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「ものやおもふと ひとのとふまで」 (Mono Yaomofuto Hito no Tofumade)
“People Would Always Ask If I Was Pining for Someone”

Team matches certainly present an interesting litany of choices for a sports mangaka, don’t they?

I can’t say I felt entirely confident about which way things would go this week on Chihayafuru, though I was certainly hoping the match with Akashi Girls Academy would be settled one way or the other without further delay. What I definitely didn’t expect was the insert scene with Arata and Shinobu, as she wowed his "teammates" with her focus and breath control and he turned all his good-boy skills towards writing the best punishment essay ever. There were some fascinating elements here, not least of which was her "casual" challenge to "play a match to kill time" – one Arata pointedly refused. "I can’t play – this is a day for team matches." Arata definitely walks the walk when it comes to doing things properly – it might be taken to a slightly ridiculous extreme but he is who he is. To Arata the notion of playing Karuta to kill time is unthinkable – and a reflection of just how bored Shinobu is with her lack of competition.

But the main event, of course, was the semi-final match – the Mizusawa-Akashi one to be precise, as the other one proved far less dramatic. Hokuo loses decisively – and somewhat anti-climactically, truth be told – to Fujisaki, by a 4-1 score (no word on who their one winner was, though it seems likely to have been Amakasu-kun). Even Sudou’s eyes have been on the other match, where the white-hot tension that was so palpable last week carries over to this episode.

For me, when Chihayafuru spends extended stretches of time focused on Karuta match play, the series is far better off when the camera focuses somewhere besides Chihaya from time to time. As dramatic as her matches are (and Megumu’s match was no exception) there are five of them out there, and not only do I care about all of them, it’s not realistic to have every team match always come down to Chihaya’s individual one. Thankfully, as the two aces continued their duel to the death, we did get our focus elsewhere at least a little. Nishida lost quickly, as seemed likely, but Kana-chan quickly got that point back, and Taichi followed up with his own win soon after. Interestingly, for all that self-doubt seems to be dragging him down this season, Taichi has been Mizusawa’s best and most consistent player – as far as we’ve seen I don’t believe he’s lost a match either at the Tokyo qualifiers or the Nationals at Omi Jingu.

With that it all comes down to two matches – the aces, and the unheralded. The fascinating element about Chihaya’s match with Megumu is that each takes the cards the other is strongest at – Chihaya actually loses the "Impassionate Gods" card, remarkably, and it comes as she’s built a tiny lead in the endgame. It seems obvious that with Megumu, it’s all about motivation. She has tremendous talent, but unless there’s something urging her forward, she plays down to the level of the competition. Having her pride wounded both by her teammate’s usurpation of the leadership role and by Chihaya attacking her comfort zone, Megumu showed why she was the West Representative – and why Chihaya, for all her progress, still has room to grow.

That applies to Chihaya as a teammate as well as a player, as she briefly lapses into the self-absorbed self-pity she often showed in S1 – and it’s only the intervention of Taichi and Kana that brings her around to realize that the entire tournament has come down to Tsutomu’s match, which itself has come down to a luck of the draw. It’s great to see Tsutomu take center stage with the match on the line for a change, and he wins it in style by throwing caution to the wind after all the dead cards are read (I suspect only he and Taichi knew that was the case) and attacking his opponent’s card rather than protecting his own, and hoping. Why? Because his observations tell him that a "The" card comes up slightly more than half the time in a luck of the draw situation. Hand it to Tsutomu for being fearless and believing in his methods – in truth, it’s really an issue of small sample size because in reality, a 50-50 is a 50-50 and there’s nothing more to his success than guessing right and getting lucky.

What I love about a team match like this is that it gives us the chance to see the complicated emotions at play in such a situation. Megumu has just won what’s surely the most intense match she’s played in months, yet her team has lost – in her last match with them. Chihaya has just been vanquished and on her precious personal card to boot, beaten with raw speed – yet her team has scored a glorious win. Megumu is angry that she’s as sad as she is, and Chihaya dismayed that she’s not happier – yet their reactions are completely understandable. This leads to the best moment between Chihaya and Taichi all season, and maybe the best moment period, as he clasps her hand – the one she’s clenched so hard that she’s digging her nails into her palm – and slowly, firmly unclenches it. No words pass between them and he never even looks at her – it’s just another silent reminder that he knows her better than anyone and that she’s never, ever far from his thoughts.

