Haikyuu!!–When Crows Truly Learn To Fly

Hello!!! Hi there all you lovely people! I’m back with another post!

This time: Haikyuu!! again, but I’ll be focusing on a specific part I left out of my announcement post (I believe) and the previous post (Of this I’m certain). We’re diving into season 2 of the anime! Hurray!

 

I mentioned a portion of Karasuno’s growth in the previous post titled Interhigh after the team had gone against their once-rival Nekoma, and that was the Tokyo training camp. And I made the mistake of thinking it happened BEFORE THE INTERHIGH! THAT’S FALSE! I FUCKED UP THERE! I’M SORRY!! IT HAPPENED AFTER THE INTERHIGH!!!

Anyway, at first I forgot how important this training camp was to the story; however, upon watching it again I’ve realized that without this training camp and some other training Karasuno isn’t Karasuno and Haikyuu!! isn’t Haikyuu!!. Honestly, I put the entire season under Haikyuu!! Season 2: TRAINING AND GROWTH.

Without blabbing on any longer let’s get into this!

 

Karasuno lost to Aoba Josai (Seijoh) at the interhigh and that left them crushed. However, they were all determined after that lost and their grieving period to rebuild their confidence as a team and grow stronger. That’s when their sensei and coach Ukai told the team they’d be taking a summer trip for an entire week to Tokyo to participate in Nekoma’s training camp (along with three other schools—Ubugawa, Shinzen, and Fukuroudani).

What this also meant for Karasuno was more practice against a team that had beaten them three times already. It was a chance to go against a team they hate playing against, but love playing against as well. It was also a chance to play against one of Japan’s top spikers: Bokuto from Fukuroudani.

 

So, Karasuno leaves late at night/very early in the morning for Tokyo, and we’re still getting the same antics from Hinata and Kageyama, Daichi keeping control as the captain, and really the entire team is bonding well. However, the character growth in this season is some of the best I’ve ever seen in any anime through the short amount of time they actually took to unravel it all. I’m going to go character by character (for the most part), which will basically cover the entire training arc in a nutshell (just remember from my mix-up that they went 3-63 overall in Tokyo). Each character challenges himself during this training period after the Interhigh. They’re all trying to figure out what they could do better, what went wrong, how they could connect more as a team with combinations, attacks, and dealing with their own demons. Let’s take a look at some of the team members.

 

Hinata: Oh, Hinata, where do I start with you? Wait, scratch that. I know exactly what to do with you and it has to deal with both the training camp AND your own training. So, season 2 and the training camp arc for Hinata was absolutely brutal. During the training camp there was a time where Hinata was basically a child lost in an endless forest. He didn’t know what to do at all. Hinata was still using the A-quick (a straight-forward quick attack at the net near the setter’s face) and the C-quick (which is where he runs behind Kageyama and does a slide hit on the side of the net), but it wasn’t very effective at all. Why, though? Well, because he continually thought that the person in charge of a quick attack was the setter (Kageyama) when that’s actually not true. Hinata’s growth comes from this, and it’s gradual, but exciting. Over the course of the training camp Hinata is shut down by blockers who are WAY TOO TALL!! There’s a point where Hinata gets angry, and eventually he ends up at Coach Ukai’s grandad’s place. This is where Hinata’s growth actually comes from. Season 2, Episode 6! Hinata learns about tempo. Tempo confuses him for quite some time, but over the course of a few training sessions Hinata actually begins to understand what’s happening. He’s in charge. He sets the tempo for the setter—it’s not the other way around. Hinata can run full-speed and jump before the ball is tossed, he can slow his run down a bit and jump the moment the ball is tossed, or he can slow down even more and wait for the ball to be tossed before he starts to run. All of this is learned during the Tokyo Expedition arc, and the training he receives at Coach Ukai’s place, as well as how he learned to control his quick attack during the matches he played against Nekoma, Ubugawa, and Shinzen, really make Hinata a better character overall. Still, though, he’s getting into it with Kageyama at an insane rate. THEY EVEN STOP TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER FOR A TIME! While Hinata is fuming and trying to learn how to be in control of the tosses he receives, Kageyama is battling his own demons…

