Did you ever stop to think what the banners and mottos in Haikyū!! means? Or how they influence and change the outlook of each volleyball club player?
When I was watching Haikyū!! for the first time, I couldn’t care less about the banners. They’re just background info to supplement the narrative.
Now that I am watching Haikyū!! for the 3rd time, I realized how impactful the slogans are to every player’s character development!
Come one, come all! Today, let me enlighten you on the 16 mottos or slogans that inspire several Haikyū!! volleyball players!
16“Certain Victory” – Kitagawa Daiichi Junior High
“Certain Victory” speaks for itself when Tobio Kageyama defeated Shōyō Hinata on their first official match during middle school.
Along with Tobio’s introduction as the “King of the Upper Court”, Kitagawa Daiichi won with a 2:0 match point.
This motto had a different effect on Yukigaoka. Although the members played poorly, Shōyō still believes in a “certain victory”!
His enthusiasm inspired his weak team members, especially since they haven’t lost yet!
The audience and some Kitagawa members reasoned, “This match was already decided even before it began! Why bother chasing more points when we were already assured certain victory halfway of the game?”
But Tobio wouldn’t have it! At the end of the day, “certain victory” to his team and himself means that they should be the indisputable winner — no holds barred!
15“Rising Up Every Time” – Sarukawa Tech High
Sarukawa Tech High made a brief appearance in the manga for only 5 chapters. But when the team loses a match against Nekoma High, this motto echoes loudly in each member’s heart!
On a positive note, Sarukawa members experienced personal growth because they keep standing up after a wallowing and heavy defeat!
But their strategy to make consistent average plays (while stretching that out during the game to gain sufficient points) became counterproductive; hence, the team’s loss!
Sarukawa may have persistently pressured its opponents, but it didn’t even faze “Nekoma’s slumbering tiger”!
But as the members recall the team motto, they constantly get back up on their feet as many times as needed!
It may be hard to stand up now, but picking up one’s selves during a tumultuous battle is the only way forward for an admirable team such as Sarukawa!
14“Simplicity and Fortitude” – Johzenji High
Johzenji is one of two volleyball clubs in the series that doesn’t properly embody the team motto.
There’s nothing simple about them! And its members do not show fortitude or courage during times of adversity and pain.
The current motto was suggested to the members by Johzenji club manager, Hana Misaki. She believes she can mold Johzenji members into people befitting the current motto.
But Johzenji boys overthink it: they copied Karasuno High’s synchronized attack just by simply watching it!
There’s nothing simple about copying such a complicated technique even after watching it only one time.
After successfully using it once for themselves, Johzenji misused it and it became a counterproductive technique for the team!
Instead of showing “simplicity and fortitude”, Johzenji’s team motto should be revised to “Wild and Free” to embody its youthful nature, fun play, and members’ carefree personalities!
13“Show us Your Tenacity” – Wakutani Minami High
Tenacity is all about grip! And that is what captain Takeru Nakashima (who also dreams to become the next “Little Giant”) showed us during Wakutani’s match against Karasuno!
“Hold the ball firmly! Go all out! Show our talents to the fullest!”
Those are the persevering mindsets that Wakutani members want to showcase to fans as they take on Karasuno during the Miyagi Prefectural Quarter Finals!
Alas, they didn’t win despite Wakutani members giving their best; Karasuno still won with a 2:1 set match point.
Still, if it wasn’t for this match, Takeru and the other Wakutani players wouldn’t have had the opportunity to showcase their tenacious spirits to the audience, to us Haikyū!! fans, and against Karasuno players!
12“Even Small Streams Form Strong Rivers” – Tsubakihara Academy
Tsubakihara’s motto is the epitome of teamwork! If the team had not appeared even for just 12 chapters, the motto wouldn’t have that much impact on many Haikyū!! fans!
A team is strong when the members work cohesively and in tune. And Tsubakihara members showed us this truth one player at a time.
Captain Sakae Echigo demonstrated this when he calmly sets the ball to the team’s powerful ace: Motoki Teradomari. Then, there’s pinch server, Aoi Himekawa, who’s great at defense and can throw the ball as high as the ceiling!
The individual players are the “small streams”. When they work together, they form “strong rivers” with fierce currents that can wash away many powerful opponents!
Despite Tsubakihara’s offensive plays, they were still defeated by Karasuno with a 2:0 match point during the Spring High National Tournament.
It only tells fans that Tsubakihara still has a long way to go before its members become a force of nature!
11“Fair and Square” – Nohebi Academy
Nohebi is the second volleyball club in the series that doesn’t faithfully embody the team motto.
