Why We All Secretly Kin Oikawa
a character analysis of Oikawa from Haikyuu by Beesan
When Oikawa was first introduced in the anime, he was introduced as Mr. Popular, the smug setter, the flamboyant bigshot. Everything about his character screamed “the main antagonist”, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to see him as anything other than that. However, as the series went on and his character developed, I got to see all these different sides of him and he became someone who I not only sympathized with but related to on a much deeper level than I thought I would.
One of the first things you notice about Oikawa is the difference in the way he chooses to portray himself versus his inner thoughts and feelings. Underneath the cool guy act, he is very dedicated to his goals and passionate about accomplishing them. Although he can be silly and arrogant sometimes, you always see him working as hard as he can. We see this when he stays up watching and rewatching game footage to assess his skills and find his enemies’ weaknesses. Apparently, his motto is “If you are gonna hit it, hit it till it breaks” this shows us that he is determined to achieve his goals, not only for his self-fulfillment and satisfaction but also to prove to everyone who ever doubted his ability wrong.
This takes us to Oikawa’s compulsive need to be the best while internally viewing himself as someone ‘lesser than’. Throughout the series, Oikawa continuously compares himself and his abilities to Kageyama and states multiple times that Kageyama is a better setter than him. Oikawa feels that Kageyama has the “natural talent” that he lacks, this is one of his biggest insecurities, and in turn, he is working as hard as he possibly can to make up for it. Eventually, he takes this need to become better too far and ends up injuring his knee from all the extra practice he was doing to surpass his underclassmen.
The rivalry he had going on with Kageyama led him to grow his skills and become a more well-rounded player. Despite being the setter of his team - which is a position that doesn’t directly earn points - he became the captain of Seijoh and someone his team depends on and believes in. Before every match, he tells his teammates in the huddle that he believes in them. This serves as reassurance and as a threat. It says “I believe in you so don’t you dare let me down” but it also asks his comrades to put their trust in him too. Going to nationals is very important to Oikawa, and while he is a setter that can play and bring out the best in any spiker he refuses to go to Shiratorizawa - which would have been an easy ticket to nationals - because what’s more important to him than nationals is that he himself is the one to lead his team onto the orange court.
Oikawa is a team player whose main aim during any match is to be able to bring the best out of his teammates. To be able to do that this includes him strategizing and experimenting with new techniques. This goes completely opposite to Shiratorizawas way of playing. In that school, the main purpose of the setter is to “serve the ace” which completely limits his role to simply getting the ball to the ace. Oikawa is the kind of player who does his best when he is in positions of leadership. While setters aren’t generally captains of their teams I cannot picture anyone else leading Seijoh to nationals. Although Ushijima asked him to join his team Oikawa refuses because even though it’s a powerhouse school (and Ushijima and Oikawa as a spiker/setter pair would have probably been unstoppable), Oikawa would never have been satisfied with being an extra in the Ushijima Wakatoshi show. This is another rivalry that drives Oikawa to become a better player and setter. He loves volleyball, and the idea of playing against a powerful opponent fuels his passion.
Throughout his journey of growth, Oikawa had his best friend and teammate Iwaizumi by his side helping him learn how to accept his failures and learn from them. Iwaizumi is one of Oikawa's biggest supporters, even though he would never admit it he cares deeply for his friend. He also helps him find value in himself and feel prideful in his skills. Whenever Oikawa looks down on himself, Iwaizumi is there to help him get back up. We see this multiple times when Oikawa compares his skills as a player to Kageyama’s and Iwaizumi beats the doubt out of him (but that’s mostly out of love). In many ways, Iwaizumi was a large contributor to Oikawa’s growth as a person and player. “Six who are strong are stronger” were the words that instilled a sense of teamwork, trust, and sportsmanship in Oikawa. Volleyball is a team sport - this fact is obvious - but Oikawa wouldn’t have been such a great team player and leader without hearing these words from his friend. In fact, these words resonated with him so much that he quoted them to himself later on in the series.
Throughout the show and manga, we see Oikawa turn from this petty highschool boy into a well-rounded person and player. He never fully gets over his petty behavior towards his rivals, but we see that he truly respects them and appreciates the relationship they have because it is thanks to them and Iwaizumi that he was able to get to where he is today in his career. The three of them pushed him to become a better player and for that, he will always be thankful.