Oikawa Tooru is not a geniusChapter 53 title
It might not be a literal quote, but let’s still dive into the sentence today, Oikawa Tooru is not a genius. The title of the 53rd manga chapter that begins with a little flashback into the past of Oikawa and Kageyama.
We already discussed the topic about talent and instinct that connects Kageyama and Oikawa, but here let’s focus on the special term genius referring exactly to Oikawa Tooru like the chapter title indicates.
Some would ask why explaining such an obvious sentence?
The answer is, things might look obvious but there is much more complexity behind it.
The fact that Oikawa is not a genius compared to either Kageyama or Ushijima might seem easy to spot despite the immense skill and ability-level he shows throughout the show. Even Kageyama who beat Oikawa along with Karasuno in the end of season two, still sees him as a fearful opponent as seen when he told Ushijima in season three that he only fears Oikawa and nobody else.
Why would he fear someone he beat, especially someone like Kageyama who is just as full of pride as Oikawa in that sense and dislikes talking good about people he doesn’t seem to get along with?
It’s simple, Oikawa is someone who actually needs to be feared, someone who anybody would call a genius if you look at his way of playing and tactical skills. But nonetheless Oikawa Tooru is not a genius.
All the abilities, tactics, quick reactions etc. were skills he had to learn from scratch and on top of that the hard way through trial and error, overworking himself to a point of perfectionism, until he could do the things he set his eyes on.
Not only taking risks of injuries and the precious amount of time that went on training for a young boy his age, but also the mental burden of constantly being compared to the real geniuses around him.
One of them being Ushijima since his first year in middle-school and the other one being the so-called prodigy Kageyama who appeared when Oikawa’s career started to take an up-lift, stirring his new-found confidence.
That, what Oikawa built up over years and years of agonizing and hard training, was easily surpassed by one individual called Kageyama, yet everybody including Kageyama see the true value of someone like him.
Someone who worked from the very bottom, acquiring skills actively, doing things through observation, repetition, adaption and careful analysing is different from a genius who had those assets from the beginning but only needs a bit training to optimize those skills, or at least passively trains them to become on a more than average-skilled level.
Especially Seijoh realizes that their setter and captain is someone who worked himself to a point of almost breaking down to become the most useful and adaptive position, to bring out the full potential of his team members and make himself a reliable, irreplaceable part of his team. He became someone that Kageyama Tobio looks up to and wants to surpass, and also Ushijima Wakatoshi wants in his team so badly due to his potential.
Iwaizumi who witnessed the whole process of Oikawa becoming the most amazing setter in the prefecture knew all along that his childhood friend is not a genius and yet he trusts and believes in him as the team’s vice captain and more importantly the Ace. He scolds him for not saying that he can surpass Kageyama and that Oikawa doesn’t see his own value as he compares himself to the geniuses who now fear him and even want him in his team.
As Iwaizumi stated in chapter 60 that he was blessed with more athletic skills than most people, yet when he continued he referred to Kageyama as a prodigy.
It means Iwaizumi reinforces the fact that Oikawa may have athletic-skills, but compared to Ushijima who he only suffered losses from or Kageyama who suddenly appeared, he is no prodigy, he is not a genius.
Meaning that even someone who is not blessed with natural talent and sense, can become someone who makes geniuses and prodigies respect and fear the ordinary, the one who was deemed to work harder and much more to keep up with their level.
Because despite the fact that he is not a genius, Oikawa Tooru is still the most amazing setter in the prefecture.