Review: ‘Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle’ Doesn’t Miss a Beat


It’s been a long time coming — the ultimate, fated showdown between Karasuno and Nekoma … and the return of Haikyu!! after over three years. The Dumpster Battle is finally here, and it was worth the wait.

I’m admittedly biased when it comes to Haikyu!!, given that this silly, heartwarming little show about a menagerie of high school volleyball teams is one of my favorite anime series of all time. So when I say that I teared up the moment The Dumpster Battle started (and…throughout), I mean that, yes, I literally sat there sniffling over an animated sports game. I digress.

First thing’s first, let’s address the elephant in the room, because it has to be said. The Dumpster Battle covers chapters 293 through 325 of the manga, and in a perfect world, this climactic match would have been given the same treatment as Shiratorizawa (which was the entirety of season 3) and Inarizaki (the second half of season 4). From an outside perspective, it may not make sense how a volleyball game could be stretched out over 10 episodes and many chapters. But for Haikyu!!, that’s part of the magic of this series — you become so incredibly invested in Karasuno’s individual players (and the other teams!) that every single match becomes a nail-biting, emotional, narratively-rich journey. So for Karasuno to have fought so hard to get to Nationals and to finally face Nekoma on the court in a real match that’s been decades in the making, it’s unfortunate that the show didn’t get a fifth season and beyond to cover that and the rest of the last 100+ chapters.

Haruichi Furudate/Shueisha

That being said, don’t get me wrong, let me be extremely clear that I loved this movie (ergo, aforementioned tears). The Dumpster Battle, despite the fact that season 4 aired back in 2020, doesn’t miss a beat. It picks back up right where we left off and hits the ground running, offering a seamless transition from one chapter of the story to the next. Susumu Mitsunaka (who previously worked on seasons 1-3) returns as director and also wrote the screenplay, lending to the film’s overall consistency with the series. This is the same Haikyu!! we know and love with plenty of nail-biting plays, hard-hitting moments, and humor sprinkled throughout. SPYAIR also returns to provide yet another fantastic theme song for the film, “Orange” … which I’ve had on repeat since it hit Spotify earlier this year.

It’s worth mentioning that because the movie is very much a continuation of the show and tosses viewers right back into the tournament without much preamble or exposition for newbies, it may be advantageous to revisit prior seasons to give yourself the full experience of the build-up that makes this game so very important.

Now back to our opposing sides. Karasuno and Nekoma are age-old rivals, but they’re also friends, and the movie does a wonderful job at bringing the beautiful culmination of this captivating dynamic to the screen with a match that’s both incredibly challenging yet enjoyable for its players on both sides. Essentially, as a viewer, there’s something very satisfying about watching two teams with so much respect for one another that they’re all clearly having fun regardless of what’s riding on the game. To its credit, the film makes careful use of its limited runtime to balance the live events taking place on court alongside emotional beats like flashbacks to Nekoma setter Kenma Kozume’s years-long journey to becoming a begrudging-yet-skilled volleyball player (which functions as a narrative contrast to Shōyō Hinata’s own battle to the top).

I’d also be remiss not to mention that there’s a particularly moving scene involving Kenma near the end of the match that — because of the way it was animated, directed, scripted, and voiced — is without a doubt one of Haikyu!!‘s most emotionally raw, immersive moments on the court.

Overall, while we may not have gotten 10 episodes worth of our beloved crows and cats battling it out on the court, I’d argue that on the bright side, there’s a valuable tradeoff to be found in the opportunity to experience this particular game on the big screen in a theater full of fellow excited fans. Tetsurō Kuroo, you will always be famous.

Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle will hit theaters in North America on May 31 (and make sure you stay after the credits!). In the meantime, stream seasons 1-4 on Crunchyroll.

Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. If she's not writing or out and about with her camera, she's probably watching anime, nerding out over Star Wars, reading manga, and definitely forgetting to water her plants. And waiting for the Genshin loading screen to pop up. Contact:

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