Don't you DARE look down! Volleyball is a sport where you are always looking up!

Keishin Ukai (Japanese: 烏養 繋心 (うかい けいしん) Ukai Keishin) is the current coach of Karasuno High boys' volleyball club. He is also an alumnus and former player on the team, playing as a setter.

Appearance

Ukai has dyed blond hair with brown eyes and wears a head-band. He has two piercings on his left ear. He has been told by Nekomata that he resembles his grandfather, the former Coach Ukai. In his youth, Ukai had a dark brown buzzcut, but otherwise looked the same.

Personality

Ukai's behaviour is fairly typical of a man in his 20's. He smokes and drinks and is willing to speak casually about alcohol to minors, using terms like "a first gulp of beer" to explain a volleyball tactic to Karasuno. He is quite competitive, agreeing to coach Karasuno only so he could beat Nekoma in the practice match and then staying on because of challenges he made with Nekomata. Ukai appears lazy and cranky, spending most of his time at work reading a newspaper with his legs on the counter or yelling at people for being too loud.

However, he's shown to have strong coaching skills and is a hardworking individual. Ukai chose to change his work schedule to a much earlier time in the morning to make up for the time he takes off to coach Karasuno. It's also been noted that in high school and college, Ukai excelled in mentoring underclassmen and had strong analysis skills of opponents. He also said that he wasn't very good at studies to Hinata, when he asks Ukai to help him study. While at work, Ukai would yell at high school students and remark that he's out of a product without bothering to check, but he does have a kind side as he gave Tanaka, Kageyama, and Hinata free energy bars.

Background

Ukai as a setter in his high school years.

Keishin Ukai is Coach Ukai's grandson. He is an alumnus of Karasuno High and was a setter on the Boys' Volleyball Club eight years ago, having the number 2. He had said that even he became a regular in his 3rd year because there were other setters as regulars in his 1st and 2nd years. He continued playing volleyball in college and after graduating[1], he works at Sakanoshita Store, a family business he inherited from his mother's side.

Plot

Karasuno High Team Formation Arc

Ukai makes several background appearances in the beginning as a cranky clerk at the Sakanoshita Store.[2] He later receives calls from Takeda, who persistently requests that he becomes the new coach for Karasuno Boys' Volleyball Team. When Takeda confronts him at the store[1], Ukai asks if it's just the "Ukai" name that Takeda wants and after Takeda confirms it is part of the reason, Ukai seems to think over it. Despite that, he rejects Takeda anyway, claiming that he doesn't want to babysit high school boys. He later reveals that he doesn't want to go back to Karasuno because of the nostalgia it invokes in him, but he's eventually convinced when Takeda reveals that he wants Ukai to coach for the upcoming practice match against Nekoma.[3]

Asahi and Nishinoya's return

Ukai schedules a practice match against the Karasuno Neighborhood Association to test the players' skills, strengths, and figure out their weaknesses. Like the Neighborhood Association members, he is stunned when he sees Hinata and Kageyama's freak quick attack.

Nekoma Practice Match

Before the match against Nekoma begins, Ukai reunites with Naoi and they playfully tease each other's appearance having changed or stayed the same since they last saw each other.

During the match, Ukai is continually impressed by Nekoma's tactics and playing style; acknowledging players like Kenma, Inuoka, and Kuroo to be outstanding and talented players. After the matches, Ukai is taunted by Nekomata for still being a beginner when it comes to coaching and looking so much like grandfather that Ukai decides to stay on the team as the coach in order to one day get revenge on Nekoma.

Interhigh Arc

Just before the Interhigh Tournament begins, Ukai reveals to have gathered information on the teams and players he deems to be the most cautious of. To help the players prepare for the tournament, he starts working with them on attacks they may be able to pull off during a match and forming new attack formations.

Karasuno vs Tokonami

Karasuno is able to the win the match without much trouble.

Karasuno vs Date Tech

Although the match against Date Tech was more challenging than their first match, Karasuno is able to play without Ukai having to help much. After the match, he reveals that he was aware that Asahi had trouble overcoming emotions from the previous match against the Date Tech.

Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai

Loss and Decisions 

Like the team, Ukai was upset by the loss against Aoba Johsai. The day after the match, Ukai is speaking with Takinoue about the match and how they observed that the Seijoh players somewhat coached themselves most of the time and rarely needed their actual coaches to guide them.

Ukai would later join the team for afternoon practice and revealed to them that Shiratorizawa Academy won the Interhigh tournament with Seijoh as the runner-up team. While point out that there is a team stronger than Aoba Johsai in the prefecture, Ukai states that the only way the team can hope to win is to become stronger and sets the goal for them to make it to the Spring Tournament in January.

Tokyo Expedition Arc

Despite the new goal to qualify for the Spring Tournament, Ukai is still aware that the team is in need of more game experience but knows the difficulty of trying to set up practice matches. Luckily, Takeda announced that the team was invited to the summer training camp held by the Fukurōdani Academy Group thanks to Coach Nekomata.

