Tanji Washijou – One Of Sports Anime’s Best Antagonists (Haikyuu!!)

Tanji Washijou – One Of Sports Anime’s Best Antagonists (Haikyuu!!)

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It is somewhat easy to characterize our self-worth
using our own limitations and become bitter and unyielding in response to those limitations. When you come face-to-face with a hurdle that
you can’t seem to overcome, the hardest thing is, naturally, working yourself to the
bone to try and overcome it, and in the end, actually overcoming it. Concurrently, The less difficult thing to
do is to admit defeat and resign yourself to the idea that it was impossible. Because in that case, all of the blame lies
with the unfairness of the world, and none with you. It doesn’t matter how hard you could have
worked – it would have been a waste of time, because it was impossible. And convincing yourself of this is the key
to moving on – Devastated but resigned to the fact that life just didn’t give you
a good hand. And so, from then on, it is natural to give
into confirmation bias – looking for any evidence that you were correct in thinking that your
specific hurdle was impossible, and trying your best to ignore proof of the contrary
and that nagging feeling that maybe.. if you had tried just a little bit harder.. you could
have done it. It’s an organic human reaction – we don’t
want to believe that we could have achieved the dream we gave up on, so we pretend as
though it was impossible, because the alternative results in an unthinkable destruction of one’s
self-worth. This is the sad journey of Tanji Washijou,
who I consider to be one of the most beautifully executed characters in the entirety of Haikyuu. It’s the journey of a man who lived and
breathed volleyball as a boy, who worked hard to achieve his dream to go professional, but
was ultimately told by coaches that he wouldn’t be able to make it due to his lack of height. His life was spent looking upon strong and
tall players with envy and admiration for their ability to scale the walls that he could
not, and everything he was told by others reinforced this envy. As such, Washijo believed what they said to
be the truth, and gave up on his dream to become a coach instead. As you’d expect, he didn’t grow up a happy-go-lucky
and overly enthusiastic coach, but one of strict discipline and bitterness – and the
reason this makes sense is two-fold. Firstly, giving up on his heartfelt desire
and passion would undoubtedly cause someone to become disillusioned with existence in
general, so enthusiasm would naturally be hard to come by as life went on and it’s
really no wonder that he became the grumpy old man we see in the story. And second, the strictness helped ensure that
his teams would be able to be the best they could be, which is important to him for deeply-rooted
reasons aside from just wanting to have success. Now, at the time of the story, Washijo had
crafted his team to be the antithesis to what he was as a player to reflect his adherence
to this idea. The ultimate cannon in Ushijima, the quintessential
ace characterized by height and power, surrounded by a team full of length, defensive stability,
and an ego-less setter, crafted to perfectly compliment Ushijima’s strengths. This team is, from a conceptual standpoint,
the textbook extrapolation of the type of volleyball that Washijo could not achieve. As a result, Shiratorizawa is a representation
of Washijo’s philosophy and insecurity, and the special meaning behind the way he
constructed the team meant that he conflated his self-worth with their success to a greater
extent than any normal coach would. They represent the idea that height and power
reign supreme in volleyball, and that those short in stature – like him – will simply
never be able to make it to the top. And it’s not as if they need to win the
nationals every single year, but as long as they keep having a significant amount of success,
Washijou can rest assured in thinking that he was correct in quitting volleyball, and
that there was no chance for him. And there is that ever-present sense of vicarious
fulfillment – he may have never reached those heights, but his team sure as hell can, and
since his identity is integrated with this team in that juxtapositional way, that’s
the way he derives value from the sport now. And then he meets Hinata Shoyo in the Spring
High Miyagi Prefecture playoff finals. The game starts off fairly innocuously, and
the little middle blocker doesn’t seem to be anything more than a minor annoyance at
times. But as Karasuno slowly start to adapt and
adjust to Shiratorizawa’s power, not only do they emerge as a threat to steal the crown
from them, but Hinata solidifies himself as the greatest threat to Washijo’s ideals
and self-worth that he has ever seen. Because for obvious reasons, Washijo sees
himself, the young boy from decades ago who resigned himself to defeat, in Hinata. Yet, this kid, this stubborn, fierce, determined
decoy, undeniably becomes a thorn in the side of a team specifically designed to combat
players of his ilk. And so, Washijo finds that he must do whatever
he can to defeat Karasuno – probably more to beat Hinata than
to actually go to Nationals. This is a man who has built up so much spite,
jealousy and bitterness that he has become brittle. Washijo knows that if he’s beaten by Hinata,
someone who is as unlucky as he was, yet attempting to do what he assumed he could not, then that
