Needing two more members to make the Karuta Club official, Chihaya recruits – by dragging – the nerdy and skeptical Komano “Desktomu” to their clubroom to watch a match unfold. Taichi has been losing a lot to Chihaya lately, but when Desktomu suggests they truly test their memorization skills by flipping the cards over, Chihaya loses her main weapon – her speed – and Taichi creams her, bolstering his confidence.
There’s nothing like winning, and you cannot win if you do not play. In Taichi’s case, wins are few and far between – thanks to Chihaya’s latent catlike reflex time – but that makes the wins all the sweeter. His ridiculous mother insisted he only compete in fields in which he knows he can be the best. But where’s the challenge and fun in that? Similarly, Komamo stays in his safe place behind his desk, because he’s afraid of failure. Everybody fails, nerd. Even the best.
Taichi is starting to doubt whether Chihaya will ever improve past her current level playing someone as “talentless” as him, and considers Arata a better sparring partner for her. When Komano’s gambit results in a stunning victory for Taichi, Taichi’s confidence rushes back, and he remembers just how much he hates losing, both at karuta and in the struggle for Chihaya’s heart. He’s back, baby!
The Road of Aspiration arrives; a town festival in which lanterns are lit, wishes and confessions made, and even tears shed. Potte doesn’t remember the last two times she went, but the last time was when her father was still alive. He promised they’d go again but he got too busy, and then passed away before the promise could be kept. While damning rain dominates the day, things clear up just in time, and Potte enjoys the festival with her friends and the rest of the town.
An event Potte hasn’t experienced since her father was still alive is an able test of her relationship with the grief she holds inside. Grief isn’t an enemy to be overcome, but a part of you. Even the birthday of a dearly departed friend or relation can cause a surge of emotions and memories. The festival is a good way both to take stock in one’s life thus far and organize and express one’s dreams for the future.
As far as festival episodes go, this was very laid-back and breezy, reflecting the tone of the series as a whole thus far. And while Potte definitely misses her dad on a day like this, she seems quite resolved to smile every time her loss comes up, and not cry. Reconnecting with her friends, living in beautiful moments and snapping them with film all help her maintain. Because the day after the festival, after the futures are wished for, the work begins to reach them.