「勝者と敗者」 (Shousha to Haisha)
“Winners and Losers”
The thrill of victory and the anguish of defeat was the theme this week in Haikyuu, with the latter being exemplified by both Ikejiri and Yui. With Ikejiri in particular, this wraps up his subplot with Sawamura as well, and in a way that proved to be more meaningful than I anticipated. The scene where Ikejiri broke the fourth wall and said that if this were a piece of fiction, Karasuno would would go on and win the nationals and that he and everyone else were nothing but extras spoke volumes to me, simply because we all know that’s where the story is headed–regardless of whether Karasuno actually wins the nationals in the end. However, on route to that destination, Haikyuu (via Ikejiri) reminds us of Karasuno’s struggles in the past and that for every match where a team moves on to the next round, there’s a team that doesn’t.
This is yet another example of how well the story is depicted in Haikyuu. The characters are relatable and the heartfelt circumstances all feel very familiar to us–even when it comes to the “extras” whose names we don’t even know. While it’s always good to have a focused point of view from our main and secondary characters, this series’ tendency to take a step back and provide us with a wider perspective on how many others are going through the exact same thing makes me appreciate everything that’s going on that much more. And when it comes to a sports anime, being able to take the spectacle and the emotions all in only helps to enhance the viewing experience and make it more enjoyable.
In terms of some specific developments, it looks like Hinata and Kageyama have already starting clicking on their “normal” open-eyed quick attacks. Like the members of Aoba Jousai (a.k.a. Seijou) pointed out, it’s still a bit sloppy, which is what I was anticipating going into Karasuno’s next match against Datekou. As a team, they will undoubtedly have to try and perfect Hinata’s attack during the match to force Datekou to prioritize it as a threat and not be able to set up a three-man block time and time again. This would in turn open up hitting lanes for Karasuno’s outside hitters, most notable Asahi, who doesn’t look the least bit discouraged as he’s about to try and conquer his past demons against the Datekou’s Aone Takanobu, the backbone of their opponents seemingly impenetrable block. To that end, we should probably expect the pointers that Sugawara gave to both Kageyama and Hinata to play a pivotal role, much like Nishinoya’s charismatic one-liner did at the end of the episode.
On a volleyball note, it looks like Karasuno (and their opponents Tokonami) don’t even play a proper five-man serve receive, which suggests to me that serve receive formations have been completely overlooked by the author of this series (at least for now anyway) . Hopefully the series will correct this down the road when the team focuses on improving their serve receive.