“The Losers”

「敗北者達」 (Haibokusha-tachi)

The Battle of the Little Giants:

This was a very “GAHHHHHHHHHH” episode of Hypekyuu!!. For the first time since this tournament started, Karasuno are actually facing a challenge. Last week was all about Daichi leaving the court, Ennoshita stepping on, and Yamaguchi being afraid to stick with his serve, but this week was all about the action. With the characterisation and flashback out of the way, we’re bombarded with an array of plays – some that work, and some that don’t. But if there’s one thing the team lacks right now, it’s cohesion. It comes across on-screen, showing the poor defence the team has without Daichi (Hinata even steps in and does his part), but because they’re not performing as smoothly as they have in their previous matches, there’s a sense of tension and desperation in everyone’s moves which never fails to entertain.

Up until now there’d hadn’t been a real narrative to this match. Wakutani are a little too generalist to be that exciting, but with this episode we focus more on Hinata and Takeru as both of them look to the Little Giant for inspiration. While Takeru isn’t as small as Hinata or their shared hero, his play style is pretty much identical. Ukai sees it, and Hinata knows it – of the two, Takeru is the better player (and balances that with being the captain and keeping his team motived, to boot). It’s a shame that he’s a little boring, because he’s got the credentials to be a memorable opponent.

With that set up, the rest of the episode is a flurry of back-and-forths as both teams stay neck and neck for the entire third set. Hinata mucks up occasionally, but shows off some more spiderman skills and delivers some killer spikes; Asahi’s serve isn’t great at times, but Kageyama puts faith in him; Noya’s tossing isn’t the best quite yet, but he continues to lift spirits and keep everyone raring to go. Plenty of players got some time to both show off their passion and display their failures in a race to the 25 point mark. Compared to last week’s slow and character-focused episode, this was all guns blazing volleyball goodness.

Ennoshita’s Struggle:

But the key the Karasuno’s victory was Ennoshita. This was his first true match, and even though he screwed up more times than he’d like to admit, he did a brilliant job. He knows his teammates well, and acted as a stand-in captain should. As I said in my previous post, this match made Ennoshita one of my favourite characters of the series (in my top 5, I’d say), and while last episode saw all the moments leading up to this game, this week was all about him embracing the opportunity and fighting for victory. As Ukai pointed out, the success of his first major play was exactly what he needed. Up until that point he was feeling unsure and anxious about replacing Daichi, but from then on his spirits were lifted and he became a valuable member of the team – one that I would love to see more of in regular games.

But damn, that final point was just… amazing. It reminded me of when Karasuno were facing off against Datekou in the first season, when we got our finest moment of volleyball action when Hinata fooled them into thinking he was going for the spike… before Asahi popped up out of nowhere and saved the day. In terms of effective directing, this was probably the second best moment after that: the moment when the ball bounced back and the music stopped, and the camera followed the ball, panning down until Ennoshita came into the shot and delivered that save, followed by the heavy drums as Kageyama set up the serve and Hinata scored the final point. GAHHHHHHHH, it was so so good. I could watch that part on repeat (and I think I will). But as great as that felt, the aftermath of the match was just as powerful. We saw Ennoshita struggle with what he brought to the court, while Takeru kept his tears for when he was outside. It’s a shame we’ll likely never see him again (since he’s a third year and this’ll be his final match), but this is only the beginning of Ennoshita’s story. Daichi stood back and watched as the team’s next captain led the team to victory, and damn, what a victory it was.

Overview – What’s Next?:

I loved this match in the manga, and the anime has made me love it even more. Ennoshita got his much needed focus and set-up for when this tournament is over (and the third years graduate), but everyone else got to show their strengths and weaknesses once Daichi left the court. I’d say this was probably the best pure volleyball episode this season, but I suspect there will be a few more candidates for that title in the coming weeks. Looking ahead, it appears next episode looks is going to solely focus on Seijou vs Datekou as Karasuno (and us) find out who their opponent will be in the semi-finals of the Spring Preliminaries. Get hyped.

Full-length images: 20, 29, 34.




  1. Good lord Suga absolutely mugged Sawamura after the match. XD

    I was honestly getting a bit tired of Wakunan going into a third episode of them, but that was definitely a strong match finale. Captain Ennoshita will be a lot of fun whenever the story gets around to the next school year.

  2. What a pleasure to see Ennoshita away from the shadow of Daichi to grow as a player and captain. The best thing about the matchpoint was to hear the music fading and becoming the sound of a wind tunnel, until you see him receive the ball. Karasuno will be alright once the third players left. I’ll wait for Yamaguchi’s time to shine, he already has suffered enough.

    1. I can’t wait to see Karasuno once the third years leave. Not only will the current members have to embrace their new roles, but we’re bound to get some new first year characters which will shake up the dynamics.

  3. An inspiring episode where we learn that we shouldn’t get caught up in seeing your weaknesses.

    Like Ennoshita, not every one is perfect though we still get caught up in comparing ourselves with others. But like Hinata says…

    “I know they’re good. That’s why I’m trying to figure out what I CAN do.”

    BTW, now I get why it’s rumoured to have Yaoi feels. In this episode

    Hinata: Why do you have to break my heart like that?!

    Kageyama: It’s just a kind advice.

    Also, looking forward to the next episode, especially whether Datekou’s defensive skills are able to slow down AobaJohsai’s attacks. It’s gonna be thrilling by then! 😉

  4. This was a very “GAHHHHHHHHHH” episode

    What a perfect way to desribe Haikyuu.

    As awesome as everyone was during this match, these were definitely Ennoshita’s episodes (and Takeru’s). And that’s great, I love it when Haikyuu focuses on the side characters. Way to pave your road forward future captain!
    Also, Tanaka getting back at that “what’s that sorry for” was so fun. Classic Tanaka 😀

    @Samu Out of curiosity, who else than Tsukki and Ennoshita are in your top 5?

      1. Huh, that’s almost the same as mine then:
        1. Nishinoya
        2. Ennoshita
        3. Yamaguchi
        4. Tsukishima
        5. Yachi/Bokuto (not sure which one I like more. Asahi was here before the two sky rocketed thanks to voice acting)

  5. I love Haikyuu and i often get chills watching it because the directing and the bg music is so good. It was so amazing how they showed that last save but i was actually a little disappointed with the heavy drums and guitar after it. I felt that it didnt give as much impact as usual… I liked the bg with violins more. Episode still soooo epic though! Ennoshita, you the man!

  6. Last episode was a rare miss, I think. This one was just what the doctor ordered. Loved it. Even Ennoshita, who I thought came out of left field (and the director decided to justify it with a tonne of flashbacks), he got a full redemption for me. Actually not during the game, but afterwards. Idk why, but that scene with him afterwards really gripped me.

    Flubby McServe needs to up his game though. I hope he doesn’t sulk much more.

    Really pumped for the next episode!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *