A naturally progressing world setting, huge cast of likable characters, and a very diverse fanbase. Changing perspectives within several stories with such a combination is simply inevitable. Of course, being a sports series also helps facilitate these elements, and a watch order that is more like a watch tier instead.
That’s right, a Haikyu!! watch order is upfront, very linear. The main perspective only follows one canon storyline. But with supplemental material, the other perspectives only briefly shown in the original material can feel more alive, and thus make its world even more connected. Well… there are the recaps. But when spanning over many years of gradual adaptation, they’re also simply inevitable. Plus, they might actually be worth watching as well.
The sets of seasons following the manga canon are considered the main story episodes. Due to the non-regular nature of adaptation projects, the number of episodes can vary wildly between seasons and OVAs, although collectively then can be lumped into four total seasons. The movies are basically just recaps, representing each season in a single condensed form. They might contain some nifty easter eggs here and there, but can generally be skipped if you to get more in-depth with the series.
1. Chronological order
Generally the same as the release date order, with the recap movies and recap OVA (the third one) cut off for obvious reasons. Although the first two OVAs are not part of the manga, they are still considered canon in the way that it develops the story and characters forward.
Also, some people simply recommend reading chapters 191-206 of the manga as a better alternative for the last two OVAs, as it covers additional material that was not adapted as properly as it should.
Haikyu!! (All Episodes)
Haikyuu!! Arrival of Lev (OVA)
Haikyu!! Season 2 (All Episodes)
Haikyu!! Falling Grades (OVA)
Haikyuu Season 3 (All Episodes)
Haikyu!! To the Top (All Episodes)
Haikyu!! Sky vs. Land (OVA)
Haikyu!! The Path of the Ball (OVA)
Haikyu!! To the Top Part 2 (All Episodes)
2. Release date order
Same as chronological order in terms of entries included, but with the recap movies/OVA also added.
Haikyu!! Quest Picture Drama (2014)
Haikyu!! Arrival of Lev (2014)
Haikyu!! Movie 1: Endings and Beginnings (2015)
Haikyu!! Season 2 (2015)
Haikyu!! Movie 2: Winners and Losers (2015)
Haikyu!! Falling Grades (2016)
Haikyu!! Season 3 (2016)
Haikyu!! Movie 3: Talent and Instinct (2017)
Haikyu!! Betting on the Spring High Volleyball (2017)
Haikyu!! Movie 4: Battle of Concepts (2017)
Haikyu!! Sky vs. Land (2020)
Haikyu!! The Path of the Ball (2020)
Haikyu!! To the Top (2020)
Haikyu!! To the Top Part 2 (2020)
Plot of Haikyu!!
Shoyo Hinata, a junior high school student, learns about volleyball after watching high school students play in an official game aired on TV. He was mesmerized by the player wearing the jersey #10, nicknamed by the commentators as the “Little Giant”. Determined to pursue this sport, he joins his school’s volleyball club, but instantly realized that he is the only member.
Eventually, during his third year, he was able to convince a few friends to temporarily join for an upcoming tournament. The lost, however, and crushingly so. Hinata afterward vows to seek revenge, and defeat the one that defeated his team on the fateful day.
Time passed, and he entered high school under Karasuno, the very same school affiliated with the students he watched on TV before. But in a twist of fate, Tobio Kageyama, the guy who defeated him during that tournament, is now also a student at that school.
During their journey, they develop an unexpected but potent partnership on the volleyball court. Together with the entire Karasuno volleyball team, they embark on a journey of hardship, growth, challenges, and kinship. Their position as members of the volleyball club also opens other opportunities to know the bigger fictional world of the series as well.
Enjoyability beyond the sport
One way to assess if a sports series is good or not is if the series is enjoyable on its own without the reader needing to learn anything about the sport’s rules. We see Haikyu!! pass this test with flying colors, and is enjoyed well for its very diverse and complex cast, engaging and compelling stories, and developments that simply build up hype in each chapter.
As for the level of adaptation, the current season is at least significantly more than halfway compared to the manga. After finishing the last episode of Season 4 part 2, we highly recommend (re)reading chapter 292 (volume 33) of the manga, then continue on to chapter 293 to keep the story flowing until chapter 402 (volume 45).