What They Say:
Chihaya lost to Yumi by four cards. The loss is a painful one, but after watching Dr. Harada and Tsuboguchi play their hearts out, she realizes she still has much to learn. Meanwhile, Arata lost in the fourth round of the West qualifier. He regrets spending time away from karuta and practices hard to make up. Both of them are learning and taking the next step forward.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chihaya’s loss to Yumi has certainly made an impact on her as she can’t even face her teammates at this point, especially since there’s the whole bet that she forgot about as well. It’s good to see the guys trying to step up and take her place in things, but there’s some other wrangling that goes on which for he moment at least delays things. Part of the appeal of the show is that while Chihaya is definitely the lead, she’s drawn an interesting and well rounded cast of characters around her and they’re fun to watch on their own. When they’re all together it has a certain energy, but enough of them are interesting beyond that so that when they go off camera, you want to follow them as well to see what they do.
What’s again welcome with the show is that as it progresses, Chihaya isn’t always handed a win even if she struggles very hard and does her best. As we see here, she had troubles and played as well as she could under the circumstances, but she still lost. And yet she still has rivals that are intent on taking her down elsewhere and next year at that. It’s kind of cute when you get down to it because Chihaya is so focused on the larger goals that she often misses the smaller things like this. Which is why it’s surprising when on the train ride to school at one point, she gets asked out by a guy who says she’s cute and wanting to get to know her. That Taichi encourages the date is kind of awkward, but he’s going through his own issues as well and the longstanding triangle that’s been dangling there with Arata as well.
While we get some fun interpersonal stuff from the characters, including some intriguing moments with Taichi as he grapples with things, the show does focus a good bit on the game of karuta itself in the last half where we see the place Chihaya almost made it to. There’s a lot of pressure in these matches in general and for Chihaya to watch it unfold in a different way than she has previously definitely proves useful for her. Her growth and understanding of the game and al the trappings of it is a big part for her and here she gets a bit more education on just how much pressure, pain and suffering there is when it comes to competitive play.
Chihayafuru continues on with an interesting episode that lets us go through the seemingly meandering life that Chihaya leads. She can seem like she’s all over the place sometimes with how her mind works and what draws her places, but in the end there is the larger, singular focus on the game of karuta itself. And she has some good things to discover here, even if she has her childish moments, while also getting some pushes into the adult world as well with how she interacts with people and the connections they all share. It’s an episode that has some good, solid material to it, but it’s still lacking that bit of compelling push to it that it needs to really stand out like it did before. It’s definitely enjoyable with all the history that has come, but it needs to really step things up here.
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.