Ryūnosuke Tanaka (Japanese:
Tanaka has a shaved head with a widow's peak and sharp blue-grey eyes (golden brown in the manga colored illustrations) which lead many to mistake him as a delinquent. Back in his first year at Karasuno, Tanaka had short fuzzy hair dyed in a light color. He is average in height and has a lean, but strong build. He tends to make intimidating faces to try to scare others, which Daichi scolds him for.
Loud, hot-headed, and easily angered, he is no stranger to picking fights. He is also somewhat of a slacker, shown by his less-than-stellar work ethic in school and his usual lateness to practices. Despite all this, he is shown to be caring and supportive of his teammates, and even protective of his underclassmen. Tanaka doesn't take kindly to people who belittle others, as shown when he grows upset at Kei Tsukishima for trash-talking others during their first 3-on-3 match. In addition, he gets very excited and is easily won over when an underclassman calls him "senpai".
Once he gets fired up, he is usually unstoppable on the court and also uncontrollably loud, as demonstrated by his over-the-top cheering after he scores or pulls off an incredible move. He also has the tendency to take off his shirt and spin it over his head when he scores a point in practices.
Tanaka is also someone with strong mental fortitude, not letting himself be brought down by things like being targeted or getting blocked during games. He seems to know that he can be an easy target to some people and has a lot to improve on, but instead of letting those things bother him he gets fired up and keeps trying no matter what. However, even for Tanaka, things can be too much and every six months or so he starts to think he is nothing but mediocre. But, he tells himself that thinking like that is just a waste of time.
Tanaka has a large interest in girls, as shown in the numerous posters of female idols that are posted up in his room. One girl in particular who he has a large interest in is Kiyoko Shimizu. He often approaches her and tries to talk to her, though his advances are usually ignored, which he claims turns him on. Tanaka usually looks out for her, alongside Nishinoya, especially during the Tokyo training camp and official matches when other teams take an interest in her.
Back in 3rd Grade, Tanaka were classmates with Kanoka of Niiyama Girls' High. The latter was always bullied by boys due to her height while Tanaka would say she's awesome that way and would always cheer her up. He introduced Kanoka to volleyball, which the latter struggled learning but was still cheered on by Tanaka.
Tanaka later transferred to an unknown school in 4th Grade and eventually advanced to Ōjitsu Junior High. Despite both being from Miyagi Prefecture, the two only reunited at the Spring High National Tournament in Tokyo.
Back when Tanaka joined Karasuno, he had short, frizzy hair in a light color. He claimed to have fallen in love the very moment he laid eyes on Kiyoko and proposed to her right on the spot. Kiyoko rejected him immediately, but that did not stop Tanaka from pursuing her. As a first year, Tanaka was much more volatile and impulsive. He couldn't stand the unfair treatment the volleyball club was getting from the school and the trash-talking by other teams. Tanaka originally wanted to retaliate but became more mature once he saw the determination and maturity of his upperclassmen. He shaved his hair the following day, claiming it was to help him feel refreshed.
Karasuno High Team Formation ArcEdit
Tanaka is first seen in the hallway with Daichi and Sugawara on the first day of school. As Kiyoko approaches them with the new members' registrations, Tanaka compliments her beauty, though she ignores him.
At the end of the day, the three upperclassmen head down to the gym to begin practice and see Hinata and Kageyama already at the gym. Tanaka at first tries to intimidate the first years, especially Kageyama, whom he remembers as the conceited setter from Kitagawa Daiichi. Engrossed with this powerful addition to the team, the upperclassmen fail to notice Hinata until he calls out for their attention. Tanaka immediately recognizes him as "that number one shortie" and enthusiastically compliments him for his confident playing style, despite his clumsiness and lack of height. However, his good mood is ruined when Kageyama and Hinata start fighting, interrupting Daichi and catching the vice-principal's attention.Tanaka hastily tries to calm the first years down, but they ignore him and start their own mini-match. The match goes astray and the vice principal wounds up getting his wig knocked off. Tanaka starts laughing, though he tries to suppress it.
