Oikawa Tooru is a player who knows his strengths and his weaknesses, even at a very young age. He recognizes himself as a hard worker, he knows that there are a great many obstacles that can be overcome through hard work. Oikawa is pretty confident about his abilities to overcome other players through strategy, game sense, and experience, but there’s a single obstacle that seems insurmountable to him, no matter how hard he tries.
Oikawa calls them “geniuses”, those players born with the right height or build, or with the right instincts that give them an edge on the court. That, Oikawa believes, is something he can never overcome, because he was not born a “genius”.
In his story, that obstacle is represented by his rivalries with two players who each embody a certain flavor of that “genius”:
- Oikawa’s rivalry with Kageyama who embodies “raw talent”
- Oikawa’s rivalry with Ushijima who embodies “raw strength”
He first discovered this limit in middle school, when it seemed his time as the “talented prodigy” came to an end, and the threat of being surpassed by Kageyama loomed closer and closer.
He developed unhealthy habits like pushing himself too hard during practice which lead to his knee injury, and losing sleep to study games and develop strategies. He didn’t think it was possible to overcome, but he fought and pushed himself because he just didn’t want to lose to this “genius”.
In his conversation with José Blanco, Blanco tells him that he can’t declare an obstacle insurmountable unless he’s already tried absolutely everything. He could stop, he could give up, but if he really wants this, he’ll have to push through it and try everything before accepting defeat.
And Oikawa took that advice to heart. In high school, during a magazine interview he said, “If you’re gonna hit it, hit it till it breaks.”
Oikawa Tooru tried it all, risked it all, and sacrificed it all to overcome that obstacle. And it paid off.
Fun fact: Oikawa’s given name, “Tooru” (徹) means to pass through.
Bonus: Aoba Johsai as a team also embodies this same position of not being geniuses, and not being meant for the world of professional volleyball. It’s no wonder they all rally behind their champion, the one who made it, Oikawa Tooru.