Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou – 07

It’s nothing new to make note of it at this point, but Haikyuu isn’t one of those series that makes its mark by breaking new ground, but rather by taking what’s been done many times and just doing it really well.  Sports manga/anime is pretty tough to break new ground in generally speaking.  Not only is it one of animanga’s oldest and most eponymous genres, but one of its most literal – it really boils down mostly to putting a spin on something most of us are very familiar with in our real lives.

What we saw this week was pretty formulaic in a lot of respects.  The third-year scrub gets off the bench and steps into the limelight.  The focus on the backstories of the opponents.  A critical injury.  The challenge is to take all that and make it feel fresh, but fortunately that’s a skill that Haikyuu has always had in spades.  To a certain extent I like Haikyuu for the same reasons I’m a sports fan in the first place, because is sparks a lot of the same emotions.  And that’s a pretty big compliment when you think about it.

Haikyuu often manages to teach me something new, too (because volleyball isn’t one of the sports I watch).  For example, I had no idea that the fifth set only goes to 15 points – is that a rule only in high school, or in Japanese high school?  Seemingly that would favor Karasuno, the team that relies on three first-year starters and has no players who’ve experienced a fifth set.  But the problem is that Kageyama is so exhausted that Ukai decides to start Suga in his place.  That makes for some good drama, of course, but it’s an awful lot of pressure on a kid who’s basically only been an occasional pinch-server for the entire tournament.

I always root for Suga, as you know, and thus it’s great to see him finally get his chance in the spotlight.  And the moment when he scored on of all things a spike (now we know why he was practicing it earlier) was certainly a dramatic crescendo.  But it feels a bit forced to me, having him take over the setter role under these circumstances.  You’d think Kageyama would have to be pretty much unconscious before he’d be dragged off the court – especially when things start to turn in Shiratorizawa’s favor.  And after a very good start for the Crows, that’s exactly what happens.

The twin pillars behind Shiratori’s rise are (as you’d expect) Ushijima and Tendou.  And while I’m not normally nuts about backstory segments in the middle of big sports moments, they do need to pad out this set for five more episodes – and they were good flashbacks, at least.  I liked the focus on Ushijima’s left-handedness – his mother’s high-class family is determined to drive it out of him (it looks bad in public) but his father, a volleyballer himself, begs them not to.  Ushijima has a kind of fierce dignity to him, and there’s a purity to his direct style that’s sort of beautiful in a majestic way.  It makes sense, seeing how he got that way.  As for Tendou he’s basically a freak in the Midousuji mold, but like Ushijima, he’s learned the lesson not to try and change who he is.

It’s behind Ushijima’s serving (including two legit aces, so rare in volleyball) that Shiratorizawa runs off 7 straight points to take an 8-4 lead.  And to add injury to, er- injury, Tsukishima hurts his hand (I suspect a broken pinky, because I had one myself – dodgeball) and has to leave the court.  That means all three prized baby crows are off the floor, and Narita (I forgot he even had a name) is forced to step in. Tendou proves Suga’s nemesis, and things are looking rather grim for Karasuno.  I know the first-years are going to step in and spark a comeback (I’m guessing Tsukki too) and that’s fine, but I do hope Suga doesn’t drag himself off the court at this low ebb – I’d like to see him get a measure of personal closure in his final game.




  1. R

    Haikyuu is probably one of the most high energy sports series I’ve ever read/watched, but it always captures the high points of tension and excitements of sports perfectly.

    On a completely unrelated note, I was going back through some of the old reviews and I realized a lot of your old posts from the website still haven’t made their way over to the new one (I was browsing through the Shokugeki no Soma and Concrete Revolutio tags in particular, which both of the second season are on LiA, but the first season I don’t think is?). Or perhaps they just haven’t been tagged, I can’t figure out which it is. If they haven’t been migrated over, do you still have any plans on doing that? I quite like re-reading old reviews once I’ve finished a second season or show in its entirety.

  2. R

    After further exploration, I’ve found that it’s not actually that they’re missing. It’s simply that they don’t show up when I try to access them from the Categories drop-down menu. They show up just fine if I manually type in the /tag/whatevertag in the browser. Weird.

  3. I think the best way to get around is to just use the search function, after the WordPress transfer a lot of tags are missing from Categories.

  4. Indeed, this is the problem – Blogger doesn’t have categories, and there are issues with using only tags in WordPress. There’s no 100% good solution here, short of going through the old posts one by one and assigning them to categories. Sadly that’s not realistically possible, time-wise.

  5. R

    No problem, definitely understand how ridiculously time consuming that would be considering how many posts you’ve now accumulated

  6. The backstories in this episode might be a new high for Haikyuu!!, its actually pretty relatable for once. Its strange how characters like Narita who hardly play have such boring character designs, way to go making a forgettable character even more forgettable.

  7. Y

    Every time we have a Shimizu moment it’s priceless. I also really want to see Sugawara do more. Hopefully he gets to play until the end.
    I was also surprised by Ushijima’s backstory. It was touching without being overdramatic (as a lot of opponent backstories tend to be).

  8. a

    Isn’t it only going to be ten episodes?

  9. I forgot that!

  10. F

    It feels like that every force in storytelling is against Shiratorizawa actually winning this match, so during this episode I’ve started to feel an odd sympathy for them. Mentioning that they have to run back in case of a defeat, bringing out small bits of backstory, and having a four points advantage halfway through the last set, every little detail cries out that from the viewpoint of the narrative they’re fighting a losing war, so I found it quite funny when you finished your review with the expression, that it will be Suga’s “final game” . Well, only three episodes remaining and I think that the match will end before the penultimate ep whatever the result may be to give some time for tha coda, so we just have to wait and see.

  11. N

    Please, god, don’t let Sugawara end up like that ‘yama’ guy from ping-pong..

  12. e

    Both Oikawa and Shimizu spoke. One further reason to mark the calendar. Provided there’s still still space left under the Sugoiwara gushing that is ( relatedly the Beauty Mark x Beauty Mark ship tease was a pretty welcome tension breaker ahah).
    Oh and Ushijima gained more of a personality. His little backstory also gave us the true ( sorry there Sadako) horror bits.The quiet RL culturally – ingrained ones.
    I don’t think Suga will ( be made to ) leave the court before he manages a comeback btw. A dump shot coming up next for instance would be sweet and refreshing ;p.
    – Thus Spoketh Shimizu hence Tsukki will probably be back in time to rejoin the game + victory.
    – Nishinoya love. He didn’t get to shine as much against AJ last season so about time he did.
    – Aw baby Tendou.

  13. G

    The 15 points 5th set is a general volleyball practice, you can see it in pro matches as well 🙂

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