After Daichi speaks with the vice principal, Tanaka stands with the others and face him quietly, getting intimidated when he realizes that Daichi’s angry. As Daichi starts to explain Karasuno’s goals, Tanaka adds a complaint about their nicknames. He quickly gets annoyed at Kageyama when the latter notes that there are plenty of other teams with the same goals as Karasuno, but stops when he sees Daichi’s face. He remains quiet until Daichi kicks the two first years out. Listening to the two argue outside, Tanaka begins laughing again.
3-on-3 First Years MatchEdit
At the end of practice, Tanaka remarks to Sugawara that the two first years may resort to challenging them to a match to win their admission and to his surprise, they actually do. Tanaka laughs at them right away, but refuses to team up with them. However, he’s easily convinced by Daichi and he runs to the first years enthusiastically, even hinting to them later on to meet up early in the morning the next day to practice.
The next morning, Tanaka arrives at five am and greets the two first years waiting outside the gym. He shows them the key and loudly tells them to call him senpai. As he unlocks the gym, he thinks back to Daichi’s words and seems to agree with the captain that the two first years can learn to work with each other. However, he’s quickly disappointed when he sees them arguing over who enters the gym first.
Tanaka starts practicing with the two, but they argue the entire time. Fed up, Tanaka pauses and pulls them aside. He starts by telling them that Daichi is usually kind, but when he’s angry, he’s terrifying so if the two don’t quiet down, the others will find out. Suddenly, Sugawara enters and greets Tanaka, scaring him.
Tanaka immediately asks how Sugawara found out and Sugawara simply replies that Tanaka’s never on time for practice so the fact that he’s asking for the keys is suspicious. Since Sugawara decides to help the two first years, the practice is split with Tanaka practicing with Kageyama and Hinata with Sugawara. As Tanaka trains with Kageyama, he admits that the first year’s good, but he dislikes his attitude.
Tanaka spends the days leading up to the 3-on-3 match practicing with the other three. Daichi almost catches him at one point, when he notices that Tanaka and Sugawara have been looking tired lately. Tanaka also meets the other first years, but he dislikes them right away. Sugawara points out that he doesn’t like anyone he meets.
The day of the 3-on-3, Tanaka gets ready with the others, but gets distracted as Kiyoko walks by him. Tsukishima then announces loudly that he’s going to crush the other team and brings up Kageyama’s past. Instantly, Tanaka jumps to the two first years’ defense and retorts that they’re going to pulverize Tsukishima.
The match starts and Tanaka easily blows past Tsukishima’s block. Hinata has more trouble and Tsukishima constantly insults him, causing Tanaka to attack back, though Daichi stops him. Tanaka reluctantly backs away, but to his surprise, Kageyama replies to Tsukishima that he’s scared of what happened in junior high. Hinata then jumps in and adds that he doesn’t care about Kageyama’s past and Tanaka smiles approvingly.
The next move, Hinata and Kageyama perform a quick and Tanaka rushes to the two, surprised at their coordination. When Hinata replies that they didn’t plan a quick, a confused Tanaka tries to reason with him. Kageyama initially refuses to try it with Hinata, but decides to do it after Tsukishima insults Hinata again. The setter vaguely explains a quick to Hinata, who says that he understands, but Tanaka doesn’t believe him.
The quick fails the first time and as Kageyama starts to argue with Hinata, Sugawara steps in. When the third year brings up his own faults, Tanaka yells that they’re not true, but Daichi stops him. After Sugawara’s talk, the two first years try again and succeed this time. A shocked Daichi reveals that Hinata had his eyes closed and Tanaka yells in disbelief before running to Hinata and praising him.
Tanaka scores the last point for the first set and gives the finger to Tsukishima while challenging him. The other second years then tease him and call him “baldy”, annoying him. In the end, Tanaka’s team wins and he goes straight to Daichi and Sugawara afterwards. Incredulous, Tanaka asks if the two had known that Hinata and Kageyama would be able to synchronize like they had during the match based on the third years’ initial statements, though they deny it.
Now that Hinata and Kageyama have won their way into the club and made up with each other, Daichi allows them admission and gives them their jackets. Tanaka grins happily as the first years line up and then proceeds to teach Hinata and Kageyama how to pose with their uniforms.
