Haikyuu!! To the Top Episode 21: Recap and Review

Episode 21 – “Hero”

Haikyuu!! To the Top episode 21, “Hero,” depicts the start of the third and final set, between Karasuno and Inarizaki. Karasuno maintains its lead after Kageyama blocks Aran. Inarizaki’s Suna makes a quick attack, Tsukishima attempts to block but Suna twists his body to make the spike. However, Daichi receives the spike shocking Atsumu. Asahi slams the spike past Suna and Osamu, putting Karasuna up 4-2. The successful play is largely due to Tsukishima who takes the point brought up by Ukai that “it’s not just the spiker versus the blocker but rather the spiker versus six players.” Tsukki believes that “the belief of a kill block being the only type of block to scare a spiker is outdated.” Kuroo explains that if Karasuno attempted to “fully block Suna one-on-one, Suna would be able to manipulate things to his advantage.” Suna realizes that Tsukishima has been deliberately forcing him to hit crosscourt. 

The Hero

Kinoshita steps up to serve. He’s aware that the is his final chance to make an impact in the game. He’s focused and drowns out the crowd and his teammates. He serves and the ball heads toward Osamu, who then receives the ball allowing Aran to score. Kinoshita leaves the court for the last time disappointed that he couldn’t score. He still hoped that he could be “the hero.” Kinoshita originally struck me as a strange character to highlight. However, Haikyuu!! makes a point of reminding us that for the third year, a loss would be their last game. With the stakes so high the players all have tremendous pressure on their shoulders. Hinata scores with a quick attack, maintaining the two-point lead Karasuno earned. When Kageyama serves next the ball clips the net but tips over scoring. Sensing that they’re losing momentum, Coach Kurosu calls a time-out. 

Nishinoya’s fear

On the bench, Nishinoya finally admits that he’s afraid. He recalls how he was “terrified of many things when he was a child.” His grandfather helped him overcome those fears. He remembers that his grandfather told him “it was a waste of time to be scared.” With Atsumu next to serve, he once again targets Nishinoya. This time, however, Nishinoya uses an overhead receive instead of his usual underhanded ones. Karasuno performs a synchronized attack and Asahi lands a spike. Karasuno is up 10 -7. The next half of the episode focuses on the Miya twins. In a flashback, we see when they first meet Aran, how they come to admire setters, and why Atsumu became hated. The flashback is designed to explain what makes the twins so special. In the present, Karasuno can get the ball over but it’s intercepted by Akagi. The return is too low and Akagi is worried it won’t make it over. Suddenly, Atsumu bends low enough to get under the ball and makes an overhand set to Osamu. Karasuno may have gotten the lead but they still have to contend with the formidable Miya twins. 


Haikyuu!! To the Top, Episode 17: Recap and Review

Episode 17 – ‘Cats vs Monkeys”

Haikyuu!! To the Top episode 17, ” Cats vs. Monkeys,” pivots from the Karasuno match. Mika and Suguru arrive to watch the first set between Nekoma and Sarukawa Tech High. We get a flashback of the third year discussing Kenma Kozume. Kuroo tells Kai and Yaku of when “Kenma would become sick after difficult practices or matches during their time in middle school and confesses that he felt guilty about it.” Kuroo wonders if Kenma is ready for the Spring Tournament. Kenma has so far is a character that isn’t in love with Volleyball. He comes across as actually not even liking the sport. However, as Kuroo points out and Kenma confirms, “if he did hate volleyball that he would have left it.” Kenma maintains his neutrality, noting that “he has no reason to stop playing but also doesn’t have a reason to keep playing and while he dislikes sweating and being out of breath, he does enjoy leveling up.” 

