I’ve had my (minor) issues with this season of Haikyuu!!, but “Pitons” may very well be my favorite episode so far. It hits all the emotional moments and delivers multiple action-packed sequences while not suffering in character design. There may have been tears. You can’t prove anything.
When I first saw the name of the episode, I assumed there was a spelling error or a mistranslation. Before I sat down to write this review, I looked it up to be sure, and I learned that a piton is the peg or spike that’s driven into a rock in order to support a climber. In that sense, “Pitons” is an apt title, as it coincides nicely with Coach Anabara’s metaphor about Hinata’s receive.
HINATA’S. RECEIVE. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS? Why am I asking? This is my review. We’re talking about this.
There have been quite a few moments during this match I was very excited to see animated that have left me disappointed, because I felt that they packed a larger emotional punch in the manga. Hinata’s receive, however, was absolute perfection. This receive is not just the culmination of something building throughout this match, or even throughout this season. This moment has been building for the entire damn series.
Hinata’s defensive capabilities have always been subpar. He didn’t have a proper team in middle school, so Karasuno is his first time ever actually getting to play real matches. He was never able to develop a stable foundation of skills like the other members of the team. And honestly, up until the training camps at the beginning of season 4, Hinata was prized primarily for his offensive capabilities. He works on his other skills, naturally, the way anyone would in practice, but much of his focus of improvement was on his attacks.
It was the idea of Kageyama passing him, of himself being passed over for the Miyagi training camp, that gave him the desire and the drive to improve himself. We saw that in the first half of this season. It was the first time he ever really sat and paid attention to everything else that goes on in a match. This is where Anabara’s mountain-climbing metaphor comes into play. Everything Hinata has been learning has been one more good foothold that allows him to climb the mountain.
And this wasn’t just a receive. Hinata has pulled off some awesome receives in previous matches, mostly due to his speed and reflexes. (He actually has one during the same rally as this one!) This was a textbook perfect receive, to the point where it pissed Kageyama off. As Kageyama explained, Hinata killed the momentum of the ball and bumped it up to a great spot for the setter. This is the culmination of everything he learned in training camp.
“Pitons” perfectly encapsulated this moment that has been nearly four full seasons in the making. The background faded away, the action slowed down, we got that shonen anime trope of repeatedly showing the same moment, and for the first time we saw in-episode reactions of the other Miyagi players watching the match at home. Not only that, but after the break, we got to see everything again with Hinata’s internal monologue, so that everyone would know it wasn’t a fluke. This is Hinata actually performing an action well on purpose.
And then his second receive, the acrobatic save to keep the ball in play, and his yell to Kageyama… I got chills.
What am I supposed to do with all of this hype? It has to go somewhere!
That receive was important, not just for Hinata as a character, but for the rest of Karasuno. Hinata’s receive comes in the middle of a fairly long and impressive rally that Karasuno ends up losing due to random happenstance of the ball hitting the net. This leaves the team dejected – except for Hinata, who is still excited about his great receive. Hinata’s genuine joy at his accomplishment and his declaration that he’s going to do it again not only snaps the rest of the team out of their funk but also leaves them just as excited as Hinata.
Osamu’s metaphor of Hinata being hungry and making the rest of the team hungry, too, is a great way to explain Hinata as a character, and it’s a recurring theme. Hinata has always been starving, and now it’s Thanksgiving.
Another thing I liked about “Pitons” was the explanation behind Inarizaki’s banner, which reads “We Don’t Need the Memories”. When you’re a player on a team, you need to be constantly improving. As with any skill, you don’t want to just keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll never get better that way. It’s important to challenge yourself, to take risks. Forget about yesterday. Yesterday is over; it doesn’t matter. Focus on tomorrow.
I’ve said this before, but this is possibly my favorite match in the manga, and “Pitons” is a perfect example of why. I absolutely love Inarizaki as a team, primarily because of the Miya twins. The episode started by showing us Atsumu’s amazing set from the end of last week’s episode, and then we saw not only Osamu pulling off a minus tempo quick, but the two of them doing a double set.
One of my main issues from this season of Haikyuu!! has been the inconsistent character design. There have been a couple of episodes where characters were unrecognizable, and it completely took me out of it. That does not happen at all in “Pitons”, which delivers multiple action sequences quite well. Not a weird face in the bunch, except for those that were supposed to be.
I also like the little moments that are easily missed if you’re not paying attention. Hinata pretty obviously protects the back of his head whenever Kageyama serves, which kind of goes back to when Hinata actually hit Kageyama with his serve during the first season. Tsukishima, on the other hand, never covers the back of his head whenever Hinata serves, because Hinata’s serves are pretty weak. Yachi’s reaction to the twins’ minus tempo quick was like she’d just seen someone die.
There are only a few episodes left in this season. I know what happens and I’m still on the edge of my seat! Plus, was that a wild Oikawa I spotted in the preview for next week’s episode? (Spoiler alert: it was.)
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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