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"If you're gonna stare at someone, at least make it a girl!"

Tanji Washijō (Japanese: 鷲匠 (わしじょう) 鍛治 (たんじ) Washijō Tanji) is the Head Coach of Shiratorizawa Academy's boys' volleyball team.

Appearance

He has thick, light colored hair that is styled back, bold eyebrows. He's around 160 cm tall and has a frail build but in his youth, he was very muscular and large. He is typically seen with a somewhat angry expression.

Personality

As the head coach of a champion team, he's incredibly stern and doesn't hesitate to loudly chastise his players in the middle of matches; thus earning the name "Demon Coach". He gets angry very easily and is shown to be very stubborn. During the first years training camp, he continuously refused to allow Hinata to participate despite the latter's skills and subsequent improvement, basing his decision on Hinata's lack of height.

He is well known for preferring athletes with height and natural power, and has been said to go out of his way to look for those people to recruit. The players' background or personality means nothing to Washijō as he only cares about how they play; this way of thinking garners respect from some of his players who had been left out or looked down upon by their former teams.

However, he does understand the passions of youth. He himself said that he wouldn't turn down anyone who was willing to work hard. He just doesn't acknowledge their skill based on their physiological parameters.

Post-timeskip, he appears to be more relaxed but still shows great pride when watching Ushijima play.

Background

He is one of the few characters in the series who speaks in a Miyagi Prefecture dialect, showing that he may have grown up in the region. Washijō was a volleyball player when he was eighteen[1], but he didn’t get a chance to play on his team because he lacked height. Watching his taller teammates play motivated him to create the strongest team possible.

Plot

Spring High Preliminary Arc

Washijo s3 e3.png

Shiratorizawa makes it to the finals and faces off against Karasuno. During the beginning of the match, Washijō remains quiet and lets his players make their own decisions. However, when Karasuno starts gaining up on them and they make mistakes, Washijō finally steps in[2], yelling at Goshiki for failing to receive a ball.

He comments disdainfully on Karasuno's techniques, calling them "tricks". Coach Akira Saitō remarks on Ikkei Ukai's grandson being the new coach and Washijō recounts his previous encounters with the older Coach Ukai, expressing his dislike of the latter's methods.

Shiratorizawa's soon pushed to its first time-out of the match. Despite it being him who'd called it, Washijō leaves the other coach to talk to the players as he stands to the side, seemingly contemplating something.

Shiratorizawa ends up losing the second set. During the break, Washijō doesn't say anything, which makes it scarier for the players. After a few seconds, he calls Shirabu over. However, he simply notes that Shirabu should already know what he did wrong. He then gathers the team up and tells the players to not get distracted by Karasuno's gimmicks and to just focus on their own strength. After his small speech, Shiratorizawa easily takes back the third set.

Washijo Ushijima s3 e8.png

However, Shiratorizawa faces difficulty against Karasuno in the fourth set and Washijō calls a time-out again. He yells at the players to keep up with the defense, but trips over his words in his rage, causing the other coach to help him out[3]. As the match nears an end, Washijō thinks back to his past, Hinata having reminded the coach of himself. He watches Ushijima and notes that he doesn’t want to find a way for short people like himself to fight on the court. He simply wants to create an overwhelmingly powerful team.

In the end, Karasuno wins the match[4]. Washijō grins in frustration as he remembers a quote from a famous coach about how sheer power won’t always work. He watches Hinata walk past and asks the other coach about the first year’s height. Washijō notes that Hinata may grow stronger from here if he keeps aiming for the top. The players then line up in front of the coaches. Washijō simply tells them to do a hundred serves once they get back, silently acknowledging that they played well.

The next day, the third years give their speeches and officially retire from the club. Washijō sits there silently, observing the team, until he receives a phone call from Coach Anabara of Johzenji High.