Kageyama: Kageyama’s training through the camp and, once again, on his own, showed tremendous character progression. During the training camp Kageyama was simply going through the same motions he usually did with Hinata—he just wasn’t changing much up. That is, until he started practicing by himself. Now, I say this because it was Hinata’s growth and his learning of tempo that forced Kageyama to grow as well. Kageyama could see Hinata’s growth with his own eyes. Being the “Freak Duo” of the series, with their quick attacks and clashing personalities, it was quite a shock to see Kageyama realize that he’s not actually the one in charge of the toss. So, Kageyama’s practicing, and then Coach Ukai freaks out. He calls Kageyama and is basically driving around and then running around looking for Kageyama. What does Ukai do? He tells Kageyama that in order to get the full potential out of the attack he’s known for he needs to make the ball drop precisely where his attacker is going to be. Well, that sounds like an absolute bitch! But, Kageyama practices and practices, and eventually, over the course of days! Eventually he gets the toss down! And he’s so proud! It’s amazing, actually, seeing how he used to play—where he would just toss the ball at a slightly-upward angle to Hinata’s palm (which means the ball would continue to sail if Hinata didn’t hit it)—to where he grows to (arcing the ball and making it stop where he knows the attacker is going to be). Kageyama realizes, too, during a talk, that he’s not in control of the attack—Hinata is. While that was very hard for Kageyama to come to terms with, I think that Hinata’s ability to get into Kageyama’s head, and Karasuno’s ability to keep their players motivated and excited gave Kageyama the drive he needed to keep a level head and not get ahead of himself again like he did in middle school. He’s not a king, he’s a crow—and crows swarm together.

Asahi: Asahi, the great opposite/left-side hitter. He’s finally back to fighting form, however, there’s one thing that he doesn’t trust himself on. That one thing: serves. Asahi realized that his serves are one of the most important weapons Karasuno has in its arsenal. Asahi is big, he’s strong, but his serves are mediocre. So what does Asahi do? He learns how to hit, and almost perfect, a jump serve. And let me tell you from experience: JUMP SERVES AREN’T EASY WHEN YOU’RE LEARNING THEM! Asahi goes at it over and over and over, and eventually he gets to the point where he’s comfortable with hitting them and he’s happy, and it’s honestly a wonderful thing because Asahi is so strong and well-rounded.

Nishinoya: NOYA!!! MY SPIRIT ANIMAL, NISHINOYA!! Oh, man the training camp was absolutely wonderful for Nishinoya! Sure, the comedic relief was there because Nishinoya is a troublemaker, and he’s rowdy, and has a thing for the manager of his team, but Nishinoya’s growth was great. He’s the libero which means he only plays two positions during a full rotation, the middle back and the left back positions (while also handling serve receives). However! However…Nishinoya realized that his game is simply not progressing how he wants it to progress. There was a moment during the training camp where a libero jumped from behind the 3-meter line and set the ball to his team’s attackers. And it worked! Nishinoya was sparkling with awe. He immediately told Asahi that he wanted to try it, and for the longest time Noya was failing. He’d jump too soon and the ball wouldn’t even be near him. He’d jump too late and the ball would be hitting the ground. He’d jump and catch the ball as he hit the ground. He’d jump too close to the net and get in the way of the attackers… Nishinoya was a mess trying to learn how to do this libero set, which could be used when the team was in a 5-1 rotation (which only has one setter). But eventually, through trial and error and so much practice and losing and failing, Nishinoya go the hang of the jump behind the three-meter line, the feel of the ball in his hands, and setting it to Asahi, Tanaka, or Daichi. And he went crazy! Love me some Nishinoya craziness!!

Tsukki: Tsukki’s growth was probably the most problematic in my eyes. He was lazy, not practicing as hard as any of the other team members. “Why practice so hard, it’s just a club…” YADDA YADDA YADDA! That was until he was invited by Kuroo (Nekoma’s middle blocker) to practice blocking with him, Lev (a Nekoma attacker) one Bokuto (top-5 spiker, from Fukuroudani) and Akaashi (Fukuroudani). Now, Tsukki always had the biggest brain on the team. He’s the team’s lifeline if they ever need a strategy or some sort of information on how an opponent is playing. But, Tsukki never put a lot of practice into honing any skills. Until he learned how read blocking works. Read blocking, where the blocker gets the last laugh—where you watch the ball and move to it instead of staying glued on one attacker. And with Tsukki’s brain, it was almost that easy. While playing with Lev and Kuroo against Bokuto, Hinata, and Akaashi (happy birthday!! December 5th), Kuroo gives Tsukki the best advice he could ever give. Don’t line yourself up with the spiker’s body. Line yourself up with the spiker’s hitting arm. So, Tsukki being Tsukki, does just that. He understands exactly how to do that, computes whatever he computes in his head, watches the ball instead of the spiker, lines himself up with their attacking arm, and gets an amazing block. Honestly, seeing how much talent Tsukki has that he’s wasting is horrible. He’s got brains, he helps other team members connect during a rally by keeping a calm, collected mind and reading any situation he can as fast as he can. It’s astounding really. Oh, and there’s one last part that I’ll mention about Tsukki. During this session with Kuroo and the others, Kuroo says something along the lines of, “Once you get that moment you’ll be hooked on volleyball forever.” (Wait for that…*cough* season 3 *cough*)

