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"Cats vs. Monkeys" (Japanese: ネコ VS サル Neko VS Saru) is the seventeenth episode (and the fourth episode of the second cours) of Haikyū!! To The Top, season four of the anime based on Haikyū!! by Haruichi Furudate. The episode premiered on October 23, 2020[1].

The opening theme of this episode is Toppakō by SUPER BEAVER and the ending theme is One Day by SPYAIR


In the second round of the Spring Tournament, Nekoma faces Sarukawa Tech High for the chance to advance to the third round. With Sarukawa and Nekoma both being masters of defense, it becomes apparent that Sarukawa's real plan is not to quickly rack up points but to instead get Kenma to exhaust himself.


Mika and Suguru arrive around the half-way point of the first set between Nekoma and Sarukawa Tech High as Suguru had requested to come to this match in particular.

Kenma and Kuroo s4-e17-1.png

In a flashback, Kuroo, Kai, and Yaku are relaxing in the lobby of their inn and discussing how they should support their juniors for the next tournament. They soon spot Kenma attempting to use the vending machines while being mistaken for a zashiki-warashi by the people in front of him. The third-years, marvel on the fact that someone like Kenma is participating at the nationals tournament despite his appearance of not looking like an athlete. Kuroo tells Kai and Yaku of when Kenma would become sick after difficult practices or matches during their time in middle school and confesses that he felt guilty about it as he was the one who brought Kenma into volleyball. But now that the team has made it to the Spring Tournament, Kuroo wonders if Kenma is starting to like volleyball. Yaku believes that Kenma isn't too concerned about this while Kai assures them that if Kenma didn't like the sport he would surely have left it long ago.

Kenma approaches them and is quickly scolded by Kuroo for playing games as it would disrupt his sleep cycle. Kenma admits that if he did hate volleyball that he would have left it but had decided to stay because he felt a little bad for Kuroo and admits that he at times did worry about the others. Kenma admits that he has no reason to stop playing but also doesn't have a reason to keep playing and, while he dislikes sweating and being out of breath, he does enjoying leveling up. Kenma leaves to go to bed as his stamina is brought up. Yaku states that Kenma is still persistent despite his lack in stamina but somehow knows when to slack off. He then requests Kuroo tell the 'early riser' story. Kuroo tells how, during their younger days, he would notice Kenma's lights would be on in the early morning hours and learned Kenma was simply getting up early to play his games since he would get in trouble if he stayed up all night and then overslept as a result.

Kai then points out how Kenma has seemed to more interested in volleyball since they met Karasuno and he became friends with Hinata. Despite the two being opposites, Kuroo acknowledges that Hinata has been a friend that Kenma was able to make on his own but also sees him as an opponent that he would like to beat. Kuroo also remembers a time in grade school when his team lost a match and Kenma offered to help him get better. Yaku then changes the topic of how there are only four days left of the tournament and he is determined to stand out the most. Kuroo quickly argues back that he will be the one to be interviewed and the two begin to bicker as Kai apologizes to those who are watching the two argue.

Back in the game, Kenma and Kuroo attempt to block Iori Kanazawa but he in turn gets a feint shot over them. Kai is quick to make the save but Kenma is forced to go out of his way to make the set to Fukunaga. Kuroo and Suguru are quick to pick up on this. Fukunaga's spike is deflected as the tournament announcers reveal that Sarukawa's coach, Aritaka Shishio, is a former student of Coach Nekomata. Most likely because of this, the Sarukawa team also specializes in defense and taking their time to adjust to their opponent. After watching Yamamoto make a receive, Suguru voices how he thinks something is not right in the game. When questioned by Mika on what he means, Suguru explains that he thinking Sarukawa is deliberating not trying to score quick points and may possibly be trying to ruin Nekoma's rhythm in an effort to make Kenma run around and exhaust himself. When Fukunaga is able to score, Shishio realizes that his team may have to give up the first set but thinks it will be worth it since it will put more strain and pressure on Kenma who was quickly deemed to be easier to wear out physically rather than mentally.

Kenma s4-e17-4.png

Another flashback takes place when Kenma was in his first year of Nekoma and out running with the team. Though he was quite a distance behind the team and hates running, Kenma would enjoy the scenery and imagine different creatures and game elements around him to make it more enjoyable. However, it would not last long when Yamamoto would run past him while yelling 'will power' and scolding Kenma for being slow and a lap behind the team. Later during practice, Yamamoto would continue to show his enthusiasm of thinking Nekoma is a great team to be part of and he and Kenma would be caught off guard when Fukunaga would make jokes out of nowhere. During passing drills, Yamamoto would warn Kenma that he would not go easy on him due to his close relationship with Kuroo only to confuse Kenma who didn't see how his friendship with Kuroo would affect anything. As they pass to one another, Yamamoto finds himself annoyed at Kenma's abilities despite his timid nature and lack of enthusiasm. He attempts to send a spike to Kenma only for it to be received. Kenma would then motion that he would spike the ball back but switched to a feint which forced Yamamoto to try to dig the ball.

