Haikyu!! 3rd Season
Episode 4

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Haikyu!! (TV 3) ?

See those faces in the screencap? I'm fairly certain that at some point during this episode I was making all of them. While Haikyu has always excelled at showing the tension in a game – as have other sports series, that being a chief attraction of the genre – this week's episode really outdid itself. The focus was on finishing up the second of five matches in the game, and after Karasuno lost the previous match, winning this one became even more important, if only on a morale level. Yes, if they lost they still had three chances to recover and win the game, but their confidence would have been shaken badly, while Shiratorizawa's would have skyrocketed. The fact that most of the episode zeroed in on someone scoring the last two points to end things made it even more intense, especially since Ushijima was clearly growing increasingly irritated with his team's inability to just end things. In the middle of all of this, nothing really sums up how everyone (viewers included) is feeling like one tiny utterance by Daichi: a small, shaky sigh. It may seem insignificant, but it isn't quite – not only does Satoshi Hino nail it, but it's an indication of how much pressure Daichi, and the rest of the team, is feeling. It's the kind of exhalation that marks an attempt to expel nerves, tears, or other undesirable emotions in a time and place where they'd be more hindrance than help. It's a small acknowledgement of how much is at stake, and how badly things could go downhill if even one person slips up.

Conversely, Tsukishima's victory bellow at the end of the episode is a release of that pent-up fear and frustration. Haikyu has never been shy about the symbolism in its characters' names (as I mentioned in an earlier season review, Hinata is the light to Kageyama's shadow), and in Tsukishima another facet of that comes into play. His name contains the character for “moon” (tsuki), and he's the moon to Hinata's sun – quieter and deceptively powerful. Sure the moon can't burn you, but it does control the tides, making it just as important as the sun in the world, and while Tsukki keeps himself to himself unless he has something unpleasant to say, he is not someone to be forgotten about. Tendo found that out last week to his dismay, and Tsukishima's very deliberate, mathematical way of playing is ultimately what saves the day. He's been patiently waiting (something at least three of his teammates are very bad at) for his chance to block Ushijima, and when his patience pays off, it wins the day. The sun may have to shine its hardest at all times, but the moon, it seems, can wait.

Speaking of symbolism, Haikyu is definitely on track to win a Sledgehammer of Symbolism award for all of the bird metaphors. This week Yachi brings up the idea of “mobbing,” which is when a group of smaller or weaker birds surround and attack a larger, predatory bird in order to drive it off. Clearly she's saying that Karasuno is mobbing Shiratorizawa, a metaphor that basically holds up but feels a little too on the nose when we factor in the rest of the symbolism, from the names to the images in the opening theme. On the other hand, if you've ever seen a murder of crows going after an osprey or a bald eagle, it really is impressive – and that's what this episode is as well.

This next match will be the third of five, so there's still some question of how things will turn out for our favorite crows. With Karasuno's win, Tendo, Ushijima, and Shirabu are definitely on the warpath, and the whole group has learned to stop underestimating both Hinata and “normal guy” Tsukishima, so we can expect that things will only heat up from here. It's just a shame we won't have the Date Tech chant to go along with it.

Rating: A-

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

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