Feel Love Deepen
New? Old? Doesn’t really matter. Even as the seasons change, the cast of Chihayafuru is always just as delightful.
I guess for the while, I’ll be handling Chihayafuru 2 in tandem with Alex. I’m happy to have a chance at it! For a show full of such passion, it’s hard not to fall utterly in love with it. And I absolutely have, so, like. Thank you for having me. (◡‿◡✿)
While Hamano was the major focus for the previous two weeks, this time around we take a closer look at the other unknown, Tsukuba. To be entirely honest, his existence was probably the most worrying aspect of the show’s return to me. To lay it straight: the guy looked like a token perv character in the promo image. Should have expected my vague frets to be totally unfounded as his clenched groper hands were simply a nervous tick of a sort, and in the span of 20 minutes, he’s sold his case spectacularly. The show really has an overwhelming strength in endearing it’s characters. For Tsukuba, it’s in no small part due to the appearance of his adorable younger brothers, all with their own unique hard-to-remember names no doubt. Playing an emotional core to Tsukuba, the kids do wonders in making the thus far comic relief into another member of the Mizusawa family. The Empress might as well count at this point too, providing some behind the scenes support for both the club and Chihaya personally.
And although it’s Tsukuba who dominates the screen this time, it’s the entire cast who shines, looking great as ever rockin’ the hakama in line. It’s kinda surprising to see that we’re already at our first tournament, which took multiple episodes to get around to the first time ’round. But as they last time arrived as new comers, now they return as champions. And it shows. The original five have all matured as both players and people since last year, none more than Chihaya herself, who dominates her first two matches with perfect 25-card wins. With Karuta being such a small sport, although evidently growing in popularity, there doesn’t seem to be anybody who could challenge Mizusawa in the region. Things aren’t necessarily that easy however, since with over 10 schools participating in the T0kyo area, now 2 schools can advance to Omi Jingu, so the situation is set-up for a potential loss. And even with Sudo missing from the Hokuo line-up, the team appears to have an ultimate weapon in store to take the trophy. If… Retro-kun is to be believed, anyway. And that’s not to denounce the possibility of a new school paving their way to the finals.
With all the new however, it’s still nice to see Tsutomu can steal the spotlight. Last year he was THIS close to squandering his chance to play together with Mizusawa, and now he’s extending that same chance to both Sumire and Tsukuba, especially big of him after the latter attempts to tamper with his prepared line-up. And while it’s out of sympathy for sure, he shows why exactly it makes sense strategically as well. Man. He’s grown up to be so cool.
The two newcomers lose. But in loss, it’s only natural that they’ve gained something. Sumire begrudgingly admits her growing fondness of Karuta, putting more and more focus into the game as she proceeds. And Tsukuba, carrying the expectations of his three younger siblings, gets the (mis)fortune of going up against the shouty school’s Class A member. While he’s clearly got talent for the game, his inexperience with first verse Karuta is too big a gap to bridge so quickly. Despite his dreamy visual trick. But in heartwarming fashion, as the kids marvel at Chihaya’s powerhouse status, their love for their older brother is as strong as it ever was. He may have lost, but what a beautiful victory it was for the team. Also the Shiranomi Society!
We also get snippets of both Arata and Shinobu, at the start and end of the episode respectively. Arata, having made it to Fukui tournament finals, barely loses out to Murao of the same card society. But with it out of the way, he puts the Master tournament to the side, in order to focus on the Highschool championship, and in turn Chihaya and Taichi. Shinobu on the other hand, oh man what a beautifully ancient cord phone, learns of Arata’s participation in the individual bracket, prompting an intriguing response from her. A meeting between these two is something I never really realized I wanted, but now, yes.