Two Different Teams – Spontaneous and Sensible:
This was perhaps the most polished episode of Haikyuu!! to date – the action was slick, the spikes had impact, and that ending is sure to be a game changer. But before that, we continue to blitz through this tournament, as we see the end of the Johzenji match and beginning of Wakutani South. If you were expecting to see another full episode of Johzenji goodness, then you may be slightly disappointed. Even after getting fired up at the end of last week’s episode, that still wasn’t enough to best Karasuno. There wasn’t really a chance that they could win, but it was good to see them put all their effort into the final set. There’s always a brief moment of dissatisfaction when a match is lost because of an out, but that happens in real sports matches, so I do appreciate the blunt endings to these matches, as jarring as they may seem.
What I enjoyed most about this Johzenji match would have to be the focus on their manager, Misaki. More than anyone else, this felt like her own story arc, complete by showing her joining as a first year and bonding with her teammates over the course of their matches. Her smile at the end was the perfect way to end this match, rather than the typical tearful farewells that the losers usually have when faced with defeat.
Without much time to waste, we’re already heading into the quarterfinal match against Wakutani South. While Johzenji was like Karasuno facing themselves, Wakutani are a sensible, defensive team that uses logic and tactics rather than spontaneous spikes. Nakashima Takeru (Abe Atsuchi) is a likeable character, simple and supportive of his team – much like Daichi is with the rest of the Karasuno boys. We see both captains prove why they’re good at what they do; they understand their teammates and play to their strengths, inspiring them to do better in whatever way possible. It was a smart move for Daichi to make Hinata feel like a big deal, because that made players like Tanaka want to become the MVP. Similarly, Takeru never scolds his teammates for failing, instead giving them reassurance in their abilities or pointing out cute girls in the audience that they should try to impress.
Daichi Goes Down:
While the pacing is swift and animation ever impressive, it’s the final few seconds that’s likely to have everyone talking. These past two episodes have given Daichi a lot more focus that he usually gets, which has been nice to watch. Clearly, he is the backbone of the team – as any captain should be. He knows his players, and in a match where his assurance is most necessary… he goes down. The moment he saved the ball and went in for the second time went by so fast that it was hard to tell what actually happened. They scored the point, but everyone quickly realised that something had gone wrong. Going from what we saw, it appears Daichi launched himself forward and collided with Tanaka’s shoulder, which has caused him some damage – whether temporary or permanent remains to be seen; but there’s no denying that this knock out is going to make this match even more difficult than it already appeared.
Overview – What’s Next?:
While it’s a shock to see Daichi go down like that, this means that other players may get their time to shine. Everyone spent time training during that camp, and this is as good an opportunity as there’s ever going to be for the less used players to prove their worth. Moral is bound to be wounded going forward, so we’ll see who is cut out for a captain-less match next time around. Whatever happens, it’s bound to be an interesting game, and perhaps unlike any other Karasuno match we’ve seen before.
Also, fun fact: Takeru’s sister (as seen cheering with the whole from the audience seats) is actually the main character of mangaka Furudate Haruichi’s previous horror manga, Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya-senpai no Kaidan, which is a neat little cameo.