“Place to Play”
Johzenji High – Contagious High Energy and Good Fun!:
This Johzenji match is such good fun – it’s delivering high energy, brilliant animation, and constant action. What’s even more noteworthy is how this episode managed to make a team of playboys seems so likeable. The past few times we’ve seen them they’ve come across in a somewhat negative manner, but once they get onto the court it’s impossible to ignore how contagious they are. It’s easy to see why they’re known as the party team, as everything they do is for fun – they play volleyball because it’s fun, if they see the ball going towards them they’ll each react in what they assume to be the most ‘fun’ thing to do. That results in plenty of collisions and failed attempts, but their occasional failures don’t damped the mood. In fact, they’ll laugh off their mistakes even if it costs them the set point. So no matter what impression we had of them before now, after this episode they seem like they’d be a great laugh to be around (except for them aggressively hitting on other girls).
What’s funny about this match-up is that it feels like Karasuno is facing off against a younger and more inexperienced version of themselves. Of all the schools they’ve played with until now, Johzenji have the same goofiness and unpredictability about them. That throws Karasuno off at first, but once they get used to their plays they’re able to take control of the court. There does seem to be an apparent difference in skill, but Johzenji are definitely not bad players; the fact that they’ve gone this far in the tournament says enough about their game sense and ability. And while it doesn’t seem possible that Karasuno could lose, this is definitely the most enjoyable match-up of the tournament thus far.
The Importance of a Strong-Willed Captain:
What I loved about this episode was how so many characters got their time to shine, whether it be Tsukishima and his new sports glasses, Hinata and his spiderman jump off the wall, Kageyama blocking the ball with his face and then denying that he’s got a nosebleed, Suga stepping out on the court with Narita (for the very first time?) and getting a few points in there, and perhaps the funniest of all is when Tanaka and Noya get Kiyoko to say the word ‘spank’. There were so many moments that made me laugh or smile, and that’s something that Haikyuu!! always manages to do, and I can’t imagine that ever changing.
However, the MVP of the weeks has to be Karasuno’s captain, Daichi. Poor Daichi gets labelled as boring by Terushima, which I wouldn’t say is wrong, especially when he’s filled with a team of wacky players each with their own quirks and play styles. In comparison, Daichi is plain and sticks to defending most of the time. While he doesn’t get many opportunities to shine on the court, this episode gave him quite a few – whether he was encouraging Hintana and Kageyama, defending Johzenji’s powerful spikes, or being there to save the team and set-up for a counter attack. Before Tsukishima got all his character development, Daichi used to be my favourite character. He, along with Sug and Asahi, definitely deserve more screentime, especially if this could be their last opportunity at high school volleyball.
We also got a nice flashback focusing on the previous Jozenji captain (as it’s mainly all second years in the current team), as well as a stirring speech from Misaki Hana (Fujimura Ayumi) who brings her team back down earth when they’re on the verge of losing the second set, reminding them of the previous captains words, spurring them to victory, even if it isn’t ‘fun’. Whatever the case, I’m sure Terushima and his boys will make the most out of this situation, as they step back into the game all fired up, as if this was all just a warm up for the real action.
Overview – What’s Next?:
This is definitely my favourite match of this tournament and season as a whole. Funnily enough, I never warmed much to Johzenji when I read the manga, but once you see them animated and hear their voices, it’s hard not to like them. I’m glad this is the also running more than one episode – which is what I expected – but we’ll see how the rest of this season is going to shape up depending on what they try and squeeze into the next 10 episodes. Either way, this week’s Haikyuu!! was pure fun and I never wanted it to end. More Johzenji action next time around!
Full-length images: 10.