The team receives their championship awards and banner, but Chihaya’s finger has swollen and Miyauchi takes her to an emergency clinic, where she’s diagnosed with a chip fracture and told to avoid strenuous activity. At the inn, Chihaya lies down beside a sleeping Taichi and recalls the matches that got them to the championship. The next morning she decides to use her left hand to play rather than simply forfeit. The four classes split off, and Chihaya first faces off against Akashi’s aggressive Yuube Keiko, who takes an early lead when Chihaya’s left hand proves too slow.
Karuta is such an obscure game, even in its native Japan, that the physician who tends to Chihaya’s finger has no idea just how intense it can get. Yet even within that incredibly narrow, specific world of karuta, we’ve learned that there’s a universe of complexity, beauty and strength. We also learn that the Chairman of Japanese karuta has a similar belief as Shinobu: that team tournaments are no big deal and even chaotic and “messy” compared to the peerless artistry of the individual tournament. It’s kind of mean for the show to pile on the team-hate immediately after Mizusawa played their goddamn hearts out to win the highest team honor there is.
And even if she values the team matches much more than Shinobu or the Chairman or even Arata, even Chihaya can’t help but buy into the superiority of the individual matches. But she also made a promise to win in every class, and that can’t happen if she forfeits. Thus her motivation to play is just as much honoring that promise to her team as it was buying into the primacy of the individuals. There’s no rest for the weary, and when her first ginger attempt to strike the mat causes extreme pain, Chihaya rolls the dice and switches to her left hand. The initial results are less than inspiring, but who knows, maybe she’ll be able make that hand match the speed of her ears and sense.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Porky’s sister makes her brother’s team congratulatory tees in a new deeper blue color. She’s a class act, plus we were getting bored with the powder blue.
- These individual matches will either continue into a future third season of Chihayafuru, or be so brief as to be anticlimactic But its not like the team tournament could’ve been stretched across the rest of this season’s episodes…that would have frankly been torturous.
- Chihaya lies down beside Taichi, but perpendicularly…a nice visual representation of just how differently they think about each other.
- Arata is going to college in Tokyo and Taichi is not happy with that.
- Sumire learns about the childhood friend love triangle and wigs out. Ironically, if Taichi was into her, everyone would be happy…unless Chihaya isn’t really romantically interested in Arata.
- Shinobu means to crush everyone. So as it turns out, she learned nothing. Oh well!