We’re getting to that point we reach during every season, when I bemoan how little Suga has to do. Including but not limited to on the court (where he hasn’t made a single appearance in “To The Top”). He had one great moment last week where he did the wise owl thing about Hinata’s progress, but generally he’s been invisible. Which is not unusual, but maybe he’s been a little more invisible than usual this season. I know he’s a side character but dammit, he could be so much more if given the chance.
Apart from that it’s same old same old here. Haikyuu can do this sort of material in its sleep without making it seem like its sleeping, so that means a solidly entertaining 22 minutes even if not much of consequence happens. This is a practice match, after all. An important one against a good opponent to be sure, but still a practice match. Nothing that happens here counts, and the general mood is relatively light too. There’s no sense that these teams dislike each other – if anything, mutual respect is in the air.
There are a few notable moments, it’s true. Shouyou anticipating what Ukai-san was going to tell him – “get lost in the crowd” – for starters. It’s just more evidence that our little giant is really growing up. He’s thinking his way through the game in a manner he never has before. Hell, even Kageyama notices it, though he tries to write it off as coincidence or instinct. The killer quick is at its best as a change-of-pace, not a staple. The unsettling effect it has on blockers is minimized if it’s overused and becomes predictable.
We also get a chance to see Kinoshita-kun in action, which is rare. Kinoshita Hisashi is about as anonymous a crow as it gets. To some extent that seems to be how he likes it – he actually tries to hide when Ukai’s wandering eye is looking at his subs. But while he lacks confidence, Kinoshita seems to be executing the jump floater better than Tadashi at the moment. The life of a niche player, a specialist, is a tough one. There’s little these guys can do to influence a match since they’re around to do only one thing. And that means the competition is a little fiercer, because they’re competing for a tiny scrap of meat.
All this is building to something of course. But with S4 being a rare one-cour season of Haikyuu, I’m not exactly sure what and when. Are we even going to see the start of nationals this season, or will it end just as they begin? This has been an outlier season of Haikyuu in many ways, starting with the visual changes and extending to the narrative. It’s mostly been positive (I loved seeing Shouyou’s growth as a character). But it does feel quite distinct from the rest of the series, and I’m not confident predicting where it goes from here.