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 23 begins in the middle of the third set between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai, with Aoba Johsai leading with 10-7. After a few more plays, Shoyo surprises everyone with a move that he uses. Unfortunately, this advantage doesn’t work for long after Aoba Johsai figures out how to keep it from being as effective as it could be.
As the match continues, the ball seems to stay in the air longer and longer. As this happens, the tension of the episode builds up. When the match gets to a point where it’s Aoba Johsai in the lead with 19-17, Ukai decides to take Shoyo out and send in Yamaguchi as a pinch server. While on the surface, this strategy doesn’t appear to work, this strategy ultimately accomplishes another goal for Karasuno. The episode ends with the two teams tied and still needing to continue the third match to decide the winner.
I would have to say that of all of the volleyball matches I’ve seen in Haikyu!! up to this point, this one is by far the most intense of them all. The usual commentary that takes place between the plays helps to reinforce this idea to the viewer as well.
Tsukishima’s friend, Yamaguchi, finally gets to be in the spotlight after being on the sidelines for the vast majority of the series. Unfortunately for him, he was brought into the game during a very crucial moment. From what we saw visually, Yamaguchi definitely looked very nervous. If Haikyu!! ends up getting a second season at some point, maybe Yamaguchi could become a more important character.
Since the third match didn’t finish in this episode, it will definitely play a role in Episode 24. However, I really can’t see the writers being able to stretch this out enough to make the remainder of the third match last for an entire episode. I’m guessing that the third match will probably end within the first half of Episode 24, and then the remainder of Episode 24 and all of Episode 25 will have whatever’s needed to wrap up the story.
I still can’t believe that Haikyu!! is almost done. In a lot of respects, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been watching this series continuously for a little over five months. It’s become such a fixture of my Wednesdays that it’s going to be weird when it’s finished and I’m watching something else on Wednesdays.
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