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「なこそながれて なほきこえけれ」 (Nakoso Nagarete Naho Kikoerkere)
“But Its Legacy Continues to Spread”

After probably the most satisfying Chihayafuru episode of the season last week, it’s right back into the torture chamber.

This ep was pretty much everything about season two of Chihayfuru in a nutshell. It was all Karuta, exciting, frustrating as hell, and left me irritated with a cliffhanger I care about despite all that frustration. And it definitely tied a bow on Taichi’s "Why am I here?" comment from last week, because it made it absolutely clear that once the team tournament is over and done with, he’s very much frozen out – out of the spotlight in the series, out of the center of the Karuta world, and out of Chihaya’s consciousness.

In fact, the star of this episode for me – and it’s really the first time since his "Immelmann Turn" barrel roll winning move last season – was Nishida. But the main character of the episode was Chihaya, and once I again I find that the series can struggle a bit when it focuses too exclusively on her. Chihaya for me is simply harder to relate to than some in this cast – most notably Taichi, but also the likes of Kana and Tsutomu – she has the sometimes thankless shounen lead role, the ridiculous talent chasing the ideal of her sport. Because Chihaya isn’t one who reveals a lot of emotional depth and because her Karuta is so instinctual, I tend to find her less interesting under intense scrutiny than I wish I did – her motivation is harder to identify with.

A more immediate problem for me this week is one of credibility, though. Simply put, I think it’s a real stretch at best – and an insult to Karuta at worst – to expect us to believe Chihaya is capable of winning two matches against Class A opponents playing left-handed for the first time since she actually learned how to play. Admittedly this is one of those times where my lack of knowledge about Karuta limits my ability to grasp the mechanics of events in the series, but I can say this – I know a decent amount about a good many sports, and there’s not a one of them where such a thing would be remotely possible. Frankly, to even suggest it would be flat-out silly. Is it possible Karuta is that much different from every other athletic endeavor? Sure – but it’s not the most likely possibility. And the opponent she beat in the first round, Yuube-san, was no slouch – she trounced Nishida in the semi-finals. The whole thing feels pretty absurd to me, a dramatic device for it’s own sake.

But that, as they say, is what it is – and Chihaya is through the last 8, still pursuing her never-ending quest to catch up to Arata. She’s been promising to save her "one right-handed match" for him – but when the draw reveals Shinobu in the quarter-finals, the bandage comes off. That Chihaya would be dumb enough to actually risk her career playing right-handed is actually much more credible for me, and not just because we’ve seen shounen heroes do such things many times – she’s young, single-minded, an intense competitor and desperate. I think it’s a terrible mistake (and I’ll be anxious to see if The Empress tries to stop her) but it’s not out of character. My instinctual reaction is that Shinobu should certainly win, but after the absurd spectacle of Chihaya defeating Class A players lefty I’m not assuming anything. Maybe she’ll upset the Queen while playing blindfolded.

As for the two big dogs of Class A, they’re predictably dominant in the first round. Shinobu wins by 25 cards, and Arata actually tops her – he doesn’t just shut out his terrified opponent but wins by 27 cards, as he induces two faults. This sets up the best part of the episode, Nishida’s second-round match with Arata. Nishida is feeling confident for once, having won his team match in the finals and his first-rounder here – but he effectively admits defeat as soon as he sees Arata’s name. Nishida’s "Why is he better than me?" is the best and most heartbreaking line of the episode, the lament of a kid who knows that no matter what, he’ll never be the best – and that’s why his effort isn’t always 100%. The best he can do against Arata is not give up – a hollow victory at best, but he does at least give Arata a tough match. There’s more than a hint of condescension in Arata’s words to Nishida after the match – "Are all Mizusawa players like you?" – but Arata is so removed from the world of Karuta mortals that coming from him, it was simply honest surprise. Nishida is fated to forever come up short in Karuta, whether it be Shinobu, Arata or Chihaya who leaves him in the dust.

Arata has more than his share of interesting moments in this episode as well. The funniest came with the reveal that his parents – who The Empress was so impressed with in their heartfelt dedication – were actually rooting for him to lose, so they won’t have to find the money for him to attend college in Tokyo. This was actually the first time Arata has seen Chihaya play in years, of course, and while the circumstances were undeniably irregular to say the least, it re-established a link between them that’s been dormant for a very long time. There’s no indication, frankly, that Arata has spent anywhere near as much time wondering about her style of Karuta as she has about his, but he’s suitably awestruck by the force of her will if nothing else. For me some of the drama was leeched from the moment because of the sheer unbelievability of Chihaya’s match – it would have been much more meaningfu if he’d seen her playing in her usual fashion, especially given that so much of their relationship at the moment is based on fantasy rather than reality as it is.

