How grounded it is. There are no freak moves, no flashy abilities … there’s nothing that a normal player in real life can’t do.
Even their hair colors are normal.
And the scenes we get outside the court are brilliant, showcasing each character as a person, not just a player, and that’s so, so important in any anime–to get to know the characters, establish their personalities.
And how it’s important to fail at the beginning–and keep failing, as you train–to become stronger, as was the case in the Training Camp arc. How many dives did they have to do at the beginning? How many? They lost every single time, all the time, in those first few days.
You get to care for each and every single character, opposing team or not.
Characters have to deal with real, personal issues that we can relate to, and that makes us connect with and care for them that much more.
Females don’t take the back seat.
Coaches don’t take the back seat.
Meaningful, complex relationships between setters and captains that are built upon mutual trust, respect, and loyalty.
Relationships between players are free of fan-service. No blushing, no intimate close-ups … everything is conveyed through either a single, meaningful look or gesture. And that makes it that much more powerful.
Each team is a family. Each and every team. It’s conveyed and felt so deeply that it’s impossible not to cheer them on.
Superb, gradual, slow-burning character development.
Characters are not confined to tropes. The stoic will beat himself up for missing a point; the king practices till his fingers are blistered; the anti-social gamer is the backbone of the team.
Gorgeous, fluid animation.
Find me boys more willing to toss aside everything to win.