Haikyu!! – Episode 18 Review – “Guarding Your Back”
The match against “The Iron Wall” Dateko began, and Karasuno gained the upper hand in the first set. Dateko identified Hinata as the major threat, while Karasuno saw the hulking Aone as the biggest threat to their victory. Azumane finally got the monkey off his back, spiking it past the Iron Wall with a powerful back attack. The scoring drought is over.
Karasuno wins the first set, but with the knowledge that the second set will be much different. Dateko has seen all their weapons and is beginning to get a handle on the freak quick. Ukai changes up the rotation so that Hinata isn’t as marked by Aone this time around.
The second set is incredibly evenly matched, with Karasuno never being able to widen their lead by more than two points. Dateko’s blockers even get a hand on Hinata’s freak quick. It barely lands on the Dateko side of the net. Therefore it’s up to Azumane to become the scoring leader in lieu of Hinata. Dateko still has a good read on him though, stalling his spikes. There is even a momentary joust (when both teams have a hand on the ball and have to push it over to the opponent’s side of the net) between Aone and Azumane.
Jump forward until it’s match point for Karasuno with the score at 24 to 21. However Hinata is not on the court to facilitate the quick attack. So it’s up to Azumane to finish the game with a spike. That means that the Dateko defense is squarely focused on him. They jump up to block his next spike – and it falls towards the wide-open court. Nishinoya is the hero again though, keeping it in play. Azumane’s next attack is again blocked, this time the ball rolling towards an area that Nishinoya can’t reach with his hands. It’s superhero time – Nishinoya sticks out his leg, and saves the ball with his foot. This time Azumane’s spike just rolls by the Iron Wall, ending the game. Next up is Aoba Johsai, and the talented Oikawa.
Not much to say this week to be honest. Just another well-done episode with good anticipation and build-up to the climax. While the whole last save-last spike moment was a tad overdramatic, it’s nothing too out of the ordinary for a sports themed show. It didn’t feel like they suddenly had superpowers at least. I did like the side moment with Dateko after they lost the match. We can see Aone’s resolve to improve even more and pay Karasuno back at the Spring Tournament. Haikyu!! does a good job of making the tertiary characters more than just background fodder. The only character I can think of that doesn’t stand out from the crowd is the team manager Kiyoko. I always need to check her name on Wikipedia when I mention her XD.
Next Episode: “Conductors”