Although there is tension with every get, put, and spike in Haikyuu!!, the emotional impact of the competition is enhanced by the growth and development that take place simultaneously on the volleyball court. Anime turns a sport into a human theater; Viewers are dazzled by the impressive animation, but their hearts flutter before the characters. This connection creates a sense of investment that leads to cheers of victory when Karasuno High School scores a point and groans of sadness when they lose a point.
At the heart of the Karasuno team is their genius-setter, Tobio Kageyama, who, while certainly talented in machines, has trouble communicating in a way that pushes his team forward instead of restrain them.
The title “King of the Court” is an insult
When Shouyou Hinata first met Kageyama as a rival in middle school, he was impressed by the nickname “King of the Court” and he considered it the player who spent the most time in the game. While this desire is shared between the two players — to stay on the field as long as possible — the title of “King” is revealed to be rooted in Kageyama’s tendency to command and demand perfection from his teammates.
Even after addressing this negative aspect of his game, Kageyama clearly feels frustrated and annoyed when someone repeats his past as King or deduces that he is back to that way of thinking.
He can relate to Asahi Azumane’s fear of court
After narrowly defeating Aoba Johsai in a practice match, the Karasuno High players try to strengthen their squad by bringing in their all-star defensive ace scorer and libero. It was not initially clear why both of these players had paused, but it was revealed that Asahi Azumane, the team’s trump card, was completely blocked during the match against Date Tech/ Feeling Bored frustrated and upset with his performance, he eventually gave up because he felt he had lost the game for his team — a view that prompted Yu Nishinoya, the free man, to resign as well.
Kageyama also experienced psychological changes on the field; His junior team refused to play his game as a countermeasure against his tyrannical attitude, and he was substituted. Kageyama used this experience to contact Asahi, and with Hinata’s help, they eventually brought Asahi and Nishinoya back to the team.
He lost his temper before Tohru Oikawa
Meeting in the semifinals of the Interhigh tournament, Karasuno High and Aoba Johsai go head-to-head in a brutal battle of wills to determine who will win the championship. Pushed to his limits, Kageyama begins to lose sight of the game on a macro level. Instead of seeing the competition as a competition between two teams, he focuses on the micro and sees it as a match between the settlers, he plays against Tohru Oikawa.
A crafty player and Kageyama’s senior since high school, Oikawa lured Kageyama into this mentality and forced the younger player to make mental mistakes that took him out of the game figuratively and mentally, when Karasuno’s coach Keishin Ukai benched him so he could regain his focus.
His last pitch with Aoba Johsai at Interhigh is blocked
Gathered back and forth, the semi-finals of Karasuno High and Aoba Johsai are filled with emotional ups and downs for the main cast. In particular, Kageyama is forced to confront the weaknesses of his play and his intense focus on being the best setter in any game. After falling prey to Oikawa verbally and mechanically, Kageyama was forced to spend time on the bench so he could watch the game from an outside perspective, which helped him realign his perspective. about the game as team versus scorer, instead of scorer versus scorer.
His tendency to adapt and grow is amazing, to the point where Oikawa is frustrated with Kageyama’s rapid growth, and he returns to the grounded and improved game. Despite this evolution, Kageyama wasn’t finished learning, and Aoba Johsai took advantage of her final toss, predicting that Hinata would be the one to take it and block the throw to eventually defeat Karasuno.
He struggles to adapt his pitches to Hinata
Always appreciated for his incredible ability to score goals for his team, Kageyama faced a period of growing pains that shook his confidence. After the defeat at the Interhigh tournament, all the Karasuno players sought to elevate their game. Up to this point, Hinata kept her eyes closed and believed that Kageyama would get the ball to her hand perfectly.
Having lost a game for being blind to his opponent’s saves, Hinata wanted to speed up with her eyes now, which resulted in him and Kageyama being unable to properly time them. After receiving feedback from his coach and even Oikawa, Kageyama confronts his initial views on his on-court relationship with Hinata and attempts to accommodate his teammates’ preferences.
He has a player identity crisis
During his time at the All Japan Youth Camp, Kageyama practices with and against many of his country’s best high school volleyball players, which offers great opportunities for growth but also raises questions about his views on how to play the game. When Atsumu Miya called Kageyama “a parasite”, the former “King” didn’t know how to react.
As camp drew to a close, he was finally certain that it was because his playstyle had become too compulsive and permissive — a far cry from his previous obstinate approach. With these thoughts swirling around in his head, he lost control of his player identity, largely due to over-analyzing his decisions.
He’s back with his “King” Persona
Starting from his time at the All Japan Youth Camp, Kageyama questioned his personal opinion of his desire to play in his position in a way that his teammates saw best. This conflict appeared during the Karasuno High School’s practice match against the defensive powerhouse Date Tech. Kageyama sets up in the interests of his favorites but becomes increasingly frustrated that they can’t score points for doing things “their way”. Instead of communicating and trying to pivot the strategy, Kageyama became silent for fear that he would offend his team.
In the end, he was irritable, and after shouting his frustration, he became frustrated and worried that he might have ruined his relationship with his teammates by acting like a “King”. However, his team is unfazed as they trust him but can ignore his outbursts if they disagree. Coach Ukai stepped in and explained that, although Kageyama should support his team, he should also voice his opinion if he believes there are better approaches.
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