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I've only watched Free! and Free!: Eternal Summer, but recently a friend recommended I watch Haikyuu!! and looking at images of it, I'm reminded of Free! a great deal.

The characters even look similar and they both contain a plot based around a sports team.

Are they related, or could this just be a coincidence?

8

Apart from being of the same genre and containing similar enough art style, I don't think the productions are related.

Differences:

  • The authors are different (Masahiro Yokotani vs Haruichi Furudate)
  • The production studios are different: Haikyuu!! is produced by Production I.G, Free! by Kyoto Animation
  • Haikyuu!! is shonen whilst Free! is mostly targeted at women.

Similarities:

  • Character style (but this could just be that the style of the characters has been found to appeal to their target market and chosen for this reason)
  • Exclamation marks in their title!! (but so has K-On!! and many other shows)
  • Sports genre

The similarities between the shows aren't really substantial enough to warrant a link between them, so I doubt they are.

[I thought that Chihayafuru (another sports title) was similar to Haikyuu!! also, but it also doesn't have anything in common, so I think this is just an art style that sports anime have evolved into]

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  • Chihayafuru is not really sport per se. It's more of a game/literature plus romance. – nhahtdh Sep 22 '14 at 12:51
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    ah, it is though - they are competing in tournaments & stuff – Toshinou Kyouko Sep 22 '14 at 13:02
  • Although Wikipedia and mangaupdates categorize Chihayafuru as sport genre, IMO, associating karuta with sports is a bit stretching the limit of the definition. – nhahtdh Sep 22 '14 at 13:12
  • if chess is a sport, karuta is a sport. Regardless, it was targeted at the same audience – Toshinou Kyouko Sep 22 '14 at 13:38
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I actually think the creators of haikyuu stole some ideas from free since the similarities are crazy. The characters seem to be fairly similar but another key point is the plot. Both teams have a female president, both teams failed to make it into their first competition, both teams go on training camps, both teams succeed in getting into the second competition they try for and not to mention the same some of character realationship the king of the court has and the great king has kinda resembles haku and runs realationship a little bit. I don't know I'm just saying. Also - free was released in 2013 - haikyuu's first season was released in 2015

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    Or in other words, common tropes. Not only these 2 anime, but many other sports anime have followed these combination of tropes too. – Aki Tanaka Nov 28 '19 at 16:05

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