“Center Ace”

「“センターエース”」 (“Senta Esu” )

The Make Up Tests & Saeko-neesan:

After teasing out the test results for another week, we finally find out who passed and who failed. If you pegged Haikyuu!! as being predictable in its developments – which you shouldn’t, unless you want to be proven wrong from time-to-time – then you might be surprised that our two main characters were the ones to fail. It’s almost unbelievable at first, because you’d think that this training camp would be their opportunity to grow as a duo and as individual players – yet we begin this episode with the team already at Tokyo, whilst Hinata and Kageyama are taking their make-up exams.

Thankfully, they only failed one test each (while Tanaka and Noya barely passed), so after the first morning they were able to hop aboard Saeko-neesan’s deathcab and make their belated way to Tokyo. Of course, they got there in the end, but they missed most of the matches and lost some time to face all the various teams, which Hinata feels when he realises that nothing has changed since they last lost to Seijou. Determination can only get you so far; as Haikyuu!! shows, you have to put effort into your work to see the results, no matter if you’re naturally gifted or not.

Although not perfect for Hinata and Kageyama’s safety, the trip with Saeko was the best thing that could have happened for us, the viewers. We’re not long introduced to her, but here she proves another extremely likeable female addition to the cast. If there’s one thing this season has excelled in so far, it’s the girls. I said it last episode, but it does feel like they’re stealing the show, and that’s only a good thing in my books. But this amusing trio becomes even more interesting when it’s revealed that Saeko went to school with the Small Giant and even encountered him during one their matches. She wasn’t a follower of the volleyball team – and hadn’t even spoken to the boy before – so her first encounter with him was a pretty heated one. We still know next to nothing about Hinata’s pint-sized idol, but clearly had a temper on him and was capable of being subbed out when he wasn’t performing his best. We’re bound to see him eventually, but I wouldn’t expect that any time soon – I can imagine that maybe 70+ episodes in, because let’s face it, the Haikyuu!! anime is gonna go on forever… or at least until the manga finishes.

Five Teams, One Training Camp:

I know a lot of manga fans have been looking forward to this arc. Traditionally, training arcs aren’t considered the best in any given series, but this one has a special place in the hearts of the fans, and part of that comes down to the characters we’re introduced to this week. We’ve got five teams training with one another, each with their own unique traits. Of course, there’s Karasuno, who comes off as the weakest of the bunch, which makes perfect sense given how famed some of these other teams are. There’s their familiar rivals: Nekoma, a team of specialists who work together to counter whoever they’re facing. Even though we haven’t seen too much of them, I’d say they’re probably the most popular team in the series, after Karasuno. Kuroo, Kenma, Yamamoto, and Inouka made an impact in the first season, serving as mirrors to the respective members of Karasuno, and clearly that resonated with readers and viewers. Their rivalry is destined, and I’m always excited by the prospect of these two teams appearing on the court together.

The other three schools introduced this week are all new additions, but you should definitely take note of their names and get ready to see more of them in future. Ubugawa are known for their impressive serves and ultimate attacks, making them a highly offensive team; Shinzen are the masters of combos, their players are constantly moving; and then there’s Fukurodani, arguably the strongest team we’ve seen in the series thus far (along with Shiratorizawa), which mainly comes down to their captain and wing spiker, Bokuto Kotarou (Kimura Ryohei), who is among the best spikers in the country and plays on the national team along with Ushijima.

Basically, Bokuto is a big deal, even if he doesn’t look it. He may have the appearance of a Pharaoh Eagle Owl, but this goofy third-year is a force to be reckoned with, and a favourite among fans. All in all, we’ve got a varied group with plenty of interesting match-ups on the horizon. We don’t see too much of the games this week – other than Karasuno losing eight time and having to do the diving laps – until Hinata and Kageyama arrive. That’s when things start getting exciting, as the other teams take notice of this first-year duo. Unfortunately, they only made it in time for a few games, so we don’t see them properly in action right now. What we do get, however, is a hilarious confrontation between Hinata and his potential new rival.

Haiba Lev – Self-Declared Ace:

If you haven’t watched the Haikyuu!! OVA then I highly recommend you do so, as it focused almost entirely on Nekoma and their newest first-year player: Haiba Lev (Ishii Mark – a newcomer seiyuu whose voice I love; his energy as Bellri in Reconguista was the highlight of an otherwise tragic show), a silver-haired, Russian-Japanese 16 year-old who comes in at a whopping 194cm. To Hinata and the others, that’s ridiculously tall, but since I’m an inch taller than Lev in real-life I can’t say I feel the same awe as them. Still, in proportion to everyone else, he is massive, and his limbs are long and whip-like.