So now we have a final between Mizusawa and Fujisaki, who’ve been set up as a kind of monstrous bogeyman of a team. We know almost nothing about them except how feared they are, but we know they were able to beat a Hokuo team that beat Mizusawa, and to do so easily. If this were a true shounen series of course, there’s almost no way Mizusawa could win the team final – the heroes are all second-years, after all, and must meet the requirement that they come close, fail, and come back to win as seniors. Will that apply to Chihayafuru? On paper, it’s hard to construct a realistic scenario where Mizusawa could beat a team as strong as Fujisaki seems to be, especially given that Kana is so exhausted that she seems ready to accede to Tsukuba’s suggestion that he replace her for the final. But the remarkable thing is that Mizusawa has just won a match 3-2 in which both their Class A players lost. They’re a strange group, and seemingly capable of pulling off the seemingly impossible – but both the empirical evidence and dramatic precedent seem to indicate that Fujisaki should carry the day.

April 13, 2013 at 2:27 am
39 comments »
  • April 13, 2013 at 2:46 ammianghuei

    Man this episode makes me feel emotional! Tsutomu-kun is such a gambler, attacking his opponent’s card just by superstition!

  • April 13, 2013 at 3:07 amBackspace

    It was lucky that Tsutomu’s opponent did not know that there were no more dead cards left to be read, or else she wouldn’t have tried to protect her card. Of course, I didn’t mean to belittle Tsutomu’s victory. If I didn’t know better, I would say the way Tsutomu took the last card was reminiscent of the way the Queen took her’s.
    This episode had me on the edge of my seat for the whole time

  • April 13, 2013 at 3:58 amA Dollar Member

    Best episode in several weeks, IMO.

  • April 13, 2013 at 4:00 amSkylaris

    While I generally love this anime, these past few episodes might be the lowest point in the entire two seasons for me. This match have dragged on way too long and they have spent way too much time on random characters such as those fanboys. & Seriously, megume isn’t even an interesting character at all.

    I was on the verge of zoning out until the beautiful Taichi x chihaya moment. That alone instills a little faith in me that this anime can still do a 180. Basically, I want to see more mizusawa heartfelt character interactions instead of Karuta spirit bomb episodes. Well, at least that match is over. Onwards to the finale team battle!

    • April 13, 2013 at 4:36 amYourIdeas

      I think it’s silly not to feature “Karuta spirit bomb” episodes in a series with Karuta being the primary focus. The Megumu-arc accomplished its goal of being the most tense match to date. While The Omi Jingu arc is being dragged a bit too much, I honestly don’t mind that we’re getting more Karuta-focused episodes where Season 1 felt like it was much more about establishing characters.

      • April 13, 2013 at 11:39 amSkylaris

        Personally competitive Karuta does not interest me at all. However, I do love the meaning behind the cards like kana does. So these episodes would be generally worse for me. Like g Enzo said, the focus have clearly shifted and I’m not a fan of it.

        The Taichi/nikuman & kana/tsutomu episodes were far more intense.

    • April 13, 2013 at 5:04 amGuardian Enzo

      I think there are two issues here. First, I don’t think the comment suggests we never have these “spirit bomb” episodes – the issue is, this season is pretty much nothing but, with one or two exceptions. Second, After watching 25 episodes I would have said Chihayafuru was “about” the characters, who happened to play Karuta, in the same way Cross Game or Touch aren’t about baseball so much as the kids who play it (and those who love them). It doesn’t mean baseball wasn’t important and a wonderful element, and it doesn’t mean Karuta wasn’t those things in S1. But the focus has most certainly changed, and not everyone has to approve of that wholeheartedly.

      • April 14, 2013 at 3:45 amhyperborealis

        The karuta episodes are also about the characters. Suetsugu is just using karuta itself as the medium and the language to explore them. After 37 episodes, she’s entitled to expect viewers to understand karuta well enough to follow her. Suetsugo is serious about karuta– karuta is not a backdrop.

    • April 13, 2013 at 8:47 amSherylfan

      I know nothing about this franchise other then the anime but I was expecting a bit more character development which has been a lot less. The reason I loved first season was it gave off a cross game vibe ie nice balance of characters and the sport. chihaya season 2 seems to drag this Omi Jingu arc. Now I like the karuta but all I’m saying is they better get better pacing or another season, I’m not sure how long this goes but I’d hate for it to hang and to become “read the source”. It’s giving be nana flashbacks how I loved that show but it’ll never get another season, or other sports shows that drag and never get finished.

