Haikyu!! To The Top: Episode 22 – “Pitons”

This episode begins with Karasuno in the lead by two points. Early in the episode, we get to see some focus on Heisuke from Inarizaki. Earlier in this season, he was shown as simply being an average player, and we see here that he wants to do more than something average. He gets the chance to serve the ball, and he makes an impressive serve that excites not only his team, but the commentators as well. He gets one more good serve in before Karasuno cuts him off. But we get to see his excitement at doing something more than “just average.” I should mention that before Heisuke goes out on the court, we see Inarizaki’s coach give him some good words of advice. We really hadn’t seen that up to now with this coach, because he tended to come off with a more cold exterior, so it was nice to see this brief scene help “humanize” him somewhat.

I thought it was interesting to note that during a time out, Daichi comes to the realization that Inarizaki’s cheer squad acts a lot like the guy with sideburns who came to some of Karasuno’s earlier matches. He was the guy who would cheer when the team made great plays, and boo the team when plays didn’t go well. I hadn’t thought about the guy with sideburns when seeing Inarizaki’s reactions throughout this match, but when Daichi said this and I saw a flashback of the guy with sideburns, I thought, “Daichi’s right.”

As the episode continues, though, Inarizaki starts turning things around by making impressive plays. Karasuno seems like they’re starting to feel a little deflated, but then Hinata makes it onto the court. At a crucial moment, Hinata does something unexpected… he perfectly receives a ball that seemed like it was going to give Inarizaki a point. Not only that, but Hinata’s receive was perfect. I loved all the shocked reactions on the faces of his teammates, and it was even sweeter to see how this one unexpected receive helped to lift Karasuno’s spirits.

Unfortunately, this euphoria was short-lived. The next play becomes a major rally, with neither side wanting to give ground. I loved how intense this got, though. As a viewer, I could feel the tension and I was riveted and getting into what I was watching. I was audibly reacting to Karasuno’s plays. Everything about this final play of the episode was perfect: the writing, the action, even the animation. Let’s just say that even though the final result was disappointing, Hinata ended up being the cure that Karasuno needed.

It looks like this final set is going to end up being a nail biter. Karsuno started out in the lead, and now Inarizaki has turned it around. Can Karasuno turn things back around and win this final set? This is the third and final set, so everything hinges on the result of this. I expect the tension will be high in these final episodes of the season, and I’m looking forward to how this set continues to be played.

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