Haikyuu!!: To the Top ep.13 – The Ballad of Tanaka The Stupid

I already knew that Haikyuu was a split cour. This means I knew that this season finale wouldn’t really bring much closure and was really more of a set up for the second part of the season this summer. They really didn’t have to try all that hard. Haikyuu To The Top has had a spectacular season and the hard work has already been put in. We already care about this team, we’re going to show up to find out what happens at nationals.

All episode 13 needed to do was introduce us to the other teams that we don’t know all that well yet. Heck it could have simply thrown in a random beach episode or something, I was already sold.

But noooooo… Haikyuu doesn’t do things half way. It thinks it’s too good to take advantage of the good will it has built up in its audience and sit back on it’s laurels. It just has to show off and give us 13 excellent episodes in a row. Well fine then!

I like Tanaka. I always have. But as a character, he’s kind of easy to overlook. I mean he gets overshadowed by Noya a lot and the two are always together and fit a similar archetype. He can’t really coast of his energetic nature with Hinata around. Even his own sister steals the spotlight. So Tanaka is just kind of around. We like him, and when he gets a little moment in, we’re happy, but he can be easy to forget about.

It’s bound to happen in a series that has dozens of characters. There’s nothing to feel about or anything…

And yet, four seasons in, Haikyuu uses a pivotal episode to finally give a long time character a little taste of the spotlight. And it does so with such gentle appreciation of who that character actually is that I was actually moved. Haikyuu is a character driven narrative. The characters work within the story but not because of it, rather the narrative itself is shaped by the people who inhabit it.

Tanaka is a nice guy. A little rough around the edges and a bit short sighted at times. He can be childish and silly but deep down he’s a caring dude who found something to give his life direction and is just trying his best. In a plot driven narrative, that would be it. But because this is a character driven show, then entire episode took up Tanaka’s personality.

It was a caring and gentle episode that was at times silly and childish. It brought everyone together in a common goal and paid tribute to occasionally hapless effort. Tanaka and his childhood friend were adorable, their backstory was surprisingly sweet. To me the very best part however, was Tanaka swearing that he would not be left behind. He sees this young lady as a worthy rival, an equal, potentially even a superior at something he considers very important. Now that’s a love story I can really appreciate. I’m rooting for those two, they both deserve someone great!

But it’s not just them. That same feeling bled over to the third years, all nervous and anxious but also excited. This is their first and probably only chance at national. They are all talented players but not of them has stood out enough to go pro and it’s likely that once they go off to university, their volleyball days will be over.

But that’s not important. Right now, there’s a chance to catch an instant of glory and that’s what matters. You know, Sports anime tradition dictates that they should loose their first chance at nationals. In the semi finals or something. That way, the remaining team can come back to nationals and avenge the seniors who didn’t get to taste victory. It’s a very common trope.

I find Sports anime comforting because it tends to stick to its tropes rather closely. It sort of feels homey when I watch one and I’ve gotten so familiar with the formulas that I can predict the broad strokes of most shows. That’s not a bad thing at all. I like it in fact.

Still I really hope I’m wrong. Really really. I hope I get completely destabilized and Karasuno does win. It’s o.k. writers, you can still keep the series going. We have a new slate of first years coming in after that and they need to get used to the team, that’s an entire other season right there. Heck two.

And if they even make it as far with this new team, Karasuno will need to defend their title. That’s a huge amount of pressure! In fact they can fail then (it’s o.k. because those third years will have won at least once). We almost never get to follow defending champions. That’s going to be awesome to watch. That like another 2 or 3 seasons.

Then Karasuno is back to being disgraced underdogs having to claw their way back to the top. I mean they could loose bad. That’s also going to be a huge b;low to Hinata and Kageyama. so the season after that, those two are third years and have to reclaim the teams glory and build a stable future for the team to go on without them. There’s so much conflict there that you could do a whole slew of seasons.

What I’m saying is that Karasuno needs to win nationals in part2 of To The Top and Haikyuu needs to be renewed for another 10 seasons.

Also this was a great episode! Please watch it if you haven’t, it will make you smile.

Haikyuu s4 To The Top ep13-9 (2)

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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2 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    That was such an adorable episode, wasn’t it?

    Looking forward to season 2.

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