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Saeko Tanaka (Japanese: 田中 (たなか) 冴子 (さえこ) Tanaka Saeko) is Ryūnosuke Tanaka's older sister and a former student at Karasuno High. She was also one of the Small Giant's classmates during her high school years[1].

As of 2018, she works for a motorcycle shop.

Appearance

Saeko has a slender body figure. She is slightly under-average in height, and has short, honey-blonde hair and four earrings on her ear. Like her brother, her eyes are slightly slanted. She usually dresses casually, though with a rebellious touch, such as black leather, darkly-colored tank tops, or a green top that exposes her midriff and cleavage. She also has two arm bracelets with metal spikes around it. She has worn light brown pants and a black belt[2].

Personality

Similar to her brother, Saeko is loud, confident, outspoken, and while Tanaka may just look like a rebel, it has been hinted that Saeko was actually one since she herself stated that she "hung out with the bad kids" in high school. While she doesn't like studying, she passed her college entrance exam on her first try. Saeko is also seen to be quite the reckless driver, and according to Tanaka when you ride with her "safety and comfort are not guaranteed."

To match her loud and confident nature, and currently leads a taiko drum group that she takes to Nationals to cheer Karasuno and make up for her lack of cheer during the Shiratorizawa match. While Tanaka gets embarrassed by his sister's antics and signs of affection, the rest of Karasuno, especially Nishinoya seem to see her as a cool older sister type, and she often calls the first years by their first names.

Background

Saeko's startled by the Small Giant's intensity.

Saeko is the first child and only daughter in her family and is usually in charge of caring for her younger brother. She works at the Karasuno Café at the time of her introduction. She was a former student at Karasuno High School back when its volleyball team was at its strongest and was the Small Giant's classmate[1]. The two didn't know each other personally, but Saeko knew of him and had seen him play in practice matches before.

Plot

Tokyo Expedition Arc

While Tanaka and the other second years are studying for their exams, Saeko comes home and interrupts their session by being surprised to see her brother willingly studying[3]. She offers to help her brother, but he blatantly rejects her, saying that she's just as stupid as he is. Saeko argues back with him a bit but soon leaves the second years alone.

Kageyama and Hinata are knocked over by Saeko's reckless driving.

Sometime later, she's asked by Tanaka to drive Kageyama and Hinata to Tokyo after their supplementary exams. During the ride, Saeko reveals to Hinata about how she used to go to Karasuno High and her impression of the Small Giant. She reveals that she once passed by the gym when the volleyball club was holding a practice match and decided to watch part of it. The Small Giant wasn't doing well at that time and was switched out during the game. In his frustration, he went into the hallway where Saeko watched him impassively from her spot until he suddenly turned to her, and she was shocked by the intensity in his eyes. Even now, Saeko still remembers the Small Giant's expression and admits it almost made her fall for him. After dropping Kageyama and Hinata off, she decides to stay the night to drink with the coaches.

During a break from the summer camp, Saeko asks her brother about a Tsukishima on his team, stating that she remembers there being a member with that name on the volleyball team back when the Small Giant was around[4]. This reveals Tsukishima's past to the team.

Spring High Preliminary Arc

Karasuno vs Wakutani

Group s2 e16.png

Saeko starts attending Karasuno's matches starting from the Wakutani vs Karasuno match[5]. She she joins Shimada and Yachi in the stands where she reveals herself to be Tanaka's older sister before loudly calling out to him on the court, much to his embarrassment. As she is not too familiar with the terms and plays of volleyball, Saeko depends on the Shimada and Yachi to explain things to her. When the game starts, Saeko is caught off guard by Nakashima ricocheting the ball off Hinata's hand.

After Daichi had to be removed from the game after colliding with Tanaka, Saeko assures Shimada that Ennoshita is fully capable of taking charge of the team; calling him the don of the second years. Later when Yamaguchi switched his serve, Saeko questions why this was seen as a bad thing and learns from Shimada the different impact a jump serve can make from a standing serve. As the game continues, Saeko continues to show frustration as how Nakashima is able to continue getting the better of Karasuno at times and even aimed for the spots left open when Nishinoya rotated off the court.

Karasuno vs Aoba Johsai

Saeko stays to watch Karasuno face Aoba Johsai[6]. After meeting Takinoue, she realizes that Karasuno would advance to the final round of the tournament and possibly make it to Nationals if they beat Seijoh. Although excited, she soon hears how Takinoue and Shimada are nervous about the game starting off with Oikawa serving and how devastating his serves can be for the opposing team. Fortunately, Karasuno was able to counter to get the first point of the game and stop Oikawa right away.

