Chihayafuru – 12

With the regional trophy in their hands, Chihaya starts to fear the upcoming nationals at Omi Jingu, worried she’ll disgrace Tokyo if they lose badly. Taichi snaps her out of it. Chihaya’s family appears totally transfixed on her sister Chitose, making it hard to bring up her own recent achievements. She’s relieved to see her father also keeps a scrapbook for her. Their faculty advisor, Mrs. Miyauchi, who originally was going to blow off their tournament, sneaks a peak at what the karuta club is really up to. She changes her mind and accompanies them.

We’re nearly at the halfway point in Chihayafuru, as the Nationals come next week. This week was all about preparation, both practical and mental. The upcoming tournament will be a far tougher challenge than anything they’ve faced, but they can’t face it with wavering wills. A degree of fear is healthy in any competitive exercise, but it must be controlled. Taichi proves yet again that he’s the motivational glue that keeps the team cheerful and confident.

This week also featured to parties that were previously utterly indifferent both to Chihaya and to whatever it was she was up to: her family, and her teacher. When her dad sees her in the paper, he saves the clipping, as he has saved clippings of her ever since she started on the karuta road. Chitose is definitely a big bright star in which Chihaya is often lost in the glare, but Chihaya’s family still loves and supports her, even if quietly. As for Mrs. Miyauchi, she was fortunate enough to look in the window of the club just when they were about to put on a hell of a show, which utterly convinced her that karuta is not just some silly obscure dalliance. It’s serious, beautiful business.

Rating: 4

Chihayafuru will continue in January 2012.