When Hinata and Kageyama are forced to stay behind to take make-up lessons, Ukai sees how the team is without the two first years to help. The team would suffer several losses until the two arrived and they were finally able to turn things around. It wouldn't be until Karasuno's match against Nekoma that Karasuno would start to have difficulty thanks to Nekoma's newest member, Lev, using his impressive height and quick reflexes to block Hinata's quick attack on his second attempt and get one-touches on other spikes that would allow Nekoma to take the lead. With Hinata having realized that the normal quick attack was starting to get blocked much easier, Ukai, believing that the quick was fine the way it is, was hesitant on agreeing to the middle blocker's request of wanting to change it so he could handle the mid-air battles on his own.

After the first training camp, Ukai would take Hinata to meet his grandfather and Karasuno's original coach, Ikkei Ukai. Ukai would come to better understand how the team would need to utilize tempo's and new attacks in order to become stronger and would present Kageyama with the theory of a new way to set to allow Hinata better control of the quick attack.

During the second training camp, Ukai would watch the team try their new attacks and carry out numerous penalty laps as they struggled to make things work. Every night of the camp, Ukai was dragged along with the other coaches by Nekomata to go drinking (In the anime, he spent one night helping Kageyama perfect the new toss). He quickly noticed how Tsukishima was not putting in the work to improve himself and considered removing him as one of the starting players but held off on doing so with the hope of Tsukishima possibly becoming the core pillar of the blockers.

When Karasuno was finally able to make their new attacks work, Ukai is shown being enthusiastic and mentioning how he would have to bring Ikkei to the tournament to see their newfound strength and abilities.

Spring High Preliminary Arc

Karasuno vs Ohjiminami

Ukai barely had to offer any advice as Karasuno was able to win the game fairly easily.

Karasuno vs Kakugawa

After struggling against the tallest high school player they have come across yet, Ukai would notice several things about Hyakuzawa along with Daichi and Nishinoya that would help them turn things around. They notice that Hyakuzawa is not capable of hitting straight shots and that he most likely has only recently started playing volleyball in the last few months.

Thanks to these discoveries, Ukai encourages the team to use their new weapons to their advantage. From that point on, Karasuno would have an easier time gaining the lead and would eventually go on to win the match though Ukai would acknowledge that Hyakuzawa would most likely become a great force to be cautious of in the future.

Karasuno vs Johzenji

Not involved much in terms of coaching, Ukai would mostly observe the team try to counter the wild and energetic Johzenji players. After Kageyama had to be removed to recover from taking a spike to the face, he would send Narita in for a while to allow Hinata the chance to watch Narita and Sugawara's plays and the chance to calm down from possibly getting caught up in Johzenji's flow. Karasuno would win the game in straight sets.

Karasuno vs Wakutani South

Ukai became more observant of things during Karasuno's game against Wakutani. Prior to the match, he was able to warn the team that Wakutani was on par with Nekoma with it came to receives and that they had their own Little Giant who would most likely give them the most problems.

Ukai was able to see that Nakashima was similar to Hinata in that he can tool blockers to do block-outs but noted that the biggest difference was that Nakashima's aim is not as precise as Hinata's since he would change the angle of his spikes. When Daichi became injured, Ukai temporarily left the game to escort the captain to the medical office. He later returned to the game and was about to scold Yamaguchi for his performance before Ennoshita stepped in to prevent that by pointing out Yamaguchi was already aware of what he had done. Ukai would inform the team that Daichi would be fine and just needed time to recover. During the third set, Ukai would see Ennoshita settle into the game and eventually take lead of the team. Ukai would be seen joining in the celebration when Karasuno eventually won the match.

Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai

Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa

Tokyo National Arc

Preperation for Nationals

Date Tech Practice Match

Karasuno vs Tsubakihara

Karasuno vs Inarizaki

Karasuno vs Nekoma

Karasuno vs Kamomedai

Final Arc

Statistics

Original Statistics
Power
 
4/5
Jumping
 
3/5
Stamina
 
3/5
Game Sense
 
4/5
Technique
 
4/5
Speed
 
2/5

Ukai used to be a setter, but he was not a regular while in high school. This implies that he isn't an extraordinarily skilled player, a trait that he is often teased for by his grandfather. [4] As a coach, Ukai has very high abilities in analysis and tactics. He goes the extra distance to collect as much data on their opponents as possible in order to formulate an effective plan to counteract them.

Relationships

Ikkei Ukai

Ikkei is Keishin's grandfather and Karasuno's former volleyball coach. Initially, Keishin claims that he isn't the same as his grandfather and couldn't coach, but he later disproves that with his sharp mentoring skills. On the surface, the two have a rough relationship with Ikkei flipping and arm wrestling Keishin whenever he finds his grandson failing to perform

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his responsibilities as coach. Despite that, Keishin has a lot of respect for his grandfather, going to him for advice when he needs help with his own players. Keishin is well aware of his grandfather's wish to see an official match between Karasuno and Nekoma and strongly wants to make it happen out of filial piety. Ikkei comes to watch Karasuno's matches in the Spring High preliminary rounds and is teased by spectators for watching his "dear grandson's" team, though Ikkei doesn't deny it. During the team introductions before the match against Nekoma, Ikkei is seen bragging about his grandson and feeling proud when others comment on their resemblance. 

