The most important note to start things off, I suppose, is that the production for this episode was back in the normal range for Haikyuu. Last week’s was certainly the worst episode so far, by far (it wasn’t so much the animation as the character modeling). But it was fully outsourced, and if internet rumors are to be believed it was the only outsourced episode this season. I would certainly hope so, as there’s no series that’s more dependent on the quality of its visuals than this one.
As I’ve noted before, Haikyuu can be a tough series to write about, even when it’s good. Inarizaki is neither the most interesting opponent Karasuno has faced or the least. Tanaka Ryuu is neither the most interesting Crow or the least. The upshot is one of those eps that falls in the pretty good range across the board. There’s no drama as to how this match will turn out, and while Tanaka is fun things never go too deep with him on the character front, so this all plays out on the surface pretty much.
One thing I’ve certainly learned from watching this series is that in volleyball, blocking is actually more important than spiking. And it’s much more of an art form, full of subtleties. I think that’s why we saw Shouyou emerge as basically an attacker at first, when he more or less played the game without a thought in his head, and only recently emerge as someone with an interest in the other half of the sport. Quicks and such are interesting, but the art of blocking is far more so – at least for me. And I think Shouyou is actually starting to feel the same way.
As for Ryuu, as he says he’s not the strongest on the Karasuno team at anything. Hinata and Asahi are better hitters, Tsuki is a better blocker, Tobio a better server, Nishinoya a better scrambler. Tanaka is merely pretty good (there’s that word again) at everything. And that makes him important in his way, as someone who has to do a little of everything in the side. And while he has his down moments, as we saw here, he’s basically a straightforward and positive guy. So those moments aren’t generally too dramatic, as we know he’ll eventually put his head down and bull through them.
That’s exactly what happens here, and Karasuno end up squeaking out the first set 27-25. The only uncertainty about this match is how many sets it will take for the Crows to close it out, but we’re not going to find that out for a couple of weeks – especially as the next episode will turn for the first time in a while on Nekoma and their mini-setter (and Shouyou fated rival) Kozume Kenma. It remains to be seen if he and they will make for a compelling subject of focus, but when the camera turns away from Karasuno in tournament arcs I tend to wish it would turn back sooner than it actually does.