of the story. One of the best parts was the focus on a whole match which makes the movie feel similar to the way season long arcs played out. When the score kicks it, you really get the sense that this is a movie, not just a new season.

While it may not an ideal place to jump into the series, the film does enough with context clues and flashbacks (Hello nostalgia! Look how far everyone has come!) to provide enough backstory and information to anyone who may not know too much about the series. It’s clearly an important moment in the course of the overall series, but will be entertaining for anyone watching.

Since the animation style changed in the previous season, I’ve become accustomed to everyone’s new looks. The film is just as well animated, maybe even better than some of the scenes in To The Top part two which felt under-animated at times. It’s familiar, yet pushes its limits even further.

Some great new movements and “camera angles” we haven’t seen used often before help the film stand apart. There’s one sequence towards the end that is one of the coolest animated scenes yet in the whole series from an unexpected perspective that builds with intensity and leaves you on the edge of your seat. The audio that goes along with it only enhances it to even greater heights. That scene will stay with you and highlights how a series about Volleyball can be so impressive.

The English dub voice cast does a great job jumping right back into character even with the gap since the last series aired. Some intense guttural screams even made my vocal cords hurt as I watched. The commitment is impressive and provides for a wonderful experience. While I didn’t view the film with English subtitles, I’m sure vocally the original Japanese cast does a wonderful job as well.

It is hard to believe this is the beginning of the end of HAIKYU!! unless there’s something in the works we’re not aware of yet. A second final movie is already confirmed to be coming. It’s going to be a really hard time letting go of these characters when it feels like there is still so much more to explore! 

HAIKYU!! The Dumpster Battle does not disappoint and will leave fans begging for more. This series continues to show how a sports anime can be so much more than just about a sport. There is real human emotion, imagination and love put into every moment. 

HAIKYU!! The Dumpster Battle premieres May 31, only in theaters. Run time: 85 minutes. Language: Japanese with English subtitles & English dub. 

Lee Arvoy
Lee Arvoy joined the TV Source team in the summer of 2020 as a TV Writer.

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