The regionals match comes to a close, but there are some serious issues to be had.
What They Say:
Individually, Mizusawa players have grown, but Hokuo will try to use Mizusawa lack of team playing experience to take back the Tokyo regional trophy.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way Porky had lost towards the end of the previous episode, it was the kind of experience that can shake any team. And no more so than the Mizusawa players as they spent most of their past time in the previous school/competition year doing more single focused matches against others rather than working as a team. They had grown as new players were added, lead by Chihaya and Taichi, but the whole thing was more of a teaching and growing experience individually to bring them on board. What they’ve lacked, and we can see it made clear here, is an inability to read each other well when it comes to how to react to what’s going on as a team. Taichi’s thoughts on it make it the most obvious, as is to be expected.
Interestingly, this episode spends a good part of its time from the Hokuo players perspective, especially the young man playing against Chihaya. He’s faced opponents similar to her before, and faster than her as well, but she’s doing thing sin a way that doesn’t make sense to her. And her hard and earnest nature is helping to rally her teammates as well, which is surprising them after the initial win that they have which they figured would send a shockwave through the rest. There are some interesting plays going on with this match though the more it progresses, especially with those that Chihaya brought on previously as they’re getting pretty intense. Even Kana is playing above her normal level in a lot of ways and is making an impression on others.
What really makes this episode so much fun as it moves into the second half is the way that both teams are just playing so absolutely intensely here. There’s sweating going on with both sides and concern about how everyone is playing, even with the more polished Hokuo team that has plenty of team experience itself. With taking Taichi as the real bellwether for the mood of things, seeing how he handles the pressure is really well done and how they see a way to come back. The team dynamic is definitely hard to deal with but it’s played out beautifully here as these kids play with such passion and energy to them that you can’t help but to root for both sides and be drawn further and further into the match.
While we get a little bit of non-karuta related material at the end with Chihaya and Taichi that could change their dynamic a bit, the majority of the episode is focused on the match. And while the game of karuta still largely eludes me, making the more technical moments easier to gloss over (such as I did with Hikaru no Go for quite a few episodes), the story is still surprisingly thrilling and exciting to watch because of how it works the characters and the situations they’re in. The tension here as the match goes on and the lack of experience in such style of matches puts them through the wringer, but it also works the story from multiple points of view so that nobody is truly seen as the enemy or bad guy. I love the way that Mizusawa kids are handling it all and trying their best and making some real, honest progress.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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