Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle Review

After the Haikyu!! manga series ended in mid-2020 and Season 4 of the TV anime aired toward the end of the same year, things have been quiet for the franchise. However, now the anime makes a return in the form of a movie: Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle. Will it prove a welcome return? Let’s find out!

The Dumpster Battle picks up exactly where Season 4 ended, with Karasuno High School preparing to face off against Nekoma High School in the third round of the Spring Nationals tournament. Although this is the first time the two teams are playing a tournament match against each other, Karasuno and Nekoma have played many practice games that have always led to Karasuno’s defeat. So the stakes are certainly high for our favourite team here!

The schools have been rivals stretching back generations, so it’s not just protagonist Hinata and the other current members of the Karasuno team who wish to see victory in this showdown. And even just among the players, Hinata and Nekoma’s setter, Kenma Kozume, are eager to play a match where there’s no chance to reset and reply like in their practice games. The results here are final and mean retirement for the third-year players.

Having played so many games against each other, Karasuno and Nekoma are very familiar with each other. As an avid gamer, Kenma also has a good head for strategy and is doing his best to come up with ways to prevent Hinata and Karasuno setter, Tobio Kageyama, from setting up their powerful quick sets – where Hinata races across the court and returns the ball before anyone can block him.

While this whole 85-minute film is dedicated to this single match, it’s also interlaced with character development for Kenma and Nekoma captain, Tetsuro Kuroo. We’ve seen a lot of these two childhood friends before, but it’s nice to see their reasons for playing expanded on as well as Kenma’s feelings toward Hinata who he’s been growing closer to as the series goes on.

Because this is a single match, it’s quite difficult to talk about without running the risk of spoiling the results or the many tense moments for viewers. So instead of the story let’s talk about how this works as a film as opposed to the usual TV format. The premise works well in the feature-length format as it feels like enough time to cover the match without rushing or padding it out, but I couldn’t help but wish it was the usual TV series instead. I don’t think Haikyu!! has benefited from being turned into this, particularly not when there’s only one more film to finish the entire series.

The Dumpster Battle makes no effort to fill in newcomers, so if you haven’t been following Karasuno’s story across the four prior TV seasons, you’ll have no idea who any of the cast are or why this match means so much to all involved. I don’t think the animation has particularly benefitted from this change either. The project is still handled by Production I.G who have treated us to the previous anime, but this feels more like an extended episode of the TV show than it does a big bombastic theatrical outing. It still looks great with all the charismatic flare we know the series for, but in some ways, it’s a little disappointing, despite the fact it more than lives up to what’s come before it. I imagine not everyone will share these feelings; I am perhaps too used to franchises making the jump to the big screen and using it as an excuse to come out bigger and better than ever.

As with the animation studio, staff elsewhere remain the same. Music is handled by a combination of Yuki Hayashi (Run with the Wind, Welcome to the Ballroom) and Asami Tachibana (Seraph of the End, Raven of the Inner Palace) and their compositions bring the match to life by uplifting the tension and emotional highs (and lows!) of the match. The film’s main theme is “Orange” performed by Spyair, who also returns to the franchise having provided opening themes for Seasons 1 and 2.

Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle is being released in theatres with both the English dub and original Japanese audio. For this review, I watched the movie in Japanese with English subtitles and enjoyed hearing the familiar voices of Ayumu Murase (Menel in The Faraway Paladin, Kazuki Yasaka in Sarazanmai) as Hinata and Yuki Kaji (Lyon in Fairy Tail, Eren in Attack on Titan) take a leading role as Kenma. There was one error with the subtitles where a line of dialogue stayed on screen for 3-4 minutes longer than it should have, which was quite distracting, but otherwise no problems there.

The second film which is set to conclude the series was announced at the same time as The Dumpster Battle has so far not been dated, so it’s hard to know how long we’ll be waiting for that. I hope when it does eventually appear, it’s released in English as promptly as this one has been. There is a post-credit scene at the end of this film which sets up for the next, so make sure you stick around for that!

Overall, Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle is a must-see if you’ve been following the anime long-term, given it follows hot on the heels of Season 4’s ending. However, it is not at all welcoming to newcomers or those not up-to-date and I’m not convinced it benefits from this format over just being a TV series again. Still, I can never say no to more Haikyu!! and despite my criticisms, this delivers everything we expect from the franchise.

Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle will be released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from the 31st of May in Japanese with English subtitles as well as with an English dub. More information on ticket availability for your area can be found on the official website here. 

8 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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