The Little Giant is a mysterious character ever since he was introduced in the series.
But, other than Shōyō Hinata’s idol, is he just an unknown shadow floating around, destined never to make an appearance, in the series? Or could he be more than just a role model for Shōyō?
Come one, come all! Let us unravel the identity behind the enigmatic Little Giant!
To be honest, when I was new to Haikyū!!, I was also curious: What happened to the Little Giant? Why was his proper introduction in the series delayed for exactly 7 years (from the time since the series debuted in 2012 up to 2019)?
Despite his characterization being covered with layers and layers of ambiguity, we finally got our answers!
Shōyō met the “Little Giant” before Karasuno played against Kamomedai High. It was a shocking moment to Shōyō, not to mention, to us long-time fans of Haruichi Furudate’s volleyball series!
But sadly, the “Tiny Giant” is nothing more than an average citizen. He was merely visiting the Tokyo Spring Tournament Nationals to support Karasuno High, his former high school and alma mater.
After following Haikyū!! and Furudate’s beloved characters for 7 long-awaited years, I must express my disappointment upon reading the Tiny Giant’s debut in Chapter 338 (Volume 38) of the series:
That’s it? That’s him? The ‘Small Giant’? This is the twist that fans have been waiting for a long time? Bummer!
I’m sure Shōyō felt the same even upon meeting his idol! You can see his facial expression even if he comes to accept it later.
Who Is The Little Giant In Haikyū!!?
The Little Giant’s real name is Tenma Udai. He quitted playing volleyball after high school and is now a mangaka (LOL! I know!) in the Haikyū!! universe.
He chose the mangaka path because he was not invited to play on other teams due to his small stature. Ironic, isn’t it?
And because he was discouraged (perhaps, constantly due to many rejections), his demotivation grew until he finally gave up the sports.
By the end of the series, we see him getting fired over his horror manga and starting “Mateo Attack” (a volleyball sports series in the Haikyū!! verse); thus, reflecting mangaka Furudate-sensei’s real-life experiences as his prior horror mangas failed as well.
I understand the disappointment and sadness. There’s nothing grandeur about Shōyō’s idol. If this happened to me, I’d be crying in addition to feeling unhappy.
How could Furudate-sensei do this to Shōyō and us? He planted this compelling Small Giant character in our minds and inside Shōyō’s imagination, only to reveal to us later how average this man is.
And that’s another thing: the Little Giant is just an average man in the Haikyū!! verse. I know mangakas are above ordinary. They have gruesome deadlines to catch up to; they might also only sleep fewer hours compared to the average person.
But remember, the Tiny Giant was introduced in the story to mirror Haruichi Furudate — the real-life mangaka of this not-so-average and wonderful sports series!
Since the fictional Small Giant is the actual representation of Furudate-sensei, who is Shōyō Hinata representing? Well, it’s no one else but us — fans engrossed in Furudate-sensei’s captivating storytelling!
Like Shōyō, many fans were disappointed in the Tiny Giant’s face reveal and proper introduction. Whether fans like it, Shōyō’s reactions are not far from the truth.
He met his idol and was able to ask him a few questions; then, he moved on in life to focus on his game. Simple as that. That’s us — the fans — moving on from what is seemingly a fantastical dream.
Did Shōyō Beat The Little Giant In Volleyball?
No, he didn’t. Since the Small Giant quit volleyball a long time ago, Shōyō didn’t get to play a volleyball match with his idol. Although, I’d like to see Furudate-sensei draw us a one-shot manga of this alternate scene in the distant future if possible.
Had the Small Giant pursued volleyball, there would have been an epic match between Shōyō and Tenma Udai!
If we take things a step further, the Small Giant could have been a rival and the “last boss” before Shōyō is crowned with the Little Giant title! Wouldn’t that be a more hot-blooded take to this sports series?
Not only would Shōyō earn the title, Haikyū!! fans would also feel rewarded. Their 7-year long wait would pay off because they’d get to see Shōyō earn and win the coveted Little Giant title!
Did Shōyō Become The Next “Little Giant”?
No, he didn’t. The Little Giant is a coveted title because it gave Shōyō (and us, Haikyū!! fans) the image of a small player who reached the peak of his volleyball career.
Sadly, Shōyō didn’t inherit the Little Giant title. What a twist!
Instead, Furudate-sensei (through Shōyō and Tenma’s dialogues) gave the Little Giant title to Kamomedai High’s Kōrai Hoshiumi, who claimed it was his title from the beginning (as he yelled this matter-of-factly to Shōyō).
Kōrai Hoshiumi is a small-statured player who realized and accepted his shortness and weaknesses since he was a child. Wishing to unshackle himself from the grasps of Akitomo (his older brother), he chose volleyball to identify with.
With basketball as the focus of Akitomo, Kōrai thought nothing would take away the joy of volleyball becoming his “own sports”.
But when Akitomo visited the gymnasium where Kōrai was practicing volleyball, Akitomo stole the spotlight and outshone his younger brother again!
Kōrai cried when getting home, complaining why he’s the only short member in his family. His mother consoled him saying, “It’s genetics”. Instead of just stopping just at that, she encouraged her son:
There probably isn’t a sure-fire way for you to grow tall, but there are plenty of ways for you to become strong. You’re my top contender on becoming strong!Korai Mother
These were just the right words Kōrai needed to hear when he’s at his low point. And thanks to his mom’s encouragement, Tenma acknowledged the little guy as the Little Giant!
When Shōyō got over his disappointment upon meeting Tenma, he also gave the Little Giant title to Kōrai. On one hand, fans might perceive this as Shōyō giving up on the coveted title especially after seeing Tenma as an ordinary guy. After all, the title gave him a new image of it: “average”, “ordinary”, etc.
However, fans can also perceive Shōyō’s growth and acceptance of being the “Greatest Decoy”, a nickname Tobio Kageyama assigned him when Karasuno High’s team formation was going on at the beginning of the series.
It’s not so bad of a title. At the very least, it’s a cool alias to give Shōyō who’s proven his worth as a decoy: he’s quick-on-his feet when luring opponents!
Regardless of how Shōyō and Kōrai gave themselves aliases, these two little giants will always be inspirational volleyball players to many fans of this beloved series!
After all, Kōrai stated that those aliases aren’t all there is to their strengths. Even if Kōrai himself claimed the new Little Giant title, Shōyō can still be another new Little Giant in many people’s eyes.
Haikyu!! is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. Its publication in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump began in February 2012 with 42 collected tankōbon volumes released.
Hinata Shoyo is a highly passionate boy who wishes to follow the steps of his idol, ‘The Little Giant’ in the field of volleyball. Hinata’s resolve is unbreakable as he faces gruesome defeat at the hands of the ‘King of the Court,’ a genius prodigy setter Kageyama Tobio in middle school. Hinata’s dreams take fruit as he enters high school.
He joins the declining volleyball team of Karasuno High and is appalled to find the very same Kageyama as his teammate. The story follows the revival of Karasuno High and the unity they maintain to pave their way for nationals.