Of the rest of the Mizusawa team there’s nary a sight. We do get updates from The Empress’ sumaho: Tsutomu and Kana win their matches, Tsukuba wins in a bye, and – surprisingly – Sumire wins her match. But ominously, not only is there no mention of Taichi’s match, but no sign that she’s remotely concerned that she hasn’t heard from him. I don’t want to read too much into this, but needless to say it would be vexing in the extreme if Taichi were to have lost in the Class B tournament ignominiously and offscreen – a real disservice to the viewers who’ve been following the series for the past 46 eps. More likely, I think, is that he’s pissed off at himself and the world that he has to play in Class B while Chihaya and Arata leave him behind and isn’t in the mood to email anyone his results, but even in an episode where he’s entirely absent Taichi’s psychology remains one of the most interest elements for consideration.

June 1, 2013 at 6:13 am
59 comments »
  • June 1, 2013 at 6:45 ammianghuei

    I wouldn’t say it’s too bad of an episode. We finally get some good Arata screentime and Chihaya was off-screen for half the episode.

    But I’ll have to admit, Yuube is one gentleman (She’s so manly!!)!! And Chihaya as always has a revelation in the middle of a match, just like her match with Shinobu last time where she realize Shinobu is left-handed.

    “I feel that I can’t lose today!” and look what happens…. :) At least Nishida puts up a good fight! (I think he only lost by 7 cards) It’s also funny to see Arata’s parents support him. Now we know what they mean by Nishida can feel the match….

    It’s hard to believe there are only 32 players in Class A. Top 8 looks like Chihaya, Arata, Shinobu, Megumu, Amakasu, Makoto, Eromu, Manata. It will be interesting…because someone took off their bandage….

  • June 1, 2013 at 6:52 amMi-Chan

    While I do know that ‘Chihaya’furu must have more story towards Chihaya, there’s still this thing that any episode without Taichi, seems a bit… strange. Is this episode done from the view that Chihaya sees? Shinobu, Arata and her matches? I am really glad there was finally a scene regarding Nishida, yes Nishida, you have always been giving up lately, ‘date’ (boys in this club are forbidden to use that word – Taichi) has been an excuse after the other (my sis is watching me, this girl is scaring me… etc) Nishida needed more screen time, but this was very well done. Nishida’s scene when he walks behind Arata was just a very touching scene.

    I agree with Enzo, left handed and wins…… sounds a bit off, but maybe just to show that Chihaya is way better than her opponents that even if she starts off with a handicap, she can still win. The matches taking place now are not for the Queen&Master matches, so why is Chihaya risking her injury?

    There was another scene in this episode that I really liked, but was really shadowed by Chihaya next round, was ArataxChihaya moment, “can I reach him?”, Chihaya’s vague remarks are such a torture!

    Thanks for your review. I really am missing Taichi in this season, he seems very shadowed in most of the episodes, while they seem to make our moods better in some episodes, they defintely torture us in the others.

    Cheers, M.

    • June 1, 2013 at 11:02 amronbb

      I think the creator probably did that on purpose to put Taichi offscreen only to bring him back with his Class B match…and I hope that we can see him win and make Class A. That’s one of Chihaya’s goals, and what I want to see — and the Arata/Shinubo match — before the series ends. As much as I like Chihaya, I was uncomfortable with her win against Yuube-san. It’s a bit dramatic and forced to set up the Chihaya/Shinobu match, but I have to say…I do want to see the Queen play. The best part of this episode to me is really the focus on Nishida — I love the display of his inner conflict and emotions right after his match with Arata.

      • June 1, 2013 at 9:37 pmMi-Chan

        Despite Arata being a nice guy, the amount of guys walking behind him (like the Nishida walk) are too much, arent they? Arata’s supremacy is above any level it seems.

        I guess with the Shonobu match, we will know that Chihaya won’t be playing Arata, Shinobu will win. I think the end of this season will have many new resolves for everyone. Particularly Nishida.

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:06 ambaseone

    OTOKO!!

    I have a question, is Arata’s taking of cards on both sides a fault? If you touch the wrong card it’s a fault right? or is he doing it in lightning speed that he can hit all the cards on both sides at the same time?

    And Ayase going “Nitoryu“? you know the use of both hands, that might be kinda cool if she develop that technique.

