Of course! Of course, the week after I praise Haikyuu for the surprising (to me) and slightly unusual decision to focus the start of the season so tightly on Hinata and how that has shaped and curved the narrative of season for (for the better in my opinion) rendering it more personal and relatable, the perspective immediately splits between Hinata and Kageyama. So now what do I say?
I say it’s still awesome. Yeah yeah, I might be a fangirl.
First off, this expansion of the narrative voice doesn’t really change anything about the three first episodes of season 4 of Hikyuu!!! But moreover, Kageyama is a very peculiar character to follow around. He has certainly grown a lot since season 1 as his character arc has seen him learn to get a handle on his pride and become a team player but he’s still essentially himself in a lot of ways. And that means terse, fairly unemotional and generally neutral in most situations, especially without Hinata around to act as a foil and catalyst. It’s not usually the best choice for a point of view character, however, I would argue that it works here, and here’s why.
I’m a fangirl.
Ok, ok, beyond that…The series didn’t so much switch to Kageyama as check up on him and his progress and the Japan nationals training camp. So he didn’t have to carry the entire episode on his shoulders and I think most viewers have been wondering how he’s holding up as we were shown a few clips where he seemed to be struggling.
But he’s doing just fine. He hasn’t suddenly lost all he’s acquired in the past few seasons just because his sidekick isn’t around. Kageyama is no longer the type of guy whose ego get crushed by the realization that he’s not THE BEST. He realized that a while ago. And he knows how to communicate with his teammates now, that hasn’t just disappeared. Kageyama was a great player to begin with and he’s gotten even better. He belongs in that training camp and it’s plain to see.
It was also great how he obviously recognized Hinata in Hoshiumi. (I had to look up his name. I called him owley in my notes… He looks like a little owl, doesn’t he?) It was a nice moment as the realization hit both Kageyama and the audience at the same time and the series didn’t feel the need to point it out.
Speaking of Owley, I really enjoyed his jumping sequence, it sort of reminded me just a bit of Masaaki Yuasa in how movement was illustrated and that is a great compliment indeed.
I put both the jumping scene and the one where he seems to actually turn into Hinata above.
So basically, although Kageyama maybe a bit too understated and monotone to be the main focus of the entire series, being able to catch up with him and be reminded just how much his character has been developed actually highlighted Haikyuu’s ability to create flexible and evolutive characters, I’m saying, I’m a fangirl.
Although Hinata’s side of the episode may have been longer in actual air time, I have a lot less to say about it. Not because I didn’t enjoy it as much. Quite to the contrary. The loving character study of Hinata that Haikyuu: To The Top has been undertaking, remains one of my favourite parts of the series (possibly up to date). I can’t overstate how happy I am with this particular turn the series has taken.
All of that said, I think the Hinata part of the episode could be resumed in one sentence. This week Hinata became a coach. That’s it.
I don’t mean he got the title or anything but he coached someone. Actually coached them. He saw another player having trouble, cheered them up, then gave them a bit of tangible, practical advice that he could apply on the court, based on play style observation and prediction. And it worked. Because it was good advice.
I know it doesn’t sound very impressive. It’s actually super basic. But I think that viewers who like me have been following Haikyuu since season 1 will know just how amazing this is. It’s downright awesome and such a simple and understated way to show us just how much Hinata has changed. I loved it.
But then again, I’m a fangirl.