Tanaka: Honestly, and this has no bearing on how much I love or hate Tanaka, but his growth here isn’t all that interesting. He’s comedic relief during the training camp, and really only learns how to hit two different attacks: 1) a super mean straight attack down the left side of the court and 2) a wipe, which is when the attacker purposely aims at the weak part of a block and forces the ball to go out of bounds off their opponent’s hands. I’m not saying that Tanaka didn’t learn anything, or that he didn’t grow at all, I’m simply saying that even as a starter, there are more interesting characters. Tanaka’s commentary with Nishinoya was absolutely wonderful, though!

Yamaguchi: Yamaguchi’s development is hard to put into words to be honest. It’s heart-wrenching, it’s uplifting, it’s wonderfully tragic, and yet, it’s one of the most amazing developments I’ve seen in an anime. During the training camp Yamaguchi isn’t focused on much, but we do get flashbacks of his training and struggles later on during the Miyagi Prefecture National Qualifying Tournament. I am, however, going to go over him now. I know this goes against the whole “Karasuno Training Arc,” but Yamaguchi is amazing. He’s not very skilled to be completely honest; he’s a substitute player who is on the team for practices and for pinch serving roles. During the Interhigh, Ukai put Yamaguchi in to pinch serve. At this point, Yamaguchi had no faith in his own talents. He wasn’t very good at receiving, and he wasn’t good at attacking, and he had no voice of his own. He was simply…there. He talked with Tsukki, his best friend, and the two actually have an amazing bond. But, Yamaguchi wasn’t happy with his role after the training camp and after everything he’d been through on his own. He wanted to be playing (if you remember when Kageyama had to be switched out for Suga during the Interhigh, multiply that by five). It was great, too, because we don’t actually see that Yamaguchi wants to be playing until Coach Ukai’s monologue later in the season (episodes 23/24). The show pans over to Yamaguchi, and he looks fierce—he’s ready, he wants to be accepted. And GOD DAMMIT HE IS! For all the training Karasuno did, Yamaguchi did one thing: serve. But it wasn’t just any serve, it was a jump floater. And let me tell you this: jump floaters are a pain in the ass to deal with if they’re hit correctly or you don’t see it coming. They wobble, they float, and they drop at unexpected times—and that in itself is a powerful weapon. It’s a weapon that Yamaguchi continuously trained before the Miyagi tournament, and it’s a weapon that only he could use to its full potential. Yamaguchi, the once timid, quiet, scared pinch server who failed in the one time he was on the court during a match, RACKED UP FIVE CONSECUTIVE POINTS! WITH HIS SERVE! Yamaguchi wasn’t a starter, so he wasn’t fully accepted on the team, not like the regulars/starters (there’s a sort of brotherhood that comes with being a starter on a team)…but once he showed himself, and got himself rolling, and steaming forward, and didn’t look back, Yamaguchi became one of those members. His role as pinch server wasn’t just a side job—it was a moving cog in Karasuno’s arsenal and it helped the crows fly. Keep flying, Yamaguchi, you fearless bastard.

 

Well, that’s about it for this post. There’s a lot in here, and there was a lot covered in the training section of the second season. The Tokyo trip to face off against Nekoma, Fukuroudani, Ubugawa, and Shinzen may have ended in a 3-63 record for the Crows of Karasuno, but during this time and the time they had to themselves each member of the team that I listed grew in ways that make this show worth watching. The team learned some new tricks, too, in ways of attacking and defending, which made them even stronger still. All of their strengths were brought together later on, and it showed that even though they’d only ever lost one real match, they were nothing if they couldn’t advance themselves. Sure, the 3-63 record during their week-long trip looks horrendous, but with everything they learned, Coach Nekomata of Nekoma was smiling and happy, and actually excited to see how they grew. Karasuno trained and failed…and that’s why they began to succeed.

 

 

That’s all from me for this post! Thanks for reading!

Alexie 🙂

(Note: The feature image is a free wallpaper given out by Viz as a thank you for supporting the manga’s continued release (this was back when vol 2 was being launched–it’s here)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s