Kenma’s Stamina

What they do acknowledge is that Hinata has had a profound impact on Kenma. Back in the game, Iori Kanazawa can get a feint shot over Kenma and Kuroo. Kai makes the save, Kenma makes the set to Fukunaga. The spike from Fukunaga is deflected. Both teams are defensive-minded. Suguru notes that Sarukawa is “deliberating not trying to score quick points.” He believes that this is in service “ruining Nekoma’s rhythm.” Kenma’s stamina comes into question as he’s always had this limitation. In another flashback, we see how difficult Kenma found training. During this period Yamamoto and Kenma develop a rivalry. It’s largely negative with Yamamoto often dismissing Kenma’s help. They even get into an alteration. Fundamentally, Yamamoto and Kenma are different personalities. Yamamoto gets too intense when it comes to volleyball and Kenma is too laid back. 

In the present, Sarukawa takes a two-point lead in the second set. Coach Shishio still thinks his strategy will continue to break down the Nekomata defense. It seems that the plan is working. It’s a little jarring for Haikyuu!! To the Top episode 17, to shift towards another team. I was critical of the series focusing on other characters before, and that criticism remains. It’s not bad to focus and develop secondary characters, but it feels inconsistent. Furthermore, I hate the break up of action. Regardless, Haikyuu!! is attempting to make the players more three dimensional. It may feel distracting but might be important. 

Fire Force Season 2 Episode 17: Recap and Review


Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 9: Recap and Review

The opening ceremony, signaling the beginning of Spring Tournament

Episode 9: ‘Everyone’s Night’

As Karasuno prepares to play the Spring Tournament, nerves arrive


In Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 9, “Everyone’s Night,” the Karasuno team finally prepares to head to the Spring Tournament. It’s the New Year and the team is naturally nervous about the upcoming tournament. Kiyoko reassures them that ” she is certain they will do just fine.” The other team members are shown in a montage spending time with their families. Nishinoya, Tanaka, Hinata, and Kageyama end up playing hanetsuki together. Daichi, having had a nightmare earlier is unsettled. He scolds them for not resting before the tournament.

The following day, Karasuno heads to Tokyo. The members of Karasuno are stunned when seeing the Tokyo Skytree. At the Jaybird inn, Ukai announces that the team is going to watch their “best moments.” Titled, “I’m Awesome,” the video is a montage of all the best moments from the previous games. The video serves to inspire the team by reminding them that they are talented. This entire episode is about the anxiety that the team feels going into the tournament.

Finally, the big day arrives and team Karasuno meets and greets, friends and adversaries. Motoya greets Kageyama. Hinata sees Bokuto and Akaashi. Bokuto tells Hinata that “he will not show any mercy if they were to ever have a net between them.” Kageyama and Hinata’s nerves give way to excitement as the opening ceremony begins. This episode was mostly a set up for the tournament to come. It is effective in presenting the angst that the team feels. Everyone feels some level of this angst, not just the players. I expect that all the teams will focus on the upcoming tournament, while, nerves will remain determination and excitement is likely to rise to the surface.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 8: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 8: Recap and Review

Episode 8: ‘Challenger’

Karasuno and Date Tech continue to battle in an eighth set

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, episode 8, “Challenger” continues the practice match between Karasuno and Date Tech. Karasuno earns a set point after Aone bumps into Futakuchi during a block. Ukai and Hinata conclude that it’s best for him (Hinata) to “blend in with the crowd.” With Hinata remaining back, the rest of Karasuno manages to execute an attack. Distracted by Hinata, Asahi is able to get the spike winning the set for Karasuno.

Date Tech’s ideal plan

It becomes clear that the change in Hinata’s movement has caused Date Tech to “hesitate.” Ukai points out that teams often plan for Hinata to outpace his teammates. Tsukishima notes that Date Tech isn’t “fazed” by Hinata’s quick attack. He states that “Even if they are not aiming to stop every attack, they will still be able to have two blockers attempting to block and possibly even get a touch on Hinata’s quick.” The ultimate plan of Date Tech is to exhaust Hinata causing him to be blocked more. Tsukishima believes that when Hinata scores “Date’s blockers will hesitate more.”

Karasuno continues with the strategy of having Hinata blend in with the team. Karasuno is able to get another point frustrating Date Tech. In the fifth set, Karasuno lead by 3 points. Tsukishima points out that Date Tech will pay attention to Hinata more. As a result, “the chance to score from the side will increase and will cause the blockers to hesitate even more.” Tsukishima figures that eventually Date Tech will resort to “guessing,” when blocking making scoring for Karasuno easier.

