To Set the Tatsuta River Ablaze
In the second half to last week’s episode, the finals between Mizusawa and Hokuo reach its climax in the most dramatic possible way. Only the best from Chihayafuru.
Dramatically, Hokuo’s victory was set-up from the very moment the “two top schools” clause was revealed. Even as Mizusawa progresses, it’s not as if the other teams fold over and stagnate like week old rank milk. Hokuo is strong, with or without Sudo. Retro has a passion nearly on par with Chihaya, and Amakasu, in his short non-athletic build, has a sport in Karuta he can earnestly compete in. They both and the entire team had the drive to win. It pays off. They showed Mizusawa what for and kicked their butts. But with a match as down to the wire as this, there’s no cold-cut winner even if the results say otherwise; in loss there is victory, and in victory loss.
And really, is there anything more dramatic than that?
Well, to increase the drama, the match comes down to luck of the draw, akin to Nishida vs Taichi. Only this time, it’s a x4 showdown! With Hokuo at a 1 game advantage, Mizusawa is poised to lose! But Chihaya isn’t ready to give up! Neither is Taichi! Or Kana or Tsutomu, but yes Nishda for he has already LOST. Which to be fair, must majorly suck seeing his teammates carry their battles til the very end, feeling he let them down so strongly he can’t help by tear up. Don’t let anyone say Karuta isn’t the most shonen of sports.
Of course, all of that intensity only served to make this match SUPER FUN for Chihaya. And fittingly, it’s she who gained the most from this. It’s been a long while since Harada’s order to stop using speed while playing Karuta, nine months apparently, but at last she’s taken a definite step of progress. In emulating the Queen’s impeccable accuracy, her movements are smooth and devoid of the unnecessary. In making 20 cards her very own one-syllable arsenal like the Master, she’s capable of action before anybody else’s reaction. She’s still unrefined what with her extreme focus; she clearly needs a lesson of “team match = individual match, but also individual match = team match”. But hell if she ain’t absolutely terrifying. Way to lose spectacularly, you monster.
On the flip side this leaves Amakasu in awe. Even having won, the lil’ pipsqueak knows that Chihaya went beyond him during the game. As a team, Hokuo showed why they’re champs and the rest chumps. I’m not sure how shady their play was, but it showed wealth of experience and cooperation. On an individual level however, he was trumped. For a card Chihaya should have had no real possibility of getting, she managed to pull off a simultaneous touch. It took her a while to get her groove on, but in Amakasu’s eyes, especially with Chihaya’s sportsman-like attitude, he had lost the exchange.
Taichi’s and Retro’s case is a whole deal more straightforward, as while Retro was on the winning team, he certainly lost out to Taichi’s spirit. It came down to their long shared history, I guess. Retro knows exactly how determined Taichi can be, and knows that he has the potential skills to back up that sentiment. So even in a guaranteed win situation, or probably even more so because of it, Retro is psyched out of his secure win, committing a fault under pressure. It’s too bad for the poor guy, but Taichi needs to win more of his fights. Plus you got your trophy back. That’s a pretty neat consolation prize.
Besides Nishida, the rest of the team really gets to prove their worth as well as they push the Hokuo team for all their worth. Kana showed her skills last episode, but we get see Tsutomu’s improvement as well, ever the strategist. His Karuta is so deliciously technical, and even when his moments are some the most understated, I really love it when he gets to shine. As for the two newbie members who didn’t play a role in this fight. Even if the Karuta club lost, Harada scores an amazing win. Lastly, we have the whole Arata deal once more. Already said I want him to be a real character, not gonna go over it here. But at least we do have the tiniest of signs of Arata’s continuing relationship with Karuta, the most important aspect being the fun of it all. It’s not real and proper character development without him present, but gosh darn it, I’ll take what I can get.
And then Taichi bluh bluhh bluhhhhhh.