    • June 1, 2013 at 8:06 ammianghuei

      You mean the moment before Nishida’s Flashback right? Arata hit 2 cards on Nishida’s side and 2 on his own side….weird…

      The correct card can only be on 1 side so touching cards on the wrong side should result in a foul.

      • June 1, 2013 at 8:45 ammianghuei

        Those 2 are normal. I was thinking of 16:47.

    • June 1, 2013 at 8:33 amsalpsan

      A fault only occurs when a card is touched and it’s on the opposite side of the field of the card being read. I had to go back to S1E8 for that answer.

      In this episode, the first time Arata hit two cards the card being read was on his side of the field, so it would not be a fault. If he had done the same thing and the card being read was Nishida’s side of the field, it would have been a fault. The same is true when he took three card’s on Nishida’s side. The card being read Nishida’s side and Arata took three cards from that side of the field.

      • June 1, 2013 at 10:39 amHD

        salpsan,

        I wonder you could help me explaining Yuube’s action. While she was covering her cards, Chihaya managed to nick them consecutively & touch those cards first. My question is why did she chose to cover? Why didn’t she quickly touch/swip it? Was Yuube only covering because she was still unsure that was the cards being read, hence Chihaya reacted faster & nick her to it? or by covering, it was an ‘enough’ action & would gave her a point?

      • June 1, 2013 at 12:08 pmsalpsan

        /shrug

        I think the answer to all your questions would be when to cover or hit a multi-syllable card.

        From my understanding a cover is only necessary when multi-syllable cards are on both of each player’s field. If they touch the incorrect card, then it would be a fault because the card read would be on other player’s field. Think back to the episode when both Chihaya and Shinobu both covered their own card and Shinobu swept under Chihaya’s hand to get the card on her field.

        If all the same multi-syllable cards are on the same player’s side, it wouldn’t matter if a person touches one card, even if it’s incorrect. It still shouldn’t be a fault because the card read is on that side. An example of this is Arata in this episode by taking the wrong card but also taking the correct card at the same time. The thing in this episode, it wasn’t shown if Nashida was able to send a card to the Arata’s side. We can only assume he took cards on his side and unable to send cards over because if he was able to send cards, he would have sent some of those multi-syllable cards he had to Arata’s side. (This can probably be a correct assumption because Nishida’s karata style is more defensive than offensive.) By sending over multi-syllable cards, effectively splitting them, that would force a hand cover situation instead of allowing Arata to use his speed to snag both cards.

        I hope that helps. Granted this is all under assumption and could be incorrect in any shape or form.

      • June 1, 2013 at 12:26 pmsalpsan

        oh one more thing to add in Arata/Nishida situation. The correct card to hit could have been the first card he swiped and the second card he hit was incorrect or vice versa. It also wouldn’t matter as long as he got the correct card. At that point it’s a gamble which card is the correct card, but to improve your odds, you have to remember you’re playing against another person and not card placement. Since Arata is a smart cookie he can determine which is Nishida’s favored side and take that card first with superior speed and move to other card second.

      • June 1, 2013 at 2:14 pmStöt

        that’s just wrong and makes covering cards useless.

      • June 2, 2013 at 8:43 amStöt

        Sorry about the misunderstanding, You seem to be in the correct. But I’m pretty sure you could have made your point in fewer words though, that was an essay.

      • June 6, 2013 at 11:53 amHD

        Thanks salpsan.

        Even though it’s only an assumption, your explanation helps. I’d already enjoy this series (although it wasn’t my first pick when it aired), & the technical aspect brought to it is appreciated. So by understanding more of the player’s playing style (like Nishida being more defensive), for me it will make me love this series more.

      • June 7, 2013 at 11:16 pmsalpsan

        your welcome. I’ll have to agree with stot about my long winded answers being turned into an essay. I was taught to give full explanations opposed to a summary. I got burned a long time ago in high school by one of my lit teachers told me to explain more of my reasoning. Even though she may understand my reasoning because she knew the material but someone that didn’t know the material would have no idea how I came to my conclusions.

        Yeah it’s the little quirks like Nishida being a defensive player as explained in season one and still being carried throughout the series do make it a joy to watch. Just makes it a nod to the writer knowing her characters so well. It also kinda makes me want to pay more attention to Tsutomu and Kana play style since they’re both in Nishida’s karuta society. In the one match between Tsutomu and Kana, Tsutomu said Kana’s small stature makes defensive play style more suitable to her.

