Remember how I said I didn’t intend to review the Haikyuu!! manga weekly because I didn’t think I could keep up with it? Well, call me a liar, because here I am ready to review another chapter. I can’t help it. Chapter 372, “Another Challenger”, is like Christmas came early.
When the time skip and the accompanying arc were revealed, many fans were skeptical, voicing concerns that it seemed this narrative shift came out of nowhere. I still feel it was abruptly handled, and that many things that were important to fans (i.e. the Karasuno third years graduating) were rushed in favor of getting Hinata to Brazil as soon as possible. But in “Another Challenger”, we get a flashback that reveals this potentially has been in the works for years.
Chapter 372 opens with a flashback to Aoba Josai, with Kunimi and Kindaichi discussing Oikawa. This discussion originally happened in Chapter 97 (episode 11 of season 2 of the anime). I remember being confused by their conversation, as I had no idea to what they were referring. Now we can see they were talking about Oikawa deciding to play overseas after graduation. The wording is vague, whether because Furudate knew even then this was the outcome and wanted to avoid giving away to much, or because the plan wasn’t set yet and it was necessary to leave it open.
But it also turns out that the teacher who encouraged Oikawa to go beyond his limits was not, as I had originally assumed, his middle school coach – it was the setter for the Argentinian national team, the very player who inspired Oikawa to become a setter when he was younger. The groundwork was laid so early, and we had no idea. This is kind of god-tier levels of foreshadowing, and I’m a little ashamed at my rush to judge the time skip. (Only a little, though. I still hate time skips on principle.)
Honestly, for as worried as fans have been now that we’ve left high school behind, these past couple of chapters have felt like fan service. I nearly had a meltdown while reading “Another Challenger” when I saw that Hinata had texted Kageyama a selfie of him with Oikawa, and Kageyama immediately showed it to Ushijima (BECAUSE THEY ARE TEAMMATES), and the two proceeded to have a conversation with their grumpy eyebrows.
This is great for a couple of reasons. For starters, Ushijima and Kageyama being teammates is actually kind of amazing, and after Oikawa showed up in the last chapter, a lot of fans were hoping that this arc would eventually lead to a Hinata/Oikawa vs. Kageyama/Ushijima showdown. Hinata wants to beat Kageyama, and Oikawa has never beaten Ushijima. It’s the perfect opportunity for both of them to realize their ultimate goals. Since this is a flashback, it stands to reason this team-up isn’t end game, but a girl can dream. But I’m also pleased because this is proof that Hinata still keeps in touch with the others; we’ve seen that he texted Yachi when he arrived in Rio, but it’s nice to know he was also still in contact with Kageyama, at least.
I’m glad that Hinata has run into Oikawa, and not just for the fan service. Oikawa and Hinata are very similar in that they’ve both found themselves hindered by their own limitations. Oikawa worked extremely hard and still couldn’t win the one game he wanted; plus, he found himself falling behind a younger player who was deemed a prodigy. Hinata has been fighting against his short stature and people’s expectations from the beginning. Both of them found a way to circumvent, if you will, the natural order of things and keep playing volleyball. These two are scrappy, and I am beyond excited to see them team up in an actual match in next week’s chapter.
I also can’t wait until we get out of the flashback and into the current timeline, which is ironic considering how much I hate time skips. I want to know where all of this development is leading, and I have to remind myself to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Have you read “Another Challenger”? What do you think? Do you think Oikawa will return after this?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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