If you watch the OVA you’ll learn a lot more about him, but Kenma does a good job summarising their rather difficult first pairing (Hah, get it? Pairing , because this is Haikyuu!! and there at least 55 pairings, each with their own doujins). Lev may have power in his spikes, but his passing skills are horrible and his basic volleyball knowledge is very poor. If not for his incredible strengths, there’s no way he’d be part of the main team. But clearly he thinks himself strong, claiming that he’s the ace (though we know that’s not the case), and inspires Hinata to become one as well, given they play the same role which traditionally doesn’t allow them to be the ace of their respective team. But Lev’s ignorance to the mechanics of volleyball make for great moment, as he tells Hinata straight: he’ll become the ace no matter where he is on the court, he just has to be the best player there. I should also mention Hinata’s jumping scene, which was probably the best part of the episode – what could have been as epic as him snatching the ball from Ushijima ended up a hilarious failure. Gotta love him for trying, though.

Overview – What’s Next?:

The Tokyo Training Camp arc is finally here, and I’m excited to finally see it adapted. Expect this one to last for a while, with some twists along the way to keep you guessing. We’ve got our five teams together, and seen glimpses of the strongest players amongst them. Now all that remains to be seen is whether or not Hinata and Kageyama can compete against those big names. They may be a gifted duo, but Hinata knows that their strategies won’t work against the best of the best, and they’ll eventually be forced to evolve as players as time goes on.

Full-length images: 29.




  1. This episode had a lot of fun moments (and great Yachi faces). My liking of training arcs depends entirely on the pacing and growth involved, so I’m glad Hinata has already noticed he needs something new, and that that revelation is already out of the way. I can’t wait to see what this arc has to offer for Karasuno–and I’ll enjoy getting to see my favourites from the other teams in the mean time.
    I was laughing throughout the Lev vs Hinata scene, both because of the nature of the face-off, and because of Hinata’s tiny stature next to Lev. Your comment on Lev’s height versus your own made me consider how I’d compare height-wise, so I decided to check how tall Hinata is in comparison to myself.
    I’m even shorter than him. I’ve never been so devastated.

  2. There’s no way the author made the little giant seem like a combined hinata-kageyama, with the former’s build and the latter’s intensity and glare, by accident. Especially since the two specialize as working as a unit. The only question is how similar these two are to the little giant and at stage they’ll get to meet him!

    Also, I love how Saeko is definitely her own person, but her mannerisms and way of speaking sound like Tanaka’s too.

    Haha, and that moment of Kageyama and Hinata getting put down by Tanaka after their quick shot. “Stop acting so cool you tardy test flunkers.” Can’t get too big-headed you two.

    1. It’s definitely intentional of Furudate’s part, I think. I mean, it must be? I don’t know when we’ll get to meet him, but it’ll likely be far ahead in the story. Still, I look forward to it when it comes, because it could signal a change in Hinata’s story.

  3. I wonder how they’ll handle the pacing on the training arc. It IS a fan favorite and it’s importance and development it brings is undeniable, but if I’m guessing right about where this season will end – Show Spoiler ▼

    , then they have a lot of ground to cover.

  4. One of the parts I liked about this episode was how it was shown that Lev’s words got into Hinata’s head. It tied off the theme of wanting to improve quite nicely, with Hinata primed for a huge learning experience of his own. It’ll be ugly, but then it’ll be glorious.

    1. Really? Can’t say I see it. Interestingly enough, Production IG are already more than half way through the production of this Haikyuu!! season, which is quite rare. Most studios are pushing out the episodes as they come (see: Shirobako), but IG are months ahead, which means the animation should be consistent throughout.

  5. With the Shokugeki no Soma manga reaching near depressing levels, I’m glad Haikyuu’s there to lift me up. And it was quite good that Nekoma’s coach pointed out how Karasuno was still the very same team since their loss in the last season. Looks like a brand new quick attack will be cooked up by the pair next episode. Hopefully, it only take 1 to 2 episode tops to complete the new technique and we get to see them kick some serious ass in the training arc or official tourney.


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