In fact, the team motto is a far cry to the members’ personalities!
When it comes to fairness, Nohebi is the last volleyball club team on one’s mind.
Captain Suguru Daishō made sure of that when he blocked the linesmen’s views to determine whether the ball is in or out.
He did many other things to kiss up to the audience and make themselves look good on the judges.
His method may be cunning, but other Nohebi players couldn’t agree more. They will do anything and everything to win this match even if it means playing unfairly!
Wooing the referee is one strategy, but Nohebi also wooed the audience!
They made themselves look good, but they also made Nekoma players look bad in front of the audience during the 3rd Round of the Tokyo Prefectural Qualifiers.Cheating and dishonesty are old news in sports games.
But by the end of the game (and when Nekoma High won against Nohebi), Suguru acknowledged his loss.
His hard work did not bear fruit, but his efforts caught the attention of Mika Yamaka, his ex-girlfriend (whom Suguru reconciled with and got back together with).
10“Effort” – Itachiyama Institute
Itachiyama is the first of three volleyball clubs that has a one-word motto. Its simplicity speaks for the talent of its members.
Kiyoomi Sakusa is the 2nd of the “Top 3 Aces in Japan” (Wakatoshi Ushijima being the 1st; Wakatsu Kiryū as the 3rd Best Ace).
Then, they’ve also got Motoya Komori, the best high school libero in Japan. Finally, Tsukasa Iizuna is the Junior Olympic Cup’s best setter!
With incredible members like them and Itachiyama’s foreign exchange programs, it’s easy to see how only “effort” is needed to bring success to the co-ed’s volleyball club.
Its members are well-known for their mighty offenses and defenses after all!
Kiyoomi also stated that he hates leaving things unfinished, and that includes volleyball games!
He puts strenuous effort into his practices, especially since first losing to his rival — Wakatoshi Ushijima!
9“Training Hard to Become Steel” (or “Strong Will”) – Mujinazaka High
Mujinazaka’s motto wasn’t included in the manga; rather, it was incorporated into the Haikyū!! stage play.
Haruichi Furudate might not have that much of an active role in the stage play, so fans take Mujinazaka High’s motto with a grain of salt or as “loose cannon”.
“Training Hard to Become Steel” is the literal English translation of the motto. But, an alternative translation could also be “Strong Will”, a trait fans have thoroughly seen in Wakatsu Kiryū (Japan’s 3rd best ace)!
Wakatsu blamed himself for not being a confident player unlike how Wakatoshi is for Shiratorizawa’s volleyball club.
He even cried when he realized that he’s not as dependable as he thought himself out to be.But his strong will in the series sparked when Kōtarō Bokuto brought out Wakatsu’s insecurities.
Not only was Fukurōdani Academy winning, but Kōtarō also overshadowed Kiryū by a long shot (as the crowd constantly supported and cheered for Kōtarō during the Quarter Finals of the Spring Nationals Tournament)!
Initially, it may seem as if Kōtarō is a bad matchup for Kiryū; hence, why Fukurōdani Academy won.
But Kiryū’s steel willpower can only be unleashed when he faces a worthy opponent like Kōtarō!
If it hadn’t been for Kōtarō, Kiryū would still be stuck in the past; he wouldn’t be able to overcome his insecurities.
Thanks to Kōtarō and Fukurōdani’s offensive plays, Kiryū came to terms with his past. He is ready to move on and become a dependable captain.
8“Iron Wall of Date” – Date Tech High
This is one of the easiest mottos to interpret because Date Tech members metaphorically become the “Iron Wall” so opponents would be blocked from scoring!
Many Haikyū!! fans know how competent the school is. The school possesses the highest blocking rate throughout the prefecture.
No wonder tall players like Takanobu Aone gets the spotlight every time Date Tech plays!
The team’s strong defenses are also exceptional because the club replenishes its “Iron Wall” with new members every year!
In the current run of the series, Kanji Koganegawa became the 3rd member of Date Tech’s “Three-Member Iron Wall”.
Kanji may be a big-boned or super-sized setter; but since he’s a new member, he’s still a “golden infant” or “baby bird” according to coach Takurō Oiwake.
Regardless of how the Iron Wall crumbles because Date Tech is defeated by the likes of Aoba Jōsai High and Karasuno High, it can always be rebuilt again when its players train and strengthen their resolves!
7“Habit Becomes Second Nature” – Kamomedai High
How sophisticated can Haikyū!! banners get when Kamomedai High’s motto trumps it all?
