I’m finding this review hard to write. It’s not because I’ve sat in front of a keyboard more then I’m used to today. That does have an effect on me, but I feel like this episode just did what it did so well and I don’t know how to describe what almost perfection is. Going to try anyway. I keep thinking about it and it’s amazing because this is one of the less busy episodes of Chihayafuru that it’s had for a while. In terms of content there are things to talk about, but not as much. Yet, this is another episode that I would easily put into contention as the best episode of Chihayafuru possibly ever. I’m saying that, but there are still a lot of episodes throughout the entire show that could fight for this title. It’s wild to think about, but I like thinking about it.
While there are other things going on in the background like the Taichi tournament with the gift of a Taichi kiss in the end and everyone going for it including Harada, this was an episode that examined Chihaya and Taichi’s relationship before breaking it. It starts with the play style of the tournament itself. It’s formatted in the way that Taichi, Arata, and Chihaya played back when they were kids. All of those powerful images came to Taichi’s mind during the tournament itself. What better way for this weird tournament to end then Taichi and Chihaya tying each other in points. It only makes sense considering that this is there episode. Putting their relationship under a microscope.
That leads to Taichi and Chihaya meeting in the club room before the start of the new year. I don’t remember why Taichi was there other then reflection, but Chihaya was there to replace the curtains that badly needed replacing. So of course, she didn’t know what she was doing, so Taichi was here to do it correctly. Then things get even more serious. After all those years, Taichi unveils that he stole Arata’s glasses in their childhood because of his jealousy and want for victory. He didn’t want to lose to Arata, so what else could he do? This completely shocked Chihaya, but not as much as Taichi finally confessing to Chihaya after all these years. It was so sad to see in the smallest voice that Chihaya couldn’t return it at all with a impossibly quiet “I’m Sorry”. Rejected.
I have to admit some things before moving forward. While I’ve always liked Taichi because he’s such a fascinating character to watch grow and fail and grow again, I never ever felt like he and Chihaya belonged together because their chemistry felt wrong. This season showed me recently that I’m pulling for Arata in this love triangle. Arata, the guy that got distracted by Taichi’s playing during their recent tournament match and is going to start his own club. Yes, that guy. Especially recently since it’s seemed like Arata reads Chihaya’s mind and acts while Taichi is constantly reacting because he thinks he’s behind in his crush for Chihaya. He’s always behind a figure far off into the distance that’s on Chihaya’s mind. I think it’s time for Taichi to just let go and find his own path. I’m sure he will.
That leads to the finale of this whole episode. Taichi casually leaves the karuta club at the beginning of the year without ever telling anyone. There are signs of something being wrong with Tsutomu finally getting top scores in Math and Science. Places that Taichi usually wins at. Then of course comes the moment when Chihaya has to make a case for acquiring members in the karuta club after they all had discussions on how to advertise themselves. Chihaya starts before stopping because of Taichi leaving and leaving Kana to stand up and advertise for their club.
That leads to the second most powerful moment in this entire episode that felt as romantic as hell. The moment when Chihaya asks him not to quit following by Taichi grabbing her, almost kissing her, and then saying this power qoute: “Do you think I’m made out of stone”. Damn Taichi, but I think you opened her mind quite a bit because while she’s been struggling to understand Taichi, Chihaya has taken him for granted because he’s always been there. Now recently, he’s been out and about going his own path without her. That and how he thinks of Chihaya and the karuta cards are the same. Since Chihaya said no, all the cards are black for him now. I hope that Taichi discovers himself once again because he really needs it. He’s been through so much.
So yeah, this episode was great. The buildup, the art, the direction, the animation, and then two fantastic moments that just explode in ways that make me want to cry. I just don’t have much else to say here really. After writing this, maybe this is my favorite episode of Chihayafuru. The unraveling of desires and the beginners of this club, Chihaya and Taichi, are broken apart. Very powerful material that is handled so well. That light hearted opening to the end was such a well down escalation of drama. Wow man, I’m still broken up over this episode. I’m scared.
Episode Rating: Black Cards/10