The national karuta tournament begins at Omi Jingu, and Mizusawa’s first match is against an international school from Chiba. They pretend to be foreigners, but Taichi calls them out; they’re merely Japanese of foreign descent. Even so, Fukuba’s black opponent scares him, Oe is ashamed the foreigners are wearing hakama and they’re not, and they all possess highly individualized, free-wheeling playing styles. However, after the first few cards, its obvious their love for karuta far outweighs their talent at competitive karuta. Mizusawa gets back on track and trounces them, but are gracious in victory. The televised Chiba team is honored and vows promote karuta and improve their game.
We here at RABUJOI are Americans born and raised, so it was interesting to see how the characters we know suddenly react to being amongst non-Japanese. Nearly 28% of the American population is made up of non-Caucasians, a huge minority. Japan, meanwhile, is a whopping 98.5% ethnic Japanese, so to face a team of non-Japanese in a game that isn’t even all that popular in Japan is a shock to the system. Chihaya & Co. don’t like surprises. Taichi takes the edge off of them a bit when he discovers they’re not strictly foreigners and speak fluent Japanese, but they’re still…odd.
This was an interesting episode in that it simultaneously put the Mizusawa team out of their comfort zone, but also gave them their weakest opponent yet; a team of misfits that never had a chance against a seasoned competitive team, even if one player on that team is starting for the first time. That’s thanks to Tsutomu, who graciously steps into a scouting and support role with Sumire; a crucial task if they truly want to win it all against 50-member, 13-time-champion Fujisaki It’s nice to see an easy win for once, but we know it will be an uphill battle from this point on.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. Sumire takes her scouting mission seriously, but gets hilariously tripped out by her quirky target, Ousaka Megumu. Arata shows up early to surprise Chihaya and Taichi (we’re sure Taichi will be thrilled…), but he himself is surprised by Wakamiya Shinobu. We’re curious what she wants with/from him.