Tenma Udai (Japanese:
During his time in high school, Udai appears to be around less than 170 cm in height and has messy curly black hair similar to Hinata. In Saeko's flashback, he is also seen with dark grey eyes.
Saeko Tanaka described him as a mischievous person and one of the "bad kids" whom she would've gotten along with; however, in the anime, she also claimed that he didn't stand out. When on the volleyball court, he radiated an intense aura of confidence and pride in being his team's ace whose teammates could rely on in games.
In the current day, he seems to be more relaxed and easy-going, possibly as a result of mellowing out in the past few years. He doesn't show a strong attachment to his past title of the "Little Giant", freely admitting that he wasn't as strong as he used to believe and that players such as Kōrai Hoshiumi are better than he ever was. While watching the game between Kamomedai and Karasuno, he mostly exhibits a light-hearted enjoyment of both sides' abilities without appearing too concerned about the outcome of the match.
Udai is an alumnus of Karasuno High School and its former Ace. According to Keishin Ukai, Karasuno was at its peak when Udai played for the team. Because Hinata was inspired to play volleyball after seeing the "Small Giant" play on TV, Udai is indirectly responsible for all the events of the story.
Initially, the Small Giant used to frequently get blocked, but halfway through his second year, his abilities started developing and he started hitting the ball in between blockers' arms and off their fingertips.
There was one time in the past when he was not doing so well during a practice match. In the middle of the game, he was benched and went outside to the hallway to vent. Saeko Tanaka, who was watching the match, was standing near the lockers at that time. She observed as Udai kicked things around and banged his head against the lockers until he suddenly turned around and made eye contact with her. Saeko was taken aback by his intense expression and even now, remembers it vividly. She confessed it almost made her fall in love with him.
Tokyo Nationals ArcEdit
Karasuno vs Kamomedai High
Udai is revealed to be the Small Giant when he attends the Spring Interhigh as a spectator after hearing about Karasuno making the quarter-finals. He manages to spot Akiteru from the crowd and accompanies the rest of the Karasuno alumni to the arena. Saeko introduces him to Hinata, who eagerly greets him and inquires about his current volleyball activities. However, Udai admits that he had stopped playing volleyball after he graduated high school due to other interests as well as not being invited to join a college team.
As of the Final Arc, Tenma has become a manga creator and is working on Zombie Knight Zom'bish. He goes to the game between the Schweiden Adlers and MSBY Black Jackals with Akaashi as they appear to now be co-workers. At the end of the match, Tenma reveals that Zombie Knight Zom'bish is nearing completion but he has an idea for a new series he would like to work on. He and Akaashi interview Bokuto after the game but Tenma is confused at the behavior between the two Fukurōdani grads. In his last appearance, Tenma appears to be working on a new manga series based on volleyball.
He was blocked constantly during his first year and didn't develop his set of unique skills until his second year at Karasuno. However, after he improved his abilities, he became peerless in mid-air battles. He has been said to have incredible jumping ability. Since he was no match for the blockers in height, he developed a play style using block-outs, where he intentionally aims for the small gaps of a block and the blocker's fingertips so that the ball would ricochet. That was how he conceived his battle against other blockers.
In the past, Ukai Ikkei gave the Small Giant additional training to help him develop other skills to make up for his lack of height. Karasuno had the best team in its history when the Small Giant was on the team.
After the time skip, Udai and Akaashi work together. They attend the Alders and Jackals game together where they each take notice of Hinata's increase in skill and later would interview Bokuto together.
- Udai (宇内) - Within the cosmo/sky.
- Tenma (天満) - Fulfilled heaven.
- "Y'know? Back then... I thought I was really good too." - (To Akiteru Tsukishima, Volume 39 Chapter 343)
- "I like to think that, across both middle and high school, I was one of the higher-level players back in Miyagi Prefecture. I was well aware that I was the Ace, and I was confident I deserved to be. But this is Nationals. The further up you go here, the bigger, the faster, the smarter your opponents get. I thought I had to rely on skill and technique to make up for my lack of height. But you know? Anybody can have good skill and technique, tall or short. All you have to do is practice. The world is fair, but at the same time it's completely unfair." - (To Akiteru Tsukishima, Volume 39 Chapter 343)
- "Know your weaknesses. Accept them. Forget the weapons you can't wield. Find all the ones you can... and carefully, persistently, hone all of them to a wicked point. That is what it means... to be a Little Giant." - (To himself, Volume 41 Chapter 362)
- "I guess I might've made a monster then, huh? I kind of like that." - (To himself, Volume 42 Chapter 368 )