Annalyn’s Corner: When Fear Stunts Growth

“Is the baby crow about to evolve? And will that be a blessing or a curse for their team? Though in the end, those who do not wish to change will not evolve. If that is what you wish for… you need to greedily proclaim that you are the best.”

—Nekomata Yasufumi, Nekoma’s coach

Episode 5 of Haikyuu 2 was difficult to watch. This post is mostly a reaction to it, focusing on the way fear keeps team Karasuno from supporting Hinata the way they should. A few of the things I consider as I reflect on this episode: The team’s fear threatens to stunt Hinata’s growth (although I know they’ll overcome this). Hinata’s single-minded, impulsive drive for change is actually keeping him from improving in a helpful manner.

The Karasuno team is associated with crows, so we're treated with imagery like this that emphasizes what the team's going through. In this case, Nekoma's coach has been musing on "baby crow" Hinata's impending growth (ep 5).
The Karasuno team is associated with crows, so we’re treated with imagery like this that emphasizes what the team’s going through. In this case, Nekoma’s coach has been musing on “baby crow” Hinata’s impending growth (ep 5).

Hinata is getting restless with his current abilities. He improved a lot during his first summer and fall as a high school athlete. His blind “whoosh” quick attack has stunned many opponents, and he’s become adept with “normal” attacks as well. The team relies on him as the “ultimate decoy”—he draws the opponents’ attention away from his taller teammates, freeing them to score. This strategy works wonderfully… against a certain caliber of opponent. This season, they’re invited to a training camp hosted by their friendly rival team, Nekoma, and of all the teams present, they’re the weakest. Something needs to change. More specifically, in Hinata’s mind, he needs to change.

He’s hungry for victory and greedy for chances to hit. During a practice game, that greed is so distracting, he jumps to hit a ball Asashi has already called for, and they end up running into each other.

Hinata tells Kageyama, the main setter, that he wants to try keeping his eyes open during the “whoosh” attack (also known as the “freak quick attack,” as opposed to a normal quick attack). Kageyama shoots down the idea.

Kageyama doesn’t want Hinata to mess with the good thing they have going, especially not with the spring tournament quickly approaching. The rest of the team agrees: don’t risk ruining the freak quick. They know they need to change if they’re going to win against stronger teams, but they are too afraid to mess with Hinata’s skillset—too afraid to see the potential in his drive to change. It’s not just about messing with a single attack, either. When he went after the same ball as Asashi—their ace—they realized how close Hinata is to shifting roles and upsetting the team’s balance.

There are a couple issues here, starting with support. Kageyama accuses Hinata of being selfish. Other characters say he’s being greedy, and that’s a good thing, since it will lead to his improvement. So… is Hinata being selfish? And is that okay?

I agree that Hinata’s single-minded drive to personally improve is a little selfish. However, if he improves, the whole team will benefit, especially if he keeps the team’s interest in mind during the process. He says, “I want to be strong enough to compete by myself,” but he keeps asking Kageyama for tosses. It’s not like he’s going to try be setter and spiker, let alone decide who should take each toss.

Change is hard. Karasuno has found an equilibrium, and they don’t want to upset it. It’s true that the team doesn’t exist to support a single player—teams work best when each individual works with the whole in mind. But sometimes, an entire group of people needs to consider changing in response to a single person. That’s the case here.

Hinata is not the brain. But he knows himself fairly well—for example, he knows he can see and evaluate what’s happening on the court in the split second before he hits the ball during a quick. He also knows he has the willpower to improve. But without support from the more strategic team members, he only has one idea of how to use these tools: Keep his eyes open during the entire freak quick.

Hinata refuses to accept Kageyama's logical reasons they shouldn't change their freak quick attack. The result? A physical brawl and hurt feelings. They're partners and friends—they need to figure this out together, and to trust each other's judgment.
Hinata refuses to accept Kageyama’s logical reasons they shouldn’t change their freak quick attack. The result? A physical brawl and hurt feelings. They’re partners and friends—they need to figure this out together, and to trust each other’s judgment.

That doesn’t work. When Hinata tries to keep his eye on the ball, his focus veers away from speed and power. Kageyama says, exasperated, “He keeps getting distracted by the ball and can’t reach his highest.” That’s a problem, because Kageyama aims for Hinata’s highest point. He needs Hinata to jump his highest, and to trust that the ball will be there when he gets there.

That part stands out to me, especially since Hinata and Asashi knocked into each other earlier in the episode. Drive to improve in an area is good… but not when you become blind to all else. For example, I want to improve as a writer. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) would be a great opportunity. But if I tried to write 50,000 words in a single month, sleep and homework would be sacrificed. Ultimately, I don’t think it would help my writing much—not only would I fail to reach the word count, but I’d miss out on the writing exercises and other learning opportunities in my classes. It would disrupt other things in my life, too—like my already-sporadic devotional time, and my relationships with my friends. I know this, so I’m waiting until next year, when I’m out of school.

I don’t have any other big lessons to take away from this episode—except, perhaps, that we should think about how we support others in our communities, especially as they change. This hasn’t been a big issue in my life, but it’s something to be mindful of. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a start. The next step is responding gracefully when those strengths and weaknesses change.


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