From the Back Cover: Karasuno fights their way through the preliminaries and wins, earning them a spot in the October qualifier rounds of the Spring Tournament. Their first opponent is a team of partyers from Johzenji whose motto is “Play hard”! They are a highly unorthodox team that improvises crazy attacks on the fly, leaving Karasuno baffled about how to counter them!
I wanted to get this article out two weeks ago, but you know, term papers and whatnot. So here, have your belated Spider-Man tie-in:
Our boys have made it past the preliminaries are now in the fight to earn the representative spot for their region. Standing in their way? Bluecastle, Date Tech, Shiratorizawa, and some other less notable teams. But just because those other teams are less notable does not exactly mean they are cannon fodder. Okay, they are, but they’re fleshed-out cannon fodder.
Karasuno faces two new teams in this volume: The Party Team, Johzenji, and Wakunan (Wakutani?). Johzenji is a bit of a shake-up compared to other teams. Unlike Karasuno’s last opponent, Johzenji does not rely on any one team member. In fact, ever player possesses
Nekoma cat-like reflexes to the point where they can twist near-impossible rallies into bizarre and spontaneous plays. The team relies on its unorthodox playstyle to both shake up the opposing team and cover its own lack of any coherent strategy, compounded by the fact that all its players can seemingly take on any role on the team. All in all, Johzenji is just an immensely entertaining team to watch play, and they’re pretty relatable too in the fact that their goal is to just play hard and have the most fun they can while playing. Volleyball is a game in the strictest sense of the word to them – it’s a sport with which to let loose and have fun. Despite providing headaches for Karasuno, Johzenji begins to realize that its attitude toward the sport might not be enough to carry the team through the tournament, a plot thread the game really does not deliver on in the end. It seems Johzenji’s players don’t quite reach the apex of their development during their game against Karasuno, which could mean we’ll see more of them later, though I kind of doubt it.
The second team proves far less entertaining but provides more focus on Karasuno for once. Daichi proves his mettle as the team’s captain by consistently motivating and invigorating his teammates. He butters Hinata up, lights a fire under Tanaka, and applauds Asahi and Kageyama. If Tanaka and Nishinoya are the energizers of the team, Daichi is the reinforcing support. Wakunan’s captain acts similarly, motivating his team by capitalizing on their individual personalities and weaknesses. Both captains know just which buttons to press to really bring the best out of their teammates, an essential skill for them as leaders. Otherwise, though, Wakunan’s captain is also thought to play similarly to The Little Giant, offering Hinata a chance to go head to head with someone of comparable skill to his idol, and perhaps even pick up a few new skills along the way.
Something about the art looked crisper than usual this volume. I really can’t pinpoint it, but it managed to seem more engaging, especially in the scenes not involving games. The art still never quite peaks to a “Wow! How amazing!” point, but the facial expressions, background visual gags, and action shots are drawn well enough to definitely maintain interest, more so than is typical for the series.
The Wakunan game continues into the next volume, following up a pretty heavy cliffhanger. Wakunan’s game might not be as exciting as Johzenji, but it has all the makings of a tense game nonetheless. This series is starting to stray away again from more one-sided games as Karasuno advances further in the brackets, which makes total sense. The skill level of the opponents will logically keep increasing, and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming games bring to the table when Karasuno has its inevitable face-offs with its rivals.
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