Haikyu!!: Episode 20 – “Oikawa Toru is Not a Genius”

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: Kageyama was part of Kitagawa Daiichi’s team and was a self-centered setter, while Shoyo spent 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 20 focuses exclusively on the first set of the match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai. In fact, the first set doesn’t even conclude in this episode.

The episode starts out with Karasuno trying to hold out against Aoba Johsai and the expected commentary shows up between serves. Unfortunately for Karasuno, Oikawa has figured out the code phrases they’re using to communicate what plays they’re using. Of course, he figured this out in large part due to watching the DVD of Karasuno’s previous match.

As the match goes on, Aoba Johsai starts targeting Tanaka, and the episode ends up focusing on him a little because of this. Fortunately, he has the support of his teammates. There’s also a focus on Kageyama, since he’s playing against some of his former teammates from junior high. Oikawa tries to use Kageyama’s weaknesses against him during the match, especially as Kageyama becomes more frustrated that they can’t narrow the gap in the score between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai. At the end of the episode, Aoba Johsai has a nine point lead.

So far, it looks like I was right when I predicted that the match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai would be stretched out to last longer than their previous matches have up to this point. I suspect that Episode 21 will see the first set end and the second set will probably also begin in that episode.

One thing that kind of frustrated me was that, from seeing the occasional shots of the scoreboard, that skips in time were happening, but there was nothing to truly show that any time had been skipped. I’d been trying to keep score as I saw either team scoring, but then my count would be off when I saw the scoreboard. While this has happened on occasion in Haikyu!! in the past, it was very pronounced and noticeable in Episode 20. This can be rather frustrating if you’re trying to keep up.

So it’ll be interesting to see how this match will ultimately play out. I suspect that Aoba Johsai will probably win the first set, but Karasuno will somehow win the second set and then force a third set to be played. I’m curious to see if my prediction is right.

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