Watching this episode of Haikyuu, I was reminded of a quote by the great Brazilian striker Romario: “Strikers are egotists, selfish. We have to be.” Be it football or not, the myth of the selfish striker is not a myth at all – you don’t want your ace to be happy when he’s pulled from the game, even if he knows he’s lost it. You don’t want Michael Jordan to be thinking pass first on the final possession of the game (even if he’s willing to pass the ball when Paxson is open beyond the arc). Greatness in sports requires selfishness – and the understanding of when to choke it down and pass the ball.
Baby crows are born with their eyes closed, you know. But they have to open them eventually or they die. The metaphor is certainly crude, but you get the point. I was never that big a fan of the whole Hinata spiking with his eyes closed thing – it’s probably the least realistic and most Shounen Jump-ish sports element in this series – but at least it’s plot-relevant. What happened this week was obviously going to happen sooner or later – if anything, I’m a little surprised it took as long as it did.
Thing is, I totally get why Hinata is so amped up about this, and also why Kageyama is so pissed off at him about it. It takes the intervention of Lev-kun – just as freakishly instinctive as Hinata but a foot taller – to make Hinata realize it, but the whole eyes-closed quick thing is inherently flawed. It has its limitations, and it’s not going to work against a truly elite opponent. And in truth, the move is entirely Kageyama’s – as he brusquely puts it, Hinata’s will isn’t needed for the attack at all. He just needs to jump and swing his arm – if they could train a Japanese macaque to do it, it would be just as effective. If I were Shouyou I’d be irritated too – who wants to be irrelevant to their own signature attack?
That’s only half the issue here, though. The other half is the tension raised when Shouyou gets caught up in the moment during the Nekoma scrimmage and causes a collision by jumping for a set intended for Asahi. Naturally he bounces off like a pinball and takes a fall a normal human would have been pretty battered by, but injury isn’t the issue here. It’s not like Hinata intentionally tried to poach Asahi’s spike, but his instinct took over – and Hinata’s instinct is that he wants to be the star. He wants to be the ace, and as any fan of baseball manga knows, a team can only have one ace.
Nekota-kantoku wryly observes all this of course – wryly observing is what he’s in the show for – and he makes of note of Shouyou’s “greed”, but he doesn’t mean it as an insult. This is certainly a speed bump for the Karasuno boys – a first-year muscling in on a senior’s territory is never simple, and Shouyou is obviously going to get worse before he gets better. But it has to happen, so they may as well get the process started and suffer through it now. None of this is going to be made any easier by the fact that Kageyama is as impatient and egotistical as they come, but Kageyama and Hinata fighting is certainly nothing new.
The other interesting part of this is Yachi’s involvement in Hinata and Kageyama’s confrontation. First off, tossing for them is her first time actually getting on the court and that feels like a significant moment. And second, boy does she get a frightening introduction to Hinata and Kageyama’s “friendship”. Boys will be boys and high spirits are what they are, but it can be pretty scary for a mild-mannered girl like Shenata to see something like that up close. For some that might have been enough to scare them off, but given Shenata’s hunger for something in life to be passionate about, I suspect seeing that kind of martial spirit will only increase her fascination with volleyball and the boys who play it.