Haikyu!! To The Top: Episode 8 – “Challenger”

The episode begins with Karasuno winning the third set in their practice match against Date Tech. A lot of the emphasis is on the fourth and final set in the practice match, and we get to realize how much some of these characters have grown, both in physical skill and in how they handle what’s going on emotionally.

Hinata realizes that sometimes it’s better to blend in with the crowd than to stand out. By blending in with the others in synchronized attacks, Date Tech starts having more issues with their blocking.

Tsukishima seemed to have a little too much fun. He’s having a great time ribbing Hinata, and he’s doing it much more out of mirth than in being mean like he had been earlier in the series.

Asahi also learns to banish his fear of Date Tech’s blocking “wall.” During this final set, he finally gets a ball over that “wall” that had been bothering him for so long.

It was hinted at in an earlier episode that another player on the team has been working on a jump float serve, which has been Yamaguchi’s specialty. During the set, Coach Ukai has the newer character come out and pinch hit a serve, and they had an impressive jump float serve. Yamaguchi had really wanted to be called into the match, and was a little frustrated that this other character got called in instead. By the end of the episode, it appears that Yamaguchi is becoming jealous of this new character.

Kageyama has some growth here as well, although his tends to be played more for humor.

At the end of the episode, we get a sweet scene between Hinata and his younger sister. Her observation about Hinata at the end of the episode shows how she’s noticed how much Hinata has changed after all the work and training he has undergone.

Another thing I personally noticed is that I seem to have finally adjusted to the new voice actor for Coach Ukai. The new voice actor seems to have finally made the role his own.

Now that the practice match between Karasuno and Date Tech is over, I’m curious to see where the series will go from here.

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