    • June 1, 2013 at 2:22 pmStöt

      I thought that was very strange as well, It felt like a fault, but let’s consider this:

      •1 allowed technique is to hit every card in a corner and hope that one of them was read. even if you don’t touch the correct card first, you’re awarded to point. So that means that you don’t have to touch the correct card first

      •So if Arata’s move should be disallowed, there must be a rule that say that you aren’t allowed to touch cards in more than one fluid motion without committing an error. And by the looks of things it doesn’t seem to be the case.

      One retarded and probably not viable tactic would then be to swipe all four corners quickly every time, it seems to be allowed.

      • June 2, 2013 at 12:16 amsalpsan

        I’m assuming by the word corner you’re referring to each quadrant.

        If you cover the card you’re not touching the card, just protecting it from the other player from touching it. If you touch the card and it’s on the wrong side of the field, you commit a fault regardless if you touch correct card on the opposite field first.

        Now if you hit a card in each corner or quadrant you’ll be committing a fault, because you’ve hit a card in the opposite field the card being read is called out.

        Part of the confusion is the idea of winning. You refer to being awarded a point for collecting a card. There are no points in karuta. To win karuta you have to clear your field first. It doesn’t matter how many cards you have collected or points, what matters is you clear your field first. So theoretically , you can win by not collecting any cards but your opponent commit double faults when a live card is read and faults when dead cards are read. Arata won his first match by collecting 23 cards with two faults by his opponent. If you won by points, The game would have to continue because there is a slim chance Arata’s opponent could still win by collecting 26 cards. But Arata won because he cleared his field first with 23 cards collected.

        Also I think there is confusion to what a fault means. A fault doesn’t necessarily mean passing a card to the player committing the fault. It really means the player that didn’t commit a fault is rewarded with one less card on their field. In order to have one less card on the field it usually means a card has to be passed over but that’s not necessarily the case. An example of this is a double fault. Player A commits a fault on the wrong side of the field and player B hits the correct card, which has to be on the correct side of the field. Player B is rewarded by having two less cards on his field. One card for collecting the correct card and one he gets to pass to the other side.

        So going back to the case where you touch four cards in each corner and getting the correct card, yes that player would still get to keep the card but that’s irrelevent because there are no points. What matters is he got the correct card and he committed a fault. If Player A gets the correct card and it was on the Player B’s field. Player A keeps the card but doesn’t get to pass a card because Player B is rewarded by having one less card on his field.

        Now let’s reverse it, Player A touches the correct card and it’s on his field but commits a fault on Player B’s field. Player A gets to keep the card because he got it first but Player B is rewarded one less card on his field. Therefore Player B gets to send a card over accomplish that.

        So assuming you have incredible speed to swipe all the cards on all corners before the opponent touches the correct card, you’re committing a fault and only helping the other player.

      • June 2, 2013 at 12:24 amsalpsan

        So theoretically , you can win by not collecting any cards but your opponent commit double faults when a live card is read and faults when dead cards are read.

        Sorry this is wrong. It has to be through faults on dead cards to win without collecting any cards. A double fault means you hit the correct card and other player commits a fault. You collect a card in this situation. I guess there would be a double fault if cards are touched on both sides on a dead card, but by the time you touch the first card you’d realize it was a dead card and have to be really stupid to take another card on other field.

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:15 amewok40k

    I am shipping Yuube “Manly Girl” -san with Chihaya right now…
    http://randomc.net/image/Chihayafuru/Chihayafuru%202%20-%2021%20-%20Large%2009.jpg

    Also Nikuman-kun, you have my sincere admiration for facing vastly superior Arata and yet still fighting with all of your heart.

    Alas the end of the season (I fully expect 3rd one in the future!) is near, and Shinobu is here. Winning two matches against A-class opponents while handicapped is already stretching my suspension of disbelief. Winning against the Queen would be pure fantasy. What is more, I am VERY afraid that now Chihaya has chosen to use her injured hand she can have the injury deepen. Does she want to risk her entire Karuta future for one match?

    • June 1, 2013 at 12:32 pmSolara

      This episode made it almost virtually impossible to not want to ship them xD I look forward to more future matches with those two for the hilarity they’ll bring to the match. They’re just so animated together, it’s like watching part Karuta, part comedy.

