Furudate has finally released the last volume of Haikyu!! on the 4th of November, 2020. The popular shounen manga came to an end with a total of 402 chapters. The anime series of the same gained a massive positive response from both Japanese fans and those overseas. Haikyu is a story about amazing sportsmanship, growth, and the determined hearts of those longing to be the number one. This volleyball sports manga gave us many brilliant characters, one of them being Oikawa Toru.
The article contains spoilers from the manga. So do not scroll further if you haven’t read the manga!
Haikyu is a manga filled with many enthusiastic twists. There was always a surprise waiting at the end of every battle. The matches kept getting stretched in deuces, keeping the readers on their toes. Furudate kept this habit of giving big moves a grand reveal till the very last moment of the manga. In the last volume, Challengers, it is revealed that Hinata and Kageyama represent Japan in the Olympics and play against Argentina. The real surprise? We find Oikawa representing Argentina. Yes, Oikawa is the ultimate boss in Haikyu.
The manga ends as the final rival of Kageyama and Hinata is revealed. Oikawa after all did not give up on defeating Kageyama and Hinata till the very end. But how exactly did Oikawa end up in the team of Argentina? Here is the journey of Oikawa as he pushes himself amidst gifted players.
Oikawa Toru – A Fan Magnet
Talent is something you bloom, instinct is something you polish – Oikawa Toru.
Oikawa Toru was voted as the fifth favorite character. The reason, you ask? It could be his amazing willpower and charismatic looks or maybe even his powerful skills as a setter. For me, it is definitely his skill and determination to defeat the strongest players that make him one of my favorite Haikyu characters.
Ever since his debut in the manga and anime, he has brought forward some intense moments for us. There have been several points when he has left the viewers completely baffled. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get goosebumps every time he shot his monster serve.
Oikawa Toru In Elementary School
Iwaizumi and Oikawa had been friends since they were kids. Clearly, Oikawa had been interested in volleyball ever since a young age. It is evident from many scenes that he practiced with Iwaizumi almost all the time. Somewhere around the time when he was in elementary school, he went to watch a volleyball match held in the Sendai Stadium. This match played the role of being the first step in Oikawa’s journey of getting hooked to volleyball.
This was a match of Japan playing against Argentina. In the first set, the Ace of Argentina seemed to flourish. He was a young energetic spiker. However, eventually, things stopped going his way. His game degenerated in the latter half of the set. When people thought he would be subbed out, Argentina’s team instead switched the setter.
The setter now on the court was a 38-year-old veteran, José Blanco. His stay on the court was short but in the time being, he turned the tables in the favour of his team. He provided easy sets for the young Ace that helped him get back in the game.
While the spectators rejoiced at Ace’s recovery, Oikawa was mesmerized by the setter’s power. He notes that the setter silently walked away once his part was done but no one realized that the one who actually had the upper hand in that moment of the game was not the spiker, but the setter, Blanco. Of course, this was also the very moment when Oikawa knew he had to become a setter because, in his eyes, the setter was the one who controlled the game – the one who could bring forth victory.
Once the match ended, Oikawa went ahead to take Blanco’s autograph on a jockstrap since Iwaizumi had used the paper they had bought together to take an autograph from the spiker (which sounds exactly like something Iwaizumi would do!). Although the autograph later gets washed away, this is a match that seems to have inspired Oikawa to push himself to the limits to become the best setter. This match was exactly where his drive for volleyball began.
Oikawa Toru in Middle School
Oikawa attended Kitagawa Daichi Middle school with Iwaizumi Hajime. As expected of him, he joined the volleyball club. While Oikawa’s love for volleyball was indeed limitless, here is when he realizes that he was not really a gifted player. In the course of time, he would come across players who were naturally good at the game. While he carried the same passion for the game as them, he started to feel like he was still losing.
Oikawa’s first rival – Kageyama Tobio
Oikawa had been the best setter in the school, but with the admission of Kageyama Tobio, his insecurities rose. It got worse when he got subbed out and replaced by Kageyama in one of the matches.
I think this was one of my favorite arcs in Oikawa’s story. I love how Oikawa is built into what he is now. When Kageyama entered Kitagawa Daichi, Oikawa feared his growth. He dreaded the day when he might surpass him and take over his place. Oikawa makes up his mind to improve himself to a point where he practices without stopping. His fear of being replaced by his junior clouds his judgment to a point ever he almost hits Kageyama.
With the interference of Iwaizumi, Oikawa’s rage calms down. Iwaizumi clearly cares for Oikawa despite the grumpy mood he carries around him. It was infact Iwaizumi who teaches Oikawa that volleyball is a game played by six players, not just one. In the coming future, Oikawa is known to bring out the best in his teammates – a quality that made Ushijima obsess over the fact that he should have come to Shiratorizawa.
Towards the end of his last year in Middle School, he wins the medal for the Man of the Match. He learns to trust his teammates. He keeps treating his spikers with great care in the matches he plays later in Aoba Johsai.
