Mizusawa’s next opponent in the semifinals is Homei, a dark horse school they know nothing about coached by Tsuboguchi, the ace of the society Chihaya and Taichi attend. Knowing Taichi’s weaknesses, he toldHomei how to take Taichi out of his game by making him question his talent. But after sweating a lot, asking for, and receiving many towels, Taichi focuses on the cards and makes a comeback. He defeats his spirited opponent Sasa, and Mizusawa advances to play Hokuo.
Society members have noted Taichi has absolutely horrid luck, manifested in many ways in this semifinal match: for one thing, having to wear a hakama means if the A/C goes out, he’s going to be far more uncomfortable than the other team, who are in t-shirts. So naturally, the A/C goes out. But as Harada and Tsuboguchi know – and Taichi himself is starting to learn – is that hard work and skill are worth nothing if one lacks the will and confidence to capitalize on them. Bad luck is still a part, but it’s the part that can be overcome by breaking out of his bad habits.
Those have nothing to do with preparation or memorization and everything to do with mental black holes he often finds himself diving into. Part of that is his unrequited love of Chihaya (even Sumire can see it), and part of it is seeing Chihaya, Wataya, Tsuboguchi, and others surpass him, and getting hung up on whether it’s because he may not have what it takes after all. As soon as he thinks that, he kills his chances of success, and as soon as he lets go of his insecurities, he has a far better chance to win, as he did this week. A nice touch was Homei’s gung-ho spirit echoing Mizusawa’s back when they were the new kids on the block.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)