would be proof of the possibility that he could have maybe achieved his dream. But the regret would hit so hard, that he
cannot fathom accepting this and allowing it to happen. Washijo’s struggle is a desperate attempt
to preserve the ego that he has been substantiating for years to combat any possibility that he
was wrong, so Shiratorizawa’s battle with Karasuno is in no small part a battle for
Washijou to maintain the his pride. So of course, their defeat to Karasuno, appropriately
nailed home by Hinata, is indicative of the false belief that Washijo built up over the
decades crashing down. But interestingly, this is not enough for
Washijo to accept his fate, and the story has him retreat to hide behind his postured
ideals once more, which I find to be a terrific narrative move tinged with realism and a genuine
understanding of who Washijo is. And so, after the defeat, we go back to that
concept of confirmation bias with him. During Hinata’s stint as the ball-boy during
the camp at Shiratorizawa, Washijo makes it clear to him that he doesn’t believe that
Hinata has any significant worth as a player without Kageyama as his setter. That Kageyama is so special that he literally
gifts Hinata success. This is an allegory of Washijo grasping for
straws, searching for anything that can help him salvage his pride and self-esteem. Because if Kageyama is the sole reason that
Hinata succeeded, that means that Washijo was still correct to quit volleyball, since
he didn’t have anyone like that to support him. It’s, again, an easy and lazy way to fall
back and criticize Hinata. And it’s incredibly unfair, but if you view
it from Washijo’s perspective, is it really surprising that he’d try to preserve any
possible hope that he didn’t spurn a chance that may have made his life substantially
better? Yet Hinata works. And improves, and learns, and does everything
possible to clear every hurdle in front of him. Making the best out of every situation, seeing
every chance that others might view as unfair as an opportunity to get better at volleyball. Being a ball boy, improving at receiving,
learn in-game at nationals, blocking, overcoming Nekoma’s trap, standing toe to toe with
Hoshiumi, doing himself proud against every opponent he faced. Throughout nationals, Hinata proved to be
a special, accomplished player, and he achieved so much – not just for a short player, but
for any player in general. Ultimately, it eventually becomes insurmountable
evidence that Washijo finds himself unable to defy any longer. And so he tosses aside his pride and finally
accepts the reality of his situation. That Hinata cleared the hurdles he could not
and would continue to scale greater heights – not because of luck or unfairness, but because
he worked harder than Washijou and saw possibilities where he didn’t. This former sense of spite transforms into
genuine admiration for Hinata. Instead of identifying with his team and continuing
to conflate his self-worth with the philosophy that destroyed his professional career, through
his acceptance and acknowledgement of Hinata’s skill, he instead finds the courage to admit
that maybe he was misled and gave up too early. That maybe it’s most appropriate for him
to identify with Hinata, That maybe it wasn’t an impossible hurdle that was put in front
of him.. just an improbable one. I can’t stress enough how admirable I find
Washijou to be because of this, how amazing it is that he’s able to not be overcome
by resentment and denial. Volleyball was his dream, and he gave it up
thinking it was impossible, which must have been heartbreaking.. but now, towards the
end of his life, he’s being presented with evidence that he may have been premature with
his decision in giving up, that maybe in an alternate universe where he persevered, he
would have been successful. But it’s far too late to go back. So early on, of course he tries to beat him,
to put him down, to make him give up. He’s scrambling for some proof that he took
the right path in life. But as time goes on, it just becomes more
and more obvious that Hinata may just be able to make it and fly. And he finally is able to let go, appreciate
his life for what it was and is, and contextualize his identification with Hinata as a mix of
empowerment, and raw admiration. Washijou still feels proud of, and is a part
of his team, but Seeing Hinata overcome all odds in the matches with Japan’s elite does
give Washijou a sense of vicarious gratification that surpasses what he felt with Shiratorizawa’s
wins for obvious reasons. Yet it also encourages him. It shows him that this beautiful sport that
he loves so much may not have as unfair a barrier for entry as he thought – that anyone
can play it and achieve their dream if they work hard enough. He no longer has to champion a position that
makes the sport he loves seem more cynical and cutthroat than it has to be, And at last
he is able to see why, even from his sad perspective, this possibility is a positive thing. It reignites his hope, and he goes from Hinata’s
biggest decrier to his biggest supporter. It represents a dismissal of the negativity
that plagued him before, and it brings a new sense of optimism to his beliefs. Undoubtedly devastated and broken at the realization,
yet mature enough to not let this sadness rule his life and stifle the fire of his passion. Hinata, through his progress and success,
shows an eventually grateful Washijo that the world of sport is not as cruel as he assumed. And most of all, he tells him that.. maybe
he can do it, too. Many thanks for watching.

