Haikyu!! 3rd Season
Episode 3

by Rebecca Silverman,

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

If you weren't a Tsukishima fan before this week's episode, you might be one by its end. Although multiple members of the team get to step into the spotlight over the course of the increasingly tense episode, it's Tsukki who gets both the best lines and the big moment – as well as the best new eyecatch so far, with his brother's overenthusiastic cheering distracting him. Largely this seems to be because Tendo, the redhead on Shiratorizawa's team who came forward last week, is his total opposite. Where Tsukishima is cold and collected, Tendo prances around the court, boogeys on the sidelines when he's not actually playing, and gives off an air of barely-controlled activity. It's as if his hair is standing on end not because he styled it that way, but because his pent-up energy is trying to escape through the top of his head.

Understandably, Tendo is not a fan of Tsukishima, who he damns as the “normal guy” on Karasuno's team. Given that Kageyama's and Hinata's power comes from being hailed as unusual, this is a definite insult that Tendo will regret making. Moments after he needles Tsukki with the appellation, he gets his pride handed to him on a plate, at which point Tsukishima, in a wonderfully sarcastic moment, goes up to the net and introduces himself to Tendo: “Hi, I'm the normal guy,” before making it clear just what that means for Tendo himself. It's a great exchange not just because Tendo is fast becoming incredibly annoying (even to his teammates, I suspect), but also because it's so understated. Any other member of the team would have done a victory dance or shrieked imprecations; Tsukishima keeps it “normal” to the point where it almost becomes frightening.

This so-called normalcy is actually his greatest weapon. The rest of Karasuno's power players (excepting Daichi and Asahi) are strong in part because of their unpredictability. Kageyama banks on his ability to trick the opposing team with his setting and Hinata's speed and power. Because they (and libero Nishinoya and wild card Tanaka) get so much of the focus, Tsukishima's more outwardly thoughtful approach comes as an unpleasant surprise to their opponents, and that quickly becomes a major strength for Karasuno as the second game of the match approaches its finish. Because Tendo wrote him off as annoying and normal, he's in the perfect position to shake things up – and his teammates are trusting enough to let him do it.

That in itself is an indicator of how far Karasuno has come as a team since season one. Neither Tanaka nor Kageyama would previously have been willing to let Tsukishima call the shots as far as timing goes (or anything really), so this change only shows how much better they've gotten at seeing beyond themselves and how they've come to function as a team rather than a handful of players who just happen to be on the same side. The same goes for Tsukishima himself – previously only Yamaguchi could interact with him safely; now he can work with anyone, regardless of his personal feelings about them.

Both Yamaguchi and Suga get to play this week, albeit briefly. They're both brought in to change things up in the hopes of throwing off Shiratorizawa, and arguably Suga and Kageyama switching who's setting mid-game was the more effective of the two. It captures the Ukai theory of the game, as Shiratorizawa's coach monologues later: Ukai's grandfather believed in trying new things and mixing it up, whereas Shiratorizawa's philosophy is to polish your players as hard as you can and then play it straight. With the two teams neck-and-neck in this match, it's hard to say which style is more effective, although it feels telling that while Ukai acknowledges the strength of the other, his rival is very clearly set on thinking that it's his way or the highway. In fiction, that tends to be a big sign of who will come out on top. Despite that, this is a tense and engaging episode, helped along by background music and an increase in people falling as they dive for the ball, showing how vital this game is in its building aggression. Just think – it can only get more intense from here!

Rating: A-

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

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