Chihayafuru – 05

Chihaya drags Taichi with her to Fukui to confront Arata. She’s carefully crafted what to say, but when they’re finally in his house, she pulls out karuta and suggests they play, infuriating him. They find out from his neighbor, Yuu, that his grandfather suffered a stroke, and relapsed while Arata was at a tournament to reach Class A. Blaming himself, he forswore Karuta forever. But Chihaya left her notes and letter to him behind, which make him see the error of his ways. As Chihaya and Taichi pull out of the station, Arata chases them in his bike. Taichi agrees to help her start the best Karuta club in the world.

We knew this was going to be a special episode, but it still managed to eclipse all expectations. It was quite simply some of the best 22 minutes of drama of the entire year, certainly of the Fall. Every moment was simply brimming with emotion and the characters were firing on all cylinders. The soundtrack was soaringly awesome as always. And all the little gorgeous details, like Chihaya’s chocolate wrapper notes. Everything was masterful. We can’t believe how much we now connect and sympathize with Taichi now, who has clearly fallen for Chihaya. Those moments when he was about to take her hand kicked so much ass. And hey, she is frikkin’ gorgeous.

Arata’s grandfather used to tell him about a “karuta god” who whispers the next syllable into those deemed worthy. But rather than the Gods forsaking Arata, perhaps he was meant to be playing Karuta when his grandfather died – the god challenging him to see to his own future and realize his limitless potential. He quit instead, but it would seem Chihaya’s words snapped him out of it. His grandfather certainly wouldn’t have wanted him to quit. Quite separately, Chihaya refers to Arata as a karuta god in her letter. Meaning she worships him, or at least her idea of him up to this point. It’ll be tough for Taichi to compete with that! Hard to believe this is just the fifth episode.


Rating: 4

Bakuman 2 – 05

After their seventh chapter drops to 13th in the rankings, Takagi plans on stepping up his game by adding some lightheartedness. Even before the revisions come into effect, TRAP begins a surge from ninth for chapter eight to sixth for chapter ten, then a tie for third with Crow, finally challenging Niizuma. Miho is getting more and more anime roles, and Miura gets TRAP the color cover for their 20th chapter, plus an edition of 100,000 for their first volume. But as they continue to succeed, Mashiro is getting thinner and not sleeping, which culminates in his collapse.

First of all, Miho got a voice role in SKET DANCE? Sweet! Time is moving faster now, and this series continues to pull no punches when it comes to setbacks potentially fatal to Mashiro and Miho’s dream, But with TRAP enjoying consistently high rankings, their first volume getting printed, a team that’s happy and in synch, and the fan mail pouring in, this newest setback is a much more basic one: Mashiro’s health. He knew going into this that balancing school with the manga was not going to be easy, but three hours of sleep most nights and none on others simply isn’t going to cut it, especially when he’s not eating.

Now that Takagi is in a writing groove (and Kaya is basically his personal assistant), he’s under a lot less stress. The amount of labor Mashiro puts out easily eclipses Takagi’s, as is exhibited by his always working while Takagi and Kaya are hanging around. But this industry won’t let Mashiro take a break, and if he does it will be seen as weakness and an inability to cut it. He’s not alone in this; Hiramaru is pissing blood, after all. But I’d hate to see The Dream be taken down by something as simple as eating and sleeping. So the question is, how is he going to get better without interrupting school or TRAP?


Rating: 4

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 05

The POG brings Kaito to their HQ in Japan, but before he can meet the head, he has to clear a gauntlet of puzzles. Nonoha and Gammon tag along, and they do al the solving while Kaito realizes all of the puzzles are a part of his past, including one that killed his parents. This realization causes him to collapse, and only the shock of Nonoha’s cookies can bring him back. Crossfield declines to meet with him after all, and later Kaito finds he can no longer solve puzzles.

Geez, talk about an efficient drinking game: every time someone says “puzzle”, take a drink. Anyway, where do we begin? That the POG has massive tiltrotor planes? That an extremely elaborate gauntlet of puzzles was set up just to toy with Kaito? That Crossfield may not quite grasp the rules of Chess? The silliness soars to greater highs this week, and Kaito’s breakdown is as random as it is goofy and cliche’d (Gammon even refers to him as going “all Ikari Shinji”, which was pretty funny.)

All of Crossfield’s monologues as he fiddles with a chessboard are all a bit murky: does he actually want Kaito to reach the Phi Brain (whatever it is) and solve the Divine Puzzle (whatever that is)? Is his goal to purge all “ethics, common sense, and emotion” from Kaito? Yeah, good luck with that. Finally, he’s being portrayed as a Bad Guy, but what has he really done – aside from preside over an organization that builds potentially murderous puzzles – and more importantly, what’s his beef, if any?


Rating: 2.5