Chihayafuru Season 3 Episode 18: Leaders On The Ropes?

Yes! This week, the Karuta Sexual chronicles continue. (Then again, that’s the second name of this show for me, haha.) It’s not from Chihaya herself who looks more into the game then personal relationships, but Shinobu finding the connections to their cards again after them being challenged during the second match. That was followed by Sakurazawa really seeming to be aroused by how much connected Shinobu is to these cards? Is it possible that Sakurazawa is just an older and more mature Chihaya? Is that why Sakurazawa is so interested in Chihaya in season 2 and earlier this season? Is that why she’s single? Maybe I am thinking too much about her, but she’s just so interesting.

The moment that made me think of this happens in the later part of this episode. The moment when the queen match happens and gets distracted from placing the correct karuta cards. This episode starts with the consequences of the last episode’s final moments. Well, at least for the Queen’s match. The Master match had the same thing happen as last time. Suo didn’t put all of his effort into this game yet to make it last longer and Harada just continues as usual. Something which has a fun turn around later on this episode. Especially if the expression on Harada’s face says anything about it. I really like this motivational old man. His plots are pretty great.

No, this episode’s drama was centered on Shinobu. A massive focus is put into her sense of loneliness and the karuta cards she made her friends. Due to the emotional state she was in after her mom mentioned Grandma using her as a business advertisement and Chihaya mentioning she broke her promise to her, Shinobu was an emotional wreck. Something that you see in how the show puts her in a dark place framing wise. Haruka Inokuma completely wipes the floor with Shinobu which is the first time Shinobu has ever lost a queen match. She didn’t get to collect her card friends which made her even more sad. It’s all looking down for her.

I didn’t understand the reason why the Queen match got a two hour intermission because their match had a split while the Master’s Match had to have a third round immediately considering that Harada had won all their matches and Suo needed to win this one for the master’s match to continue? What if Haruka wins one match and Shinobu wins another? It will be 2-2 and there will have to be a sixth match technically. Aren’t you wasting everyone’s time? What I’m saying is that the rules of this tournament in question seem kind of dumb at this moment. It does allow for Shinobu’s drama to be answered a little bit and having her find a center point though.

Not a completely good answer really, but one that allows us to learn more about the Queen competitor’s situation here. Through Rion’s appearance, we know that Haruka has a third baby on the way and she’s dealing with morning sickness. I suppose she just needed her last hurrah in karuta before never returning to it for a longer amount of time. Possibly never. It’s not complicated to think about, but these are some heavy adult issues here too. I hope that Rion learns from what Haruka is doing and gains a stronger sense to play karuta for her own good while she can. If anything, Haruka is a great example on how to be a karuta player that goes through endless amount of drama, but succeeds anyway. A great role model for everyone.

I really like how Chihaya approaches Shinobu in this break too because it’s so subtle for her. She’s usually loud, annoying, and forces people to do what she wants them to here. That’s been her character up this point. Instead, she follows Shinobu a lot which is a little creepy and then prays a fair distance away from Shinobu at a shrine. That connects the two together better when in eye sight. Shinobu gives Chihayafuru her scarf so she can be warm and Chihaya trades her tatsuki so she doesn’t suffer too much while playing Karuta. They made up in a softer moment. Shinobu even allowing Chihaya to tie the tatsuki on Shinobu was great too.

While that is happening, Harada starts playing his mind games with Suo back. He knew that Suo was holding back and not playing at his usual level during the first two rounds, but Harada did the same thing to Suo in the third round. Suo was more into the game and taking cards left and right while Harada calmly let it happen. Honestly, a pretty smart thing to do considering that he already had two wins and only needed a third to become karuta master. Plus, he’s kind of old and suffering from knee issues. Resting is probably the best thing he can do right now and he knows it too.

The episode ends with the start of the third Queen match and fourth Master match at the same time. Shinobu feels ready and takes on Haruka at her maximum level while Haruka covers his mouth from the sickness she’s feeling from her not yet born baby. She seeks to finish up her karuta adventure at full force, so I wish her the best. At the same time, Harada unleashes his full force. He learned that Suo can’t see at the edges of the karuta board that well from Chihaya, so he formulated a strategy and took on Suo at full force. So far, his plan seems to be working but who knows how long that will be the case. That’s where the cliff hanger kicks in, yay! We wait one week.

Despite all the content in the episode that felt emotionally strong and some of the emotional break throughs that happened, this one felt like another set up episode. It’s a lot less busy then last episode and some plot elements developed the drama behind the characters in more interesting and complex ways. Still, I don’t think the shoe behind the drama here has dropped yet. Maybe the drama will finally completely drop for Harada after his karuta scheme he worked hard to put together completely falls apart. Who knows for sure. Oh, Shinobu’s grandmother completely missed the message that the tournament won’t air on tv. Great way to sandwich the episode really. A great episode though. I’m kind of floored by this show constantly still.

Episode Score: Harada/10


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