Since Chihaya lost before Sudo, she’s obligated to shave her head, but Harada beats Sudo to negate the bet. His student Takemura moves on to win the Master Challenger match, while Yumin wins the right to a rematch with the Queen. Oe notices that Taichi is in love with Chihaya. Arata also loses, and regrets running from karuta. He tries to convince his elder Murao not to run, but isn’t successful. The Karuta club members attend various Christmas parties, and Chihaya decides to call Arata.
No club members had a match this week, and the episode didn’t focus on the matches, but the characters; a smart, well-timed move. Too many strictly “match episodes” can grow tiring, especially since it essentially sidelines most of the cast. Chihaya shuts herself in a closet, devastated by this loss like no loss before. Taichi waits for her to come out on the other side, seeing the same pain in her that he felt, but without the guts to make the very obvious and overt declaration to her that, well, he’s in love.
It may be true that Chihaya only has eyes for Arata, a guy she hardly ever sees, which explains why Taichi hesitates. Chihaya’s denseness is almost a comfort to him, which is bad. He’s used to her ignoring him like a karuta player gets so used to losing, he’s nothing but an empty, aimless husk. Deference to a guy Chihaya pays more attention to is not worth what Taichi’s doing to himself. An aside: we’re liking how the characters are using more karuta poems to describe their states of mind.