Yachi & Karasuno:
While the boys are killing it on the court, it’s the girls who are running the show. Haikyuu!! was criminally lacking in female characters last season, but the introduction of Yachi has changed that for the better, and there’s no going back now. It’s still funny whenever Tanaka or Noya bring up Kiyoko’s moving lips or casual girl talk, because just like them, we haven’t seen enough of it. I’ve always liked Kiyoko, but she was little more than the beautiful senior manager last season. Thankfully, now that Yachi has entered the game, she’s bringing Kiyoko out of her shell and we’re seeing her talking, laughing, and even giving motivational speeches. Haikyuu!! may often stick to doing what it does best, but that doesn’t mean it steps outside the box from time to time; Karasuno losing to Seijou was proof of that, but Yachi’s introduction has been another example, and there’s bound to be many more still to come.
Last week saw Yachi’s 1,200 ridiculous reaction faces as she met the members of the Karasuno volleyball team, though she’s calmed down a little this week. But don’t worry, she’s still that goofy, energetic girl who can’t contain herself, and that’s why I love her. Her interactions with the team this week felt very natural, so much so that it’s difficult to remember a time where Yachi wasn’t the second manager. Most noteworthy would have to be her back-and-forth with Hinata. I wouldn’t say I want them in a romantic relationship, because I don’t think Haikyuu!! would go in that direction, but they do make a great pair and it’s fun to see them bounce off one another like they do.
For most of the episode Yachi is struggling with coming to a decision on whether or not she should become a manager, for a few reasons. One is that she’s never done anything big like this on her own, another is that people have never had to rely on her, and the third – and most important – is that she’s always been an extra to someone else’s story. A ‘Townsperson B’. The tree in the back of the school play – but so was Hinata! It’s easy to point out how these two mirror one another, and I can definitely see it, but Yachi’s much less confident and a little more cooky than Hinata; who may not be the smartest cookie, but he always says the right thing at the right time. And it’s those honest words that pushed Yachi that little bit further, inspiring her to become Karasuno’s second manager.
Yachi & Her Mother:
As brilliant as Yachi’s scenes are with the team, I think her interactions with her mother tell that much more about her character and personal struggles. She’s not got a particularly heartbreaking or dramatic backstory, but it’s easy to see why she lacks in self belief, given that her mother is constantly working at her graphic design firm. With no sign of a father or other siblings, she’s probably used to living alone (in her aesthetically pleasing room, as you’d expect from her). I was half expecting her to squee in glee when her and Hinata were in her apartment alone – as you’d expect from every other anime – but Haikyuu!! avoided plenty of trope landmines with this episode.
Yachi’s mother could have very easily been a cold-hearted woman who didn’t care for her daughter and only focused on her own work. It may have even seemed like that at first, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s clearly a successful, driven businesswoman who values competence and determination; and so it makes sense that she’d treat her child as she would a colleague, unfair as it may be. But I wouldn’t label her a bad mother. The pair have a tender relationship when work and school is removed, making it feel like a genuine mother-daughter relationship. She only wants her daughter to be strong and determined like her – though discouraging someone from doing what they think they want is not the way to that, but we see that she never meant to hurt her daughter’s feelings or hold her back from doing what she wants. She wants the exact opposite. Of course, because of this Yachi feels she has something to prove to her mother, which leads up to that fantastic scene in the underground where she embraces her ‘Townsperson B’ character and proves that she’s willing to put everything into this job, making her mother cry tears of joy. It’s a silly, over the top scene, but everything about it is brilliant and fun – just like Yachi!
Yachi & The Poster:
There were plenty of hilarious and/or epic moments this week – Karasuno walking onto the court for the practice match; Yachi watching the boys getting changed; Yachi being dragged down to street by Hinata, making her feel like she’s in a shoujo manga; the boys finally getting their test scores at the very end – but the best of all has to the buildup and reveal of what Yachi was working on the entire episode. I liked how it showed her being inspired and then doing the work before actually letting us know what she was up to. The cherry on top was her mother coming in to help her with the design, asking all the important questions: Who is the target audience? What are you trying to convey? Do you think this would catch your attention if you walked by it? She’s a businesswoman through-and-through, but it’s a blessing that we’ve avoided the typical stuck-up, uncaring mother trope, and instead got something genuine in return. And the result of this hard work is the highlight of this already fantastic episode.
Hinata seeing himself in the exact same place that he first saw the Small Giant was a woah moment I’ve ever seen one. I was excited to see how Production I.G would handle this, and yet again, they exceeded my expectations. It’s a truly inspiring moment – heck, I even feel like donating money to the team now! Two episodes in and Yachi has already helped her teammates study, inspired Hinata to become that much better, and provided the team with the donations to get to Tokyo. Yachi is officially the best, and now she’s here to stay!
Overview – What’s Next?:
And so the Yachi arc comes to an end. It’s a short one, but one of my favourites of the series. Fun (or not so fun?) fact: after Karasuno lost in the tournament, Haikyuu!!’s rankings in Weekly Shonen Jump took a massive tumble, to the point where it was last place or second last for several weeks. But then Yachi came along and brought the series back to its original position, and then the anime came around, and now it’s the second best-selling manga (per volume) of the whole magazine, after the unbeatable One Piece. Yachi didn’t just save the boys, but she saved the series as well. She’s part of the team now, and her determination will be put to the test when they head to Tokyo next week. We see some old faces and new, but will all four idiots pass their tests and be able to join the team on the Tokyo training camp? Till next week!