100 comments

  1. I still find the fact that short players have a roll even before Hinata comes along defeats all of Hinata story and then you consider he’s following the Little Giant. In short we already know he can reach his goal. For the same reason the old coach is just comes across as dumb and bitter. And the people he played with in his youth stupid.

  2. The idea of "working hard and never giving up" is something that I think anime has overplayed to some extent. With Washijou, this sounds refreshing.

    Giving up on improbable things is a construct of our reality as people. Working hard does not guarantee success and if you put all of your eggs in one basket then life passes you by and what other skills do you have then? Going to college and getting a degree and not being able to find the job you're looking for several years later. It's a tough reality.

    But, where this works is in the idea that we can praise those who succeed rather than act upon bitterness. Maybe they had more talent. Maybe they were more fortunate. Certainly I believe in things like that. Sometimes being dealt a bad hand is what it is and you have to accept it. But, to knock down others who did what you couldnt is wrong. Uplifting them is a beautiful part of humanities potential.

    Maybe I'll give this a read.

  3. One of the greatest lines from Washijo I think was the one where he finally recognized how Hinata, although short like he is, has always been fighting with height. It was such a telling moment and at the end, he did let go of his 40-year mindset and dared to reminisce the 10 years of his life where he played volleyball the best way possible

  4. This just proves how amazing Furudate's writing skills are. They do an amazing job at making great, realistic characters, and these characters always make me feel so many emotions, that's why Haikyuu is my favorite manga

  5. I dont think this is a major spoiler since it's just a line he says later in the manga (Not yet animated), but spoiler alert anyway
    .
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    "There isn't anyone who has higher expectations of Hinata Shouyo than i do"
    Ahhhh im so excited for each manga chapter D:
    Each week's chapter cant come fast enough

  6. Manga Spoilers:

    This is especially ironic as Washijou was the one who pretty much facilitated the next step in Hinata’s volleyball career, after antagonizing him from the longest time.

    The panel where he says that he has the highest expectations from Hinata was so good. A complete turnaround.

  7. Thank you so much for this video! seeing all these changes in Washijou's attitude towards Hinata while reading the manga was some kind of fun for me. I never took it seriously, I thought it was only a way to show how great Hinata is. But you opened my eyes, you made me to take a deeper look in Washijou as a character with his development!
    Thank you! Please continue to make such profound and informative videos
    And sorry for my English 😅

  8. Thank you so much for this video!! I always believed that Washijo is one of the most interesting and most well-written characters in Haikyuu, and it always made me sad to see people dismiss him as just an irredeemable asshole, when there’s so much depth to him? especially after the chapter that’s a tribute to the short people of the world, and washijo actively supporting hinata’s change to beach volleyball I was so happy for him really supporting Hinata despite his initial spite and bitterness!!

  9. Oh my god, yes I have been waiting for this. Ever since the Sirratorizawa match, "I want reject you", was what got me super interested in him and then in the manga wow

  10. during Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa
    he really want to take down all hinata's effort
    but after that. he just like godfather for hinata
    not to support him obviously but push hinata to understand what he need (when he allow hinata to be ball boy)
    and the best thing is after Harukon, he help hinata and said something which give me a chill to bone
    "maybe he has alot ppl can help him and im isnt supposely to help him, but there no people has highest expectation to him other than me!" he is really godfather from shadow to hinata

  11. why didn't you give a spoiler warning in the video? no one looks at the description for spoiler warnings. I had to stop the video in the middle because I don't want to be spoiled.

  12. Wow, I was going to watch this episode and get spoiled on major manga plot points BUT thankfully there was a spoiler warning at the very beginning. Whew, giri giri safe~

    Thanks AJ!

  13. This video was great but it would've been better if I hadn't been spoiled. Most channels with these types of videos put spoiler warnings in the beginning of the video though I see you have it in the description which someone people like myself might miss. Just some constructive feedback.

  14. Bro, u gota put da spoiler wornings in this, I had to stop watch halfwey thru cuz I no want to be spoiled, wtf man… If you don’t put wornings in nxt video then I unscribe, ok?

  15. Damn. I got so excited and skipped a few seconds ahead of the video knowing you uploaded a new video. But I didn't expect you to put spoilers without warning. I didn't think you were THAT type of YouTuber. I bet the first few seconds aren't even that worth watching anyways.

  16. I know it has nothing to do with Haikyuu but please, make an analysis of Vinland Saga, i really want to know what do you think about it.

  17. I would really like you to make a video about the beauty of Super Smash Brothers Melee as a game, since I know it is a game you appreciate.

  18. Vinland saga analysis by you would be so intresting to hear, please consider it 🙂
    (literaly the best channel out there for this type of content)

  19. For the longest time Washijou was the only character in Haikyuu I've actually hated because to me he was (is) the embodiment of a typical bitter old man who wasted the chances he might've had in life, and resents everyone (Hinata especially) who manages to overcome the same hurdles that held him back. I hated the way he treated Hinata at the camp, and how he didn't even give him or other short players a chance, even if they were more talented or hard-working than some of the others at the camp.

