The over-exaggerated antics that are so characteristic of sports anime may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying the far-reaching influence that the genre has built up over the years. In a market filled with well-known works like Free!, Kuroko no Basuke, Prince of Tennis, and Diamond no Ace, mangaka Haruichi Furudate’s Haikyuu!! series managed to leave a strong legacy behind.
As it stands, it seems like even the Tokyo Olympics isn’t impervious to the volleyball fever that the title has sparked. During the match between the Japan and Venezuela Men Volleyball teams, the very first anime opening, SPYAIR’s “Imagination”, made a surprise entrance at the major sporting event. The most surreal part of it all? The host nation actually went on to secure her first victory in 29 years with a 3-0 win over their opponent.
It’s a scene truly straight out of the series, with the whole experience further accentuated by Japanese representative Yuji Nishida’s powerful spike that’s highly reminiscent of protagonist Hinata Shouyou’s signature sky-high leap in Haikyuu!!.
In fact, the original series is no stranger to any mention of the Olympics. Beyond the fourth season of the anime, the yet-to-be-adapted manga chapters have a pretty close connection to the major sporting event, and it’s real neat that the Tokyo Olympics did tie things up with an apt tribute.
This isn’t the first time that the Japan National Team has worked together with the volleyball-centric series as well. Prior to this year’s nod, there was a Shibuya ad featuring Japanese player Yanagida Masahiro and Hinata way back in 2016. The man also also got a crossover art piece with setter Kageyama Tobio, with the setup of his academy featured in the Monthly Volleyball Magazine alongside illustrations of Hinata, Sugawara Koushi, Kageyama, and Tsukishima Kei.
Japanese player Ishikawa Yuki, meanwhile, got a special appearance in Haikyuu!!‘s Volume 41 Bonus Story, too, and was drawn beside Hinata in another collaborative instance, among others.