「及川徹は天才ではない」 (Oikawa Tooru wa Tensai Dewanai)
“Oikawa Tooru is Not a Genius”

Week after week, Haikyuu never ceases to amaze me with how multifaceted each episode is. Right when I think it’s going to center around one of Karasuno’s struggles, the story quickly changes gears and touches upon another struggle, and another struggle after that, before finally leaving off on a cliffhanger for next week. This week, we started off with the most obvious one, the battle of the setters with Kageyama going up against Oikawa in an actual match, where we see how experience and hard work holds an edge over raw natural talent. Soon after, that leads into Tanaka’s personal struggles with Oikawa picking on him with his jump serve. After Tanaka overcomes it and shows glimpses of being Karasuno’s future go-to hitter (i.e. “Ace”), the focus quickly shifts back to Kageyama bending under the psychological pressure that Oikawa’s methodically placing on him. We see Karasuno’s first-year setter unconsciously reverting back to his old ways with his reckless sets before finally getting subbed out for Sugawara–a much more experienced setter. All of that in a single episode; what is there not to love about this series?

In terms of developments, I’m really enjoying the “experience vs. raw natural talent” angle between Oikawa and Kageyama for the believability alone. Less experienced players will succumb to pressure much easier, regardless of how naturally talented they are, so watching Oikawa exploit that fact makes me very eager to see how Karasuno overcomes it (if at all). The plan to do so is already in motion, with Sugawara coming in to alleviate some of the pressure off Kageyama; however, as we heard from his inner dialogue and reaction at the end, Kageyama clearly doesn’t see it that way just yet. He’ll likely take it really hard at first, but I suspect that once Ukai gets a chance to remind him that volleyball’s a team sport and he shouldn’t try to win on his own, Karasuno will make a strong push back. Personally, I think the preview spoiled a bit too much in that regard, showing Kageyama eventually subbing back in for Sugawara, but I’m still looking forward to seeing how Karasuno’s third-year players gel together and set an example for their younger teammates on how to deal with pressure. In addition, this will be our first time seeing Sugawara in an actual match, so I get the feeling that we’re going to get to see him shine a bit.

Getting to my favorite part of my weekly coverage of Haikyuu–i.e. volleyball specifics–it looks like Karasuno’s already made the transition to a four-man serve receive where they hide the middle in the front row. They didn’t really draw any attention to this adjustment, but upon seeing their formation, I still feel that Karasuno would benefit drastically from keeping Sawamura in the power position (i.e. left-side hitter) and Tanaka in the offside position (i.e. right-side hitter) like they had in their earlier practice matches, and then playing a three-man serve receive where only Sawamura, Azumane, and Nishinoya take the first ball. This would’ve completely avoided the problem where Tanaka got picked on by Oikawa’s jump serve. What’s more, on the highest level of competition today, the go-to hitter on many teams is actually the offside hitter, so Tanaka could potentially thrive in that position. Another problem I see is how defensive positions are depicted. For a lot of the kills, there never seems to be anyone cover “line” (i.e. straight down either side of the court). When Tanaka made his momentum-changing kill, Aoba Jousai’s defender was in his own blockers’ shadow rather than standing on the line, leaving that area completely open. Likewise, when Aoba Jousai made some kills, we sometimes see Nishinoya diving to the right to try and cover line when someone else–either the setter or the offside–should already be there.

Aside from that, the series is doing a great job at highlighting various strategic elements of volleyball, such as making the most of a free ball by forcing the other team’s setter to take it. This is actually what teams are expected to do if they can’t set up an offensive play, because it drastically limits the offence that their opponent can run in return. More often than not, a team will just set a safe high-ball to the outside, like we saw Sawamura do here. Next up is serving to area where the back-row setter is running toward the net. While I don’t feel this causes as much confusion as the series made it seem, there are definitely some challenges with having to take a serve that goes there. Lastly, I haven’t really seen or heard of any teams trying to fake out their opponents by making cues for plays and then switching them in the middle of the match, but I guess that works well for an anime. In all likelihood, what Sugawara hinted at with Hinata won’t come into play until Kageyama subs back in though, simply because it’ll probably leverage their monstrous quick. Whatever the case, this is definitely something else to look forward to next time.