Tokyo Nationals Arc

First Year Training Camp

Washijō and Anabara decide to create a training camp at Shiratorizawa for all the promising first-years of Miyagi Prefecture[5]. To their surprise, Hinata shows up uninvited and quickly gets taken to the office so they could inform Coach Ukai. As Hinata’s explaining his situation, Washijō takes the phone and explains that he doesn’t mind having an extra ball boy. Coach Ukai and Takeda accept and hang up.

Hinata and Washijo s4-e1-2.png

Turning his attention to Hinata, Washijō bluntly remarks that he does not see any worth in Hinata without Kageyama as his setter. He tells Hinata that if he doesn’t want to be a ball boy, he can just leave. As Washijō walks back into the gym, Hinata runs out and announces loudly that he’ll be the ball boy for the team. An annoyed Washijō glares at the middle blocker as he had been expecting Hinata to simply give up and go home.

Washijō then introduces the program to the players and tells them to make full use of this opportunity to learn from one another. Practice then begins, but Washijō appears to be more focused on Hinata as he is clearly noticed by others to be yelling at Hinata more than the players.

That evening, Anabara comments to Washijō about Hinata practicing by himself even after everyone has left the gym. Washijō reveals that he can’t dislike someone who would push himself past his limits like that but even if Hinata shows real skill during this camp, the coach still wouldn’t let him into practice.

The camp goes well and Hinata somehow appears to be improving, which Washijō notices but refuses to acknowledge. He continuously goes out of his way to remind Hinata that he wasn’t invited, though the players and Shiratorizawa third-years are starting to pick up on his hostility.

The week soon ends and the players go home[6]. Washijō goes out to eat with Anabara and another person and discusses the camp with them. When Anabara remarks that Hinata seemed to have performed better than the players, Washijō adds that, like him, Hinata’s attribute is his hunger to succeed and overcome the obstacle of his lack of height, shocking the coaches as this is the first time they’d heard Washijō somewhat complimenting Hinata.

Karasuno vs Inarizaki

Washijo s4-e25-1.png

Washijō later watches the live stream of Karasuno's match against Inarizaki[7]. When Anabara accidentally calls him in his surprised state at the end of the match, Washijō already knows what it's about and replies that he saw everything; this simple response is his acknowledgement of Hinata's improvement.

Karasuno vs Kamomedai

Washijō watches the match with a stern look on his face as Hinata is about to do his minus tempo attack. After the attack, Saitō shows a small sign of surprise, but Washijō’s expression does not change. Despite this, at the beginning of the third set, Hinata switches to his first minus tempo plus attack in the last minute, which makes Washijō smile. However, it’s not until Saitō analytically praises the player that Washijō admits that he’s been convinced that if he wasn’t tall enough, he didn’t have a choice but to find ways to fight without height, but Hoshiumi and Hinata have proven him wrong. He then realizes that he didn’t need to tell Hinata that he was worthless without Kageyama at the youth camp since he already knew. He goes even as far as to admit that he was jealous of tall people, which is why he created a team with all-around stereotypically powerful players.

He then realizes that upon seeing Hinata performing his minus tempo right in the next rally, the four decades that he had passed filled with hatred were disappearing for those he had spent in high school playing volleyball and to him, it feels like these years are screaming at him like he could have played like that as well[8].

Final Arc

When Hinata had announced that he wanted to switch to beach volleyball but was having trouble finding a proper coach, Washijō offered assistance by informing Hinata and Ukai of a former student of his that transferred to beach volleyball in Rio de Janeiro[9]. Through Washijō's help in setting things up and warning of a time limit in which he had to complete his training, Hinata was able to make the journey to Brazil. Originally having admitted that he felt it was not his business what Hinata would try, Washijō confesses that he sees Hinata's worth and determination and would not allow anyone to have higher expectations of Hinata than himself.

Washijō later attends the match between the Schweiden Adlers and the MSBY Black Jackals where Hinata was making his debut appearance in the V-League. He has remained the head coach for the Shiratorizawa boys volleyball team and reunites with Reon and Semi shortly before the game. When Hinata delivers his first spike of the game with his improved jump, Washijō has an excited expression. Shortly after this, he is joined by his wife Terano Washijō. After the match, Washijō and his wife greet Ushijima on the court and later are both seen watching a television program where Ushijima met with Tendō in Paris.

