Chihayafuru – 11

Team Mizusawa moves on to the Regional Finals, and must face Hokuo High, who can claim two Class-A players. Porky’s opponent is someone he remembers from years ago, but unlike him, he never stopped playing. Taichi has to play Retro-kun, and Chihaya has to play Sudo, who immediately proceeds to play mind games to throw her off. Oe and Desktomu lose first, putting the others on the spot, but by supporting one another and concentrating on their strengths and not weaknesses, Porky, Taichi, and Chihaya defeat their opponents and the team moves on to the Nationals.

More brilliant, suspenseful drama this week, far more than we could have expected from a game we only barely understand. It’s good to see the team gel so well after a rough start last week. They work out the best layout, with Taichi in the middle to keep the team focused and motivated with his words, Porky and Chihaya at the ends where they can concentrate, and the noobs in between. It works, as the center and bookends managed to take wins from very tough opponents. This episode underscored that a win was important for Hokuo too…but they’re not the focus of this series, so we didn’t expect Chihaya’s team to be tripped up by failure so soon, and they weren’t.

We really didn’t care for Chihaya’s opponent Sudo for the majority of the match, but even he was softened and humanized by the end…not to mention humbled by Chihaya’s innate skill at grabbing her Chihaya card, no matter where it is or when it’s called. Hell, she grabs it before a whole syllable is uttered. It’s literally her trump card; and she’s drawn to it like a magnet. She owes that connection to the card to her name, but also to the games she played with Arata, who makes an appearence this week, but is stuck at work and can’t go watch. We have a feeling he’ll show up for the nationals.

Rating: 4