I know that I really love when Chihayafuru is in full tournament mode and has players ideals being challenged by player ideals and all sorts of fun stuff. With that said, Chihayafuru could be a slice of life series and I would still follow it completely because of the great cast. Still, karuta matches really are a massive draw for me. Still, I do appreciate when Chihayafuru really wants to do something different and special. So basically, that is this episode. I can’t get it out of my head that this episode really loves it’s own twisted sense of humor and character fun. At least that’s how it read to me. In the preparations for the competitor qualifying events against the current reigning Queen and Masters of Karuta, all sorts of things are going in motion.
So yes, this episode focused on the older cast in their own preparations. Arata is given a few seconds in which are mentioned on how he is in the right mind set and doing incredible things once again and given an extra special phone call with Chihaya and Arata. So yes, our young west side challenger is ready to go and fight. Same thing with Megumu, our East Japan Queen Challenger, who is motivated and ready to go here. So yes, they are here and covered. I’m not saying this to be mean, but because the episode itself was more interested in our older cast because they’ve got more things going on holding them back from playing in peak conditions. The younger players are in their prime and have enough time to focus on Karuta and nothing else. The good times. Well, except Chihaya who doesn’t know what kind of teacher she wants to be and is in tutoring now. Gah. Chihaya does have it rough.
That doesn’t mean that younger Class A players aren’t helping the older players out. After a Karuta club match in the Mizusawa club room between Taichi and Chihaya, where it’s shown that the East Japan qualifying event is greatly effecting Taichi because he lost by twenty cards, Doctor Harada sends up his own bat signal in the form of a text to every member of the Shiranami Society. He wants all of his followers to help as much as they can. Class A players will play their hardest against him like they are Kings and Queens. Plus, he has a special mission for Taichi and Chihaya. They must act and play like Arata and Suo respectively. (Though Chihaya does this out of her own well.)
This is where I think this episode’s kind of twisted sense of humor comes from. (You know, besides that awful moment where Chihaya’s mom hires a tutor for her and he acts like everything Chihaya does is an act of attraction. Gah, horrible.) But anyway, the two play a game acting like Arata and Suo respectively. It’s kind of funny to see them act like other players with how they speak and different accents and everything though it’s hard to pick up different accents when you aren’t Japanese). Still,I can’t help but think that this is the show telling us “this is the actual pair that is the actual fight that is going to happen”. I think. Maybe. Possibly. Could be poor Harada here or I could be wrong. Oh, there is the Taichi acting like Arata thing too which was commented on about how bad it is. Jeez. All sorts of twisted humor and irony here.
With all of that, I love the time and care put into our West Japan Queen Haruka Inokuma and how this series really likes giving some small hints at things and then going full into them the next episode. (I didn’t mention how Sudo and Harada didn’t happen because of Taichi, but there you go.) There was also the fact that Sakurazawa is playing karuta now with full force. She was able to defeat Haruka, though Sakurazawa was going seriously because of her position and age. She has to play hard or else to get close to keeping up with everyone else younger at their peak levels. Something that is echoed on a higher level to Harada with his knees. It’s amazing how players with age and children weighing them down are at achieving so much. Imagine seeing all of these players in their prime. They must have been fantastic since they are in contention right now.
That leads to my favorite moment in this seen. After weeks of practice, the qualifying events for challenging are in motion. The problem is that Haruka’s kids are more interested in playing in a park then watching this Karuta match, so Haruka wonders whether her ambitions are more important then her kids. Added tension happens when the kids start crying and Haruka doesn’t know what to do. Of course since Haruka is in a Kimono our best mom, Reiko Oe, shows up and teachers her how to use it to feed her baby. Once again, good advice and conventions thinly vield as talk about the Kimono, Haruka is back in the mood to fight at full strength. I don’t think her problem is solved, but I don’t think it’s possible to do that with this situation? Not at all. Plus, I love Reiko Oe also using that as a business opportunity and advertisement. I wonder how well her business is doing now.
With that, that’s how great this series is really while showing it’s consistent problems. What are those problems you may ask? Well, that tutor really gives a major hint in that. It’s the awkward relationship things. There are a lot of goofy things in Chihayafuru and everything, but those romantic things outside of Taichi and Arata are pretty bad honestly. With that said, there are so many good and cynically humorous things going in this episode with some possible fore shadowing in an a unique way that I can’t help but over looking everything here. Can’t really think of a better sort of tension mounting episode before the challenger events happen. Lots of great experimentation and character stuff going on here in all sorts of unique ways. So yes, the usual rating of Seriously Fantastic over perfect.