I was actually planning to write about Bokuto Koutarou, the proud and emo captain of the Fukurodani Volleyball Team but I switched over to Tsukishima Kei from Karasuno because I find his character development very interesting and worth to talk over.
We first meet Tsukishima after Kageyama and Hinata screwed up big time while trying to apply for Karasuno Volleyball Club. Hinata and Kageyama has to win a 3 on 3 match and prove to the upperclassmen that they can act as a teammate so they can become actual members of Karasuno. While they are practicing outside, they meet Tsukishima and he teases them even on their first encounter, continues to do so with his rather cute smirk on his face whenever he finds the opportunity. However, he always shows respect to his upperclassmen in team and the only person he hangs out is his childhood friend Yamaguchi. For a very long time Tsukishima comes off as a cool and distant character. Even with Yamaguchi, he keeps his “Whatever.” air around him. He always jokingly despises people who try hard or take things seriously. The first time we see him get a little serious is during the 3 on 3 match in the beginning, however, even during some of the official matches it can be seen that Tsukisima’s opinion on himself is just to prevent the match going in the wrong direction and play accordingly. Later on, his upperclassmen’s opinions on his character can be summarized as “always gets a passing mark but never tries to achieve for the 100”. He is capable of doing a lot, has a big advantage in volleyball because he is 190 cm tall, though he almost always never tries to use his full capacity and aim for one step further.
Because of the portrayal I mentioned above, I classified him as a tsundere. Tsundere is a characteristic where one person seems cold or hostile at first but gradually shows their warm side and feelings, according to The Otaku Encyclopedia. As a frequently used characteristic, tsundere‘s main point lies in denial; denial of the feelings a character have towards a person or a situation. This denial, very often, is because of some traumatic or heart-breaking incident that happened in their past. Taiga from Toradora or Asuka from Shin Seiki Evangelion are almost like a textbook definition of tsundere. These examples are always in denial of what they actually want or feel inside, even when they are confronted, they continue to deny until they break. Thinking Tsukishima is yet another tsundere character with a probable traumatic back story, I was sure at one point he would suddenly have a catharsis due to an incident and become a serious player. I couldn’t be more wrong.
My views on Tsukishima changed after his confrontation with Yamaguchi during their Tokyo summer camp with other teams. While every other Karasuno member stays after regular matches, trying to hone their skills, Tsukishima, without looking phased even a little, packs up and leaves the gymnasium. Even though watching him closely and knowing what he is capable of, Yamaguchi cannot come up with the words to change Tsukishima. One night, after practice, Yamaguchi decides to face Tsukishima and they have a little argument. This is the actual part where it dawned on me that Tsukishima was actually very different from a tsundere; he wasn’t in denial of his feelings towards volleyball or being a team, he just didn’t have an answer that satisfied him. Asking Yamaguchi what is the point in trying to aim for higher even though they won’t become professionals or there is a limit to how high you can achieve, Yamaguchi answers “What else do we need besides pride?!”. Rather than denying, Tsukishima stops, thinks for a second to analyse, thinks to himself “It’s at least better than my worn-out train of thoughts.” but openly states that this answer is also not the exact answer he is looking for.
I think his reaction towards Yamaguchi separates him from from being a tsundere that needs to face his true feelings and proves that he is a calm and logically analyzing character that is searching for an answer that can satisfy him after what he went through with his brother. It is clear that after getting the advice he needs from Bokuto and Kuroo he rapidly changes his attitude towards his team and matches. His character also gradually shows itself in the way he plays volleyball; we see Tsukishima paying more attention to his opponents, calmly analyzing and taking logical actions right after he gets his answer. He is still as expressionless as ever, though his comprehension of volleyball and relationship change drastically.
What is more amazing that during the final match between Karasuno and Shiratorizawa, Tsukishima gets injured and has to leave the court for a while. After waiting for a while for his treatment, what I saw literally brought me to tears, he was actually RUNNING to get back on the court!
I am always amazed to witness ‘secondary characters’ ’ evolution because, yeah you expect the main characters to evolve and you can kind of guess the path they’ll have in front of them but it’s these side characters that surprise you, make you wait and expect something. Hats off to our baby turning into a full fledged crow through hardship and suffering!
I leave the advice he got from Bokuto to my next post on HQ because the reason behind I wanted to write about Bokuto revolves around their conversation. The title, ‘Sun versus Moon’ is an analogy that Yachi, Karasuno’s second manager, comes up with after seeing the subtle inferiority Tsukishima is feeling towards Hinata. ‘Hi (日)’ in Hinata is the kanji for sun and ‘Tsuki (月)’ in Tsukishima stands for moon. It is also a nice analogy to see the first time and the second time Tsukishima gets riled up is thanks to his rivalry with Hinata.
This is all for this admiratio- *ahem* character analysis. As always, I’d be more than glad to read your thoughts in the comments section. Until then.