Haikyuu!! To the Top episode 19 returns to the match between Karasuno and Inarizaki. Karasuno is down 7-14 as Atsumu serves. He delivers a float serve toward Nishinoya who is unable to return it. Atsumu scores a service ace. Daichi realizes that Inarizaki has tried to avoid Nishinoya except for Atsumu. Suguru explains that “Atsumu is most likely doing this because it will cause the rest of the team to become uneasy with receives if their best receiver is left useless.” When the teams return to the court, Atsumu serves again to Nishinoya. He fails to return it. Nishinoya begins to do finger push-ups as punishment. Atsumu serves against Nishinoya one more time, however, this time Nishinoya can receive the ball. Tanaka sends the ball towards Asahi. The latter isn’t able to hit a powerful spike but manages to get the ball over.
Get Inarizaki off their game
The Inarizaki team can get the return past Tsukishima. With a ten-point lead, Atsumu serves again but it’s out. Karasuno now serves. Asahi hit a powerful serve, Aran can receive it but the ball was so powerful that it returns to Karasuno’s side. Asahi serves again and Aran can receive it. Osamu and Suna make the return and Suna can get the ball past Tsukishima. Atsumu states that “Suna has an easier time getting past blockers the more talented they are.” Daichi encourages his team to get “Inarizaki off their game.” Ginjima serves up next. Nishinoya makes the receive and Kageyama sets to Tsukishima. Suna can get a “one-touch on the spike.” Karasuno and Inarizaki have a spirited rally that results in Aran slamming the spike. Karasuno hopes to put pressure on Aran, Sugawara aims his serve at the ace. After another spirited rally, Karasuno hits an error.
Pinch server, Heisuke Riseki, subs in for Suna. He serves, but Asahi gets the receive, and Hinata and Kageyama score with a quick. Its Karasunos turn to serve and they score an ace. Kageyama’s powerful serve draws attention. Hinata comments that he’s become “Kalm Kageyama.” He explains that Kageyama has “entered a calming state in which he is performing at his very best and mostly happens when he is playing against a powerful opponent.” Kageyama gets another service ace, followed by an Inarizaki error. Aran can stop the string of points from Karasuno. Osamu hits a wild serve. Suddenly, the Inarizaki team captain is subbed in surprising his team.
Episode 2 of Haikyuu!! To the Top (Part 2) opens with Karasuno being shocked that the Miya twins were able to mimic the Quick attack, Hinata and Kageyama made famous. Atsumu admits that his sets aren’t as accurate as Kageyama’s. Still, Karasuno is stunned. Atsumu serves another float serve, Daichi receives, and Nishinoya sends the last hit to Asahi. However, the twins score again. Karasuno next attempts another quick attack but fails when Atsumu, Suna, and Aran block them. Atsumu begins learning how Kageyama’s plays. Suddenly, Tsukishima blocks Osamu. Ukai notes that “the biggest counter to the super quick attack is a blocker who can get used to it.”
Tsukishima steps up
Tsukishima often takes a back seat to Hinata and Kageyama, but he provides something that they can’t, defense. During the next rally, Tsukishima steps back to prepare for a spike. With his height and Kageyama’s sets, Tsukishima overwhelms the Inarizaki team. Kinoshita Hisashi subs in for Tsuki, and he’s visibly nervous. Ukai reminds him that he’s not up against “college guys,” giving him some confidence. He delivers a good service, but Inarizaki returns it. Hinata guards Osamu, using his speed and jumping ability to shock everyone and score. What I find interesting is that Hinata and Tsukishima have switched places. Hinata has the most surprising shift because he’s so short. However, his jumping ability makes up for it.
Lost in the Crowd
Despite the ability of the Inarizaki, the score is even at 18-18. Hinata is bested at the net by Osamu, who insults Hinata. Karasuno calls a time-out, and Ukai tells the team that it’s time to try “Lost in a Crowd.” A spirited rally begins resulting in a Karasuno point when Aran touches the net. The Miya twins argue over whether Osamu is “slacking” and is “afraid” of Hinata. Osamu is adamant that he has no fear of Hinata. Meanwhile, Hinata imagines the blockers that have given him trouble in the past. Hinata forces Osamu to hit a “line shot,” then Karasuno uses a synchronized attack. The Inarizaki team has no idea where the next spike will come from, Karasuno scores tying the game. So far, Karasuno has been able to keep up with surprises and confusion. It seems implausible that they will be able to keep this style of play up.
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.
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.
Karasuno continues to struggle with Date Tech’s improved blocking
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.”
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.
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.
Hinata and Kageyama are greeted by their fellow teammates. They are all interested in what happened at the camps. Yachi-san puts green tape on the net. She explains that she’s splitting the net into nine parts. The separation is designed to help the team with their serving. While Hinata and Kageyama were off at camp, the rest of Karasuno has been working on serving better. With the team heading into Nationals they will need to counter jump float servers. After the practice, Hinata asks Kageyama what he meant. He explains that “his current jump is like ‘boing boing’ and it’s his job to act as the decoy by running all over the court.” Kageyama believes that Hinata can jump higher.
