After last week’s explosive confrontation, it makes sense that we’d take a step back and have our characters reflect on their current skills and approaches going forward. Most of this episode is dedicated to Hinata and Kageyama after their fight, as they meet some rather important people who inspire/train them how to improve themselves. First off is Kageyama, who runs into Oikawa and his nephew. Every time I see Oikawa I’m reminded of how much I like his character, even if he’s not one of my top favourites; he’s still equal parts charming, douchey, and cute. It’s an odd balance, but his back-and-forth with Kageyama has always been amusing, as we saw from the flashbacks in the first season. I personally loved seeing the glimpse of his phone, allowing us some insight into his character – and it’s completely Oikawa. What could have been a random series of photos seem like a deliberate effort to show his personality – a beautiful sunset, some proud pictures of his nephew, and of course, his selfies. Oikawa definitely seems the sort who posts those pics on Instagram and then adds about 50 hashtags underneath.
However, behind the banter and the mockery, he manages to deliver some worthwhile advice to Kageyama. Having played with him in the past, he knows about his tendency to become a dictator on the court, which doesn’t seem to have gone away just yet. When questioned about whether he gives the shots that Hinata wants, he’s left stumped. Kageyama has undergone plenty of changes since the very first episode; clearly, he doesn’t want to be that same player from junior high, and those simple words from Oikawa are enough to make him question his approach as a setter.
Papa Crow Arrives:
Funnily enough, Hinata is given similar advice from the legendary former Karasuno coach, Ukai Ikkei (Naka Hiroshi), as he begins training in a new environment and goes back to the basics. It’s great to see the Papa Crow finally being introduced, and how he works with Hinata. If anything, he’s a little less strict than you’d expect from his name, though perhaps age has softened him. Still, he’s the man who took the previously unknown Karasuno volleyball team to nationals, and he’s already seeing similarities between Hinata and the Small Giant – it seems the Small Giant dismissed his height as a handicap at some point as well, which is cool to know. The more parallels between these two, the better!
It’s good that Hinata is getting the time to reflect on his own ability and realise that his technique is practically non-existent. His early pairing with Kageyama has gotten him too used to one particular way of playing volleyball, which doesn’t help in the grand scheme of things. We’ve always known his basics aren’t that great, but this episode seemed to fill in those gaps so he can improve on them in future episodes. Plus, both Hinata and Kageyama are told that it’s not the setter who is in control, but the spiker. It’s an interesting tidbit, as it will challenge both of them to rethink their approach and hopefully bring them together once again as a result. As for right now, however, they’re still not on speaking terms, which has poor Yachi on the edge.
Training & Techniques:
This set-up for our main duo means we get into the details of their new techniques. The three tempos was smartly displayed to Hinata (and us), and it gives him another thing to consider when he’s going in for the kill. Of course, he probably was doing that already, but he wasn’t conscious of his own movements and how that affected his hits; now that he knows the technique, it can only go up from here, especially as he grows more accustomed to setters other than the prodigal Kageyama. As for Kageyama, Ukai comes up with a new method of setting for Hinata – ensuring that he ‘stops’ the ball at the point of contact, meaning that wherever Hinata spikes it should be the highest point it reaches. I’m not a volleyball pro by any means, but these solutions sound sensible and useful; it just goes to show that going back to the basics may be all you need to fix your bad habits.
Every good training arc needs an adrenaline-pumping montage, and this episode had just that. It was a brilliant way of fast forwarding through scenes from the manga that don’t necessarily need fully adapted. We saw snippets of nearly every character training on their own, or with their teammates. Everyone has their own regime or points to improve upon, whether it be Asahi’s spikes, Noya’s newfound serving inspiration, Yamaguchi practicing his floating serve, or Sawamura ensuring that they’ve got the court for as long as possible (while showing that Yui clearly has the hots for him, which was cute). The music had me pumped throughout, and seeing everyone working towards their goals was inspiring to watch. Except for one player: Tsukishima. I’ve seen several viewers/reviewers commenting on their disappointment with his attitude and how underdeveloped he’s been compared to everyone else in the series… to which I will keep my lips sealed tight.
Overview – What’s Next?:
A slower paced episode this time around, showing (almost) everyone preparing for the week-long training camp starting next episode. I cannot wait for what’s to come, since there’s plenty of worthwhile material to get through, as everyone will have to put their newfound techniques and approaches to the test. Also, the preview shows plenty of Tsukki… could that possible mean this will be his time to shine? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.