The psych-out side of karuta is explored.
What They Say:
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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In some ways it’s almost surprising that Arata hasn’t made a full on appearance in the series until now, but at the same time I’ll admit that I largely forgot about him. I liked the use of him early on in the first season of the series and the way he came back into Chihaya’s life as that show went on, but I’ll also freely admit that the character was never one that I felt like I was really behind in any way. So having him not show up for the first three episodes, giving its focus to Chihaya and her club, worked well for me. I knew Arata would come back, not like a bad penny, and he’d impct her world once again. Giving time and space to the new club members without him making an impact on them early on though was for the best.
With the competition side of the show being one of the bigger angles right now, we get to see how things are progressing on that from for Chihaya and her team and there’s a lot of nervous energy going on there as they see who all is playing in this round of matches with the other schools. Some are personalities that they know, the rivalries crop up between different people and there’s some amusement as Chihaya even gets asked out on a date just as the match starts in order to fluster her. I also like that while everyone is mostly wearing normal clothes or team clothes, Chihaya’s group continues to stand out with the kimono’s they all wear. There’s a lot of psychological stuff that goes into any game or sport and we et that made clear here pretty well.
Though there’s some fun with Chihaya with this, the real fun here is in watching how Taichi is dealing with this match. Through the narration, we get to hear once more about how he’s just not all that confident in himself. We’ve seen him practice constantly and hard so far this season, but he still feels that he’s not a good player and it impacts him heavily, especially since he compares himself to Chihaya and others, some of which have messed with his head before. Though there isn’t a lot of internal dialogue going on here for Taichi, we see how he does manage to grow some here after the impact of Chihaya on him in a different way and the change is pretty profound as he essentially “finds his game” and gets going with it. He has talent but continues to hold himself back. When those shackles come loose, he becomes quite the player.
While there’s a feeling that Arata may dominate the episode with his appearance at the beginning, that’s more to just set some future events up more than anything else. And to remind us about Arata, who has largely been forgotten. Most of the episode focuses on the match at hand and on Taichi’s in particular as he struggles with believing in himself and his position on the team. He’s an excellent player as we’ve seen before, and a good teacher at that, but he’s still got a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to playing with Chihaya. When he finds his groove here, it’s a lot of fun seeing what he’s capable of and just how impressed and proud the others are, though Sumire just finds herself wanting him even more.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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