Every week is a reminder of just why I love Chihayafuru.
effect they have on Tsukuba and Sumire).
lifetime of rejection by other sports. His reluctance to put himself on the line was sorely tested, and he passed with flying colors – I was really rooting for him against Chihaya – not to win, necessarily, but to find the strength to overcome his doubts and fight her with all his strength. And so he did, in a match that ended up being as close as it’s possible for a match to be.
agonizing over it – the other four were agonizingly close. So close, in fact, that it spelled impending disaster for Mizusawa – but at first, only Nishida saw it, being able to focus on the entire playing field and not just his own match. When the four matches all (somewhat incredibly, truth be told) came down to “luck of the draw”, we were introduced to yet another subtlety of Karuta strategy – splitting cards.
focused like a laser beam on the cards in her match to the exclusion of everything, and by sending her card before Kana’s opponent sent his card she allowed Hokuo to implement the seemingly foolproof strategy.
Far-fetched though this development might be, it certainly sets the stage for some inviting drama. This is Amakasu’s great crucible, the test of him both as a competitor and as a leader. It shows Chihaya’s true fierceness as she refuses to accept that Mizusawa has lost – they merely have to steal a card from under the opponent’s defense (as we saw in the Taichi-Nishida match, nearly impossible). And it’s that match that provides the most poetic justice for this one, for it was perhaps the most obvious example of Taichi’s seeming cursed luck and his tendency to blame it for his failings. Taking inspiration from Chihaya he joins her in practicing offensive swings, putting mental pressure on Retro-kun – so much so, in fact, that when one of the dead cards is read Retro reacts to the first syllable and touches his own card – thus faulting and losing his match. With his triumphant “One win for Mizusawa!” Taichi is effectively saying “F* luck!” and giving some closure to the “bad luck” storyline that began in episode 4.
tie – which means Amakasu wins the match, as the card was on his side. For Chihaya it’s important enough that the truth be known, even if she loses anyway – and while this is a sobering moment for Amakasu, he’s still grown enormously over the course of the match and stood tall at the end, regardless of his height.
bring every self-doubt in Taichi to the surface. He manages once again to somehow choose the exact right moment to say exactly the right thing – asking Chihaya if she enjoyed the matches, just as she was reflecting on how they were the most fun she’s ever had playing Karuta. The most painful, too, but I suspect it’s the fun part and not the pain that brings on her tears – because it recalls the memories of the fun she had when she (and yes, Taichi) were together with Arata. It’s a moment that’s rich with possibilities for interpretation, but I prefer to let it stand on its own for now.