“The Former Coward’s Fight”
Yamaguchi – The Underdog Story:
This will be forever known as the Yamaguchi Episode. I mean, it’s hard to talk about anything else. This was all about the fated pinch server finally finding his feet and delivering not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five points for his team! When last week ended with him urging Coach Ukai to put him on the court, I was thrilled to realise what was coming. I can remember reading this part in the manga and thinking: “YES YAMAGUCHI! YOU’RE KILLING IT!”. That’s how I imagine anime viewers watching it for the first time must have felt – like those girls in the audience who can’t help but root for the underdog of the opposing team.
While this season has focused mainly on Hinata, Tsukishima, and established more recurring characters, Yamaguchi’s time in the spotlight was always destined to occur. He may have been in the background throughout many matches, but if you think back to him being called out this time last season, it shows how much he’s improved. He tried his best in the previous game – which allowed Ennoshita to prove his worth as the next captain of the team – but this was the match where he had to deliver no matter what, and boy, he delivered. The first point came as a surprise to Seijou, which allowed Yamaguchi to feel at ease and confident in his own ability, and I’m sure it helped that his whole team was cheering him on with every ounce of pride they could muster. It feels good to win, and finally Yamaguchi was all smiles and loving the thrill of driving the team to victory. With each passing serve, the thrills only got more intense, until eventually he was caught before he could secure Karasuno’s victory. He may not have gotten the 10 points that Hinata asked for, but half of that is still enough to make him the star of the match, even if he isn’t a regular player.
Unfortunately, Karasuno did end up losing the second set. With one each, history is repeating itself and it’s time for a final showdown. The race to get that two point lead was nerve wracking, allowing other characters to take over once Yamaguchi left the court. But as much as I love Tsukishima’s smile and smarts, it does feel strange that the third years get so little focus, especially since this could be their final match. But there’s still one more set left, so we shall see who will step forward when it matters most.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Compared to last week’s blitzfest of action, adrenaline, and impressive plays, this week was much slower and instead focused on Yamaguchi’s pinch serve. I wouldn’t say it was the most exciting episode of the series, but it was definitely one of the most rewarding. Nothing beats seeing an underdog succeed when given the oppertunity to prove themselves, and Yamaguchi certainly did that this week.
Full-length images: 21.