"HAIKYU!! The Dumpster Battle" is a Dumpster Fire

HAIKYU!! The Dumpster Battle

Director: Susumu Mitsunaka
Studio: Crunchyroll
Genre(s): Drama
Rated: PG-13 (For language)

"Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle" is a feature-length adaptation of a manga and anime series in which the main characters strive to be the best volleyball players in the world. With a setup like that, I can almost see my readers drifting away. Sports films haven't been in style for years, and here I am discussing one that is a cartoon? A PG-13 one at that (which means families are much more likely to choose a PG-rated film like "The Garfield Movie" or the upcoming "Inside Out 2")? Now it feels like the pressure is on for me. After all, you've likely been sold on "Bad Boys: Ride or Die" for months; this is the time for a critic to shine and help you decide on something new.

So at the risk of sounding like a cop-out, I would say that if you are familiar with the anime series this is based on, it might just be worth the price of admission to see your favorite characters on the big screen. As a movie though...I found it to be a lackluster experience. It's not just because the movie requires a lot of homework to understand who everyone is and why you should care about them, but also because the movie doesn't make the volleyball itself very interesting to watch. Sure, there are a few scenes in which the characters are playing and the camera movement takes full advantage of the freedom animation provides, however, these scenes are few and far between.

For the most part, the characters are doing inner monologues about one another and having long inner thoughts about what play they are about to make on the court. When the movie shuts the characters up and the game is allowed to be played freely the movie shines, but most of the time everything plays out like a John Madden replay video. And I don't feel it needed to be this way. Last year GKids released the absolutely brilliant "The First Slam Dunk," which not only provided a good story to viewers not familiar with the series (by making a minor character the main protagonist), but also took full advantage of the animation medium.

That was a movie that understood camera movement, character drama, and the high tensions that come with the sport of basketball (it didn't hurt that it delivered some of the greatest basketball sequences I'd ever seen in a movie). "Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle" is sometimes exciting, but not very often. Characters talk way too much, the story requires a lot of homework to appreciate the characters, and the best parts of the movies are too brief to overcome the whole package. Again, fans of the series may be happy. For them, this review is just wasted ink in the newspaper. Those unfamiliar with the anime may want to start with a couple of episodes to see if this is going to be their thing (or check out real volleyball on ESPN+).