While walking home together, Kuroo mentions how Kenma should try to get along with others until Kenma points out that Yamamoto started their little rivalry first. While happy at seeing that Kenma hadn't backed down, Kuroo tries to get him to agree to get along with his classmates since he will be around them so much. Over time, Kenma would notice how Yamamoto would throw himself into his physical training and be warned by others not to over-exert himself.

After a practice match in which Kenma and Yamamoto made their debut appearances, Kenma is given several compliments on the sets he made during the game while Yamamoto is disturbed and embarrassed at having missed several spikes and even ran into Kuroo during one play. Although Kuroo tries to help him get past it, Yamamoto still appears upset about his performance.

Yamamoto s4-e17-2.png

While Kuroo is away and the team is cleaning their gym after practice, Kenma decides to try to offer help to Yamamoto by saying that he should relax his shoulders more when attacking so he can have better control of his strength. Yamamoto dismisses Kenma's help and admits he's been trying to prove how hard he has been working to show his will power. Kenma says that Yamamoto shouldn't put so much belief in will power and should focus on what the actual problem may be. Yamamoto then surprises Kenma by revealing that he was too aware of the ball and had allowed himself to be lured in by the opponents taunting. Kenma questions why Yamamoto continues to act the way he does when he seems to already be aware of the problem and thinks that all of his extra training was simply for self-satisfaction.

Yamamoto quickly marches over to Kenma and grabs him by his shirt to yell at him about his lack of effort and the many times that he's let a ball go from not wanting to chase after it. Yaku and Kai notice the two starting to bicker. Kai wants to stop the two before they get any further but Yaku allows it since he thinks it will help the two get past their problems. Kenma finally snaps and begins to yell and push Yamamoto back while claiming that his will power will not do any good unless he knows how to use strategy. Just as Yaku is about to try to stop them, Fukunaga suddenly tosses a bucket of water on the two and is able to get them to stop fighting. The act quickly earns Yaku's admiration and respect but leaves Yamamoto in a daze. As Kuroo returns to find out what the noise is about, Kenma confesses that it has been some time since he last raised his voice.

After their altercation, Yamamoto begins to see Kenma is not fond of losing despite his lack of effort and always sees things through to the end. After a middle school tournament where they viewed each other's strengths, Yamamoto approached Kenma and would offer the setter to address him as Tora, saying that all of his friend do so. Kenma questions if he really has to call Yamamoto by this name and the two begin another scuffle while Fukunaga prepares to throw another bucket of water on them.

Group s4-e17-1.png

Back in the match against Sarukawa, the game has reached the second set and Sarukawa has been able to get the lead by two points. Coach Shishio is aware that Coach Nekomata has always favored defense but feels confident that his team will be able to chip away at it a little at a time. Through this, it will further exhaust Kenma and cause him to make mistakes. Kenma sends an underhand set to Yamamoto which results in the ace being blocked. Seeing their plan is starting to work, Shishio and the Sarukawa team are determined to crush Nekoma's brain.






Episode Notes

Character revelations

  • Coach Shishio is noted to be a previous trainee under Coach Nekomata.


Difference between Anime and Manga

  • Manga: When Kenma is discussing how he feels about volleyball, he has a flashback of Hinata requesting sets from him during the training camp. Anime: This is not shown.
  • Manga: During Yamamoto's montage of working out, there is a flashback of when he was informing a former classmate of how he would be attending Nekoma High. Anime: This was not shown.
  • Manga: During Nekoma's match in the flashback, Kenma and Yamamoto are shown wearing the team jersey numbers 12 and 10. It is also unknown if the player wearing the number 1 jersey is actually Kuroo or another person. Anime: While they are shown wearing these numbers on bibs during a team game, they are shown wearing their current numbers 5 and 4 during the tournament game.
  • Manga: After Yamamoto is blocked, Inuoka and Shibayama explain to Lev that the timing was off due to Kenma having done an underhand set. Anime: This was not shown.

OSTs Used


  • Cat (Japanese: ネコ Neko) 0:22 - 1:01
  • - OP -
  • Hunger (Japanese: 空腹 Kūfuku) 3:13 - 4:51
  • Teammate (Japanese: チームメイト Chīmumeito) 5:27 - 7:48
  • "Brain" (Japanese: "脳" "Nō") 8:36 - 10:10
  • - eyecatch B-
  • - eyecatch A-
  • Expectations (Japanese: 期待 Kitai) 10:25 - 11:12
  • Analysis (Japanese: 分析 Bunseki) 11:47 - 13:27
  • Kageyama vs Tsukishima (Japanese: 影山対月島 Kageyama tai Tsukishima) 14:04 - 14:44
  • Offence and Defence (Japanese: 攻防 Kōbō) 17:18 - 18:10
  • Failing Marks Group (Japanese: 赤点組 Akaten-gumi) 18:21 - 18:47
  • Enhancements (Japanese: 昂揚 Kōyō) 18:49 - 21:05
  • Targeting Kenma (Japanese: 狙われた研磨 Nerawareta Kenma) 21:27 - 22:21
  • - ED -


  1. ON AIR - Haikyū!! anime - haikyu.jp (Japanese) (retrieved September 28, 2020)


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