I have just finished the first two seasons of Haikyuu!! I don’t know what the word means or why exclamation marks are part of the title. But I do know this is an exciting series well made and well worth watching.

We start off with a middle school student Hinata who falls in love with volleyball. He forms his school’s volleyball club, of which he is the only member. Forced to practice on his own or with the girl’s team, Hinata realizes he has true talent, despite his small size. Finally getting five friends together to form his school’s team, Hinata gets to play his first real game in a tournament – where a team lead by a talented center named Kageyama mops the floor with Hinata. Hinata vows eventual revenge.

Well, the best laid plans for vengeance often go awry. Hinata enrolls in Karasuno High School and joins the school’s volleyball team. Surprise! Kagayama is also a first year student at the school and on the same team. Both have lots to learn. Hinata must learn how to use his talents, and Kagayama must learn how to be a team player, as opposed to playing like he was the only player on the court. It turns out that his middle school team walked out on him rather than deal with his attitude.

There are other players who have their stories as well. The series goes through their development. As a one-time powerhouse, Karasuno is now known as the “Wingless Crows.” But with a newly recruited coach, they begin to gel.

Two things make Haikyuu!! different than most other sports anime series I have seen. Karasuno’s march to the top is not a road filled with uninterrupted success. The are some major back steps, and the team must deal with them. So don’t assume every match will be a win. Also, we get to see events from the loser’s point of view; not just the winners.

The matches are just as exciting as the real thing, primarily because the animation of those games is done so well. And it is not just what you see on the screen, but what you see on the screen in your head.

Warning: There is some profanity here and there. Not much. No fan service, however. But there are lots of great characters. Try catching Haikyuu!! sometime.