Chihayafuru Episode #17 Anime Review

Chihayafuru Episode #17 Anime Review The gang has to face the post-national challenges they’re setting for themselves and it’s not always going to be easy.

What They Say:
The national tournament has ended, and the members of Mizusawa’s karuta club have established some individual goals. Taichi and Porky need to reach Class A. Kana-chan and Desktomu-kun need to start playing in tournaments. And Chihaya is practicing for the East qualifier. However, Dr. Harada suddenly tells Chihaya to stop taking cards with her speed, and she has to rethink how she plays karuta.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the series having hit the nationals so quickly, which definitely felt like an odd move, I’ve been curious as to where it will go. I didn’t want a big focus on the whole Arata/Taichi/Chihaya relationship thing, but it’s expected that it will come up more as it goes along. What the nationals did for the group was more firmly establish them in the school and got them an advisor that is solidly behind them after seeing the intensity of their play and how well they did overall. And with so many new members at that. And those new members are part of the focus as the show progresses as they’re all intent on growing their own skills for the next time they compete and that has them doing a whole lot of training and effort to achieve the goals they’ve set.

The goals they’ve set are pretty worthy and the one of real interest is seeing the way Taichi is intent on truly increasing his skill level, though the reasons for it may not be altogether clear. He wants to get a Class A rating like Chihaya has and it’s ostensibly because of his position as the team leader. But there are a couple of tender moments here between him and Chihaya where he’s so close to making things a bit clearer to her about how he feels about her. He wants to, but there’s that uncertainty about telling her since she’s still hung up on Arata, though perhaps not in a romantic way which complicates it all more. But those moments where he gets close and almost gets to hold her hand is really well done and felt very natural and tender.

While they all have their goals, there are other things that creeps into their lives as well, especially for the older students as you have Chihaya dealing with being told to start thinking about career choices and Taichi discovering that his training class for karuta has Porky taking it as well as he’s got the same overall goal as him. Amusingly, as much as Chihaya is coping wit the career side, she’s far more focused on the immediate issue of trying to overcome her match against the Queen. That match severely rattled her even as she gained some new insights into how to play, but in trying to adopt those into her regular play she’s changing her style of play far too much and it’s proving to be a problem. Finding the right balance and taking the instruction and critique’s she’s getting is not something she does easily.

In Summary:
Seeing how this group of players has come together has been a treat, especially since they all had their individual stories with Chihaya at the start when she recruited them. Now that they’ve had a taste of the nationals, they’re interested in achieving more and that means a lot of personal growth in the game. But as we see here as well, they also work to help each other become better players (through math!) and that’s just something that has to make people grin. Between that and the tender moments that are just on the cusp of things when it comes to Chihaya and Taichi, the show is finding a good post-nationals groove that’s leaving me quite happy with it and curious to see how quickly it’ll progress to the next thing. By hitting the nationals early, it didn’t cut off future paths, but it made it so that the path will be more interesting and potentially less predictable. And spending an episode like this works well to add the right kind of of natural uncertainty to it all.

Grade: B

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
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.

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Chihayafuru Episode #17 Anime Review