Ittetsu Takeda

As the coach and advisor respectively, Ukai and Takeda work together to supervise the Karasuno boys' volleyball team.

Ukai and Takeda s4-e9-1.png

Initially, Ukai is annoyed by Takeda's persistent attempts to get him onto the team, but later expresses his gratitude for Takeda's efforts. The two have strong respect for each other and care deeply for the volleyball team. They would often commentate on the matches and solve problem concerning the team together. Despite Takeda's general polite and respectful attitude, it's shown that even Ukai would cower if Takeda's angry.

Karasuno High

Ukai has great respect for his alma mater, but he is initially resistant to become the volleyball club's coach due to his own nostalgic moments on the court. After personally watching a match and being tempted by Nekomata, Ukai becomes the official coach of the boys' volleyball team just like his grandfather. Despite calling the first and second years as the "hyperactive ones and simpletons", Ukai cares a lot about his players and is always trying to do the best for his team. He would give them advice on how to improve their play and what to eat. 

Manabu Naoi

Ukai and Naoi were friends in high school because of their similar situations of being third years but not starting members due to being outshone by their underclassmen. Thus, they dubbed themselves the "Benchwarmers Club". However, it's implied that they haven't seen each other since then. When they meet again in the Nekoma practice match, they tease each other about their appearances and reconnect.

Quotes

  • "Victory goes to the team that connects." (To Karasuno, Volume 4 Chapter 27)
  • "'This is the final ball!' Think that at all times, and go after it! If you don't, then in the match, you'll regret the one ball you chose to ignore during practice!" (To Karasuno, Volume 5 Chapter 35)
  • "...if you only pay attention to what's 'above', you'll get tripped up from below." (To Karasuno, Volume 5 Chapter 35)
  • "It's only natural for everyone to feel nervous or hyped at the opening of the first match. So it's a matter of who breaks out of it faster!" (To Karasuno, Volume 5 Chapter 39)
  • "Whoa! Whoa! What's with the grim faces? Loosen up, loosen up! You guys are still doing good, okay?" (To Ryūnosuke Tanaka, Volume 7 Chapter 59)
  • "I have no complaints about the morale of our team. Seijoh is vastly better in terms of experience and technique. There's no denying that if they get ahead again, it'll be extremely tough, but if we hold onto everything we've got, the momentum will turn our way." (To Karasuno, Volume 5 Chapter 35)
  • "In this tense situation, [Oikawa] still managed to find the smallest gap and pulled off a feint. His calm focus on victory is terrifying." (about Tōru Oikawa during the Inter-high tournament match with Aoba Johsai, Volume 3 Chapter 24)
  • "Eat...eat...a little at a time...but be sure...to grow stronger." (When Ukai takes the team out to eat after they lose against Aoba Johsai High during the Inter-high tournament, Volume 3 Chapter 24)
  • "Don't forget the frustration and bitterness you felt losing to Seijoh. However, you don't need to hold onto the feeling of losing. Hurry up and wipe that away!" (To Karasuno, Season 2 Episode 2)
  • "Don't you dare look down! Volleyball is a sport where you're always looking up!" (To Karasuno, Season 3 Episode 8)
  • "In the end, his blocking is reliant on personal skill. The problem is that his skill level is high. From what I've seen, he's very good at making some very sharp reads... and he has the reflexes for his body to keep up with his split-second reads." (To Shōyō Hinata, about Satori Tendō, Volume 18 Chapter 156)
  • "Yes! We finally managed to get it to come together... our total defense!!" (About Kei Tsukishima, Tobio Kageyama, Yū Nishinoya, Asahi Azumane, Volume 18 Chapter 159)

Trivia

  • Favorite Food: Konnyaku dumplings
  • Current Concern: He's not even 30 yet but his parents are already telling him to "Hurry up and get married."
  • He owns a yellow car.[5]
  • Furudate gave him his name because of his nature: "Training crows and connecting hearts, exactly as it says.”[6]
  • His voice actor(seiyuu), Kazunari Tanaka, passed away due to a hemorrhage in the brain stem on October 10th, 2016; as for who will sub as him, the production said they will make changes since it's sudden. Above quote is his final lines of Episode 8 of Season 3.
  • He shares his birthday with Alisa Haiba.
  • His star sign is Aries.
  • He sang "Aobajou koi uta" (青葉城恋唄) in Episode 9 of Season 1.
  • In Haikyuu's first popularity poll, Ukai placed 17th with 1,535 votes.[7] In the second, he dropped to 24th with 2,084 votes.[8]
  • Nomenclature:
    • Keishin (繋心) - Connecting Heart
    • Ukai (烏養) - Crow Nurture

References

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