Statistics

It's unknown what Washijō's condition is like now, but he was a strong volleyball player in the past. He claimed to be good at receiving and jumps, but it was later revealed that he worked hard on this area due to the fact that he was rather short, and felt he had to make up for it somehow. His coaching philosophy is to draft tall and powerful players, even when they have very little game sense, and likes to harness individual strength.

Relationships

Shiratorizawa Academy

Washijō’s feared by his players for his brutal practices and strict coaching, but highly respected at the same time. He is confident in his team’s abilities, even when it lost to Karasuno. Tendō especially respects the coach due to Washijō’s method of choosing players based on their abilities, regardless of their backgrounds. Washijō encourages his blocking style, reminding him during the Karasuno match that it was okay to be wrong sometimes[10].

Wakatoshi Ushijima

In Ushijima, Washijō most likely sees everything that he hoped to have been. It's clear that Washijō prizes Ushijima above others on the Shiratorizawa team and has made things so that Ushijima would be the star player and everyone else would not be in his way. Washijō often shows pride when Ushijima makes amazing plays but does admit that the ace has a few problem areas. Even after Ushijima joined a professional team, Washijō continues to be proud of his former student.

Tsutomu Goshiki

Washijō appears to be the most harsh and demanding toward first-year Goshiki. While the young wing spiker originally believed that Washijō was being this way toward him was because he believed he lacked skill or was performing poorly during the match against Karasuno, Reon would state that Washijō actually was counting on Goshiki the most[11].

Ikkei Ukai

Back when Karasuno was strong and had Coach Ukai, it fought against Shiratorizawa. The two coaches disliked each other based on their methods of playing. While Washijō prefers relying on strong players, specifically the ace, Ukai used various, new techniques that often involved the entire team.

Shōyō Hinata

Hinata reminds Washijō of his past self because of his lack of height and determination to succeed. However, Washijō disliked the first-year because of this and continuously thought to himself that Hinata won’t get far with those traits. However, after Karasuno won, he seemed to gain more respect for the middle blocker. Even so, Washijō refused to let Hinata participate in his camp, claiming that without Kageyama, Hinata was useless. Despite this, Washijō respects Hinata's determination to improve and seemed to focus much more on Hinata than the invited players, showing that he does hold an interest in the first year's skills. After watching Hinata at the Inarizaki match, Washijō seems to have officially acknowledged Hinata as a player.
When Hinata expressed his interest to train in beach volleyball, Washijō offers his assistance and connects Hinata with a former Shiratorizawa alum who now coaches beach volleyball in Brazil. Later, Washijō reveals he will not allow anyone to have higher expectations of Hinata than himself[9]

Trivia

  • Current Concern: It seems to him that there are now fewer students who are independent. 
  • Washijō was a volleyball player for ten years before transitioning to a coach for the next forty plus years.
    • As a player, he was shown spiking from the front left side of the court, indicating he was a wing spiker.
  • In Volume 43 Chapter 382, Washijō was shown watching the MSBY Black Jackals vs. the Schweiden Adlers match with Washijō Terano, presumably his wife.
  • Nomenclature
    • Tanji (鍛治) - Blacksmith
    • Washijō (鷲匠) - Eagle, Artisan
      • Made in parallel to the word "takajō" (鷹匠), meaning "falconer".

Quotes

  • "On the high school level, your team changes every year. There's only so much you can do with them. Picking out the best and giving 'em a coat of proper polish is the most efficient strategy." (Volume 18 Chapter 158 / Season 3 Episode 3)
  • "Does it look like they play good volleyball to you? Forget them. Your strength is simplicity. That's real strength. Solid strength. Not some thin veneer." (To his team, Volume 19 Chapter 165)
  • "But no matter how much we do... or how good we are at doing it... for us, there's no such thing as 'good enough'." (About Hinata, Volume 44 Chapter 386)

References

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