The Story of the Mad Dog:
Last week was all about Yamaguchi, but this week switched the spotlight back to Seijou and their unpredictable Mad Dog-chan. As is noted in the episode, it’s surprising that he’s been allowed to stay on the court for so long when he’s the least reliable member of the team. Seijou are a powerhouse without him, but that extra addition throws a spanner in the works and makes this a little more unpredictable. He’s gotten plenty of focus in the past few episodes, but that aura of intimidation still remains from when he first stepped into the game. While he’s been mainly silent (except for grunting and throwing the occasional tantrum), this episode elevated him to a speaking role, and even gave us a little backstory to chew on.
When we get these flashbacks from whoever Karasuno are facing off against, it’s often impossible not to feel some sympathy for them – even if you’re hoping they lose. Here, however, I don’t think we get that same effect. Perhaps we understand him more – seeing him as a child, getting inspired by volleyball – but this doesn’t excuse his actions and brutish play style. He still comes across stubborn and arrogant and uncooperative, but now that some of the details have been filled in, it’s slightly more believable. However, if there’s one person that has this dog on a leash, it’s Oikawa. We see him adapting to all his teammates, proving why he’s a brilliant captain and the driving force behind such a successful team. Mad Dog respects him to some level; it’s just a shame that after this tournament we’ll never see them play together again.
Looking Ahead – The Future Captains:
While the volleyball action was just as awesome as you’d expect, it was the words shared off the court that stood out most to me. Two characters that proved themselves were Seijou’s Yahaba, and Karasuno’s Ennoshita. Yahaba made me laugh at the beginning of this match when he was smitten with Yachi’s cuteness, but he proved himself once and for all after taming the Mad Dog when he had to get switched out. His speech was impassioned and struck a cord with the rebel, which has me thinking that if anyone is going to inherit Seijou’s captaincy, it’s going to be Yahaba. He’s clearly a level-headed guy who doesn’t stand for discord. His proving himself only seemed more apparent when his coach and teammates watched in silence, grateful for him quelling what could have turned foul.
Similarly, Ennoshita is once again showing his smarts and understanding of his teammates. He’s already a given for the captain spot after his recent developments, but it’s little scenes like him explaining how Tsukishima managed to make use of Tanaka and Mad Dog’s rivalry that proves him a capable leader. And while I’m calling the future captains, I’m going to say that if Haikyuu!! also covers the Hinata’s third year, then Tsukishima will end up the captain when the time comes. Ennoshita may have the smarts, but Tsukishima has the skill sets that make him a vital member of the team. With some further developments and more opportunities for him to come out of his shell and embrace his love for volleyball, I can see him becoming a powerful, intelligent, and tactical captain.
Overview – What’s Next?:
It’s interesting that the stuff that happened outside of the game was the most compelling and worthy of discussion. It’s fun to predict how things will turn out, but for now we’ve only got two more episodes left, and it’s evident that Karasuno and Seijou’s rematch is going to be the grand finish to the season (if you had been paying attention to the OP or remembered how long their match was at the end of the first season, then that shouldn’t come as a surprise). Funnily enough, the actual main characters of the show have been missing from most of this match. With the third and final set passing the half way mark, this seems like the perfect time for the prodigy duo to prove their worth before time runs out.