This was a rather low-key episode of Haikyuu, and quite consciously I think. After the flash introduction of Yachi and the most intense acrimony since the earliest days of the series between Hinata and Kageyama, it was time to step off the accelerator a bit. Everyone needed a chance to reflect, and that’s mostly what happened here – stock-taking both by the characters and the narrative as a whole.
Clearly, both Kageyama and Hinata feel stymied by what’s happened, and neither of them knows how to move forward. For Kageyama things are bad enough that he’s willing to prostrate himself before arch-rival Oikawa, who he coincidentally meets after a kids volleyball camp the latter has been attending with his nephew. Oikawa certainly takes advantage of the moment, but he also dispenses some common-sense advice that may not be what Kageyama wants to hear.
Somewhat conveniently for the plot – and Hinata’s – sake, this is the moment the legendary Ukai Ikkei (Naka Hiroshi) finally steps out of the realm of rumor and into the plot. And it’s a good thing, too, because his grandson has no more idea what Hinata should be doing than Hinata does. Ikkei-san knows a little something about chibisuke volleyballers, and he seems to take Hinata’s measure pretty quickly (not that it would take long anyway).
Ikkei ends up passing along the same message that Oikawa did – namely, that it’s the hitter that needs to be in control of his own attacks, not the setter. For Kageyama this puts him uncomfortably close to his old selfish days as a lonely king, but it’s more or less what Hinata’s been saying all along. The funny thing is Ikkei ends up having Shouyo do exactly what Kageyama and his teammates were telling him to – work on his basics before worrying about perfecting the quick.
I don’t know enough about volleyball to understand the subtleties of it, but it’s clear that the act of learning how to spike sets from people who aren’t Kageyama (in this case the kids and ladies that Ikkei-san has lined up for him) is crucial for Hinata’s development. In effect, it seems that Kageyama is so freakishly adept at setting that he’s hindered Hinata’s ability to read and react – because against weaker competition, he hasn’t really had to. That may have suited Kageyama’s ego just fine, but Hinata came to realize there was something fundamentally flawed in the arrangement.
Everyone, then, is re-examining their own skills and role – including Keishin, who riffs off Ikkei’s instruction to Hinata and has an epiphany about what Kageyama has to do for his part (namely, deliver quick sets to the exact point Hinata will hit them, and not through that point). Everyone else is taking stock too, but it’s perhaps most interesting with Nishinoya, because he’s decided he needs to learn how to set. I don’t think it’s common for liberos to do that, but I suppose it adds an interesting wild card potential to Karasuno’s arsenal – maybe Nishinoya and Asahi will even come up with their own version of a quick…