      Also we only have 12 eps left and haven’t even got to the finals yet. they spent 3 eps on this one match that was kinda boring with a hype eps so like 4 eps, they better take their time on future matches then. I guess this little arc has been my least fav in outta both seasons so far too. But it did give us some nice Tsutomu-kun development we got before the match and after.

  • April 13, 2013 at 4:18 amKinji

    No need to lie to yourself Chihaya, you know that Taichi understand you better than yourself and someone

  • April 13, 2013 at 4:48 amABC

    Is it just me or has Kana been getting cuter and cuter?

    • April 13, 2013 at 5:05 amGuardian Enzo

      Did you make that same comment in a Minami-ke thread? ;-)

  • April 13, 2013 at 5:17 amNic

    This was a terrific episode. But I must correct you on one thing. When you said a 50-50 is a 50-50 and that’s it, that’s most definitely incorrect. In Tsutomu’s case, sure, it was definitely 50-50. But Taichi proved those ‘luck of the draw’ games can be played with better odds than 50% simply by consistently putting pressure on attacking your opponent’s card and try to force an error out of them. It’s how he won in the Tokyo finals after all.

    • April 13, 2013 at 5:38 amGuardian Enzo

      I don’t dispute that and never said a word to the contrary in my post. My issue is specifically with what Tsutomu used to justify his action, which was that his observation shows that a “The” card had a better than 50-50 chance of coming up in a luck of the draw. Statistically, it’s impossible – there’s no empirical method to prove such a bias exists. It is, as Nishida says, a superstition – it’s just that Tsutomu is too scientific a thinker to admit it.

      • April 13, 2013 at 7:26 amKarutaku

        Yup. It wasn’t 50-50 when there are dead cards remaining, but once you get to the last two, it becomes the luck of the draw. It’s like flipping a balanced coin. It doesn’t matter that heads appears more frequently than tails in previous flips. The next flip is still 50-50 to be heads.

  • April 13, 2013 at 5:28 amJo

    IMO, this episode was pretty amazing.
    I foresaw it from the start that Megumu would win but I still had hopes for Chihaya. Oh well.

    I also liked how Tsutomu’s match was the deciding match.

    The next match is Fujisaki against Mizusawa and I don’t think the latter has a chance of winning. But I’m going to cross my fingers. At the very least, Chihaya should win to get a boost of confidence since she lost to Megumu.

    Before I forget, can I ship Sumire with Tsutomu now?

  • April 13, 2013 at 5:33 amMi-Chan

    The past 3 episods with these girls have thrown me off balance, to be honest, it felt as though if the 3 episodes were put in 1, then it wouldn’t make much of a difference, it had dragged on too long, and it was sealed with 3 wonderful thoughts in my opinion:
    (1) I’m glad yout put the screenshot of the full scene, the ChihayaxTaichi moment was very heartfilled, it made me consider how far Taichi knows Chihaya that he can still be focused on his own things but always looks out for her. Always going back to the scene where she’s crying at her losses (to the queen and as a child.)
    (2) Kana-chan was obviously tired because at the previous scene she tilted her head and I was like is she agreeing or? The fact that she’s won her match and played all matches and got tired, either because she lacked the stamina, or she was under a lot of pressure because she knew if Misazawa had to win it was up, not to the aces, but to them.
    (3) I thought Arata showed off Shinobu when he refused to play a match with her, but I feel bad for her, not because of the Karuta Queen not having people to compete with, but the fact that we know she’s never played Karuta with friends, her cards were her own friends and she had to win them, was the sad notion imo. Arata loves the Karuta he can play with his friends, while she just loves the cards.

    Great episodes, a much needed one to end the longest lasting 100 years during which I saw these 3 episodes. I hated Megumu, fun for 1 episode, but not much detail into her charecter, or her fanclub.

    Oh and I bet next week’s episodes will be the battle of the ‘eyelashes’ and I’d laugh so hard if the eyelashes guy goes versus Taichi :) Let’s put a pen and test who’s the best at that lmao (such a dumb concept makes me laugh xD.)

    Cheers and thanks for your review,
    M.

  • April 13, 2013 at 5:46 amtomoyostar

    Man this episode was so intense.

  • April 13, 2013 at 6:37 amGermanguy

    Mmmm how many Episodes are around this Card gaming? Is this the Main event? Or does this Anime progress not any further? Just curious

    • April 13, 2013 at 6:52 amMi-Chan

      have you watched the first season?

