Chihayafuru 3 – 23 – Pitch Black

Chihaya’s Taichi Tournament is a huge success for all involved. Taichi is bowled over by how serious everyone is (even Sudo shows up to read) and is greatly cheered up, while other participants were glad to have fun with weird rules. Taichi and Chihaya end up tying for the lead in points, so the prize—a kiss from Taichi—is never presented.

The tournament is also suffused with nostalgia, as it’s the same type of matches and same place where Chihaya, Taichi and Arata first played as a team. Notably absent from the tournament? Arata, who admits he lost the Takamatsu Cup to Murao because he couldn’t re-focus after beating Taichi, and can’t wait to play him again.

Yeah…that’s not going to happen anytime soon, if ever. On a day when the karuta club isn’t active, Chihaya encounters Taichi alone in the club room. As she (poorly) fits new curtains for the incoming new club, Taichi first confesses to stealing Arata’s glasses back in sixth grade, then confesses his love for her.

First he simply lets the three most important words come out, while covering his face. To his credit, rather than laugh it off like a joke, he elaborates by describing all the parts of her he loves He leaves out the one part he dislikes the most: the part that changes when she thinks of Arata.

When he swiped his glasses, he didn’t want to lose to Arata, even though Arata was sure to mop the floor with him with the wide gap between their karuta ability at the time. While that gap has narrowed somewhat, the fact remains the cause is all but hopeless.

At least in this case, Taichi isn’t being a coward or a cheat. Arata already made his move, so all that’s left is for Taichi to make his and let the cards fall where they may. As the school bells sound, warning kids to go home, Chihaya says in her tiniest voice, “I’m sorry.” The cards don’t just fall, they turn jet black. And that’s that.

Time keeps marching on, and the new year starts with proficiency tests and club demos. After the former, Tsutomu is shocked to find he’s taken over the first spots in both maths and sciences, and worried Taichi’s mom will pull him out of the karuta club.

At the demos, when Chihaya, Oe and Sumire about to take the stage, resplendent in yukata, their adviser comes up and makes one small, devastating change to the speech, reducing the third-years by one: Taichi has quit the club. Chihaya tries to get through the demo, but has to stop in the middle and rushes off in tears.

As she runs off, a tearful Oe takes over (Sumire is crying too!) and waxes poetic about the hundred poems, songs of joy, sorrow and love that have endured for a thousand years, and urging newbies to join them in their magnificence. Of course, the themes of the poems are a big reason why Taichi can’t continue.

Chihaya doesn’t consider that as she races to his side and yanks on his sweater, tearfully begging him not to quit the club. Taichi draws her in and almost touches his lips to hers before pulling her back and telling her it’s no use; he couldn’t play if he wanted; all the cards have turned black. His love of the game and of her were too intertwined. She rejected him, so he must walk away. Quite the emotional roller coaster this week—will the Season 3 finale be funereal or redemptive?

Isekai Quartet 2 – 10 – Who Killed Mr. Archie?

The Cultural Festival is approaching, which means Class 2 must choose a play and a food stall. The play chosen is Cinderella, with Ram(!) in the lead role and Rem(!!) playing the Prince. We also learn Naofumi will be Class 1’s Ugly Duckling.

The four MCs, meanwhile, will play…horses. They probably don’t mind stepping out of the spotlight in this instance, but Shalltear is not happy about her master’s lot. Master of food Visha spearheads Class 2’s choco-banana stand.

In the midst of lively preparations, bouts of destruction take hold on campus, starting with the hutch sheltering Hamusuke and Death Knight. While Reinhard and Beako are stumped for the moment, we Konosuba watchers know the culprit is the massive robotic spider known as Destroyer.

One wonders how such a huge foe is keeping itself hidden from everyone, but its next victim is “Mr. Archie”, Aqua’s affectionate name for the hand-painted arch it would seem Kazuma mostly worked on. Fretting over how long it took and how little time remains until the festival begins tomorrow.

Aqua has an extended temper tantrum, and can only be snapped out of it by a determined Rem, who substitutes Aqua for Subaru in an abridged reenactment of her seminal “Return to Zero” scene from Re:Zero episode 18, a rare instance in which we see both her eyes.

I knew as soon as Aqua said “step one” that it was coming. As for the faculty, they seem to know a lot more about why they’re all here, and leave it up to the students whether it was the right choice or not. Between those words and Destroyer, something big is on the horizon during and/or after the festival.