haikyuu the dumpster battle header
Image via Production I.G.

Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle Is for the Kenma Fans

Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle is a fun and satisfying conclusion to the long-running rivalry that exists between the Karasuno and Nekoma teams. However, its heavy focus on Kenma and Nekoma, as well as the structure of the movie, may make it boring for those who have little interest in his character.

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Before we start, I’d like to pose a question. How has the movie-going experience been for you since COVID-19? Every movie I watched since then, I’ve only ever sat next to people who talk or text on their phones. During Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle, the girls on my left whisper-screamed at the slightest provocation or yelled things like “Shut up, you nerd!” when Kuro was giving his pre-match speech. They only settled down after I shushed them for screaming through Yamaguchi’s big moment. But the peace didn’t last for long. The group on my roommate’s right kept talking in a foreign language, as well as mimed the movements of the volleyball players. Like, I get cheering during triumphant scenes and laughing at funny ones. But this is a little ridiculous. As a disclaimer though, because of these distractions, I sometimes had a hard time focusing on the movie.

haikyuu the dumpster battle kenma
Image via Production I.G.

The plot of Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle centers on the Karasuno versus Nekoma match during the Spring Nationals. This is a very important match for both teams, as Karasuno and Nekoma have been rivals for quite some time in-universe. This is a showdown that fans have been waiting years to happen. While the manga version of this match also had a heavy focus on Kenma, Kenma fully takes center stage in the theatrical adaptation. The movie starts with a flashback to his first meeting with Hinata, as well his childhood playing volleyball with Kuro. It also gives more insight on Kenma, showing that while he seems apathetic towards volleyball, he would have given it up if he really didn’t like it. During his match against Karasuno, he becomes much more determined and fired up to win, which contrasts with how reserved and lethargic he was in the past.

If you like Nekoma or Kenma, you’re going to have a great time with this movie. It’s really all about Kenma and, by association, Kuro. The movie portrayed Kenma’s character development really well. Even as someone neutral on him, I loved it. However, if you like Haikyuu!! for the volleyball or you’re not a Kenma fan, this movie might not be your cup of tea. There were some really exciting moments during the match. But flashbacks felt like they made up the greater chunk of the film. The show strikes that perfect balance between volleyball and reminiscing. However, the movie’s more limited run time seems to have worked against it. For reference, in the manga, Karasuno’s game with Nekoma ran from chapters 293 to 324. Meanwhile, Shiratorizawa versus Karasuno was chapters 150 to 187, and that had an entire season’s worth of episodes to adapt it.

haikyuu the dumpster battle nekoma and karasuno

Since the movie is a direct continuation of the show, I highly recommend people to watch or catch up to Haikyuu before this movie. The movie had everything that makes Haikyuu such a standout sports anime. It had the cute and lovable characters, the heart-pounding sports action, the funny gags, and the heartwarming writing. But something about it felt off to me. I left the theater thinking that it didn’t really feel like I watched a Haikyuu match. The rallies are faster, for one. They make the game feel more realistic but might have contributed to the “different” feeling. However, I think part of this issue stems from the way the movie strings rallies together with Kenma’s flashbacks serving as a sort of divider block. If this match was an entire season, much like the Shiratorizawa one was, then it might not have felt disjointed to me.

All of the standout moments from the movie to me were from the game. Tsukishima’s blocks, Yamaguchi’s serves, the way Kenma plays Karasuno like a fiddle, Kageyama and Hinata’s teamwork, Yaku and Noya’s saves… The extra care that the animators could put into all of the expressions and movements for the movie made the volleyball segments shine. There was a particular rally near the end that made me incredibly emotional. While Production I.G. did a great job adapting the lengthy arc to the big screen, I personally thought the flashbacks slowed down the pacing of the film. These flashbacks were not so noticeable in the manga and wouldn’t have been so out of place in the show.

The bigger screen also made some of the smear frames very obvious. In my theater, I heard some people laughing during the more dramatic moments, likely because of this. It reminded me a bit of how people condemned the Karna versus Siegfried fight in Fate/Apocrypha. That was due to the different animation styles that A-1 Pictures employs compared to ufotable. But as someone who doesn’t really know much about animation or sakuga, I can’t comment on how Production I.G.’s looked.

haikyuu the dumpster battle hinata
Image via Production I.G.

Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle was a fun experience for fans of the anime and manga series. But its heavy focus on Kenma might make it a bit boring for people who don’t care much about him. There’s what feels like an entire two minutes of listening to Yuki Kaji (Kenma’s voice actor) ASMR as he breathes into the microphone. However, the scene in question was also a very unique and immersive sequence. Perhaps my more negative opinions about the movie comes from how irritated and distracted I was from the patrons. My roommate, who said she wasn’t bothered by the people around her, said she found the movie perfectly fine. I urge people who want to watch this movie to leave their bad etiquette in the dumpster before going inside.

Haikyuu: The Dumpster Battle came out in Japan on February 16, 2024. Crunchyroll distributed the movie internationally from May 30, 2024.

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Stephanie Liu
Stephanie is a senior writer who has been writing for games journalism and translating since 2020. After graduating with a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing, she spent a few years teaching English and history before fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In terms of games, she loves RPGs, action-adventure, and visual novels. Aside from writing for Siliconera and Crunchyroll, she translates light novels, manga, and video games.