Tokyo Expedition ArcEdit
Spring High Preliminary ArcEdit
He is a player who never gives up on the ball. According to Keishin Ukai, Tanaka is the second strongest spiker in Karasuno (Asahi being the first) and most importantly, his ability to perform when he's cornered doesn't deteriorate. He shows incredible mental fortitude during games, and this mental strength gives him the qualities of an ace. Although he doesn't demonstrate it, it's been noted by Daichi that he does have pretty good game sense.
Height and reach, as of mid-November:
- Fingertip Height: 224 cm
- Jumping Reach: 324 cm (spike) / 312 cm (block)
- Inner Cross: After the Tokyo Expedition Arc, Tanaka is seen working on his inner cross. Initially, he struggles with the control, but he ultimately perfects it in a clutch moment during the Inarizaki match. His inner cross has an extremely sharp trajectory and lands across the court before the attack line.
- Straight Spike: Tanaka uses a straight spike that he executes off of a form meant to hit a cross. He tricks the blockers into thinking he will spike a cross with his run-up and spiking form. Then he spikes through the small opening left open by the blockers and the antenna on the side. Tanaka's straight requires absolute precision as the ball trajectory is extremely close to the boundary line. This straight, combined with his inner cross, makes Tanaka a formidable spiker.
- Jump Serve: Tanaka practices the jump serve just ahead of the Spring Interhigh. By Nationals, Tanaka has learned to perform a legitimate jump serve that can pressure his opponents.
- Saeko Tanaka: Tanaka gets along well with his older sister. Saeko cooks him dinner and would sometimes offer help with his studies, though he often declines. Since the beginning of Spring High Preliminaries, Saeko has attended most of Tanaka's matches. She often cheers him on loudly from the bleachers, however, He sometimes can be embarrassed when she cheers for him.
- Yū Nishinoya: The duo are shown to be good friends due to their similar rowdy personalities. Whenever they're excited, they tend to shout or celebrate excessively, much at the annoyance of Daichi. Tanaka and Nishinoya both have a soft spot for Shimizu and often band together to keep other boys away from her. They also hate guys like Oikawa for getting more attention from girls.
- Taketora Yamamoto: Tanaka and Yamamoto have similar looks and personalities: they're both loud and delinquent-like. At their very first meeting, they didn't get along well and almost fought. However, after the match Yamamoto approached Tanaka and admitted that he likes Shimizu, causing the two to bond over their crush. They even cried and shook hands as two were separating. Since then they've exchanged numbers to become text buddies; Yamamoto once texted Tanaka for advice on how to talk to girls. During the summer camp, Tanaka hung out with Yamamoto and, together with Nishinoya, even formed a team with him during the barbeque to keep away other players from approaching Kiyoko.
To always be there and help
His precious juniors
- In Season 3 Episode 6, Tanaka makes a haiku: "後輩を支えてこその先輩だ, It's a senpai's job to always be there and help his precious juniors".
- Favorite Food: Melonpan
- Current Concern: He tried calling out to a lost-looking first-year girl to tell her the way to her classroom, but she started to cry.
- He is the only Karasuno member to play for the full length of every match they have had in the series.
- In the OVA, he asks his sister Saeko to drive Hinata and Kageyama to the Training Camp. When she refused at first, he counts his savings but finds that he doesn't have enough to pay for a ride. He persists in begging Saeko and even willingly kneels just to help his underclassmen. This shows just how much he cares for his teammates and underclassman.
- Tanaka wears dark grey gym shoes with black accents.
- He has exceptionally good hearing.
- His star sign is Pisces.
- Tanaka is the youngest of the second years.
- According to Hinata in the bonus story Kageyama of Class 1-3, Tanaka is to be the next ace after Asahi.
- Furudate gave him this name because "He’s Tanaka because he’s Tanaka-ish! I tried to give him a really cool name and that ended up being Ryūnosuke!"
- Kiyoko Shimizu's Seiyuu says that her personal favorite character is Tanaka.
- In Haikyuu's first popularity poll, Tanaka placed 9th with 3,384 votes. In the second, he dropped to 12th with 4,236 votes.
- Ryūnosuke (龍之介) - Assistance of a Dragon
- Tanaka (田中) - Ricefield Middle