Haikyu!! To The Top
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Haikyu!! To The Top (TV 4) ?
Despite the stereotype, old dogs can learn new tricks, and young pups sometimes have a harder time with it. The leading Old Dog in this case is, of course, Washijo, the height-biased Shiratorizawa coach who, admittedly, doesn't look like he's doing much changing in the context of what we've watched thus far. But a dinner between two of the under-coaches (assistant coaches? Sub-coaches? I didn't play team sports) seems to indicate that maybe he is putting in an effort to do so. Seeing Hinata score that final point in the game against Karasuno really made Washijo start to reevaluate his stance on volleyball players' heights, one he developed after having been fed a line of “you're worthless because you're short” for most of his game life. That's a long time of being certain of one thing, and it's not going to be easy for him to reverse course. But the very fact that he let Hinata stick around as a ball boy might actually be the proof that he's trying. Rotten as he's been to Karasuno's Number 10, he really could have outright sent him packing with the same cruel words he himself heard from day one. That he didn't may mean that I've been evaluating him too harshly.
There may be a mild parallel between Washijo and Kageyama in that respect. We finally do a little (emphasis on “little”) checking in on him at the Youth Camp this week, and apart from a reminder that if it's not about volleyball Kageyama's brain works in mysterious ways (gotta love him eating the broccoli after deciding the guy sitting with him looks like it), mostly what we see is that it's way too easy for him to settle into one style of playing. Previous to meeting Hinata, Kageyama played a selfish game, caring only about his own skills and how he could use them, whether or not the rest of his team was behind him. Now another player accuses him of being a “goody two-shoes” on the court, trying to play in a safe way that pleases everyone. When he says this, an expression of “I just can't win!” crosses Kageyama's face, and it'll be worth watching to see how, and if, he can learn to be more flexible in his playstyle.
That Hinata is the better thinker (and has better people skills) seems to have been at least part of the point behind this training arc. Even though time is split between he and Kageyama, it feels like more minutes are devoted to Hinata and how he's honing his powers of observation and beginning to really put what he's learning into practice. He does get to do this a bit on his own when it turns out that Tsukishima was asking him to join the guys' after-class practice, but he's also showing that he's got the makings of a good coach – his successful guidance of a disheartened player is a great moment overall. That's not just because it shows how he can synthesize what he's seen and then adapt it to other players, but also because it lets us know that Hinata's really thinking outside of himself, something Kageyama historically has issues doing. Hinata wants everyone to get better, not just himself. The game's no fun if it's too easy to win, so he'd like his rivals to improve alongside him, because in the end that's going to make things that much more fun and exciting. Yes, Hinata would prefer to win, but he also just really loves playing volleyball in a way that competitiveness seems to warp for some of the other boys. He's definitely competitive and wants to see how far he can go, but mostly that seems to be because he loves playing the game. The trophies and accolades are almost icing on the cake for him.
That this is a different attitude than some others is pretty clear, especially when Feather Hair Boy (have they said his name yet?) is pissed that Kageyama isn't more impressed by him. To Kageyama, he's just another Hinata, but since Hinata hasn't made much of a name for himself outside the prefecture yet, Feather Hair has no idea that there's even another good short player out there. I can't think he's going to be thrilled when Kageyama finally lets him know.
In any event, we should be wrapping up this arc soon, which is good because I miss my third-years. Hopefully we'll get a bit more of the Youth Camp before it does, though – we're going to need to know who these guys are when the big game starts, and if the character designs keep going south like they did during Feather Hair's big moment, that could be an issue. That's a personal preference, of course – I prefer consistency in how characters look over one moment of stunning animation, because the warping of the design takes me right out of the action. It'll be interesting to see if that continues as the series goes on.
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