Kageyama tries to get Hinata to “use the balls of his feet.” Hinata finally manages to shift his weight properly, but he’s interrupted by Daichi who yells at them through the windows. The following day Ukai asks Kageyama about his time at the training camp. Kageyama is still concerned with the “Goody Two-shoes” comment he received from one of the players. Ukai tells him not to be bothered by the comment. Eventually, the Date Tech team arrives. They are intense and thank team Karasuno for inviting them. Ukai notes that Date Tech has “blocks that are easily the best in the prefecture and may be worthy of being on a national level.”
The game begins
The starting players begin the game, with Onagawa serving. Despite using Hinata as a decoy, team Karasuno is unable to get past the blockers. Date Tech used a “bunch shifting.” Ukai explains that “the bunch block works by the players bunching together in the center so they can move wherever they need to when they see where the set will go with as many blockers as they need.” The downside is that “this method is that they may not be able to get a block up in a time when faced with a fast attack at either end of the court.” Hinata and Kageyama are frustrated by the ability of Date Tech to block their spikes.
Hinata serves, as Tsukishima subs in. Date Tech manages to continue to dominate with their superior blocking. Despite the pressure of facing such blocking, Kageyama is excited about the challenge. During the next rally, Futakuchi is able to get a feint shot over Karasuno. However, Nishinoya manages to use his “Rolling Thunder” to make a receive. Even though he’s praised for his receive, Kageyama shocks him by yelling that he’s “in the way.” I am happy to see Haikyuu return to the games. Obviously that’s the point of this series. However, I missed watching the games from start to finish. Regardless, I like the dynamics of these matches. I am curious to see how Karasuno manages to overcome the blocking of Date Tech if they do at all.
Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 5, Hunger sees the final day of training camp. Kageyama’s attitude changes. He recalls what Oikawa said to him. The coaches notice this change, with one of the coaches recalling the reputation Kageyama had. At Shiratorizawa, a 2 on 2 games is taking place between Hyakuzawa, Kunimi and Goshiki, Tsukishima. Hinata continues to observe from the sidelines. He is able to correctly predict Kunimi next move. Tsukishima gives Goshiki a poor set, pissing him off. Akakura and Hinata discuss Hyakuzawa’s skills. They agree that he has poor defense, but “excellent stamina,” and has incredible reach.
Practice match against Shiratorizawa
Anabara announces that the first years will play a practice game against Shiratorizawa. During the game, Hinata stares at Ushijima as he plays. He approaches him after the game and asks “what he is thinking about when he is making a receive.” Shirabu encourages Goshiki to ask Ushijima for advice as well. At first, he refuses because Ushijima is his “rival.” However, when Shirabu tells him that he’s a “step behind Hinata when it comes to taking an initiative.” Shocked he rushes to ask Ushijima for some advice. At the youth camp, the players switched their usual positions.
Eikichi gets a feint over other blocks, Motoya saves the feint. Kageyama spikes Hoshiumi’s set, scoring a past a double block. The coaches are impressed that Kageyama makes an excellent left side wing spiker. Elsewhere at Karasuno, the team continues to practice their serves. Kinoshita performs a jump float, but Nishinoya manages to save. Kinoshita is quickly becoming more skilled in the jump float. With the spring tournament a few weeks away, team Karasuno needs practice.
The Shiratorizawa and National camp ends
The coaches praise the players. They are told that “the camp was a way to get them started on their youth activities and that it was also used to help them figure things out and that room for improvement is still possible.” All the players depart from both camps. Washijo while having dinner with the other coaches remarks that short players like Hinata need to have the “hunger.” The following day, Hinata and Kageyama finally meet again. They quickly begin competing, racing to the club room. Kageyama mentions the Little Giant, suggesting that he’s “a hundred times better than Hinata.” At Date Tech, Coach Oiwake informs the team they will play a match against Karasuno.
Tsukishima asks Hinata to join him for some “blocking practice.” Hinata excitedly announces to the other players that “Tsukki’s joining in!” At the national training center, Kageyama is asked by Sakusa, “why did Shiratorizawa lose?” He assumes that Wakatoshi-kun was “not at his best.” Kageyama responds that he “didn’t seems off.” Sakusa concerned for possible threats, want’s to know who was responsible for blocking Wakatoshi. He’s interrupted by his classmate before Kageyama could answer. Elsewhere, the teachers of the camp discuss why Washijo-sensei is even holding it. They suggest that since losing to Karasuno, he’s changed. Meanwhile, Hinata and the others continue there practice. Tsukishima believes that by practicing against Hinata, a spiker that “can actually see the blockers.” At the national training center, Kageyama impresses the instructors.