    • April 14, 2013 at 1:20 amKarutaku

      Since no one has answered the question…

      There are 2 major tournaments. Chihaya and her team are playing in the National School Championships. The winner will be the best high school team in the country. There is also an individual tournament in which Shinobu and Arata will also be playing. This is a mixed/open competition so boys and girls compete to be the best high school karuta player.

      There is also the King and Queen tournaments which will crown the best male and female players in the country (and world). This is open to all A class players (I think?) of all ages but male and female players play in separate competitions.

      There are also other tournaments which is separated by class where players try to win and increase their rank to the next level. Taichi, for example, is probably an A class player by skill, but since he’s never won a B-class competition, he’s stuck at that level

      • April 15, 2013 at 5:43 pmGuardian Enzo

        He’s actually qualified to be a Class A player by Federation standards, but because his Karuta Society doesn’t recognize that two 2nd-place finishes in Class B mean he gets to move up (most apparently do recognize it) and because he refused Harada-sensei’s offer to make an exception, he remains a Class B player effectively by choice.

  • April 13, 2013 at 7:02 ambaseone

    TsutomuxSumire and KanaxAkihiro!

    nice intense battle, both Ayase and Megumu took each others favorite cards.

  • April 13, 2013 at 7:23 amKarutaku

    One thing I found interesting in the episode is when Chihaya is ‘telling’ Megumu that they shouldn’t let Shinobu remain alone by herself, which I assume means to give her some competition. Chihaya has Nanoha/Saki/Miho level of befriending :D

    When Megumu approached the 3 photographers after the loss I thought she was trying to stop them from taking photos of the team crying, but rather it was so that she could watch and learn from the match. Can’t wait to see Chihaya vs Megumu again in either the individuals here or during the Queen qualifiers.

  • April 13, 2013 at 9:25 amSolara

    Oh how my prayers have been answer! Shinobu was on the screen! She didn’t just talked, she was rambling without breathing, and there was Arata too! My fan girl inside was screaming with joy. I think I replayed that scene a few times before advancing forward. Wouldn’t it had been amazing if Arata actually took Shinobu’s offer on playing one card game to ‘kill time’? I think I would have actually died of happiness. Anyways, the entire episode was a pure delight to watch, and very exciting too. I have yet to hear Megumu say that she wants to be Queen. Yu certainly does. Megumu is a complex character, she says a lot about Karuta but nothing about her future goals with it. And by the looks of it, she has already invested enough to get upset that she is quitting. Hmm. What a waste indeed. Heck who knows, right now Megumu is Chihaya like Chihaya was with Shinobu, she was to know more and is in awe of a strong character. Chihaya has become this engima to her. Spin-off in the future how Megumu wants to get back on Chihaya with a match someday? Doujin artists, get to work!

    I’m actually glad that it was down to Desk-kun to decide the match, it just shows how much of an important character he is, along side his data. Well I was enjoying the episode, it was abrupted by the end. Why is Tsukuba the worst character in the History of Chihayafuru characters? Like OMG, seriously I hate this guy. First he tries to rearrange the line up, MORE THAN ONCE, he isn’t even that good of a player, (Karuta style) not even a Class anything, and he wants to be on the final match with top players? WHYYYYYYYYYYYY.

    Yes, Kana-chan was probably tire, and he was maybe trying to help, but he just did it the wrong way. Going behind your teammates and presude the empress, who isn’t sporting her jacket of love btw (GASP) and try to make her put you on the line up is WRONG. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It just pissed me off. I was so close to throwing my wireless keyboard on my TV. I’m sorry, but Tsukuba is a jackass. In my opinion, players EARN their spots in the match, not base on demand and especially not to pretend to be popular and a show off to your little brothers. Do that on practice matches, not the ones that would actually define the characters fate! Like what if Tsukuba’s slip up causes the team, and worst, prevent Tachi from ever getting A Class!? Of course the latter comment was just speculation, but still. Ahhh! I shall fill my head with happy thoughts of seeing Tachi, Arata and Shinobu once more become part of the Universe that is Chihayafuru and be fucking thrill that they got their mins of fame in this episode and be content with that. Super excited for the next episode, hope the individual matches begin!

    • April 13, 2013 at 11:23 amBear

      Tsukuba’s sorry ass should be thrown off the team permanently. I wouldn’t care how good he is or may be. I’ll stop there because I don’t feel like cussing at him. He’s not worth the trouble. His character just puts a sour taste in my mouth.