The eighth set

In the eighth set, Tsukishima begins to tire. Annoyed, Tsukishima “pointing out that he does not have the same kind of stamina that Hinata has.” Kinoshita is chosen to sub in. He doesn’t really want to join the game and is visibly nervous. He performs a jump float serve that Obara fails to receive. His following serve misses. Later in the set Hinata pretends to use a minus tempo attack. He manages to trick Koganegawa into blocking him, leaving Asahi open to attack. Despite Date Tech’s blocking improving so much, Asahi isn’t afraid. Against three blockers he hits the ball with enough force to get the point and win the game. Karasuno and Date Tech each win four sets.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 7: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 7: Recap and Review

Season 4, Episode 7: ‘Return’

Karasuno continues to struggle with Date Tech’s improved blocking


Can Kageyama and the rest Karasuno get along. The King of the Court returns in Haikyuu!! Fourth Season Episode 7
The King of the Court returns

Last week’s “Haikyuu!! Fourth Season Episode 7” sees Karasuno trying to incorporate new things while combating the improved blocking of Date Tech’s team. Tanaka manages to score when hitting a spike against Onagawa’s arm. The change in Kageyama’s personality doesn’t go unnoticed. Kinoshita and Narita are impressed by Kageyama’s “boldness,” however, Yachi is worried. He feels that Kageyama is “scarier.” Meanwhile, Date Tech’s blocking excites even their manager. Mai Nametsu notes that his team’s level must be due to their excitement at facing Karasuno. Coach Oiwake agrees, noting that “it was not too long ago that the Date players would fall for distractions that would cause them to be more spread out on the court but now are more focused.”

Kageyama’s changes

Some of the changes to Kageyama is his personality. Despite Kageyama’s annoyance at Tsukishima spike, he’s more subtle or reasonable. Sugawara points out that Tsukishima and Kageyama would have engaged in an argument had the later responded. It seems that Kageyama is learning to moderate his responses. Koganegawa, watching from the sidelines, admires the set that Kageyama made. Not too low, too high, too far or too close, Koganegawa becomes emotional. Date Tech continues to dominate, successfully blocking many of the Karasuno’s attacks. Date Tech gets a three-point lead. The other players of Date Tech realize that Karasuno is “off their game.” They win the first set.

Asahi apologizes for missing

The return of the King of the Court

Kageyama’s attitude continues to cause trouble. Asahi over-hit Kageyama’s set. He apologizes, but Kageyama bluntly tells him to “just score already.” He then goes on to say that his “tosses are so good that the spikers should be able to score more.” He quickly realizes that he went too far. He flashes back to when he was abandoned by his former middle school teacher. However, Hinata asks him ” what he finds wrong with being the King.” Hinata, Tanaka, and Tsukishima all agree that when he talks down to them they just ignore him. Ukai reminds Kageyama that in order to deliver the “best set” it’s necessary for the spiker to be able to hit it easily. Kageyama needs to communicate better.

Set number two begins. Kageyama uses a set that’s higher than normal. Tsukishima misses the ball. Kageyama informs him that “he is not going to stoop down to his level anymore.” Date Tech reach set point. Tsukishima runs to spike one of Kageyama’s higher sets, managing to get it past two blockers. However, he misses and Date Tech wins the set. Kageyama tells Tsukishima that “he too can fly.”

The fourth set

Kageyama and Tsukishima are working better together. Karasuno gains the lead. Tsukishima notes that if they had continued blocking form the lower point, they would have been met with better blocks. Daichi thinks that they can “experiment.” They decided to send Tanaka fewer sets. Kageyama tosses to Asahi. He fails to successfully send the ball over. Meanwhile, Date Tech’s Futakuchi hits a powerful jump serve. Tanaka hits the receive, Asahi sends the ball to Hinata. Blocked by three blockers. Ukai notes that Futakuchi and the rest of Date Tech could become their toughest opponent.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 6: Recap and Review