Chihayafuru 3 – 22 – Smile, Everyone!

There’s a Taichi-shaped pall hanging over the karuta club, and Chihaya, Oe and Sumire agree it can’t go on like this. Since it’s February, Oe proposes the three of them raise Taichi’s—and the club’s—spirits by doing something fun and not karuta-related: making Valentines chocolate. That means it’s time for Sumire to shine!

Sumire may be one of the least experienced karuta players in the club, but she’s by far the most practiced chocolatier. She’s made a lot of chocolate for a lot of people since the second grade, and to quote the Architect, she’s become “exceedingly efficient at it.” She helps chocolate novices Oe and Chihaya through the process, in the midst of which Chihaya tears up because she’s having so much fun.

Chihaya wants Taichi to smile and have fun too, and obviously Sumire can relate, being in love with him and all. When Sumire and Oe head home, the latter notices Sumire has procured Coverture chocolates, which people say have a “100% chance of success.” Sumire is no longer that naive, but also think she’s being too pessimistic when she says she has “zero” chance. So does Oe.

It doesn’t matter where the chocolates are from or when she gives them to Taichi, as long as she realizes she can get her feelings across whenever and however she wants. So, the next day at school, she does just that. When she spots Taichi jogging with other guys outside, she tosses the bag out the window for him to catch, tells him how she feels, and also tells him he should tell the person how he feels.

In a nice touch, it’s not fancy chocolate after all, but fermented squid guts Chihaya joked about him being happier about (after all, the guy gets a lot of chocolate from admirers). It’s a beautiful, cathartic moment, but it’s also bittersweet (see what I did there) because the chances of Sumire’s feelings reaching him are still so slim.

Part of that is, Chihaya aside, Taichi still feels awful about losing to Arata. As he explains to Hiroshi, who drags him to a bar after they bump into each other fortuitously, playing Arata made him feel how dedicated to the game and to becoming Master Arata has been all his life, while making Taichi feel like a tourist and a dabbler all over again.

Before they part, Hiroshi admits that Chihaya asked him to talk with him, to try to get him to talk about what specifically was eating him. I’m sure Taichi would prefer if Chihaya simply talked to him upfront, but considering his aura the last few weeks that just wasn’t realistic.

When White Day comes along, Taichi has a dutiful gift for Sumire, but it comes with the dagger to the heart: he’s going to tell the one he loves how he feels after all. Again, I feel horrible for poor Sumire—whom I never thought I’d care so much about when we first met her so long ago!—but she has my everlasting thanks for finallying compelling Taichi to act. Only…she wants him to wait two more weeks before doing so, which…confuses him.

Eventually, when his birthday comes along and he’s on a Chihaya-mandated cherry blossom viewing, the truth becomes clear: all this time, Chihaya & Co. have been scheming behind his back to give him a birthday present for the ages. That gift? A wholly volunteer-organized and operated “Taichi Cup”. 

Chihaya tried to get him to smile by making chocolate, but her dad ended up eating everything and ruining their clubhouse party. This time, she’s going to try to make karuta a fun and happy experience for him again. Little does she know he’s sitting on a much-belated confession of love that burns red as the Tatsuta river in autumn. Will he manage to do so before this third season concludes?

Honestly, these characters make it way too hard for themselves. It’s really quite simple:

Chihaya x Arata
Sumire x Taichi
Oe x Desktomu
Porky x His Next Meal
Shinobu x Snowmaru

There. Everybody’s happy. WAS THAT SO HARD?!!

Isekai Quartet 2 – 09 – Filo Finds a Theme

Finally, a character from Shield Hero is featured on a mini-ep! To be precise, it’s Filo, who is tasked by Naofumi to ask around school for advice on what the theme of the cultural festival play should be. Unsurprisingly, everybody likes the cute and energetic bird-girl…except Beatrice, who doesn’t like much of anybody.

Beako does seem to be investigating how they all got to this chibi world, asking Mare about how her crew got there. No doubt if and when she discovers the means by which they were transported, she’ll start working on a way to get them back. The good news for her is that Re:Zero season 2 has been pushed back to July.

Another great trait of Filo is giving everyone a personal nickname based on their appearance or presumed age (Skeleton Guy, Wolf-Lady, Black-Haired Ladies, Old Guys), or borrowing someone else’s nickname for that character (Beako). As a pure, guileless character, Filo is a great breath of fresh-air among all the wisenheimers and cynics.

Filo stumbles upon the theme of The Ugly Duckling when Tanya’s subordinates cross paths with the famously human-hating Narbarel Gamma (getting some rare screen time with Alpha and Beta). Her reflexive insults will prove useful in a play where the main character receives verbal abuse. Come to think of it, Ram will be perfect in that role, too!

Re: Zero Season 2 Delayed Until July

We’ll all have to wait a little longer for the continuation of one of my favorite anime of the 2010s. It’s probably for the best, since there are so many other shows airing in April (assuming more shows aren’t similarly pushed back, which is not yet certain).

In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to go back and re-familiarize myself with the story so far by reading my reviews of the first season, which you can find here. I also fixed some of the typos and mistakes in those reviews (I forgot how easy it was early on confusing “Ram” with “Rem”).

Here’s a breakdown of the arcs as I saw them:

Elsa Arc: Episodes 1-3
Mabeast/Rem Arc: Episodes 4-11
Downfall Arc: Episodes 12-18
Redemption/Whale Arc: Episodes: 19-25

If you haven’t read ’em, they’re new to you. Enjoy!

—Preston

P.S. For ultra-completionists, there is currently a Director’s Cut of Re:Zero’s first season out there. MAL’s Symander charts all of the changes from the original run, most of which were improvements made for the BD release.