He still hates Tobio, though!
Oikawa in High School
Oikawa enrolls in Aoba Johsai, also known as Seijoh. He becomes the official setter and captain of the boy’s volleyball team. With Oikawa as their setter and Iwaizumi as their ace, Seijoh becomes the second-best volleyball team in Miyagi, followed by Shiratorizawa. He is pretty popular among the girls and almost every girl seems to crush on him (I mean who wouldn’t?!). He is seen surrounded by his fangirls who present him with lunch boxes before a match.
Oikawa is seen as a setter that brings the hundred percent out of his spikers. As mentioned before, Ushikawa wanted Oikawa to become his setter for this very skill. Oikawa even tamed the ruthless player Kyōtani Kentarō. He even perfected his jump serve that made every team on the receiving end shudder.
Kageyama acknowledged Oikawa and goes to him for advice when he feels stressed as he could not sync with Hinata. Although Oikawa does not like him much, he still advises his underclassman. He shares his belief that while Kageyama is trying to set to Hinata according to his wish, he should try setting according to the way Hinata wants them and see the result.
Oikawa loses to Ushijima Wakatoshi every time, who has an in-born talent for volleyball. A flashback shows someone talking to him telling him to push his limits rather than to give up. This person is later revealed to be José Blanco. Oikawa refuses to give up on volleyball accepting that talent might bloom but he can also grow by polishing his skills. He faces defeat against Karasuno too but his resolve to keep working hard never fades.
Oikawa in Rio, Brazil
The manga moves forth five years into the future after Kageyama and Hinata graduate.
In the time skip arc, we see Hinata meeting up with Oikawa in Rio. Hinata had started playing beach volleyball, which enhances his mid-air balance. At the end of chapter 371 and the beginning of the next, we see Hinata and Oikawa sharing a selfie with their former teammates. The picture brings forth a wave of surprise among all the players.
Oikawa plays for Club Athletico San Juan, a league in Argentina. The match that he had watched years ago as a kid had moved him. He still plays the position of the setter. When he was in Seijoh, his school coach knew a player from the Tachibana Red falcons, who introduces Oikawa to José Blanco. During that time he was a coach in the V League.
Oikawa takes guidance from Blanco whenever his insecurities rose and troubled him. Playing amidst strong players often brought his morale down. He thought of quitting volleyball but Blanco always made him see that what he truly wanted was to improve. After graduating high school Oikawa came to Argentina with Blanco and began playing for C.A San Juan.
In Rio, Oikawa plays beach volleyball with Hinata against two locals. Oikawa takes pleasure in setting for the amazing spiker (just like any other setter would!) and in the end gains victory over their rivals.
Oikawa Becomes the Ultimate Boss
After a match of MSBY against Schweiden Adlers, Hinata finally defeats Kageyama in a match, a goal that set Hinata’s heart ablaze since the beginning of Haikyu. The unstoppable duo, the eagle-eyed Wakatoshi Ushijima, and the ever-evolving Atsumu Miya along with many other brilliant players such as Sakusa Kiyomi, Hoshiumi Korai, and Bokuto Koutaro and many others team up to represent Japan in the Olympics. The person that they find on the other side of the net is none other than Oikawa Toru, the setter of Argentina’s Volleyball team.
Oikawa had not won against either of the players back in high school. However, standing there on the other side of the net, he becomes the very epitome of determination. While he was a defeated player before, he was here challenging everyone with the same pride. The outcome of the match is not revealed but Oikawa being on the other side in itself one of the most badass twists that Furudate has bestowed upon us.
Oikawa had been almost unknown as a volleyball player throughout his high school life, despite being a genius setter. He was outshone at times and he almost believed he could not go any further. Now, he is not only standing against all the players that defeated him once, but also against Iwaizumi Hajime.
Iwaizumi is not one of the players, but he is the coach of the Japanese Volleyball team. Years ago after they had lost to Karasuno, Iwaizumi and Oikawa made a pack where Iwaizumi not only acknowledges Oikawa as the greatest setter but he also promises to defeat him someday if they face each other. This match here is not only a game but an embodiment of their promises. Both the sides of the net have so much online. While Oikawa wishes to win his pride, as a means of saying that reaching the top does not always require an in-born talent. To Iwaizumi, it is a time to keep the promise he made years ago.
Having Oikawa on the other side was probably the best plot twist to finish the manga. Oikawa’s rival as a young boy was Kageyama. He saw him as someone flooded with gifts as he developed his game. Oikawa having a chance to defeat his first rival is a moment to ponder upon.
Furudate leaves the results of the match up to the reader’s imagination. Perhaps, he had grown so fond of his characters that he could not see any of them lose!
Oikawa found his way through his inner struggles by working extremely hard and getting strong. In the end, he not only achieved his goal to become a great setter, but he also faced off against the players who he once felt insecure towards. I think the ending he received was beautiful and won the heart of every Oikawa stan out there.