Haikyu!! To The Top
Episode 12

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Haikyu!! To The Top (TV 4) ?

Although this is a transition episode between Karasuno's win against Tsubakihara and their next game against Inarizaki (a team with a few familiar faces for Kageyama), it still manages to be a good one. Mostly this is because it features the meeting between Hoshiumi (feather-hair guy if you're as “good” with names as I am) and Hinata, which has some major implications for both of them. Hoshiumi has been grousing about Kageyama's non-reaction to him since the youth camp – with a healthy dose of resentment for his comment about Hoshiumi being “good practice” for him – so to finally clap eyes on the reason for his lack of amazement must feel like the answer to a particularly annoying puzzle, albeit one he's not necessarily going to like.

In some ways, Hoshiumi represents who Hinata could have been. He's not precisely bitter about his height, but he definitely resents being defined by it, while at the same time he seems to at least unconsciously value it because it helps him to stand out. A tall Hoshiumi might not be all that remarkable, but a short one is impressive, and whether he realizes it or not, he seems to bank on that fact even as he enjoys ripping into reporters for “only” noticing his lack of height. That Hinata is even at Nationals (and is clearly the guy Kageyama was referring to) immediately sets him up as a rival to Hoshiumi, not just for the coveted title of “little giant,” but for the attention of the spectators and news outlets, to say nothing of scouts. How can Hoshiumi continue to stand out if he's not the only amazing short player on the court?

Hinata's reaction is about as far from that as it can be. He might reasonably have been shaken by another aspirant to his desired moniker (as Suga worries), especially since the commentators used it during the set Hinata got to see, but instead he takes it as affirmation that he, too, can amount to something great despite his height. Previous to meeting Hoshiumi, Hinata had only really ever seen that one other short player, so it could easily have been a fluke. But now that there's another guy his height excelling at volleyball? That's confirmation that it can be done, that Hinata's not a freak or just some plucky kid with an idea in his head. It means that it can and does happen more than once, and there's something really empowering about that. It's not the reaction most people would have or that they'd expect someone else to have (Hinata or otherwise), but for Hinata it really is the best possible realization. It makes his dream more possible and inspires him to keep trying, and that's a surprisingly mature reaction for him – and also one that's perfectly in line with his bouncy brand of optimism.

Speaking of maturity, we get to see its opposite when we flash over to Fukurodani's game, where Bokuto is having one of his pouty moments at the fact that they're playing in a sub-arena and not the main one. If Bokuto was our main character, that'd be pretty damn annoying, but because he fills more of a comic relief role, it's fun to watch his teammates try to jolly him out of his grump, not to mention their resigned horror when they realize what his problem is this time. Akaashi really deserves a medal in Bokuto Handling if he does this every single time they play.

We get a little bit of time with Nekoma as well, mostly to show us that they, too, are advancing to the second day alongside Fukurodani and Karasuno. Check-ins with the guys who were on the team when our current third-years joined are also nice (poor Daichi misinterpreting their words), especially when all three of them are at a loss as to how to describe Hinata, although watching the older guys be intimidated by Tsukki and Kageyama is also pretty great. Probably the best small moment we get, though, is Tanaka and his old (female) friend after the credits – the poor guy's vocabulary is reduced to one word while she desperately tries to have a conversation with him and the other second-years try to figure out how the hell Tanaka got a girl interested in him. Ennoshita's pretty okay with it, but those other two may just have a fit over this…and Tanaka stands to be right there with them.

It's worth noting that we didn't see anyone from Inarizaki this week. That's who they're going up against next, so holding off on reminding us who's on the team is probably a good thing for keeping the tension going, because that game gets started, it's going to be a doozy.

Rating:

Haikyu!! To The Top is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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