      But my heart still relies with ChihayaxShinobu! D< Nothing gets in the way of my two Queens damnit. Next week proves this by having them together in their final match. See, they save the best for last. And Chihaya agrees too, she removed her bandage for the real deal. 8D

      • June 1, 2013 at 10:34 pmewok40k

        The best part, they are so alike – honest (won’t argue about the card!), respectful to opponent to the point of admiration, and with burning desire to win to confront One True Opponent (Arata and Megumu, respectively)

    • June 1, 2013 at 12:36 pmSolara

      Whoa, miss to add this:

      Many have mix views about her removing it, in all honesty, if Chihaya is going to crash and burn, she would rather do it without holding back at all. That includes her injuries being expose. If she had the bandage on, and she lost, she would be thinking all of the time about how things would be different if she HAD remove it, thus tormenting herself. I’m not saying its wise to remove it, but I can certainly understand where she is coming from. She knows she has a disadvantage, she knows she is hurt, but she wants to give it her all regardless of the outcome without holding back. Any Karuta player can admire her determination.

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:47 amRigelin

    I went into this post hoping to see impressions on Chihaya’s wins with her left hand. And it really is ridiculous. Even if you’re ambidextrous, going from one hand to another AND still competing at an A class level OVER two rounds, and being in the TOP 8 is absurd. In a series of what I thought to be hard work, determination, and sometimes failure, I think it’s a mockery to Taichi and the others that she’s winning with her left hand almost nonchalantly. Having played a lot of sports, going from right hand to left hand is like trying to walk upside down.

    Lets just mirror my cards and all of a sudden everything’s fine? She’s still hitting mostly single cards! I thought it took a lot of practice to do that with her right hand.

    I still enjoyed the episode, especially with Nishida being fleshed out, but I can’t help but feel like Chihayafuru is trying to pull a quick one on me just to add some drama to the show. Have Chihaya play Shinobu first round if you want that match up, but to have her make it to the top 8 with her left hand is beyond me.

    • June 1, 2013 at 12:54 pmSolara

      I honestly think that the creators are feeling rush that they want to pack everything in before the season ends and that makes everything feels ‘odd’ that Chihaya can easily win those matches out of the blue. It’s like the creators know we want to see certain matches so they’re trying to jam everything together to make it possible, even if its not realistic. This approach may seem kind to the viewers who wish to see those matches, but it’s also unprofessional, unrealistic and so on. It certainly clashes with the premise that Chihaya is known for.

      This also freaks me out. Cause if that’s the case, I may not see a season 3. GIMME SEASON 3 DAMNIT. (屮゚Д゚)屮

      • June 1, 2013 at 5:09 pmGuardian Enzo

        Even if all parties involved were inclined to make a third season, there wouldn’t be enough manga material to do a two-cour one till somewhere around late 2015.

      • June 1, 2013 at 6:26 pmSolara

        @Enzo
        I’m actually not that greedy.13 episodes would suffice. 8D

      • June 1, 2013 at 9:32 pmMi-Chan

        2015…. I don’t think I can wait that long lol /sobs rivers of tears….

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:49 amal

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  • June 1, 2013 at 8:00 amA Dollar Member

    Oh Nikuman-kun!! I’ve never been very attached to him as a character, but he was awesome this episode. FIGHT-OO!! (LOL at Arata’s parents cheering him on.) Sucks to get Arata as an opponent so early on.

    Also, to add to the right-hand discussion, I feel like it’s a bit unconsciously arrogant for Chihaya to be saving her right hand for only the best players Arata and Shinobu – going from how she’s been shown growing more mature and learning to respect her opponents, isn’t it a step back from her sportsman’s ethic if she’s not willing to treat all of her opponents the same? (Then again, I guess no one really does that in sports.)

  • June 1, 2013 at 8:32 amShalaKairos

    I agree with everyone that the left handed victories were ridiculous… but hey, Chihaya’s bandage removal scene and Arata’s entire performances were complete badass.

    The lack of Tachi and the presence of Arata was, to me, somewhere between a nice change of pace and really weird. While, I’m thrilled with Arata’s screen time (and the ChihayaxArata goodness!), it made show the show feel much flatter due to the lack of emotional complexity that Taichi brings. But I have absolutely no fears that he’ll be back.

    • June 1, 2013 at 8:34 amMi-Chan

      Taichi brings more than just the emotional ride. Sadly both Arata and Chihaya are Karuta focused, Taichi is the one that lets us understand the surroundings.

  • June 1, 2013 at 8:34 am3vidently

    Oh how I hope that there is a season 3. This anime is different where the DVD sales are absolute crap. It’s made to promote the manga (which season 1 did tremendously well, and that’s why it got a season 2). This will probably only cover Chihaya x Queen match, but if we’re lucky the end of the individual tournament which I doubt cause the Taichi factor.
    On topic of the current episode, I too felt that the left-handed-ness was over the top. But hey, atleast she’s playing the queen. And the queen herself won’t hurt Chihaya’s hand with any hitting like Yuube’s manliness. Can’t wait for next week :3

    • June 1, 2013 at 5:16 pmGuardian Enzo

      Actually S1 BD/DVD sales were decent for the demographic, and the first volume of S2 broke 3K in the first week, which is an improvement. The issue, again, is material – there’s not enough for a third season and won’t be for quite a while.

