Haikyu!!: Episode 8 – “He who is Called “Ace””

Haikyu!! focuses on two first-year high school volleyball players named Shoyo Hinata and Kageyama Tobio. The previous year they had competed against each other in a junior high tournament, and Shoyo decides to become Kageyama’s rival. The two boys come from very different volleyball backgrounds: while Kageyama was part of Kitagawa Daiichi’s team and is a self-centered setter, while Shoyo spend most of junior high practicing being a spiker by himself because his school didn’t have a team until his last year. On the first day of high school, Shoyo and Kageyama are surprised to see that they’re both at Karasuno High School.

Episode Eight allows Shoyo, as well as the audience, to get to know Karasuno’s libero, Nishinoya. At first, Nishinoya has no intention to returning to the volleyball club in any capacity now that he’s no longer suspended; however, he’s so impressed when Shoyo calls him “senpai” that he agrees to help train the first years.

As they practice, we learn about Karasuno’s ace, Asahi, who hasn’t returned to the team. Nishinoya says he won’t actually play with the team unless Asahi returns. Suga takes it upon himself to try to talk Asahi into coming back to the club; unfortunately, Asahi isn’t moved. Shoyo and Kageyama, who have heard a lot about Asahi, also come to visit him and talk to him.

Meanwhile, the coach is able to successfully set up a practice match with Nekoma High School at the end of their upcoming Golden Week training camp. We learn that the coach has scheduled this match, in part, to try to convince the grandson of the legendary coach Ukai to coach the team. So far, the grandson has turned down every request the coach has made of him.

At the end of the episode, Asahi is walking by the gym and hears Shoyo and Kageyama practicing, and is amazed by what he sees…

The theme of Episode Eight seemed to be trying to convince other people to get involved with the club in the hopes of helping the team get better. The upperclassmen really want Nishinoya to come back; Suga, Shoyo and Kageyama want Asahi to return to the team to not only help the team as a whole, but to help convince Nishinoya to come back; and the coach is trying desperately to get Ukai’s grandson to agree to coach the team so they can get some real coaching.

Asahi holds himself responsible for something that happened during a match the previous year and now refuses to play volleyball. However, it looks like Shoyo and Kageyama will end up convincing him to give it another try. If Asahi comes back, then Nishinoya will fall into place as well.

However, it appears that Ukai’s grandson is going to be the hardest one to get into the picture. During a conversation with the current coach, he made it clear that he has no intention of coaching. It’ll be interesting to see if the practice match the coach has set up with Karasuno’s long-time rival (since Ukai’s grandfather and Nekoma’s coach are old rivals) will convince the younger Ukai to coach the team.

At this point, it appears the story should next be heading toward the Golden Week training camp and the practice match with Nekoma High School. I suspect there may be one or two more episodes before we hit the training camp, but I expect these plot points to appear before the end of the Spring 2014 season.

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