      • April 13, 2013 at 5:06 pmSolara

        I wouldn’t go as far as saying he should be kicked out, but I totally know where you’re coming from. He is annoying.

      • April 13, 2013 at 7:50 pmBear

        @Solara
        What do you do with someone who’s forged his name on the team roster for a match time and time again, and now tried to get the advisor to override the team captain and club president so he can play? He’s a junior member of the club and is basically being insulting to his sempais by acting as if he knows better than them. The Empress should have grabbed him by his neck and marched him out of the room and told him to stay out at the very least. He has no concept of what it means to be on a team. Letting him play is the worst thing they could do. I would have been down his throat the first time he did it and made sure if he did something like that again he was through, period. I don’t understand why anyone would tolerate his behavior. He’s not five years old.

      • April 14, 2013 at 9:21 amSolara

        I know right? Especially a final match of all matches! Like I stated before he may had good intentions for Kana-chan but he just did it the worst way possible! This is were him and Arata differ immensely, Arata has immense guilt for helping a friend out while knowing he broke the rules and this guy is just an overall jackass with no respect whatsoever and he’s getting away with it. That just infuriates me.

  • April 13, 2013 at 11:25 amBear

    I just wish they had left those photo geeks out of show. It’s been a distraction, annoying and did little to further the plot

  • April 13, 2013 at 11:41 amhwighting

    Tsukuba better win or else. This is no idle threat!!!

  • April 13, 2013 at 2:37 pmpimpolla

    EPIC EPISODE!

  • April 13, 2013 at 3:44 pmYourIdeas

    TsutomuxSumire and TsukubaxKana train

    Wtf is happening

    • April 14, 2013 at 12:08 pmMi-Chan

      just goes to show that the first years are interacting more with the second years in those nationals :P

  • April 13, 2013 at 7:27 pmal

    chihaya lost…. AGAIN.Pathetic

    The queen will destroy her hahaha

  • April 13, 2013 at 10:09 pmewok40k

    OK, to sum things up, great match ending.
    First, Nikuman gets pwned by his strong girl opponent.
    Then, Kana breaks the cycle with her victory. She is surprisingly strong point of the team…
    Then we have Taichi give Mizusawa lead. Go Taichi!
    Then, Chihaya LOST, losing even her favorite card after Megumu got revenge-minded for losing HER fave cards…
    …and it all comes to Tsutomu, and his unshakeable faith in his methodical data-gathering.
    It might have been luck, but there is saying that best players make their own luck, and here was a a case definitely…
    And poor Hokuo team gets curb-stomped (T) by Fujisaki, who are now set to fight Mizusawa in the finals. Even after watching Mizusawa go from victory to victory I am shuddering before the final. Mizusawa were able to go toe-to-toe with Hokuo, yet against Fujisaki they might be as helpless!
    Especially after Kana who has been surprisingly strong point of the team is seemingly exhausted and needing to be replaced by ambition-driven Tsukuba.

    And now, what will do Megumu? Pursue only solo matches, as is Shinobu doing?
    I hope someone climbs to Shinobu’s level, because shee looks lonely out there.

  • April 14, 2013 at 12:24 amFaint Smile

    Nice episode!.. Can’t wait for the final match but most importantly, can’t wait to see Arata and Shinobu in action..

  • April 14, 2013 at 12:07 pmMi-Chan

    I was randomly thinking of the girl that I said earlier looks like Taichi, and that coach from the eye-lashes team told her to look at Misazawa, maybe she’ll become a transfer student and join Misazawa to spy for the eyelashes team :D /random thought, I hope no one replies with spoilers xD *goes back to sleep*

  • April 14, 2013 at 7:15 pmapiculturist

    I always enjoy reading these posts after watching an episode. You capture my favorite moments and give me food for thought or insights I hadn’t thought about, such as the fact that Taichi has been the season’s most consistent player so far despite his self-doubt. I’m sure he knows this and I’m glad of it, though I know he’d never lapse into self-satisfaction at this point.

    One thing I have to add though is that I don’t really get why people are still surprised when Chihaya loses the Chihayaburu card; she’s lost it at least once before in S1 for all that people put emphasis on it as one of her sweet cards. It’s a minor point. I hope she doesn’t lose it again because it seems to disrupt her team’s confidence more than it does hers. :)