When Hinata rotates to the front row once Karasuno takes the lead, Saeko learns of Karasuno's previous match against Seijoh and how they lost when Hinata's quick attack had been blocked. However, Saeko happily celebrates Hinata avenging that lost point and getting a two point lead in the score and Karasuno eventually winning the first set. However, thanks to Kyōtani, Saeko starts to become worried about how the game is going until Sugawara is switched in to help the team catch up. Even after Sugawara is subbed out, she begins thinking that it wouldn't be a problem if they lost the set since they could potentially win the third set but listens how Shimada states it's better for the boys to win in straight sets since a third set could be even more troublesome.

When Yamaguchi is subbed in and begins to get Karasuno caught up in the score, Saeko joins in celebrating each point that he is able to help the team gain. As the third set plays out, Saeko continues to cheer for the team and show her irritation of how well Seijoh continues to play. When Karasuno eventually wins, Saeko is seen happily embracing Yachi.

Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa

Right before the Shiratorizawa vs Karasuno match begins[7], Saeko notices Akiteru Tsukishima "acting suspiciously" and drags him to Shimada and Takinoue, thinking he was a possible spy from Shiratorizawa. This reveals him to Tsukishima, but he ends up staying with Saeko and the others to cheer on Karasuno.

Just as the match starts, Shimada, Takinoue, and Akiteru express their worry for Karasuno after remembering that it's Karasuno's first time at the finals–and first time playing five sets. Quickly, Saeko yells at them to not lose faith in the members. However, even she starts getting nervous after Shiratorizawa scores several times in a row against Karasuno, especially since the members are having trouble against Ushijima. After she comments on the members' problems, Akiteru explains to her Ushijima's left-handed status, the reason why Nishinoya can't receive his spikes initially.

As the match progresses, Akiteru evaluates the techniques used by both teams for Saeko and would point out things he notices about his brother. When Tsukishima succeeds in blocking Ushijima[8], Akiteru bursts into tears and Saeko comments that he must be happy for his brother. However, he responds that he's just happy to see Tsukishima finally fitting in with his team.

Nearing the fifth set, Saeko starts a round of cheers for Karasuno to motivate the members[9]. However, they're soon drowned out by Shiratorizawa's much bigger audience singing the school song. Dismayed, Saeko stops and looks at Shiratorizawa hopelessly. Despite this, the cheers do succeed in boosting the members' morale, proven by Hinata's sudden burst of stamina.

In the end, Karasuno wins and advances to the Spring Cup[10]. Saeko's shown stopping Yachi from fainting as she cheers on the members.

Tokyo Nationals Arc

To support Karasuno, Saeko helps create a menu at the Karasuno Eatery that serves dishes with ten percent of all revenue donated to the team[11]. As she delivers a bowl of ramen to a customer, she brags about her brother being the next team ace though the customer teases that if he's related to her, he must be a hoodlum.

Karasuno vs Inarizaki

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During Karasuno's match with Inarizaki, Karasuno is thrown off by the latter's oppressive cheer team, but Saeko comes in with her Taiko team to save the match and restore the team's morale. Despite that the team arrived in time to help, Shimada points out how they are still late. Saeko admits that she had been out drinking the night before but was still able to depart with her team at the correct time though they did get lost on the way. When Hinata scores the next point for Karasuno, the taiko drum team give him the first cheer; thrilling the middle blocker in the process. Takinoue tells Saeko that they don't need to necessarily drown out Inarizaki's cheer team but rather do their best to play loud enough that Karasuno's server cannot be confused by Inarizaki's rhythm.

Admitting that she was frustrated that she could do nothing more than yell during the game against Shiratorizawa, Saeko promises to do her best to help keep the players from being distracted. When Tsukishima is able to block Osamu, Saeko questions why Akiteru is not at the game and that he will surely cry at not having gotten to see his brother's block, though Shimada states that Akiteru would most likely cry even if he was there to witness his brother play. When Tanaka is able to make his cross shot work, Saeko is shown with a look of joy. When she witnesses Aran play, she comments how he is similar to Ushijima. In the third set, Saeko, like the rest of Karasuno, is surprised to hear Inarizaki's cheer squad applauding Asahi on his no-touch service ace. She later becomes tearful when she sees Tanaka land a super straight shot in the third set. When Karasuno wins the match, Saeko happily calls out to her brother. When the stands are clearing, Saeko and her group encounter Inarizaki's demon cheer squad and they bow to each other in respect. 

Karasuno vs Nekoma

The night of Karasuno's game against Inarizaki, Saeko encountered Akane Yamamoto and an instant rivalry began. The next day, Saeko leads Karasuno's cheer section.

