Haikyu!! 3rd Season
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Haikyu!! (TV 3) ?

I'll admit it – I was afraid to watch this episode. I was mostly certain that Karasuno would carry the day, but we've seen them lose high-stakes games before, and it would have been just like 2016 to have that be the conclusion to season three. Happily, my fears were unfounded. After five stunning minutes of gameplay, it was a happy ending.

It's remarkable not only that Karasuno won, but more that the set was completely over by the eight-minute mark. This could have been dragged out interminably, but by choosing instead to just allow Karasuno to score the final point they needed, the series allowed itself time for cool-down stretches before gearing back up for a fourth season. That's not to say that the brevity of the game is in any way less tense than the longer sets and plays that came before it. This is partly due to the use of symbolic imagery to let us know exactly how the team is feeling: everyone is at risk of buckling under the dual pressures of their exhausted bodies and the power of Ushijima and Shiratorizawa in general. This is shown literally with the boys flailing as a giant Ushijima tries to hold them down, but we understand that it's also symbolic of how heavy their limbs feel as they push themselves to the limit. When Hinata takes a ball to the face, it almost feels more like it's because he couldn't get his arms to listen to him rather than the ball being too fast for him to try. When they rise up against their opponents, they're breaking free of the expectations that a little team like them could never beat a powerhouse school. It's that defiance, the kind that makes them attack all together without leaving anyone to defend, that ultimately allows them to win the day.

Of course, it's also their coach's philosophy that permits that attitude in the first place. All along, this has been a competition between two very different philosophies of play, with Karasuno taking a more radical stance to Shiratorizawa's by-the-book technical game. When Coach Washijo asks his assistant at the end if he and Hinata are the same height, you can see him thinking back over what he's taught himself all his life, that only tall players can succeed. Even if he won't fully admit it to himself, his quiet demeanor and subdued attitude indicate that he's realizing there's no one body type for a successful player. Yes, Hinata may have to work harder than his taller teammates, but that doesn't mean that he shouldn't try.

I do have mixed feelings about Hinata being the one to score the final point. He's absolutely the protagonist of the series, in tandem with Kageyama, but it would have been somehow more meaningful had Daichi or Asahi managed to do it. Yes, everyone played as a team, working together to achieve the win, but it would have felt like more closure for the third-years and a nice rounding out of Suga getting to play for part of the game as well. Be that as it may, there's clearly nothing but relief and jubilation from the three third-years after the win, as they're carefully drawn with red and puffy eyes up through the victory party to indicate their tears of joy. There's a wonderful parallel to their first major disappointment in the victory dinner after the awards ceremony, with the third-years all sitting and beaming as they eat (Daichi's face looking much worse now that more time has passed and the bruise has ripened), while the first and second-years fall asleep in their meals, rather than the whole group sitting around the table silently crying. If anything shows us how far they've come, this is that moment.

And so life moves on. Yamaguchi reminds Tsukki that he doesn't have to be perfect all the time, Oikawa grudgingly admits that maybe Karasuno's kinda good (maybe), Daichi might get the girl, and things are coming up roses. With Kageyama invited to attend a special national training camp before the Nationals, Karasuno's chances are looking even better when they eventually get to face off against Nekoma in Tokyo, even if Hinata's classmates believe he's a gofer rather than an actual player. I hope we'll be able to watch the next steps on their journey.

Rating: A-

Haikyu!! 3rd Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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