Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode 19 primary’s focus is Suo backstory and it is a tearjerker. Everything that the show has been foreshadowing about Suo finally comes to light in this episode. His reason for playing karuta is so noble and sad. There was a good balance of his happy and sad origins but there was room for more of his sad origins to further his status. I would have liked to see more of his backstory with his parents and why he had to be removed from them but I don’t think that necessary for this show. His origins give some light to his character and reasons why he isn’t a villain but misunderstood.
I’m glad to see Suo been built up this whole season. He plays a good rival to Chihaya, Arata, and Taichi. He represents the top of the karuta world and has had wonderful moments with the three protagonists. His rivalry works best with Arata as Arata is the one to convince Suo to keep playing for a while longer and to postpone his retirement. I do wonder if his eyesight will play a factor in the future.
I found Chihaya to act out of character for the last couple of episodes. She gets mad at Suo for his unclean manner of playing karuta but doesn’t judge Dr. Harada for having his unclean style. She even goes out of her way to tell Dr. Harada of Suo’s weakness. I feel that she is disappointed about what Suo told her but her behavior is out of place for her. I didn’t like the way her personality was in these episodes because it didn’t feel right for her character. It’s a good sign that Chihaya was able to become aware of her behavior.
These episodes also are a moment of changing of the guard for the karuta world as the old players take their bow and the young make their stand. Inokuma is going to retire as she expects a third child and has to take care of her other two children. Dr. Harada feels like he might also step back due to his knees and focus on letting his karuta society go to further levels. Both of the adults have been excellent role models who have encouraged the younger players to keep progressing.
The expression “Out with the old and in with the new” is an adept description of these episodes. The older players make one last stand to gain glory but are unable to do so as they are defeated by a younger crowd. One aspect I couldn’t get over is Chihaya’s behavior in these episodes because it was just so out of place for her. It was a bit distracting to see Chihaya act as she did in these episodes but she was able to snap out of it as she realized what she was doing and Shinobu helped her out.
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