Haikyu!! To The Top
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 25 of
Haikyu!! To The Top (TV 4) ?
Haikyu!! – now with bonus butts! Well, they've got to do something to make the final cool-down episode stand out, so why not have an otherwise inexplicable close-up of Hinata's ass as he swims in the bath? Not that I think this episode needed to entice viewers with fanservice – equal opportunity fanservice, I should mention, because we peek in on the girls, too – because it has plenty of small moments that are wonderful even though the match is over. And what's even better is that most of those are also gentle reminders that no matter what they look or sound like, these are still high school kids we're following, and that means that every so often, it's good to see them just act their ages.
There's a lot of that this week, as is pretty common in post-game episodes. While I never played competitive sports, both teams' reactions are very reminiscent of post-recital moments in dance, which suggests a pretty good level of authenticity to me. From Tsukki blindly putting on two jackets to Tanaka falling asleep mid-shirt and Nishinoya passed out on a bench (also mid-change), their exhaustion is both familiar and believable given what they've just been through – and that goes for Hinata still being in full hyper mode, because there's always that one person. Everyone's reactions to watching the recap and snippets of their game on the news is also wonderful – Asahi's horror at his Evil Concentrating Face is one of those little moments that really stood out in the source manga and hearing his aghast realization spoken aloud only adds to it. (I was totally the Asahi watching recitals, huddled in the corner afraid to look – I can't even watch the ANNConnects I've done now!) Everyone's different degrees of excitement and embarrassment reminds us that they're all individuals with their own personalities, which has always been a highlight of the franchise, and even the players like Kinoshita who we rarely get to see have clear, idiosyncratic reactions to what happened. It makes the story more engrossing, yes, but it also makes it feel like it's about people, not characters.
That's part of what makes the Miya Twins stand out this week, too. We've seen them be in sync during the match, but they were also doing their own thing, playing to their own strengths as the match dragged on. But now that they've suffered a loss, they're in full-on Twin Mode – they're speaking, acting, emoting, and even breathing like two halves of a whole. It gives the impression that this is something they do when they're upset; they fall back on their twinhood as a form of comfort, knowing that there's one other person who understands the exact thing they're feeling in that moment. It's a neat trick, not only because it reminds us that they're twins, but also because it gives them some more of that characterization I was just talking about – they have a coping mechanism when their pride and egos can't hold them up anymore. Plenty of stories would have just made them be vaguely evil and called it a day.
Of course, Atsumu still gets to have his final dig at Kageyama while also revealing his (friend?)-crush on Hinata. The fact that he specifically tells Hinata that someday he, Atsumu Miya, will be setting the ball for him not only acknowledges that he sees Hinata as an impressive player, but also that he sets both himself and Hinata above Kageyama, because if Atsumu is setting, then there's no place for Kageyama – unless Kageyama takes the role that Sugawara has. (Poor Suga. I still feel badly for him.) It's a very Miya move: a challenge, a congratulation, and a statement of his own awesomeness all in a couple of sentences.
Now the stage is set for the Dumpster Battle (or Garbage Dump Battle, as they subtitle it this time) – Nekoma versus Karasuno. Hopefully we'll get to see it animated, but another nice thing about this franchise is that even if we don't, you can just pick up the manga from that point and jump right in. You'll have lost a few details, but still be able to follow the story.
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