Haikyu!!: Episode 18 – “Guarding Your Back”

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 18 continues Karasuno’s first set against Date Kogyo. There’s been a small skip in time since the end of Episode 17, because the score is now 23-19 instead of 19-15. Karasuno ends up winning the first set pretty early on in Episode 18.

Coach Ukai decides to change the rotation up a bit, so Shoyo isn’t marked by Aone, Date Kogyo’s big guy, during the second set. With this rotation, Asahi and Tsukishima end up playing bigger roles during the second set.

For quite a bit of the set, Karasuno and Date Kogyo are very close and Karasuno just can’t seem to pull ahead. But when Karasuno gets down to the match point, Asahi ends up being instrumental in a rather chaotic play that ultimately allows Karasuno to win the second set as well as the match.

I was really happy to see Asahi be the one to ultimately score the winning point in the set. It was the “Iron Wall” of Date Kogyo that had caused him to lose confidence in his abilities and to quit volleyball. And having that victory over Date Kogyo is even sweeter for him, since Asahi’s a third-year, and this was his last chance to play against this team.

With Karasuno winning against such a major opponent as Date Kogyo, it now marks them as a team to keep an eye out for. The guys in Date Kogyo declare that they’ll try to get revenge against Karasuno in the preliminaries.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see the match between Karasuno and Date Kogyo end in this episode. With the way the first set was being stretched out in Episode 17, I assumed that would continue in Episode 18. But this episode ended up quickly finishing off the first set, and then didn’t spend nearly as much time on the second set as the first set back in Episode 17.

And Aoba Johsai is playing in the next court over, and they look like they’re poised to win their match against Omisaki. Right at the end of Episode 17, the captain of the Aoba Johsai team declares that they’ll be the ones to defeat Karasuno and everyone else and go on to nationals.

So it looks like the stage is being set for a showdown between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai. I expect that when the match between these two teams takes place, that it’ll take at least as much time as the match against Date Kogyo did, if not a little more.

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