  • June 1, 2013 at 8:53 amKarutaku

    I didn’t have as much of an issue with Chihaya winning left-handed as most of you I guess. The way I see it, not all A class players are equal in strength. While Yuu was strong enough to beat Nishida, she was clearly not used to playing against a lefty as you can see from the way she blocked her card as if she was playing a righty. It is more an indication of Yuu’s weakness than Chihaya playing as well with either hand. Chihaya won the match by 2 cards I believe, and at full strength she would have won by more. We didn’t see her 2nd round match and don’t know how much she won by but she would have learned from her first match.

    I don’t know how many percent of karuta players are left-handed but it has to be quite rare. Mizusawa has Tsutomu and there’s Shinobu of course. Yuu probably has not been able to practice against a lefty. And it’s not easy to remember to change your strategy in the middle of a match. I think that is part of the reason why Shinobu can win by big scores.

    You see it all the time in racquet sports such as tennis and badminton. The opponent’s forehand and backhand are reversed when facing a lefty. In the middle of a rally, a player can forget that instead of attacking the backhand they are actually hitting toward the lefty’s (usually stronger) forehand.

    I don’t believe Chihaya is as good left-handed as she is right-handed but most of her talents lie in her hearing and reaction speeds anyway so she could compensate enough to beat weaker A class players. If this was Mythbusters, I would call it plausible that she could reach the Quarterfinals without ever practising karuta with her left-hand before. What I find more unbelievable is the fact that in a random draw that doesn’t seem to be seeded, she didn’t get paired with a stronger player in the first 2 rounds.

    • June 1, 2013 at 11:16 amhwighting

      there aint no 2nd round. single elimination be where it at.

    • June 2, 2013 at 5:25 amFaint Smile

      I don’t know if these make sense but it’s like in basketball, when Abdul Jabbar wasn’t available in NBA Finals, Magic Johnson, a point guard, played the position of the center and they won..

  • June 1, 2013 at 11:21 amDein

    I’m gonna try to play devils advocate here, and say that the left-handed wins were not as big of a stretch as they may seem at first glance. The first season and the second one so far have been building up Chihaya having immense talent for karuta, which is mostly represented by her amazing hearing, or “game sense”, as they refer to it on the show. But as the plot progressed, we found out that this wasn’t something exclusive to Chihaya or that she was even the best at it. In a way the show focused on this for so long, that we (and Chihaya herself) ignore the fact that her true talent might lie elsewhere – something that could only really come into light when certain conditions were met. And lo and behold, they have, ineed, been met. And honestly, I can’t fault them for trying to put Chihaya on a bit of a god-like pedestal, either: she loses almost as much as she wins, her ability to play and focus come and go with the wind and in the end she still sometimes struggles against seemingly weaker opponents (something her peers like Arata and Shinobu don’t deal with at all).

    Plus, as others have mentioned, there’s a fair bit of logic here, too: left-handed play is rare, thus making it harder to play against, and her first win would hardly be a big deal, with her opponent focusing on brute strength and lacking concentration, because she has her own personal rivalry thing in the back of her head. Pairing that up with Chihaya’s usual advantages of speed and fantastic hearing, and her win by only 2 cards doesn’t seem like anything unbelievable. Add to that that while stamina and speed are important, karuta seems to be mostly a game of reaction, strategy and hearing, as well as (as someone mentioned above) them all being class A players doesn’t not eqqual to them all being the same level.

    Other than that, I had fun watching this episode, squeeling like a little girl whenever I got a glimpse of Arata playing. A shame Taichi didn’t make an apperance, but I suppose they’re gearing him up for some sort of personal drama that will be revealed in the upcoming weeks. All in all, I think it was a quality episode that moved a little bit away from the usual pattern and tried exploring some new stuff, be it Nishida’s fighting spirit or Chihaya’s new talents.

  • June 1, 2013 at 12:48 pmSolara

    Shit got real. The bandage came off.

