This whole episode felt like a mind game so much that I’m sure there were a few things that I didn’t grasp or flew over my head. But despite that, it was a good episode. We got to see Kenma really pull the rug from under Sarukawa and push himself for what it seems to be the first time. While it’s subtle, Kenma really has gone through some development since the first season of the anime. He was introduced as this lazy yet brilliant setter who didn’t seem to believe in putting his all into games. And while he has bursts of determination, he still wouldn’t go to the lengths of tiring himself out just to win a game. It’s obvious how much of an impact Hinata has made on him and gave him something to strive towards rather than just going along without a goal.
Through out the episode, I just felt so sorry for the poor kid since it was very obvious that he was EXHAUSTED. Constantly being forced to run around and pushed to his stamina’s limits. Especially since he took a tumble pretty early on in the episode. That looked like it hurt. Though not gonna lie, I was laughing pretty hard at how cranky Kenma was getting through out the match because of how tired he was. Even resorting to cursing gravity and getting frustrated over the other team’s tenacity. Poor dude needs a nap lol.
At first, I really thought Nekoma was falling for Sarukawa’s plan of wearing out Kenma, but they flipped it on me and Nekoma was actually aware of their plan the entire time and PURPOSEFULLY wearing Kenma out and doing sloppy receives just to trick Sarukawa into thinking they were falling for their plan. It almost reminds me of the P5 plan to trick the traitor. There was definitely a lot going on and I can only be impressed with all of the Nekoma players to even be able to carry out this plan. I can’t even imagine how to be able to do that with the volleyball moving so fast all over the court. I would think there would hardly be any time to think. In any case, I do really like how shooken up the other team was after realizing that their plan was already compromised and didn’t even know what to do afterwards. The mind games were real.
This episode definitely demonstrates a lot more clearly just how much Tora influenced Kenma. In the prior episode, we got to see more of how Kenma influenced Tora but not much on Kenma’s side. It seems like Tora inspired Kenma to put in a little more effort than normal, which is honestly really sweet. While Kenma still doesn’t really understand what “having guts” means, he still showed an extraordinary amount of guts in this match through perseverance. And after last episode, I’ve been wanting to see the two interact more and it’s wonderful. Especially at the end where not only Tora came at Kenma was love and affection, but so was Fukunaga, which just had me laughing hysterically. I love Fukunaga, he’s so weird and spouting utter nonsense and it’s wonderful. And you know I was howling with laughter when he got that sparkle in his eye and went “oh…” Beautiful. The bond between the second years is absolutely wonderful.
Kenma’s development portrayed in the episode was really touching. While he stated that it’s not him that is good but the team before, I don’t think that quote hit until this episode. Since he just causally said it to Hinata, but here, it showed just how deep that comment was. He has the utmost trust in his team and in turn, put more effort into winning just for them, giving Fukunaga a serve full of care that scored them the winning point. And it was absolutely hilarious how cranky he was shouting about whether it’s weird for him to try hard for his friends. Especially since it was stated that Kenma doesn’t have many friends so for him to actually admit that to the entire team no less was very sweet. Perseverance really does explain Kenma perfectly. Even though he complains about how much he wants to quit and no matter how tired he gets, he keeps at it until the end.
I’m so glad that Nekoma beat Sarukawa by taking the first two sets because Kenma just about passed out as soon as the match was over. And just as I had predicted from the ending, the next match is definitely going to be Karasuno vs Nekoma, the fated match that had been foreshadowed since season 1. Though I’m sure we’re going to have to wait for season five to be able to witness it. But I’m sure it’ll be a great match, especially with so many things on the line for both Kenma and Hinata.
And can I just say how much I adore Kenma and Hinata’s friendship? Hinata is such a great influence on Kenma and I just love that despite being rivals, they’re still great friends where they text each other every so often. Because they’re such great rivals, Kenma wants to have a chance to battle it out with Hinata in a game where there is a definite winner and loser since they’ve only ever played against each other in practice matches. I do believe that the Karasuno vs Nekoma match is where we’ll see Kenma really go above and beyond what he is capable of since he wants to fight a “high level boss,” to which he refers Hinata as. And I can’t help but think back to their last conversation in the first season where Hinata declares that he’ll make Kenma feel more passionate about the sport rather than feeling neutral towards it. While I’m sure Karasuno will pull out the win in that match (since they’ve built up this match with never having won a match against Nekoma) and for the first time I think we’ll see Kenma actually get frustrated over losing. Which will definitely be a big character moment since he’s always viewed volleyball as a neutral thing he did.
In any case, looks like we’ll be getting back into the midst of Karasuno and Inarizaki’s 2nd set next episode. After our Nekoma detour, we’ll be getting to see if Karasuno can mirror Nekoma’s victory against Sarukawa by taking the first two sets. Though considering we’re only on episode 5… I highly doubt that.