“Habit Becomes Second Nature” simply means playing volleyball routinely to the point that you live and breathe the game daily!
Kamomedai players become good enough that the techniques they implemented in the game become second nature to them in and out of the Orange Court!
This motto may not be #1 in this list, but Haruichi Furudate captured its theme perfectly through Kōrai Hoshiumi’s characterization!
Kōrai is a short-statured player. But since he has been practicing volleyball since he was a child, he was able to acknowledge his flaws and weaknesses at an early age.
He compensated his short stature with hard work. And after consistent volleyball practices, he refined his skills to the fullest and was able to spike balls as if they’re a piece of cake to him!
“Habit Becomes Second Nature”, and we can see this theme magnificently and be successfully demonstrated through Furudate-sensei’s narration on Kōrai Hoshiumi.
All we need to do is adapt this theme in our lives so we can pay homage to one of Haikyū!!’s most beloved banners!
6“Who Needs Memories?” (or “We Don’t Need Things Like Memories”) – Inarizaki High
At first, you might think that Inarizaki High’s motto connotes a negative feeling because of its banner: “Who Needs Memories?” (Thereby, implying memories should be set aside and forgotten).
Well, many people are fond of memories. Think of photo albums or beautiful moments with your loved ones back in long-forgotten days. We can never get those back; hence, why memories are perceived as precious.
But Inarizaki volleyball club players like Atsumu Miya (a setter), Osamu Miya (an opposite hitter and wing spiker), and Heisuke Riseki (a wing spiker and pinch server) explained it in their monologues during the 2nd Round of the Spring High National Tournament :
We don’t need things like memories because all we need to win this game are the muscular strength we have today as well as the training we built up to today.
The past is long gone. Whether you succeeded multiple times in many volleyball matches doesn’t determine the outcome of THIS match.
If we keep clinging onto yesterday’s events, how can we focus our energy on today? Where do you think will we be tomorrow if all we could see are the victories and failures of our past?
Truthfully, I like how Inarizaki members fleshed this motto out in the series. But, some Haikyū!! fans stated that it could have been phrased better.
Captain Shinsuke Kita is not even fond of this motto because he believes that the “road traveled is just as important as the road that runs forward.”
On the other hand, middle blocker Kei Tsukishima of Karasuno High was even inspired by Inarizaki’s “We won’t let the memories get in our way!” motto.
Kei went for a “high risk and high reward” serve instead of going for his normal safe serve.
And since he sped up his momentum, he made sure that Inarizaki players will remember this mind-blowing serve that he’ll throw into them.
Regardless of how Furudate-sensei wants to present Inarizaki’s motto to fans, his narration still amazed us all!
5“One Ball, Heart, and Soul” – Fukurōdani Academy
Fukurōdani Academy’s motto of “One Ball, Heart, and Soul” struck me the most because it means players had to pour all their souls into each ball!
This is very evident in setter Keiki Akaashi’s movements (as he holds the ball most), as well as captain Kōtarō Bokuto’s actions.
Keiji knows to whom the ball should go next. If Kōtarō’s having an off day, Keiji is aware to pass the ball to the three people he trusts after Kōtarō:
- Akinori Konoha – the “Jack-of-All-Trades” but “Master of None” wing spiker who is annoyed the most when Kōtarō is in his emo mode;
- Haruki Komi – the energetic and loud libero who is similar to Kōtarō in almost every way; and
- Yamato Sarukui – the insightful outside hitter who enlightens Kōtarō when the latter is in a bad mood.
Kōtarō is the most impassioned guy on the team and pulls his team to be the best players they can be.
But even without him, Fukurōdani Academy volleyball club players know how to “Be One with the Ball”.
By putting all their efforts into each ball, they cohesively take advantage of the Orange Court and score more points than their opponents!
4“Irresistible Force” – Shiratorizawa Academy
When I saw Shiratorizawa Academy’s team motto, I knew the players are a force to be reckoned with!
The school made it to Tokyo Nationals many times; so, of course, Shiratorizawa Academy is fierce!
The motto also inspires the powerhouse players to be strong when they step on the court.
But when captain Wakatoshi Ushijima serves and spikes the ball, that’s when fans understand how intensely forceful Shiratorizawa Academy is!
Even when Satori Tendō playfully sings “Break the Opponents’ Hearts and Spirits”, fans can tell that each player should not be messed around with; their captain is especially intimidating!
Shiratorizawa Academy volleyball players are powerful because Wakatoshi scores more than half of the points.
With the white eagle mascot representing him, no one can resist the magnetic force that draws people to Wakatoshi!
