One of my favorite things in Haikyuu!!, especially since the Nationals arc, has been the portions told from Akaashi Keiji’s point-of-view. There is something refreshing about having the metaphorical camera swiveled around to point at another “protagonist” at the insistence of a side-character. Sure, Hinata Shouyou is the main character and protagonist of Haikyuu!! but Fukurodani and Bokuto Koutarou are ‘the protagonists of the world‘.
With Haikyuu!!, Furudate manages to balance character-rich storytelling, creating a great number of full and complex characters, and multiple POVs; all without overwhelming the reader. Part of that, I believe, has to do with the positioning of POV character-narrators as “witnesses” of other characters, and with the fact that we don’t really get POV from Kageyama, despite him being the secondary main character. But those are things to explore another time.
What I want to talk about now is how incredibly fascinating it is to have Akaashi Keiji step in as the narrator from time to time. He us undoubtedly the main point of view from which we see Bokuto, and as such he is the primary witness of Bokuto’s growth as a person and as a player.
I can’t put into words just how exhilarating it was to watch Akaashi’s character unravel during the Nationals arc. He had been introduced to us as this calm, level-headed, and highly intelligent setter. Some fans thought him overly accommodating to Bokuto’s emotional whims, but we also got to see how the rest of Fukurodani accommodated Bokuto, all trusting him to come through and make it all worth it.
But Nationals hit different. We jumped into watching Fukurodani when they were already on a winning streak. “Bokuto-san is in great shape today.” We saw through Akaashi’s eyes, Bokuto stepping up to his place as ace and captain of the team, and do amazingly at it.
“We are the protagonists of the world.”
Even before the start of the Nationals arc fans had been speculating a Fukurodani victory. The arc itself pointed to it. But that’s just not the kind of story Furudate wants to tell here.
For me, Fukurodani’s arc was completed with the conversation between Akaashi and Bokuto in chapter 292. Bokuto assured that no matter what happened during this tournament he would keep playing. Of course they intended on winning each and every game, but no matter what, he would have no regrets because it would not end here.
I knew in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that Bokuto would become a powerful professional volleyball player. Nothing was over. He was just getting started. And that’s an important theme that has come up time and time again in this story. Just because this game, this tournament, this year is over, doesn’t mean life is over. Life goes on, there will be more chances if you want them. There is a future beyond each loss, beyond each win.
After the timeskip, we get more of this. First from Bokuto calling for the world to cheer him on, and most recently from Akaashi again.
Akaashi has eyes only for Bokuto. He might enjoy the game in general, he might be happy and impressed to see how Hinata has grown since they met in high school, but no matter what, Bokuto is always the center of his attention. And if he had it his way, he’d be the center of the entire world’s attention too.
And it just fascinates me that a story so obviously centered around Hinata and his growth has this occasional usurpation of the spotlight in a much more blatant way. I imagine it as Akaashi grabbing hold of the metaphorical camera and pointing it at Bokuto for a few moments before the narrative takes it away again.
It’s not the only time we get moments or entire chapters dedicated to the journey of another character or another team, but Akaashi’s narration has such a strong presence and intent that it feels remarkably different to all those times.
And then it occurred to me.
Ever since it was revealed that Udai Tenma had become a manga artist, fans had speculated an ending in which he becomes essentially the creator of Haikyuu!! itself, wanting to record and pass on the inspirational story of Hinata Shouyou’s journey. It definitely wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened in a story, and he’s in the perfect position to do just that, as the source of Hinata’s own inspiration and a believer that nothing ends, it continues and gets passed on.
But consider this. Akaashi is his editor. If Tenma did end up creating Haikyuu!!, it would make perfect sense for Akaashi to insert his own perspective and voice every once in a while, shifting that focus to his beloved Bokuto at least some of the time, and dropping hints about Bokuto being the real protagonist.
Maybe it’s a bit silly, but sillier things have become canon before. I just think it would fit well with how strong his narrative voice is in comparison to all the other POVs we see throughout the manga. And it would just be plain fun.