    Take my revolution~! Okay. Who didn’t see this coming? Are you telling me that if Utena didn’t dropped by with her morality and sword and played Karuta like a boss prince that Chihaya wouldn’t have fallen for her!? I call lies. Clearly Chihaya loves strong female players, as we all since they’re refreshing to see. FACT. Like Mikasa and Annie from SNK. –Fangirlsqueelinsertedinhere-

    The highlight in this episode for me has to be Yuube-san with Chihaya, they are freaken hilarious to watch. I never seen Chihaya so animated before in a match like this one. I hope they go up against each other in the future, I’ll be sure to bring popcorn. The second one, and also the most tortuous one has to be that scene of Chihaya trying to reach Arata, damn you subtle comments. ಥ_ಥ My feels. I can’t. Mostly cause I was thinking about poor Taichi, that guy really doesn’t get a break, and when he does, Chihaya tends to give him some with him not noticing, notably when he sleeps. Damnit Chihaya, say nice things to Taichi when he’s awake! The torture for that triangle still goes on. Hope they show more Taichi next week. Or give up an update of his match.

    Next week come faster!!!!! So I can finally see Chihaya go up against her soul mate once more. 8D

  • June 1, 2013 at 12:53 pmFaint Smile

    And yup!.. We got another episode dedicated for Arata!.. ^_^

  • June 1, 2013 at 5:15 pmMikako

    Arata x Chihaya romantic scenes remind me of Kimi ni Todoke, lol. I never thought Chihaya’s behaviour could bring to me that kind of impression.

    As for Yuube-san, I feel so yuri for her and, lol, no, my suspension of disbelief just cannot take this outcome. I know that there’s no clear food chain in karuta, more like rock-scissors-paper situation, depending on players’ strong points, but come on, that girl had DESTROYED Nishida previously, she was shown as Akashi second-to-ace (with the ace defeating Chihaya) and she just shouldn’t lose to the injured, untrained with left hand Chihaya.This makes Nishida really suck by extension and thus he should lose to more-than-perfect Arata by 40 cards, not 7.

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:42 pmLeena

    OMG I’m so excited for next week episode! the only thing I didn’t like this episode was the lack of Taichi,WHERE IS TAICHI?!
    (dont answer me,I know he may be in a match,it’s just that without Taichi,this doesn’t feel like an episode )

  • June 1, 2013 at 8:09 pmFaint Smile

    The part were Chihaya wants to reach the hand of arata!..woohoo!..

    • June 2, 2013 at 2:16 amA Dollar Member

      It’s crude, but I have to say it – it looks like she’s reaching for his butt.

  • June 1, 2013 at 8:57 pmhyperborealis

    “There’s more than a hint of condescension in Arata’s words to Nishida after the match – “Are all Mizusawa players like you?” – but Arata is so removed from the world of Karuta mortals that coming from him, it was simply honest surprise.”

    Where do you get this idea? Arata is expressing sincere admiration for Nishida for “playing his heart out,” not expressing condescension. Read the whole statement Arata says: “Are all the players at Mizusawa like this? / You played five matches yesterday, / yet you’re still playing your heart out.” Arata is impressed by the effort and the intensity Nishida is showing despite the fact he played five matches the day before. Arata’s question is of a piece with his earlier thought, “Chihaya’s high school is really special.”

    Far from being at some lofty remove “from the world of Karuta mortals,” Arata acts throughout the episode as an attentive spectator appreciative of Chihaya and the Mizusawa team. He voices admiration at the fact Chihaya was able to win left-handed, he reflects on how much fun it must be to play on the Mizusawa team, he recognizes with respect the coaching he intuits in Nishida’s play, and at the close he watches with amazement as Chihaya strips her bandage for her match with Shinobu. Arata notices and understands and appreciates all the details of what is going on around him.

    • June 1, 2013 at 10:30 pmGuardian Enzo

      Though it surely wasn’t his intention, Arata could hardly have said anything that would rub the salt in Nishida’s wounds further. Effectively his statement was “Amazing – why didn’t you quit, knowing you had no chance to defeat me?” That kind of “admiration” – though well-intended – is very condescending. It’s admiration from a genius for those who struggle forward despite being normals, and Nishida knows it. It only reaffirms that Arata is in a place he can never reach, no matter how hard he tries, and Arata’s pity is the last thing in the world Nishida wants in that painful crucible of a moment.

      Arata watching Chihaya’s fairybook display of beating A-Class players could hardly be at more of a remove from observing “mortal” Karuta – in fact, it was far less connected to reality than if he’d seen her merely dominate through a freakish talent that’s nearly the equal of his. Arata’s connection to others – through Karuta and outside it – remains minimal. He has one member of his own club he admires, he has fond memories of his childhood time with Chihaya – but there’s really no other indication that he feels connected to anyone in a meaningful way, apart from his late Grandfather and presumably his parents. What he has with Chihaya isn’t reality, it’s a combination of sepia-tinted memories and fantasy. I suspect this is the main reason he wants to go to Tokyo – because he knows those short months he spent with Chihaya (and yes, Taichi) were the time when he was most connected to other people in a meaningful way.

