OK, fingers crossed that this post won’t magically evaporate out of my scheduled posts. Or else I will be sad! I just rewrote my Somali review and a could of collabs and I’m getting a little tired. It’s a lot of work for a Saturday morning. I may just have redefined first world problems.
Season 4 of Haikyuu is taking it’s time and taking way more risks than may seem apperant on the surface. For instance, three episodes in and it has focused almost exclusively on Hinata. That’s actually a big departure for a series that has been very large cast driven so far and whose fans are known for having a wide variety of favourite (Hinata being just one of many and possibly not the most popular one at that).
And because season for has been so narrowly focused on Hinata, it has also effectively taken us out of the game. Up until now, Haikyuu imbued the audience with vicarious adrenaline and tension from being right in the middle of the action. We followed the players around and were right there as they made these incredible jumps just at the right second. It’s invigorating.
Instead, season 4 has taken the large cast of favourites largely out of the picture, it has isolated Hinata and discarded to popular banter and odd couple dynamics that clicked with so many of the viewers, and it has saddled him and us by extension to the sidelines. For three episodes (almost the length of a feature film) we have been watching a guy watching some guys practice volleyball. And it’s been amazing!
Hinata is a physically gifted player. He’s also eager to learn, hard working, confident enough to try new things and believe he can achieve them and humble enough to know he can still improve and work towards it. Really, his one big flaw as a player is that he’s impatient. His pure enthusiasm for the game frequently makes him lose sight of the big picture and he rarely takes time to focus on anything but his own role in the game. Because he is relatively experienced, this creates a huge blind spot that can easily be exploited by other players.
This week, Hinata learned how to observe a volleyball game. How to actually take in and understand what other players are doing so that he may adapt those techniques to suit his needs. By denying him the chance to play and participate in the training camp, Shiratorizawa’s coach may have taught Hinata one of the most valuable volleyball lessons his ever had!
This is not to undervalue Ukai who was once again very present (compared to past seasons) and surprisingly helpful. Sure the training camp created the conditions for Hinata to come to his realization but it’s Ukai’s words that pushed him to it. I’m liking this a lot. Like most fans I do enjoy the large group dynamics and the interactions between all the players but I think a proper mentor relationship will bring a lot to the series!
A simple action like calling the coach to ask about diet and nutrition is a huge character building moment. It’s not something that would even have crossed Hinata’s mind in the past. It’s so tangentially related to his actual playing and performance that he may not have made the connection at all. And the fact that he didn’t just ask the first player he saw or the biggest one but took the time to call coach Ukai is impressive as well. On top of it all, Ukai not only did have good and useful advice for him but he also recognized the progress for himself, something the episode conveyed with a simple smile.
Although I have been wondering what Tobio’s been up to, I have been so engrossed in Shoyo’s personal journey that I was actually a little disappointed when the perspective changes to Kageyama. Fortunately, it was simply a brief interlude and a fantastic one that showed us that Kageyama has also been relying on Hinata’s strengths for some time now and that their relationship is more symbiotic than people think. In true and endearing Kageyama fashion, this does not phase him in the least.
The episode ended on a cliffhanger. Tsuki has something he wants to talk to Hinata about and we don’t know what it is. Trust me, for Haikyuu this is high tension! It’s one of the things I love about the series, small stakes. Relatable!
I noticed this week 3 shows ended on clear cliffhangers. Well if you count Haikyuu. In/Spectre and Somali also had dramatic unresolved end scenes. I’m wondering if this has anything to do with the three episode rule. Like writers know that they have to get viewers past this point so they’ll use a cheap trick to have them tune in to episode 4 then they’re all set! It’s probably just a coincidence, but conspiracies are fun!
As for Haikyuu, if you are doing the three episode rule, for three episodes we’ve followed a main character who has hardly talked to anyone and hasn’t even had the chance to participate in a practice game. And it’s amazing!