I can kind of understand why Samu-kun isn’t covering this season of Haikyuu!! over at RC, despite the fact that it’s one of his favorite shows ever. He’s covering a bunch of other stuff, for starters, but the fact is that at least for me, after three seasons worth of material Haikyuu is kind of tough to write about. It’s not the easiest series to cover to begin with, because it’s so direct and eloquent in what it’s trying to say – and it’s so consistent that it’s not as though there’s been an enormous change over the run of the anime. Add to that the fact that competition-driven episodes of sports anime are generally tougher to write about than the ones in-between (we all see what’s happening on-screen) and the “Shiratorizawa” season is a significant blogging challenge.
Fortunately, Haikyuu always manages to fit some character development into its game arcs, and it always delivers on the action. It’s a bit of a hard-sell for me to believe that Karasuno could be this competitive with a superpower like Shiratorizawa this soon, but you wouldn’t have much of a season if they weren’t. And as Tsukishima’s brother Akiteru pointed out this week, the Crows were pretty much done if they didn’t take the second set. And we still have eight episodes to go…
So far, it would be fair to say that Tsukishima is the one that’s been most critical in slowing down the Shiratorizawa attack. He’s gotten inside the head of their setter and Tendou, and he’s managed to disrupt a couple of Ushijima’s spikes just enough to slightly pierce his bubble of invincibility. It’s Tsukki who provides the counterpoint to Shiratori’s combination of raw, straight-ahead power and instinctive reaction – he overthinks everything. In a way you’d imagine Tsukishima’s analytical approach would have its worst matchup against a team like Shiratori, and it is difficult, no question. But he’s actually thinking about their game more than Shiratorizawa itself is, and even they have patterns that start to become visible if you look hard enough.
If you switch on your suspension of disbelief gene, the slight hint of panic that Tsukki notes in the opponent’s game is clearly their Achilles heel. Shirabu doesn’t seem to be an exceptional setter in general – Shiratori’s style doesn’t lend itself to creativity from that role. The question now, I suppose, is whether a team that’s so good that it’s won all its matches without having to make any adjustments can actually make adjustments. And, of course, whether their curmudgeonly old coach can do anything besides stand on the sidelines snarling at them.