勝者と敗者 – Winners and Losers
This episode is yet another reason why I love Haikyuu!! so much. It was warm, touching, inspiring, uplifting and the emotions just so real.
Go into a match with your head held high, mind at ease and with full of confidence. I believe that if there is one thing to be learnt from this week’s episode of Haikyuu!!, it is that one must not believe that he has lost before even going to battle. As we saw with Karasuno’s opponents and the Karasuno girls’ volleyball team before the start of their respective matches, both teams believed that they were not going to be able to win. That in itself is already part of the battle lost, because we will never win if we do not believe that we can. In our minds, we would have already conceded/admitted defeat. Many underestimate the power of one’s mind, forgetting that the mind is what controls us/influences us. As the saying goes, it is mind over matter.
We have to remember that in every match, one team will emerge victorious while the other would lose (let’s not take draws into consideration). As with most sports anime, being sports series and all, the focus would naturally be on the match itself (which by the way, for this episode, was beautiful because it was so lovely to see teammates encouraging one another – that is how team sports should be!!). However, what Haikyuu!! did this episode, was to show the aftermath of a match and the reactions of the team members, particularly the captains. As with Sawamura when he was in junior high, as well as the captain of the girls’ volleyball team, after having lost, they were seen putting on a brave front for the team, only to cry silently by themselves – that was such raw emotion, and I think Haikyuu!! really hit the nail on the head with its depiction. Captains are leaders; they are seen as a source of strength for the team; they are the ones that everyone knows they can rely on. It is capturing moments like these that makes Haikyuu!! all the more real and relatable.
Undoubtedly, the character of the episode has got to be Noya. Noya is awesome and he knows it. And so do his teammates, his coach and even the opponents. He is the libero, the one who specialises in defence. However, the libero is not just the guardian. He encourages the team from behind. And Noya did just that! It might have been a seemingly easy win for the Karasuno team in their first match of the Inter-high, but the team that they face next is Dateko – the team that blocked every single one of Asahi’s spikes. And the second and third years were obviously struggling to overcome their fear of Dateko. While they were working to calm their nerves, Noya rolled in at the opportune moment to give everyone a hearty and encouraging fix *cue ROLLING THUNDER, AGAIN* that scene was so amusing AND heart warming, just.. gaaaah *makes indiscernible noises of appreciation*
Of course, my fondness of Noya partially stems from him being voiced by Okamoto Nobuhiko, who is probably (I daresay) going to get my vote for favourite seiyuu this season. He is doing EXCELLENT with his performance as Noya – all boisterous, and happy and energetic, but not overtly so. While I really should not be taking the spotlight away from Haikyuu!! in its own review, if you like what Okamoto is doing with his role in this series, then please do give Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun a go (which, by the way is being covered by fellow writer Komorebi, whose infectious reviews can be found here). That show is just so happifying and Okamoto’s character, Mikorin~~, makes me smile ^^
So back to Haikyuu!!. The Karasuno boys face one of their dreaded opponents next episode. How well will they fare against the Iron Wall? Next week really can’t come soon enough. And here’s hoping we get to see the Hinata&Kageyama freak toss & spike again soon, as a happy smiley Hinata makes for a happy smiley kiseki~