Karasuno vs Kamomedai

Just before the match between Karasuno and Kamomedai, Saeko is surprised to see that Tenma Udai has decided to attend the tournament to watch Karasuno play. She is quick to locate Hinata and inform him of his idol's presence and introduce the two to on another. However, her excitement vanishes when Udai admits that he stopped playing volleyball after high school in order to pursue other interests and she becomes concerned that she dampened Hinata's spirit by introducing them.

Saeko continues to lead the taiko drum group during the game and proudly boasts of her brother to Udai early in the first set[12]. When Udai excitedly proclaims that he correctly guessed that Hoshiumi would do a block-out, Saeko calls him out on where his loyalties lie. Like many others, Saeko becomes concerned and infuriated at how well Kamomedai's blockers are able to move and work together in perfect unison.

In the second set, she would question why Karasuno does not use the same method they had done with Ushijima by having the taller players try to block Hoshiumi. She would come to understand how the method may not work against someone as skilled as Hoshiumi and would be complimented by Udai on her volleyball knowledge. She would then explain that her knowledge came from being around Akiteru, Shimada, and Takinoue but she referred to them as 'old guys'[13].

When Hinata is removed from the game due to his fever, Saeko is shown with an upset expression. She would then put her faith in Shimada to take care of him and get him to the hospital and Shimada in turn would count on her to continue to keep everyone's spirits high.

When Karasuno loses the match, Saeko tells Udai that, had Hinata not seen him playing at Nationals, everything leading to this moment would not have happened.

Final Arc

In the series finale, Saeko is an employee at a motorcycle shop and is still the captain of her taiko drum group Disorderly Crowd[14]. She accompanies Akiteru to the Adlers vs Jackals game where she brags about knowing that Hinata would one day become a formidable player. During the match, she is seen repeatedly ordering drinks and still feeling on edge when Ushijima spikes. Afterwards, she happily reunites with Akane.

Statistics

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

Despite not playing volleyball, having watched many games when she was a student, she knows of the game.

As far as skill goes, she is an accurate underarm server.

Relationships

Ryūnosuke Tanaka

Saeko with her brother, Ryūnosuke.

She is Tanaka's older sister. The two get along very well; Saeko cooks dinner for him and offers to help him with his studies sometimes, though he usually rejects her. Since the start of the Spring High, Saeko has attended almost every one of her brother's matches (she didn't attend the first day) and loudly cheers him on from the side, doting on him like a proud sister, sometimes to the point that she unintentionally embarrasses him.

Karasuno High

Since Tanaka and Nishinoya are close friends, Saeko is already familiar with the latter and often compliments his personality whenever she sees him. Since the Spring High, Saeko has gotten closer with some of the members, including the rest of the second years, Yachi, Kageyama, and Hinata. When Hinata and Kageyama had to take supplementary lessons, Saeko gave them a ride to Tokyo afterwards and even bonded with Hinata over the Small Giant. She also gets along well with Yachi, who often stood next to her in the bleachers during Karasuno's matches, although Yachi was intimidated by Saeko's extroverted personality and appearance initially.

Small Giant

They went to Karasuno High together though they didn't know each other personally. Saeko did take notice of the Small Giant though due to his fame as an incredible volleyball player and his mischievous personality that she has once stated she might get along with; although, in the anime, she says the opposite and claims that he didn't stand out so she never knew about him outside of his volleyball achievements[15]. She once encountered him near the volleyball gym after he was benched during a practice match and went outside to vent. As he was trashing the place around, he suddenly turned to Saeko who was shocked by his intense expression. Even now, she still remembers it.

Akiteru Tsukishima

They went to Karasuno High together, but Akiteru was in an older grade and they never met. Saeko does know of him, but only as "a Tsukishima guy on the volleyball team back when the Small Giant was around". They officially met in the Shiratorizawa vs Karasuno match, when Saeko accused Akiteru of being a spy from Shiratorizawa due to his clothes and behavior. The misunderstanding was cleared up quickly, and Akiteru decided to stay with Saeko to cheer on Karasuno. In the Black Jackals vs Schweiden Adlers game in 2018, they came to watch it together, so it can be assumed they've kept in touch.

Quotes

Trivia

  • Favorite Food: Home run ice cream bars.
  • Current Concern: Not a single girl seems to get just how cool her lil bro is!
  • She is the captain of a taiko squad called "Murder of Crows (Japanese: 烏合 (うごう) Ugō). In the English version, the team name is translated to "Disorderly Crowd."
  • The van Saeko drives is from her workplace, Karasuno Eatery/Kitchen (as noted on its front door).
  • Saeko's interactions with Yachi often involve Yachi's face being shoved in between Saeko's breasts.
  • Her zodiac sign is Taurus.
  • Nomenclature
    • Saeko (冴子) - Lucid Child
    • Tanaka (田中) - Rice Field Middle

References