Haikyu!! Episode 12 Recap – “The Neko-Karasu Reunion”
Flash back to May five years ago, during a practice match between Nekoma and Karasuno. Both Nekoma’s coach and the older Ukai promise to meet each other at the nationals, but neither team makes it that far. The next year both manage to attend the Nationals but don’t face each other before they are eliminated in the early stages. This was followed by many practice matches (dubbed “the Battles at the Garbage Dump”) but the teams never had any public matches.
Smack back into present day, where it’s time for the next practice match between these two rivals. Nekoma has their own Tanaka, Sugawara and Sawamura counterparts, and they hilariously have the same personalities. Oh sure, it’s been done, but it’s still funny. In the huddle, both captains give their pre-game speech. Sawamura’s is along the lines of “we don’t know how this team is going to work out yet, but let’s meet our challenges and face them as they come.” Kuro (Nekoma’s captain) is more polished and practiced, as Nekoma already seems to be in synch with each other. As they line up Kenma tells Hinata a crucial fact: it’s not himself that is so great but the entirety of the Nekoma team put together.
The first point goes to Hinata’s fast attack and the second to Azumane’s powerful spike. But it won’t be so easy to win, as Nishinoya notices the coordinated defence of the Nekoma team and their outstanding libero. After all, their libero almost kept that Azumane spike in. As the match proceeds Karasuno seems to have the upper hand. Nekoma’s coach calls timeout to deliver a message to his team. They don’t have to stop Kageyama, they just have to block his “iron club” (referring to an oni), which is Hinata.
The next few points both Kageyama and coach Ukai notice that the opposition is trying to pin down Hinata. Nekoma successfully tracks his spike and return it for a point. To demonstrate a point, Kageyama calls for a toss instead of delivering one – and throws down a spike of his own. It’s a straight (aimed) spike, which he relays to Hinata, adding that he needs to differentiate his spikes. “This guy is so good it’s irritating,” thinks Tanaka. 😛 “Totally,” Sugawara agrees. XD. Kageyama isn’t the only setter with tricks though, as Kenma is an expert at reading people, feinting Tsukishima completely on a toss, allowing for an open spike.
We then get a quick interlude into Kenma’s backstory. He’s never been good at social situations. Kuro (his current captain) was his friend anyways and convinced him to join the junior high volleyball team. Since he cares so much about how other people perceive him, he always pays close attention to other’s behaviour. He wanted to quit when he joined high school, but it was Kuro that convinced him to keep on going, recognizing his talent.
There’s a marked difference between the two teams even though they are evenly matched. Nekoma supports Kenma’s hidden talent as a setter with their defense, until they wear you down. Karasuno is held together at the moment by Kageyama’s remarkable ability. On set point, Hinata’s spike is blocked and Nekoma wins the first set. Nekoma’s blocker Inouka has finally tracked him down.
The blocking continues into the next set as well, as he just can’t get it by the outstretched hands of Inouka. At the bench, Ukai notices Tsukishima wondering why he just doesn’t take Hinata out. Since it’s just a practice match this is Ukai’s chance to figure out the issue and find a solution. It hitches on Hinata’s will to keep battling though. No cause for panic though – Hinata is smiling creepily and will eat all your children. Just look at the picture – brings a shiver to the spine doesn’t it?
All kidding aside, it’s different this time for Hinata. It’s not like in junior high where every single spike he hit was blocked. That situation was hopeless; now with Kageyama at his side and the strategy of the team around him, he doesn’t fear the blockers. He has confidence that they’ll break through the wall eventually. It’s been a bit since we had a Hinata speech :D. The next spike opportunity Hinata opens his eyes for the spike – and misses it completely. Ukai calls his own timeout.
He asks Kageyama to send a indirect toss to Hinata instead of the usual fast attack delivery. He’s trying to give Hinata the chance to add another type of spike to his game, as he saw him try to read the blocker in his mid-air jump. Hinata keeps missing it though. Even so, his teammates aren’t getting down on him (except for Tsukishima, but he’s a sadist lol XP). Sawamura supports him with the message that even if he is alone in the air his team is still right behind him. Ukai knows that he won’t get it instantly but the only way for him to improve is to try it out. This time he gets past the blocker – but it’s just out. Next week the match continues! I will definitely be following this one into the next season of anime. Funny, engaging and exciting, and Hinata is a very likeable main character.