I went through a lot of potential titles in my head for this week’s Haikyuu!! To The Top post. I thought about calling it Mind Games to play into the fact that even when they are not at their physical peak, Nakoma is a frightful opponent because they play a very cerebral game. A controlled and thought out team.

I also thought about calling it stubbornness since, in the end, that’s really what it was about. I said before, I’m a lot like Kenma. I’m bad at a whole bunch of stiff including exercise but I still do it. Through sheer inertia. I started to exercise every while watching anime so unless there’s a force to stop me, I’m gonna keep on doing it. For almost a decade now. It’s neither noble nor guts or whatever. I’m just stubborn and kinda lazy. And I feel Kenma is too!

Of course, then the episode started and Sarakuwa was chanting Crush Him – Crush Him at Kenma. At that point, my post title was 100% going to be “I’ll Crush YOU!!!”. People think violent anime could influence violence in fans. (Shortsighted people, it doesn’t quite work that way). But for me Haikyuu!! will incite violence!

I seem to be way more defensive of Kenma than any other character. I guess it’s cause I relate to him. This is new territory for me. My first maternal instinct? I don’t like it, it feels itchy.

Nekoma is a very good sorbet for Karasuno. This is a super weird sentence. I was trying to find the right expression here. I don’t think that Nekoma is the best foil for Karasuno. Although they are two very different teams, and in some fundamental ways, I’m not sure juxtaposing them brings out the characters’ personalities better. O.k…, maybe that last scene made me realize that Karasuno and Nekoma would eventually have to go up against each other and I’m already a mess about it. So I don’t want to see them as foils.

stooopid gravity…

Haikyuu!! eyecatches are pretty cute in general but the Nekoma ones take the cake. Lazy kitties are the best possible subject for that art style. I also really like that dark root regrowth mimics a calico cat so well. Did you know that the overwhelming majority of Calico cats are female? I think only 1 in 1000 is male. Radom cat facts! That’s clearly what you’re looking for in your anime blogs.

When I say that Nekoma is a good sorbet, I mean it as a palette cleanser. Despite recent successes, Karasuno still drags around the burden of being fallen champions. The entire team desperately wants to prove they can still play. There is a specific weight and dourness that comes with that. Also, their juniors are a huge handful.

In many ways, Karasuno is a hero team. It’s full of big personalities and loud but loveable characters. It has a deep sense of purpose and destiny. In some ways, Karasuno players feel like they have no choice but to win. And not just win, but win the right way. They don’t just want to be winners, they all really want to be great volleyball players. And Haikyuu has done a great job to bring the subtlety in the ambitions of each team, across.

Nekoma doesn’t have all that baggage. They have always performed fairly well. They have a lot of history and expectations to live up to. It’s a different sort of baggage. And in shows in their gameplay. Or maybe that’s just what Haikyuu wants me to believe!

In any case, I drank the Kool-Ade. I was totally writing notes about how their calculated and slow strategy was a mark of a team that has been consistent for so long. The fact that they have been strong for a while also means they are less likely to get impatient when winning looks within grasp, like Sarakuwa (a team that feels to need to prove themselves) did. Having played for so long against so many is also the secret of Nekoma’s adaptability!

Like I said, Maybe Haikyuu just has me mesmerized, but I’m sure it would have been a drastically different match if Karasuno had played against Sarakuwa. And I can almost imagine how it would go. That’s what I find impressive. That the series manage to establish enough about the team in action for me to be able to do that!

As for the episode. It was awesome. A lot of fun little moments. Kenma looking more and more destroyed as the episode progressed went from hard to watch to almost empowering as his plays were still just as effective. Ok, there is part of me that wants to see Karasuno vs Nekoma. Crow vs Cats, it’s the destined rivalry after all.

Kenma looks like he wants to see it too!

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