The kids have their first match at nationals and it’s not what they were expecting.
What They Say:
The national championship has begun. Mizusawa High School’s first opponent is a team of foreigners from the Chiba International School of Information Studies. Chihaya is elated that karuta has become an international sport, but the other members are thrown off by the unfamiliar situation. Will Mizusawa High School be able to secure their first victory on their way to becoming number one in Japan? At the same time, Arata arrives at Omi Jingu alone.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Chihaya and the others ended up going to nationals in a way that they didn’t exactly want to, they still got in and have plenty to deal with there. The group has struggled in a lot of ways and we got some good personal nods along the way, whether it was how Chihaya was dealing with her mother and sister – and vice versa – or the nods towards Taichi’s continued feelings with regards to Chihaya. The use of Arata continues to be a hugely frustrating point for me, though I admit I like it in a certain regard, because he’s not involved in events. Yet that lack of involvement and rare appearance adds all the more mystique which can be drawn in from time to time. Like Taichi though, I just dislike seeing her fawn over him in the way she does.
Being at the nationals, the group is definitely fun to watch once again because of the different dynamic. The new members are all pretty excited to be there overall and of course some are overacting more than others. The returning players are a bit calmer, but there’s also that touch of nostalgia as well in a way. Where the competition takes a hilarious turn is when the Mizusawa kids find out who they’re playing against. The competition is full of international students from the Chiba school and that means it’s something that the Mizusawa kids have no idea what to expect. In fact, you get the feeling that they never expected anyone outside of Japan to even know of karuta, never mind be a part of the club when they came to Japan for school. It’s comical seeing how they all react in different ways, especially when it comes to information gathering.
Of course, it’s Chihaya that bucks the trend with team is Chihaya as she’s excited that the karuta game has gotten outside of Japan. But as we learn once the Chiba kids start to talk, they’re not what the Mizusawa kids think they are and it becomes a lot more interesting since they’re not “really” foreigners. That turns the focus more towards the game, but also the different kinds of quirks that can come from this kind of unusual team. Of course, the show doesn’t give us a ton of game time here between the two sides as it wants to do more with reactions, especially since there’s a media crew there to cover things, and we get some mild nods towards who the Chiba kids are. Their personalities are amusing since they have such an outgoing style about many of them, and that in turn manages to draw out some of the Mizusawa kids as well.
Chihayafuru has a pretty fun episode here that is largely a side story in its own way. With it taking place at the nationals and giving us the first match for the team, they get to deal with an unusual opponent but it all has an air of lightness and fun about it that you know won’t be in some of the upcoming matches. The introduction of the Chiba kids shows some perceptions versus reality angles when it comes to sizing up your opponents so there’s some lessons to be learned there. But mostly there’s just this feeling of fun and silliness about it that definitely is necessary considering the heavier moments recently and what’s about to come, especially as we get yet another last minute Arata moment that just makes me cringe a bit.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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