Haikyu!! To The Top
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Haikyu!! To The Top (TV 4) ?
This episode adapts one of my favorite manga chapters – the one about Kiyoko. Like Daichi, she's often relegated to a proscribed role, “the hot girl manager,” and because she's quiet and mostly stays on the sidelines of the others' interactions (we actually see her interacting with the other third years more outside of practice), it's easy to think that she's nothing more than the beauty of the relationship, with Hitoka providing the cuteness. Last week she mentioned to Hitoka that she's got a lot of scars on her legs because she used to be a hurdler before she became a volleyball manager, and what could have been a throwaway line was actually foreshadowing, because it is the combination of her current sport and her former that ends up saving the day before the game even begins.
While this is pretty rushed compared to its original (and I'm a little concerned about how far this season is planning to go, given that an entire cour was devoted to the Shiratorizawa match), it still does a good job of showing us more of who Kiyoko is and how being the team manager helped her past the dissolution of her first dream. Her triumphant jump as she brings Hinata his lost sneakers is a beautiful statement of the fact that she's just as much a part of the team as any of the boys, and that being there really has helped her emotionally. Plus in a season that's had some issues with art, it's really nice to see that balletic stretch and glide through the air.
Overall this week does look better than last week, although I have to admit that that's not a huge challenge. One of the most interesting visuals comes from Kageyama trying desperately to get a sense of where he and the others are in space in a new, much larger gym with a higher ceiling than he normally plays in. The three-dimensional grid shows us not only how he thinks, but also the way that he feels trapped in his own inability to immediately be on his toes; not being able to connect with Hinata, with whom he's always had a good game rapport (personal's another story) must be particularly galling. We still don't have the sense of impact that previous seasons achieved, but hopefully we're on an upward swing now.
That would be especially good because this episode marks the actual start of Karasuno's Nationals matches. All things considered, the nerves seem pretty well controlled – Suga's hands may be cold, but he's still with it enough to kick Kageyama in the tush for being obnoxiously calm, and Asahi doesn't seem to be having an emotional breakdown. Hinata hasn't rushed for the toilet, either, so despite the new, much more impressive venue, we're seeing real payoff from the games that brought them here in more than just their playing. And since their playing isn't off to a great start against Tsubakihara, that's pretty important – an attack of nerves right now would spell catastrophe. Instead everyone seems to be working to make up for Kageyama's issues, and not even Tsukki is giving him grief about it. (Is he okay? That seems so un-Tsukki-like…)
The pace at which things build up once the game has started works well. It does jump around a little – we're not seeing every point scored like we used to – but we can clearly see Karasuno's momentum build until it culminates in Hinata and Kageyama's successful quick. Tsubakihara wasn't precisely taking Karasuno lightly before that point (they're very well aware that this is the team that beat Shiratorizawa), but their faces when the quick works are still a study in shock. Of course, that means that they'll be stepping things up, and since they already have a decently substantial lead on Karasuno, that could be dangerous.
Just because we can all make an educated guess as to how this is going to go doesn't mean that it won't still be exciting to see what happens next week.
Haikyu!! To The Top is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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