The lineups are revealed and everyone gets ready to hit the cards.
What They Say:
Chihaya Ayase has spent most of her life supporting her sister’s model career. When she meets a boy named Arata Wataya, he thinks Chihaya has potential to become a great karuta player. As Chihaya dreams of becoming Japan’s best karuta player, she is soon separated from her karuta playing friends. Now in high school, Chihaya still plays karuta in the hope that she will one day meet her friends again.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Oe now revealing her injury to the others, things definitely take on a different air about it, especially since she’s asked Tsukabe to take over for her and to help them win. Oe’s intensity at what’s going on is pretty interesting to watch since she’s insistent that it’s a good thing that one of their aces wasn’t hurt and that there are two first years that can sub in for her, making it not as critical a blow as Chihaya may fear that it is. But Chihaya’s thoughts, always of winning, may not be quite what they seem as there’s real concern for her teammates in there as well. But everyone has this view of her as being such an intense and driven young woman to win that it’s hard sometimes to really understand the way her compassion comes through. But the looks she gives Oe makes it clear things are weighing heavily on her, because of her desire to win.
With the next match inching ever closer now, the dynamic is naturally changed a bit by who plays and in what position. Through the first half of the episode, we see a lot of dialogue going on over on the Fujisaki side where they’re trying to figure out who would play and their status, with the kids really putting themselves into boxes to make sure that the team wins. Though they’re mostly small and quiet moments, there are some disheartening ones over the positions as they’re made clear and how some are going to be placed and others won’t be. Their emotional state over it can get intense in that small and quiet way, epitomized by Manata as we see what happens to him with his placement. It shows the way the kids are just so intense with the game and the competition and how being taken out of the running for the team side can really drain them.
The match-ups as they come aren’t full of too many surprises, and Komano has guessed at enough of them to make their lineup work well enough that they should have a chance at it once the match gets underway. The match as a whole is also one that has Arata intrigued by it and seeing him really struggling with going to watch Mashima going against Chihaya is hard for him to deal with. Unfortunately, like past lead-ups to the new matches between teams, we get a whole lot of minor character material here that doesn’t mean all that much in the end as we see how the Fujisaki team is coping with the challenge ahead. The only real amusement is in watching how Shinobu heads out into the crowds and the teams themselves, which unnerves some of them but inspires others because of her past and position. Everything is moving towards the match, but it is a slow slog as we’ve seen before.
While I enjoy Chihayafuru overall and have since the beginning of the first season, some of its structural elements do nick away at my enjoyment of it. This episode is one of those types where there’s so little happening, but just enough interesting character material to keep me watching. Preparations for the next team match are underway and that means we get a lot of setup and player positioning going on, which is handled pretty smoothly by the Mizusawa kids as one would expect. That brings us to watching how Fujisaki handles things and there are some difficult moments with it as people are cut and moved around. But there’s no real connection to these kids to make us really feel for them even as we see that, so it does feel like a lot of wheel spinning. The saving graces come from watching Oe and Shinobu through here, and some of what you perceive that Chihaya may be feeling.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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