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 12 focuses on the practice match between Karasuno and Nekoma. As I expected, Shoyo was surprised to see Kozume in the line of Nekoma’s players.
At the beginning of the match, Kageyama and Shoyo are able to surprise the Nekoma players with their fast attack. However, as the match progresses, Nekoma keeps their eye on Shoyo and realize what it is he’s doing. When they figure it out, Nekoma is able to block Shoyo’s spikes. During the first set of the match, Kageyama teaches Shoyo a move called a straight. During the match, Shoyo tries to do this move, which means he has to rely on himself instead of on knowing where Kageyama will be tossing the ball. Unfortunately, this causes problems for Shoyo, so he keeps missing. Nekoma ends up winning the first set.
The second set begins, and the “human wall” starts to happen for Shoyo. However, he feels there’s something different about it this time, and he doesn’t feel intimidated by it. During the second set, Ukai suggests that Kageyama and Shoyo try doing in indirect delivery. Shoyo tries this a few times and doesn’t have any luck. Near the end of the episode, he finally succeeds in hitting the ball; unfortunately, the ball ends up going out. The second set doesn’t end in Episode 12, so it will be continuing into Episode 13.
In addition to showing the practice match between the two teams, Episode 12 also gives some character development to Kozume through some flashbacks of how he has trouble making friends, how he ends up playing volleyball, and how he almost quit the sport in high school. These flashbacks give the viewer a better understanding of why Kozume acts the way he does.
It’s nice to see that a team from another school is starting get some development, and I expect Nekoma will continue to have some kind of role in the series after the practice match is over.
It was also nice to see this episode touch on the fact that Kageyama and Shoyo’s fast attack isn’t as strong as it seemed at first, and that Shoyo has to start working on knowing for himself where the ball is going to go instead of depending on Kageyama tossing it to the same place so Shoyo can spike it while his eyes are closed. I imagine training Shoyo on improving his skills as a spiker will be part of what will be coming up in future episodes.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the practice match will progress, and I expect that it’s probably going to take up most of the next episode. I’m also interested in seeing what else may happen between the end of this practice match and the start of the Inter-High preliminaries.
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