Chihayafuru Season 3 Episode 21: A New Start

I honestly wish that this season was over in some ways. Partly because the master and queen tournament was being built up to through out the whole season and it just felt like a good place to stop. A natural ending point if you will with a good hook towards another season with a huge conclusion. I am honestly not sure where the season could go to at this point, but the circular nature of Chihayafuru is both a good thing and a bad thing here. It really is the only sports anime thing that I can think of which goes further then the usual one year of game play before stopping and also focuses on older adults along with teenagers. It comes with a lot of material to write about. As long as it’s good, it’s fine.

The title that I wrote referenced what Kana said about a new year of Karuta starting. The Master and Queen’s matches are like the end of a year which results in a new year starting once again. A new year for competitions, a new year for players to get caught up in karuta once again. Plus, there is another school year to go along with it too. The difference this year? This is the last year of karuta for our seniors. Seniors that were sophomores in the first season. It’s so strange isn’t it? Usually in sports anime and manga, we have a group of seniors we don’t want to see leave along when our new people show up. You know, because usually our protagonists are the new people? Now our protagonists are the seniors. How weird and serial is that? I love this passage of time. I know that I repeated this a few times, but I’m still registering it in my head.

This also leads to some of the drama in the episode. You know, besides Kana subtly hinting at Taichi’s feelings towards Chihaya to Chihaya who probably didn’t register that as much as we all want, but oh well. Taichi is playing in a tournament at Omi Jingu to separate himself from Chihaya while the rest of Misuzawa is playing at a local tournament. This episode was a very fast paced episode with a lot of things going on it. A lot of short cuts from the beginning of tournaments to a single match for a couple people to the ending where everyone goes home. What else is there to say here? A lot actually. You know, other then the year behind our players planning on making big strides to be leaders in their clubs.

I think the most important part to me was Chihaya finding her edge again. She’s lost it ever since playing against Suo and living through her trauma. Her taking on Sudo, a usually sadist player who attacks a character on all fronts, and winning was her finding her edge again. Even better was that she took another title so she is official the title defender for two tournaments now. I’m a little sad that this episode flew by so fast that I can’t remember it’s name as well as the Yoshino tournament, but that’s just the way things are right? Especially when a lot of things are going on again. Chihayafuru finding it’s fast pace after slowing down for the Master and Queen drama. Nothing wrong with that though.

At the same time, there was some drama still. Taichi being jealous at how Arata acted at the interview. By all rights, it should have been Taichi supporting his teacher and targeting Suo. Arata also played in this tournament and that direct comparison between the two showed up when they played each other. That and their act of friendship between the other with one player quickly responding to another players actions and Arata actually fighting for a card for once. It’s only later when we find out that Taichi lost and ended up in fourth place while Arata ended up in second place in that tournament. You know, losing to Murao. I like that Arata verified Taichi’s strength for himself and learned now to toss Taichi aside. The most interesting part with Taichi though? Suo sitting next to Taichi on the train home. I was not expecting that.

The biggest surprise for me was Retro-kun’s own arc. In an opening round, Chihaya and Retro-kun played against siblings with a similar sort of unique and annoying Karuta style. Chihaya naturally triumphed easily while Retro-kun ended up losing. Naturally, Retro-kun found him in a slump again and Nishida’s sister who now has more character then her brother then being the difficulty tester or big eater, supported him. It’s nice to see that her attachment to Retro-kun feels real rather then the joke it was treated. Looks like she’s following him around for life. Poor Retro-kun being looked down by his own club though. That’s just mean. I hope Retro-kun finds his way out of this slump.

I guess there really hasn’t been an episode that I haven’t liked this season, right? Would it surprise you when I say that I liked this episode too. Probably not, but it’s true. I do think this episode had a little too much content because I don’t think I even caught everything even after the second viewing. Still, it’s a good reset and clearing up some emotional things episode. The text of “this being the last time this club will be the same” is there too which is completely appropriate and kind of heavy. I suppose we are going to end this season with new karuta club members and such. That seems like a natural course of action to me.

Episode Rating: Taichi and Suo on a Train/10


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