Versus the Great King
He Who is Called “Ace”
Lot’s of names being thrown about this week and last. Those in a high position seem to gain them fairly easily, be it a nickname indicating ones status or a name which tells of a status. Though honestly, no name quite has the allure of “senpai”.
The Great King, a name which fittingly enough in comparison to Kageyama’s King of the Court most certainly not given by ones own teammates, turns out to be a very laid-back but honest sort of individual. He has a very clear playfulness to him that brings some much needed presence to the opposing team. And presence isn’t all. Karasuno manages to keep a short at the end of their potentially winning set, at the end of which Oikawa has finished his warm-up and sets to the court. With him, we get the delightful return of the sketchy style Kageyama’s jump serve received some episodes ago, and bam. Having observed the court, proving that he has sharp sense about him, he aims for Tsukki as a weak link in receiving. These skills he show in the this short time place him to be quite a force to be reckoned with, but given the chance to attack, the first year combo show off their own skills, ending the practice match then and there.
Not much to be said there however, as while Karasuno may have been trying hard, Aoba Johsai didn’t seem particularly flustered by such a loss. They were never too invested in the win for this matter, rather more interested in appraising the level of the enemy. As this practice match was intended for. Of course, turnip head is none too happy about the result. He had some stake in this match, a certain belief going into it. And this belief was shattered. His meeting in the bathroom with Kageyama is a well done little moment of reflection, which helps put behind both of their past while not denying any of it. It works well for what it is, and it’s starting to be the level of quality one can expect from the show. Similarly, Oikawa shows himself to be quite the personality as he sees off Karasuno, getting in some relatively serious ribbing, as far as somebody clearly childlike can anyhow. He’s a pretty cool guy, approved. Their match here was maybe not the most involved, but with precedent of challenge set, any possible rematches are down to be somethin’ cool.
The Guardian Deity is also pretty damn cool. He understands cool. Black gakurans are absolutely cool. High school well chosen.
With talk of Nishinoya here, we also inevitably get talk of the other missing member of Karasuno, Asahi the Ace. Both of their reactions to their respective nicknames really says a lot about the two characters. While the lil’ shortie gets all flustered over his title (and over the Senpai suffix, maybe even a worse case than Tanaka with how deeply it strikes him), Asahi is much less receptive to the title of Ace. And the reason why makes itself quite clear quite quickly, at least on a surface level. It continues to show the strong focus on team dynamics at this point, and how important it is for the members to get along and be receptive to each other in their own manner. As Kageyama stole the responsibility for his old team entirely, Asahi unwittingly took the load of carrying the team on his own broad shoulders. But as strong as they are, once broken they can carry no longer. Which is precisely what happened, when Karasuno was once shutdown without letting a single spike by Asahi past. But as Kageyama learned to better himself after his moment of volleyball trauma, Asahi can still rebuild from where he is. It’s in hopes of this that Nishinoya won’t play for the team in fear of proving that Asahi isn’t needed, that Sugu attempts to persuade Asahi to join again because they don’t think any less of him due to the past, and why Hinata presents why he should return to volleyball again. Naturally, Kageyama leaves his own words on how there are 6 players on the court for a reason, and that no one player should carry the team, knowing very well he doesn’t have much room to talk on that matter.
But it’s these constant connections which may (definitely will considering the show) allow Asahi to connect his hand to the ball once more.
Finally, we do have one more important name (as far as people go), in that of coach Ukai and his grandson, who turns out to be the local store clerk. The teacher has been trying to persuade him to coach the kids oozing with potential, but the importance of Ukai name is something the grandson very much points out as being a reason as well. The teacher doesn’t lie about the name and how useful it would be for organizing matches, but it’s well enough that the grandson doesn’t want to take up the mantle in face of this. The overeager Takeda doesn’t allow this to dampen his efforts, however does know when to respectfully bow out for the day. It’s a little fishy however on the practice match he manages to organize for the end of the upcoming practice camp, being against an old rival of Karasuno High, Nekoma High. The coaches of the two teams used to be rivals, and in face of this fact, it’s somewhat telling what sort of thing the adviser might have done to succeed in making a practice match against Nekoma. He might be overstepping his boundaries there, but not knowing what he’s up to or what he actually did, let’s just leave it at that.
In the end, what we have going on here for Haikyuu these past two episodes are a real solid continuation of the previous 6 episodes, in terms of both quality and focus. Also amount of charming moments. Those are not in small supply at all, and don’t seem to be running out any time soon. Now it’s more of a question of whether we can hit some highs in the coming future from this consistent level of relatively high quality. We can’t necessarily expect them during this arguably still introductory period, but it’ll be curious to see what the show can do once it hits a moment or episode where it has to prove exactly what it can do.