As “Hero” begins, we are in the third and final set of Karasuno’s match against Inarizaki. They’re currently tied at one set apiece, so whoever wins this will advance in the tournament. It’s time for Karasuno to show us what they’re made of.
“Hero” finally gives us the Nishinoya backstory we’ve been craving, and though I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as long as we were all hoping, his mini-arc about not being able to handle Atsumu’s serves give us a great message about being scared. When Nishinoya talks about how he was such a frightened child, everyone gives him the side-eye, because it’s so inconsistent with the Nishinoya they all know. It gives such amazing insight into Nishinoya as a character, and it’s completely unexpected.
I love that Nishinoya and Tanaka – the incurable optimists, the ones with the never-ending positive attitudes – are the ones who struggled so much in this match. It just goes to show that anyone can be scared, and not everyone deals with it the same way. But in the case of those two, they overcome their fear by facing it head-on and powering through it – and asking for help.
There are many players spotlighted in this episode who could be the eponymous “Hero”, but the beauty of Haikyuu! is that every single one of them is equally important in the grand scheme of things. The third-string player brought in to pinch serve occasionally may not see as much time on the court as the setter or the ace, but they still contribute to the team with effort, attitude, and support.
Kinnoshita did a good job on his serve, but ultimately he wasn’t able to score the service ace he envisioned. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough, and when you’re surrounded by people who are better at doing the things you want to do, you can often get down on yourself. But you shouldn’t compare your accomplishments to others. While he didn’t get the epic moment he was hoping for, his constant support did help Nishinoya, which in turn helped the team. And that’s all that matters.
Consequently, in the flashback we get for the Miya brothers, we see that their constant comparisons to each other helped them improve, because they had something to strive for and compete against. They make each other stronger. Basically, the idea is to know your limits and constantly aim for improvement.
It felt jarring after the emotional moment between Kinnoshita and Nishinoya, but I loved the second half focus on the Miya twins. Their dynamic is amazing, and their scenes are hilarious. The scene where they start fighting at practice and Suna takes pictures of them was fantastic. (This is in the manga but not to the extent they took it in the anime, which makes it so much funnier.) And then, in true sibling fashion, neither of them apologizes for the fight but they’re suddenly over whatever they were arguing about.
One thing I love about the volleyball in Haikyuu! is that they actually utilize strategy. As we saw last week, Karasuno is trying to use the rotation to their advantage. And Tsukishima’s efforts in blocking Suna in previous episodes were all leading up to the moment in “Hero” when you discover he was training the rest of his team to know where Suna’s shots were going to land on the court. I always appreciate it when a sports anime actually seems to know what it’s talking about.
There are only a few episodes left in the season, and I’m all tingly with anticipation.
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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