Haikyu!!: Episode 19 – “Conductors”

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.

This episode opens with Karasuno watching Aoba Johsai’s match and witnessing Oikawa’s ability as a setter. Thanks due in large part to Oikawa, Aoba Johsai wins the set and the match. During this scene, Ukai makes an awesome analogy between setters on a volleyball team and orchestra conductors; this analogy focused on how a setter is able to set a team’s performance in a game in the same way a conductor is the one that determines how a song sounds. This analogy returns later in the episode, hence the title of the episode.

When they return back to school, Ukai starts giving a talk about how their victory over Date Kogyo is like “the first sip of beer.” I was like, “Ukai, couldn’t you have found a better analogy to use with this team, since they’re all minors?” The faculty member that works with the team brought up this concern after I had my thought, so I’m glad to see I wasn’t overreacting!

I wasn’t surprised to see Ukai studying a DVD recording of Aoba Johsai’s match that night, because this seems like something he would do. But I was surprised to see that Oikawa was watching a DVD recording of Karasuno’s match. So it appears that for all of the confidence that he exudes and the attitude that he gives to Karasuno, Oikawa still has at least some kind of concerns when it comes to Karasuno and their abilities as a team.

When it comes time for the match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai to start up the next day, there was a lot of time spent on reaction shots of the various players before the match itself began. This is a typical shonen anime trick that’s used to both heighten the tension before a big confrontation and to kill time to stretch the story out in order to make it last longer. Just as it seemed like the match would never start, Tsukishima serves to Aoba Johsai. Karasuno is quickly blown away when Oikawa uses a setter dump. With the next serve, Oikawa does a fake out and helps to score another point for his team. With the third serve, Karasuno does their own fake out and finally scores a point against Aoba Johsai.

The match with Aoba Johsai has just gotten started, and it’s definitely going to be an even tighter match for Karasuno than the one with Date Kogyo. I expect that all of Episode 20 will be devoted to this match, and it could even potentially continue into Episode 21; it just all depends on how the writer and director decide to tell the story. Since there’s still six episodes left, I have a feeling that Karasuno will find a way to overcome Aoba Johsai in order to continue; if they don’t, then the series would have to end earlier, wouldn’t it? Wondering how Karasuno can overcome such overwhelming odds is what’s making me interested in coming back to watch the next episode of Haikyu!!

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