Master of the Minute (A Haikyu!! Analysis)
Just when I got done talking about all the history Season 1 of Haikyu!! gave us, Season 2 delivers the best backstory of them all. I’m not talking about Tsukishima’s story with his brother, I’m talking about the minute and thirty seconds we get for Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi’s backstory is a masterful piece of simplistic storytelling. As the series’ name says, this is a quick show, so let’s figure out just how much Haikyuu!! can get done in 1:30 (a caveat: I will be referencing and taking for granted what we know from Season 1, but like I said, a sequel succeeds by utilizing what it set up in the past).
Right off the bat, three lines: you’re a freckle-face, you’re puny, you need to bulk up so you can serve us. Each insult contributes something to Yamaguchi’s motivation, and explains why he is who he is now. Yamaguchi touching his freckled face as he stares into the mirror shows us that the person he used to be (to some extent, still is) is carved into his memory. The bullies calling him puny and pushing him around explain that Yamaguchi comes from a place of powerlessness—perhaps lameness is a better word. The complaint that Yamaguchi needs to be stronger to be of use to the bullies parallels his desire to become a better pinch server so he can be of use to Karasuno.