Look closely—because the closer you look, the less you’ll actually see.
One of the most noticeable element that Haikyuu!!! employs in its storytelling is inner monologue.
You can watch and listen to the character talking to themselves, observing their surrounding, and making moves in split seconds before an instant spike. Naturally, this portray their perspectives to us, the audience, the reader, the listener. Their bitterness, their happiness, their thrills, their drive, their stories, their pumping adrenaline resonates to us through this shift.
This is the main and most powerful perspective for sports anime, especially for Haikyuu!! that dabbles between both sides of “protagonist” and “antagonist”. Both the teams, with their chosen characters are layered with depth of certain level, creating a real, clear threat to each other.
However, on an individual level, say, a girl without any attachment to the volleyball club, nor its members. How would she see them? How would a complete stranger sees you, and most importantly, understand your passion when you have been working on a thing for years, or completely dedicate yourself to it?
From outsiders’ point of view, from our view, sometimes if we didn’t experience something, if we didn’t pour our soul into it, if we weren’t there, we wouldn’t get it. Maybe it’ll take our attention away for that moment, but in the next, we’ll just carry on with our separate lives.
And, I find this portrayal of the border set between two worlds—world of volleyball, and no volleyball—very intriguing.
If it didn’t portray this, then we wouldn’t notice it.
Haikyuu!!! didn’t need to, but it did.
And, I’m very glad it did.
This is the episode that flipped my perspective of just how much Haikyuu!!! is capable of delivering. Because, from the eyes of a Townperson B, the world that the main characters perform in, is just so dazzling, unfathomable.
It is with this frame that we get to see underdogs—that are not the main characters.
We have Hitoka Yachi, who didn’t have extraordinary beauty, athleticism or volleyball talent. She’s just an average girl with slightly good grade, and is just passing through the passage of time in high school. Until she is recruited into the loud, quirky volleyball club. The club members’ passion was something she was never able to comprehend, and it was overwhelming.
Being dragged into something new, and something already in progress, is always overwhelming.
But what if you were already there from the start?
What if you’re just not as important?
Tadashi Yamaguchi, among his peers, is not as tall, not as talented, not as fast; he’s just a typical, replaceable member. And he knows this too well, but there’s nothing he could do about it. He can’t get taller overnight, improve his serving pinpoint accuracy or sharpen his athletic sense. Their tools,their fight, is always something he yearns to reach—but he can’t.
To have something within your arm’s reach, to want something so bad, but limited by your ability, is very frustrating.
You might have made extra efforts, started at same point as everyone, but sometimes it just feels like you’re a step behind.
Koushi Sugawara, is a third year high school member, the vice captain of the team, the main setter, yet he isn’t one of the 6 regular members standing on court. His volleyball journey might as well ended after a single match, along with all the sweats and experiences he had, but he didn’t complain. Not once.
It’s because he knows too well that it’s for the sake of the team, for them, even if he had to sacrifice himself. There’s no point with him being among the regulars, if they can’t be at their 110%.
Sugawara understands that he is not an outstanding and genius setter, but he knows his teammates well, and his rivals better. He learns and teaches coordination with signs and setting skill that he has; he comes up with strategies and keep a check on the team’s morale.
Yamaguchi equips himself with one skill that other members didn’t have—float serve. A skill that puts him on the spotlight in tense matches, as a pinch server. His one, and only time to shine comes down to the eight seconds after the whistle blows, to perform a service ace. It’s the only moment that he could be the MVP, that changes the momentum for his team.
Yachi has her design skills, but without confidence that she can put it to use, until she tried. She wanted to share the same passion as the team has, to put efforts in something just because she wants to. Even though she is timid and easily flustered, she wanted to leap from her comfort zone.
I believe it is the contrast of perspective for those who seek to improve themselves when they are already good enough, with those who force themselves to be good enough, that brings Haikyuu!!! to a greater height.
Because only then, we realize just how much our perspective on the world itself can change us for the better.
How we see the world, define who we are.
No matter how wide, narrow, vague, dim, or colorful it is.
It’s there for us to shape, for ourselves.
And that’s just beautiful, isn’t it?