3“Rule the Court” – Aoba Jōsai High
Aoba Jōsai High’s slogan to “Rule the Court” is a tribute to Tōru Oikawa’s “Alexander the Great” stance.
While it’s true that Tōru is depicted as a kingly figure in the series, it’s also true that his teammates are depicted as his subjects (or servants)! (LOL!)
But more than the “King and His Subjects”, Aoba Jōsai ranks Top 4 in the Miyagi Prefecture.
No wonder they’re always included during the Finals Round of both Inter-High and Spring High Tournaments! The team deserves to be royalty because they constantly proved that they can rule the court!
But just when Aoba Jōsai is about to take the championship in those tournaments, Shiratorizawa Academy steals the glory.
That’s why, even if Tōru is dubbed as the elegant “Great King”, he is still lacking when juxtaposed to Shiratorizawa’s fearsome Wakatoshi Ushijima.
Regardless, fans have to give credit to Tōru’s teammates as well. For example, there’s vice-captain and outside hitter Hajime Iwaizumi; he’s Tōru’s closest friend and right-hand man.
Then, there’s Akira Kunimi. Stoic as he may be, his true strength unravels late in the game when the team is in a pinch!
Finally, middle blocker Yūtaro Kindaichi is as agreeable as he can be. Even when Tōru doesn’t say so, Yūtaro adjusts his movements so he can match Tōru’s throws.
Each player plays to his fullest to serve the bright but crude “Great King”. Besides, without the help of his “royal subjects”, Tōru wouldn’t even make it this far!
2“Connect” – Nekoma High
Nekoma High is the second of three volleyball clubs that has a one-word motto. And “connect” is such a powerful word when you understand the context it’s being applied to.
Remember how Nekoma connects the ball so it doesn’t touch the floor: the players operate at peak performance if the team’s brain (Kenma Kozume) functions properly.
And one way to ensure this is when “plasma and blood in the veins smoothly pump oxygen to the brain”:
- the players being the “plasma”;
- the players’ motions and movements in the court being “fluid” so that
- the “blood” (their volleyball strategies and techniques) can flow without stopping; thus,
- making the “brain” or Kenma function at full potential.
Nekoma made this into a chant, and players recited this before every game to set the mood. For one thing, it works; on the other hand, it annoys Kenma sometimes.
An introvert like him simply doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal and be constantly called the “brain”.
Sure, Kenma’s smart; he has been watching volleyball matches on TV with Tetsurō Kuroo since their childhood after all.
But the reason why the team stayed together and pulled themselves in every game is teamwork.
One time, middle blocker Lev Haiba and libero Yūki Shibayama threw the ball to their opponents as if they read each others’ minds!
It would have been cool if they did read each other’s minds, but Lev remembered Tetsurō saying that it’s simply Nekoma players “connecting via a perfectly synchronized teamwork”. Pretty cool if you ask me!
1“Fly” – Karasuno High
The best motto in this list belongs to Karasuno High of course; its players are the main cast of this beloved series after all.
Karasuno High is the third of three volleyball club teams that has a one-word motto. Since the show follows players of Karasuno High, it’s easy to interpret this motto.
Fans can see how the team flies high through Shōyō Hinata’s impressive jumps.
There are even beautiful illustrations where a jumping Shōyō seems to fly because crow’s wings are beautifully drawn to spread behind his back!
These visuals are apparent in the “Fly High” Season 2 cour 2 opening theme song by Burnout Syndromes.
With the addition of Shōyō and Tobio Kageyama in the team, Karasuno High restored itself as a powerhouse school!
If it weren’t for them enrolling in Karasuno, the school would have maintained the “flightless crows” nickname.
Therefore, it’s partially a good thing that Shiratorizawa Academy rejected Tobio and that Tobio rejected Aoba Jōsai’s offer.
If Tobio enrolled in these schools, he would not have established the “Freak Quick” attack with Shōyō (an attack that enabled Karasuno to win many volleyball matches)!
Haikyu!! is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. Its publication in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump began in February 2012 with 42 collected tankōbon volumes released.
Hinata Shoyo is a highly passionate boy who wishes to follow the steps of his idol, ‘The Little Giant’ in the field of volleyball. Hinata’s resolve is unbreakable as he faces gruesome defeat at the hands of the ‘King of the Court,’ a genius prodigy setter Kageyama Tobio in middle school. Hinata’s dreams take fruit as he enters high school.
He joins the declining volleyball team of Karasuno High and is appalled to find the very same Kageyama as his teammate. The story follows the revival of Karasuno High and the unity they maintain to pave their way for nationals.