Random thought: Up until now, I’ve always felt that the height of at which the players are depicted at the peak of the jumps has been fairly realistic, but this week there were some pretty absurd verticals. lol

Full-length images: 32.




  1. AW YES Suga’s finally on the spotlight! Kinda worried that he will be left out of this “battle of the setters” – hey Oikawa, Karasuno has another [awesome] setter too!

    Tanaka also deserves some stars this week for recovering quickly from great pressure. He can certainly be the next ace or captain once the third years graduate *sniff*

    On a random note… I don’t know why, but Noya’s stellar receives always give me the chills. Noya-san FTW!

  2. I wonder if these Haikyu post don’t get much comments because there is little interest in this show or maybe because people get overwhelmed by the amount of technical posts that you include in your posts. xD

    Finally it’s Suga’s time to shine. Yay.

    1. I think it’s for the former reason, though I can’t understand for the life of me why someone would be resistant to picking up this show. I mean, volleyball is pretty much the most interesting sport ever, if Divine hasn’t convinced you of this already.

    2. Nah, if you go on tumblr, there’s a lot of fans of Haikyuu. It’s very popular. If you look at the BD/DVD sales for vol1, it is a lot more than Kuroko no Basuke’s, averaging about 30k.

      1. I think it’s just the demographic of readers here on randomc. I’ve been following this site for a long time and for some reason sports anime aren’t covered/in demand all that much. That’s why when Divine picked up Haikyuu I was psyched.

  3. Love how even the opposing team gets time. The dynamic between Oikawa and his teamates is great. Oikawa’s an ass but his team gets him.
    Possible Ukai will sub on and off Kageyama to mix it up against Aoba Jousai? Kageyama can caml down all he wants but like you said experience generally wins out in a team sport.

  4. Well, you have to remember it’s an ongoing manga and the author has to have a room for teams’ improvement and if he doesn’t want to succumb to using super-fantasy-imposibru moves he has to leave some legit moves and tactics for later, even if (ex-)volleyball players think they’re obvious. Actually, I read the manga and it’s quite funny how Furudate-sensei makes normal techniques and tactics in volleyball so exciting as they were something form outer space.
    For me it’s clear not only teams have distinctive playing styles but are on different levels. And I guess at some point authors of sport manga have to start thinking not which tactic, move or technique will lead to victory but which mistakes of opponents will lead to they downfall, well at last if they don’t want to their manga look ridiculous.

  5. I can slowly start to imagine what the future Karasuno will look like: Noya-san!!(yup he deserves two exclamation marks)as the captain and Tanaka as ace+VP. Or maybe Tsukishima/Kageyama should serve as VP to balance out all the potential hotblooded outbursts our comedic-duo will most likely have (though at this point I can’t really see either in a leadership position; both of them haven’t melded in with the team as much as Hinata has).

    On another note, I can’t believe I chose this ep. to get caught up on…right in the middle of Karasuno vs. Aoba Jousai! Argh. The wait is killing me…
    Can’t wait to see what Suga will bring to the table :)I hope they keep him in the game longer.

  6. I really like what they are doing with the experience difference here as well.

    Lots of first years who are amazingly talented still lack the experience to be able to handle the pressure of close games and making themselves as useful as possible. Oikawa has been able to grow accustomed to his important position while also being able to trust his teammates so that he never feels that the pressure is all on him. Experience is more important than you think when it comes to sports.

  7. Great post Divine, really good to have your insight every week. I might not have noticed the change in their serve receive formation if it wasn’t for your posts.

    Keep up the good work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *