The crux of what Haikyuu’s first two seasons are was summed up by Shota-sensei in this episode – Aoba Johsai really is the arch-enemy. When you stop and consider it, both of the first two seasons will end with the Seijoh matchup, and that could hardly be more definitive proof. But that almost makes it narratively impossible for Karasuno to lose this match – if they do, it asks the unfortunate question of what the point of the whole second season was.
That leads to the inescapable conclusion that this season is going to end very strangely one way or the other – either with an inexplicable result or at a highly unusual spot. There was mention of a “big announcement” (I love how manga have big announcements for big announcements) next week, and since there’s not enough source material for a third season yet I wonder if we’re going to see (as opposed to an anime-original or live-action movie) the Shiratorizawa match depicted in movie form.
As for Seijoh, Haikyuu is making up for lost time with a pretty engaging match here – though as is often the case with this show, there’s not a whole lot left open to interpretation. Mad Dog-chan continues to be the driving force for a lot of the drama – he’s the boom-or-bust element in Aoba Johsai’s lineup, and his mood swings seem to carry a lot of weight with the team. To be honest I kind of wonder why their coach is taking the gamble of relying on him when Karasuno is a team he’s already beaten in competition (and many times in practice), as enticing as Kentarou’s skill set is.
The Crows are managing to stay level with Seijoh despite a pretty minimal output from Shouyou, with Tsukishima stepping up into a pivotal role (especially on the mental side of the match). So far Ukai (unlike his counterpart) has played it absolutely straight – no substitutions, no shifts in strategy – though I more or less expect to see Tadashi get another crack at the designated server role before things are finished. But next week is the penultimate episode, and we’re getting into main character territory – and no one has more to prove by climbing this mountain than Shouyou and Kageyama. Their time to shine is coming, and I expect it to start as soon as next week.