    But then his character development in the manga showed that after all that time, he realized his mistakes. Because the difference between Washijou and other disadvantaged characters like Oikawa (lack of talent) and Hinata (lack of skill), was, that neither of them gave up on their dreams, even if in Oikawa's case at least, they knew they were going to get surpassed at one point. But they still gave their all, and achieved more than they could've imagined. Washijou gave up to live through his players, but never challenged that "height is more important than anything" belief that was thrown at him, and thus, just continued that cycle.

    But Hinata showed him, that no, it wasn't just about his height. It was about mental strenght and stamina. He acknowledged that, which is admittedly, an insanely hard thing to do when you're old and can't go back and try again. But he did.

    Great video! Love this analysis! He's a better written character than I would've thought.

  20. I Hope he realises and regrets in season 4 and Hinata finally breaks through to him and that he has value as a volleyball player

  21. I felt it. Played volleyball for 4 years in High school but never got a chance to play in an official match. Then in college i finally got a chance to play in official match as a setter with a height of 5'2.

  22. Spoilers —
    but he will help Hinata to go and chase beach volley for 2 years in brazil to strengthen his foundation on the indoor volley.

  23. Amazing video Alecxzander, really enjoyed it. There is one anime I'd love for you to do a video on if possible, it's March Comes in Like a Lion, it's a personal favourite of mine and I think it's underrated

  24. He's like a complacent oikawa which is again why I love oikawa so much. Even with the amount of losses and talent in front of him he loves and breathes volleyball.

  25. the spoilers man, you should've given some warning but i'd probably still watch it lol, now i gotta read the manga too

  26. great video man! also when he showed up in the recent chapter he was just smiling and relaxing and we see him in casual clothes for the first time! a far cry from the cranky cynical old man we knew before we see not the strict coach washijo but the man who loves volleyball washijo

  27. As someone who literally walked in Washijou's shoes except that I am not a coach and I am a setter, you pretty much expose my inner thoughts with this video.

  28. Clearly.. he is jealous of hinata.. now.. he support him.. with the latest manga chapter.. you can see his face when hinata made his debut match against the 3x champions.. adler vs black jackal

  29. IM LAUGHING BECAUSE NO HAS REALIZED THAT SHIRATORIZAWA’s colors are purple and White and the coach is the voice actor of Frieza😂😂

  30. I see myself way too much in him and tsutomu. I’m an outside hitter that’s 5’6-5’7 and play in a team with an opposite that’s 17 years old, 6’3 and can hit (in really good days) the ball up to 100km/h(60mp/h) and my only redeeming factor is that my vertical is around 9ft11. He’s the type of player that when he goes to selections, he’ll almost be imidiatley picked out of the lot. I know I won’t be able to play more later, I envy the taller and stronger players, but I also admire them. I love to see them drive the ball into the block just to blow it in pieces afterwards. It makes me sad, incredibly sad. But the fact that I played alongside them is an honor.

  31. The thing is most of haikyuu character will show a definite character growth at some point. You may not like someone at the first glance but as the series goes on even when you still have that tendency, you understand their side even more. You may not like them to your standard, but you learn to respect their point of view, their decision making at that point and how they grow to another point. At this time I can't believe someone could write such an amazing character development to almost everyone in the series, they have so much impact (straight or subtle) that makes you want to respect them as a human being (with all their flaws). Props to furudate sensei for that.

  32. this was really cool, i was just watching last episode in training camp. i soo wanted to see more of these two that i couldn't hold it anymore and was looking for the next manga chapter but found this video instead.. i cant wait to see all of this arc animated

  33. Manga Spoiler!!!!!
    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

    am i the only one disappointed about the time skip after the nationals :<< yeh you might say i’m a “judger” or some sort of furudate-sensei but i cant help it, i mean there is so much that we need to see like the karasuno team it is basically centered about them if you will see the manga and the anime you will probably know that it is about them conquering the court. Im a lil bit disappointed that i don’t get to see the characters grew together most especially hinata and kageyama cause they parted ways after the nationals. Poof!!! Time skip then final arc began cried when i saw “final arc” don’t end it please* so yeh that is all i’m about to say :>> i mean it is the only start of the final arc there is so much there to is so i think i will find my answers in the future.

    Take Note:
    Im a big fan of furudate sensei’s work so i’m really excited on how will the story flow

    **SPOILER AGAIN i think
    I HOPE THAT HINATA AND KAGEYAMA BECOME A TEAM AGAIN IN THE FUTURE pls.

    ^*^* Well i know that this comment is not compatible of what i commented but i just wanna lighten my struggles and let it all out to the fellow manga readers

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