Haikyuu!!: Episode 23

流れを変える一本 – The Point that Changes the Momentum

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Wow, what a way to throw us for a loop with that jump floater serve. I’ve got to hand it to you Haikyuu!!, that was very well done.

Yay, it is finally Yamaguchi’s debut. And the only thing that came to mind when he stepped up to serve was that his jersey number is 12. Twelve, twelve, twelve… Ring a bell? It just so happens that Yamaguchi’s seiyuu, the pretty-faced Saitou Souma, is the voice of none other than Twelve in this season’s Zankyou no Terror. Coincidence? I think not. Because if you haven’t already noticed, Kageyama’s jersey number is 9, and he is voiced by Ishikawa Kaito who plays Nine in Zankyou. It took me long enough, but I finally caught on to the play on numbers lol. Needless to say, there was an eruption of giggles when I finally realised this. While on the topic of jersey numbers, maybe a little bit more random info~ Asahi whose jersey number is 3, is voiced by Hosoya Yoshimasa who plays Captain Yuki (kyun~) in Diamond no Ace, who also wears jersey number 3. Similarly, Okamoto Nobuhiko’s characters in both Diamond no Ace (Ryo, aka Harucchi’s older brother) and Haikyuu! (Noya) wear the jersey number 4.

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Anyway, back to the game. This was a very intense match. Like, forgot-to-breathe intense, with neither side willing to give the other any breathing space or any room for error. It takes one point to change the flow of the match, and Yamaguchi’s serve did just that. He might not have earned the point for the team, but his pinch service did change the momentum of the game somewhat. Having watched this episode a couple of times to figure out just how sending him in as the pinch server managed to do that, I think that it is probably because the Karasuno players were so focused on NOT giving a point to Aoba Johsai, that they were cramping up. And putting Yamaguchi in helped relieve some of that stress. Props to Coach Ukai for his quick, albeit desperate, thinking. I exhaled a breath I didn’t even realise I was holding when Yamaguchi did not manage to score the point. I guess it is kind of a feeling of relief upon realising that the worst has already happened when that service point was lost. Nothing else for it but to fight and win it back. It sure did pump up the rest of his teammates, because they came back strong and were fighting harder than ever after the said change of momentum.

Last episode was all about evolution, and this episode did not shy away from that topic. I have been going on about Karasuno improving as the match progressed and have not given Aoba Johsai the praise that they rightfully deserve. Undoubtedly, Aoba Johsai has been able to adapt in any given situation so far – from the way they countered the freak toss & spike, to the way they ‘got rid’ of Hinata’s broad attack. Under Oikawa’s leadership, the team is able to stay calm despite facing a crisis. And this team is in fact so versatile and adapt that it is able to use the crisis it faces and turn it on its opponent. Sometimes, it is all about the mind games. When one team has its newly unleashed secret weapon so quickly proven ineffective by its opponent, that is bound to inflict even the tiniest mental damage. And that is exactly what Aoba Johsai’s versatility is doing to the Karasuno team.

That said, the Karasuno boys are not going down without a fierce battle. The fight for the second set was long, arduous and by no means easy. Which is why it makes earning that final, very crucial point all the more worthwhile. It was such a symbolic moment when Kageyama stole the toss from Oikawa with one hand. And that parallel scene when Kageyama grabbed on to Oikawa’s jersey – it screamed: I finally caught up with you and I am not letting you get ahead. Chills~~ chills~~~~ The boys have fought all the way to deuce. At this point, it is make or and break. Oh Karasuno, please break Aoba Johsai’s rhythm and make it to the quarterfinals!

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