An Interesting Team
For the first match, this match portion of this practice match is surprisingly low-key. But then again, with other content to more than make up for it, that’s likely how it was meant to be.
Up until the end, that is.
I’ll admit, the beginnings of Haikyuu are somewhat of a blur to me. With WSJ series for the past few years at least, I tend to catch them as they begin their serialization (Shokugeki no Souma, Assassination Classroom, pretty much anything since Toriko began it’s run), but Haikyuu, for whatever reason, I only got to as it had gone well past it’s introductory phase. So having read it all in bulk, the content starting from now is totally vague in my mind. Which isn’t to say the content is forgettable or anything, since really. This was another pretty great episode.
What we have going on this episode is essentially the continuation and perhaps looking at the end of the two major issues we’ve been dealing with since the start. Those being Hinata’s transition into an actual team, and Kageyama’s transition into actually working in a team. What better setting for that then the first match as a team, against opponents very familiar to the perma-grouch setter. Hinata can’t bear not to play on the court, and with everybody unaware of exactly what he’s worried about, (nearly) every single word sent his way sends him further and further into the deep dark realms of the bathroom. The only real moments where Hinata shows to be at his natural state are when Tanaka unintentionally says the right words to alleviate his concerns (while also backpedaling like the dummy he is) and when he gets to have a chance to complain and talk about Kageyama with one of the old Kitagawa Daichi players, thusly dubbed Turnip Head. Perfectly enough, Tanaka also comes to ruin Hinata’s stomach here, despite trying his very best to be a cool senpai.
On the other hand, Kageyama is handling his own situation remarkably well, as he said he would last episode. He joins in on the intimidating posturing after Tanaka’s and Tsukki’s less than playful ribbing, because honestly. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the cool crow motif whenever possible, particularly after some equally cool character interaction. But Kageyama doesn’t actually say a word himself, besides to respond simply to Turnip Head’s prodding. Kageyama’s distinction which he made last episode is showing here, the enemy are simply the enemy at this point, regardless of what the past holds. That’s essentially all we get from Kageyama on that issue for the entire episode, besides moments when he surprises Turnip Head with his new found human decency and acknowledgement of teammates. It’s set-up obviously to show this new change he’s going through, but that doesn’t make it bad. On the contrary, it’s already kind of satisfying knowing the awkward kid for what he is. And that doesn’t mean his nature has changed entirely either, which is definitely a good thing considering his scenes this episode.
And when I’m talking about scenes here, I’m talking all the little moments that are sprinkled throughout this episode which really make it work. The snappiness to the characters shooting the shit with each other, their personalities really shining through. The best moment to really illustrate this is at the end of the first set, Aoba Jo(h)sai one point away from victory. Thankfully, Hinata is here to save the day! With his nerves consuming him more and more, you hear Daichi’s encouragement in the back, and Hinata let’s the serve fly at the sound of the whistle. It hits Kageyama, and without doubt, Kageyama’s anger flares. Hinata resigns to his fate, while Tanaka and Tsukki mock the head shot Kageyama with all they’ve got. This is already pretty good for what it is, but it’s just sent into great territory as Kageyama approaches Hinata with an amazing mix of his obvious temperament and his “consideration” for his team mate. Just slapping the back of his head, Kageyama’s delivery of the scene is wonderful. It’s scenes like this which really set the show in its own category, and thankfully there’s a constant sense of back and forth within the team. Being in a team has been a serious focus for Haikyuu thus far, and thankfully these characters within the team is showing itself to be a strength of the show. The scare Kageyama provides is just the step Hinata needs to try and focus a little more, and it’s Tanaka who actually sets Hinata back into his normal mode, which is only in his place after his comments earlier this episode. Everybody on his side of the net is an ally, and everybody there, besides Random Player #A, is a strength.
Following this, we start to see the signs of what kind of team Karasuno will manage to become. As said by the Aoba coach, it’s an interesting one as it should be. They’re the team who at the moment are somewhat roughly mix matched, and have their fair share of inexperience, be it in actual matches or as a team with this line-up. But as individuals, the abilities found aren’t to be underestimated. It’s evident enough that Hinata and Kageyama are going to shape themselves to be a good centerpiece of the team, but it’s good to see that that the other players aren’t going to be ignored in all of this. We have the all-rounder in the captain, the power player in Tanaka, and the defensive wall in Tsukki. Poor Yamaguchi and Sugu are currently on the sidelines however, and one can only wonder what they have to offer, particularly in the case of Sugu who’s having his spot decidedly taken by Kageyama. Either way, with Hinata working as his regular self, Karasuno manages to slowly gain their ground again Aoba. And it’s all seemingly good, no real competition found in the opponent as the only particularly recognizable player, Turnip Head, doesn’t prove to be much of an opponent on his own.
Of course, that’s where the final moment of the episode comes in, as Kageyama somehow knows that the opponent’s setter isn’t their main setter. And as if called, we have the mystery man show up with a crowd of fans signalling his grand entrance. The enemy is Oikawa, and we know nothing of him besides his status as a setter and that he’s clearly stands out more than anybody else on the enemy team. More importantly, this guy is a setter, and as I mentioned last time, the setter is kind of like a conductor. If there’s a good conductor within Oikawa, as there more than likely is judging his entrance, this might well be our first look at what a proper serious match will look like in Haikyuu. Maybe.