They praise his ability to adapt, his instinct and good technique. The animation makes a dramatic leap when Korai Hoshiumi springs into action. He seems a little short for the typical player and oddly resembles an owl (at least to me). He looks cool and definitely stands out. I wonder how Hinata would react to another small powerhouse. Anyway, he picks a fight with Kageyama. He doesn’t like that Kageyama isn’t impressed by him. Like Hinata, his lack of height of leads people underestimate him, a become shocked that he’s so good. He’s become use to this dynamic and expects it. Miya Atsumu pisses Kageyama off by suggesting that he’s a “goody Two-shoes” on court. Back at Shiratorizawa, Hinata continues to observe the other players.
One such player, Hyakuzawa, is having difficulty with 2 on 2’s. He’s exhausted, his playing style begins to declines, and makes too many mistakes. He feel out of place. Out loud, he tells Hinata that he wishes he wasn’t invited. Hinata reminds him that he was invited for a reason. In the typical hyper manic way Hinata tells him how “super talented” tall players are. Hinata’s pep talk works and Hyakuzawa plays much better. Hinata may not be an official part of the camp but he’s having a tremendous effect on the other players.
The third episode of Haikyuu!!, Perspective, see Hinata take a greater effort in his work as a ball boy. Hinata observes the third set of the practice game between the first and third years. When he witnesses Kunimi successful picking up Ushijima’s spike, he notices that he’s a dear in the headlights when anticipating a spike. Yamagata moves in sync with the blockers, allowing him to receive a spike form Hyakuzawa. He recalls that Nishinoya told him that excellent receivers are “able to tell where the ball will go from reading the spiker’s form.” Being a ball boy, gives Hinata a new perspective. Literally. He usually watches the ball, however, he now can see how the other players perform. He starts to notice, their movements and techniques.
He recalls practicing with his friend, Tamayama. During the tennis practice, Hinata isn’t helpful. However, Tamayama tells him that he has “superb reflexes.” Hinata remembers the “split step,” that Tamayama taught him. The split step is a “move in which a player takes their feet off the ground in order to reset their form when an opposing player is about to strike and then use that momentum to go into their next move.” Hinata using this technique, is able to catch the ball before it hits him in the face. However, his noise starts bleeding. With all this observation, Hinata realizes that there are a lot of holes in his game.
While, Hinata betters himself, so does team Karasuno. The following day they practice against the Tokonami team. Despite practicing on their serves they, some fail to clear the net. Team Tokonami wins. With the win, they feel confident that they will make Nationals. Back at Shiratorizawa, Hinata starts to put his new movement to good use. This catches the eye Anabara, who comments that “Hinata is now starting to put thought into his movements which will later blend with his instincts to become intuition.” This episode briefly touches on Kageyama at the National Youth Camp, there not much there. However, I’m hoping that they show his progress in the next episode.
The series is taking it’s time showing Hinata’s progress, but I think it’s effective. I thought that he was going to get on the team, but I actually think this is better for him. First he needs to be humble after his inappropriate behavior. However, he’s was single-minded while playing. With his new perspective, he’s already becoming a better player.
In episode 2 of Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Hinata struggles with his new role as ball boy. However, he takes to the role with the same hyper energy he does everything else. You feel for him. As he’s a bit embarrassed but desperate to get better. Washijo-sensei is harder on Hinata than he is on the other ball boys. The other coaches theorize that Coach Washijo is being petty because Karasuno took “the Spring Tournament from them.” This episode focuses less directly on the volleyball and more acutely on Hinata. Particularly focusing on his eyes, as he has been relegated to a spectator. Washijo makes it clear however, that his “determination” won’t change anything. I anticipate that his opinion will likely change. Coach Ukai asks Hinata if “he really thought they would let him practice with them?”
Hinata laments the fact that he’s “behind” his competition. Coach Ukai tells him that he shouldn’t “underestimate what it takes to be a ball boy.” The next day Hinata steps up his effort as a ball boy. Meanwhile, third years and some alumni from Shiratorizawa arrive. Hinata gets excited. The teams play as Washijo gives instruction from the sidelines. Shiratorizawa takes the practice set 25-14. Satori Tendo asks Hinata why he isn’t playing. Hinata tells him that he wasn’t invited and crashed. However, Wakatoshi isn’t nearly as amused. He asks Hinata “What is he doing?” Elsewhere, team Karasuno begins practicing serves. Coach Ukai is concerned that they might lose some of their players. Ukai knows that the students aren’t the only ones competing but the coaches and the schools are as well. They need to keep helping their players get better, otherwise they might lose them.
Haikyuu!! Fourth Season is still setting the narrative for the season. I’m curious how Hinata joins the practices, he’s running out of time. Is it possible for Hinata to remain the ball boy? That would be interesting, but I don’t know how that would help him grow. Regardless, Haikyuu!! Fourth Season remains compelling and I can’t wait for the next episode.