      • June 2, 2013 at 9:12 amhyperborealis

        Nishida’s question, “Why is he so much better than me?”, is not rhetorical. He answers it by looking not at Arata at all, but at his teammates, at how hard they worked, and how they never gave up. Nishida is not thinking of Arata as a karuta genius, but of his teammates, and about whether he himself has kept up with them.

        This thought inspires him not to give up. We can count the cards at that moment: Arata is up by six, 12 to 18. Arata eventually wins by 6. That means that from that moment, for the full second half of the match, Nishida played Arata even. Even!

        What has happened is that Nishida has managed to join his teammates, and to fight as hard as they have, and thereby to play at Arata’s level.

        Arata’s question to Nishida, “Are all Mizusawa players like you?”, thus fits into Nishida’s interal dialogue, about where he stands in relation to his teammates. Nishida will answer by saying he is the least of them, but he is one of them, as his play and determination proves.

        If there is a difference between them in skill, it is fractional: that is why Suetsugu has Arata win on #61, a poem than compares the 9-fold cherry blossoms at the capital to the 8-fold blossoms at Nara.

        You give no evidence for your view that Arata treats Nishida with condescension or pity, or that Arata is an unapproachable karuta genius. But there is none. The episode shows us a different story, with Nishida gutting it out and playing at Arata’s level, and Arata responding with admiration and respect.

        Your second paragraph is more interesting. I can see that Arata may be isolated in Fukui, but I wonder how much of that is an artifact of his lack of screentime and detail about his life there. When you say “[w]hat he has with Chihaya isn’t reality, it’s a combination of sepia-tinted memories and fantasy,” I would point out that this anime, like many others, puts great weight on childhood memories, and their importance into the present. This theme is echoed in the episode’s title poem, about an extinct bur remembered waterfall whose “legacy continues to spread.”

      • June 2, 2013 at 1:20 pmShalaKairos

        @hyperborealis I love your analysis. I just wanted to add that I like how Arata starting getting real in his game with Nishida when the misty bridge card was read symbolizing Arata’s use of karuta to bridge his past to his future (and to his friends).

  • June 2, 2013 at 12:28 amJani

    My poor poor Taichi, *sigh*. My mind went crazy this episode when I realized they weren’t going to show Taichi at all! I really hope it’s because he’s kicking ass in class B. If next week they tell us he lost, I might actually cry.

    And I must agree with you Enzo, Chihaya is harder for me to relate to as well, and I think winning left handed against Yuube was definitely a stretch.

  • June 2, 2013 at 1:45 aminfo600

    I’m amazed that everyone here overlooked the other elephant in the room during the first half: How Arata actually got a win with a 0-27 on his first opponent (even considering that the said opponent’s a newly-minted class-A), even Shinobu only had a 0-25 in her first round…

    • June 2, 2013 at 3:21 amKarutaku

      It was a double fault as was explained during the team final match between Taichi and the Fujisaki captain.

      Basically what happens is that Arata hits the correct card on his own side while at the same time his opponent hits the wrong card. When this happens, Arata removes a card from his side and sends another card to his opponent. It’s a +2 for him in 1 turn. If this happens twice, the match can finish in 23 turns as Arata would have cleared his side and passed 2 cards to his opponent, giving his opponent 27 cards. Hence a 27-0 score.

  • June 2, 2013 at 2:49 amcarutaenthusiast

    Chihaya winning left-handed was surely a stretch, but I think it could happen. I’m not an expert player or anything, but what’s important for players like Yuube (who hasn’t been shown to have superb “game sense” or hearing or any other natural advantage at the same level as Chihaya’s or Rion’s) is memorization and the ability to move quickly. Both things are severely affected by moving cards around in the middle. It’s hard enough to memorize your own cards, but rememorizing your opponent’s cards, upside-down too, is even more difficult. In theory Chihaya’s memory of her own card placement would be jumbled as well, but since she has quick reflexes and excellent hearing, this makes it slightly easier to take a card. I don’t know. Given these odds, Yuube probably should have won because of the lead she had at the beginning of the match, but then how can we predict how a player loses heart in the middle of the game? If my opponent moved all of his cards around I would probably have given up too, just a little.

    I honestly wish Chihaya hadn’t moved the cards or that Yuube-san hadn’t let her. It would have been much more of a fair game and wouldn’t have put Yuube at such a disadvantage. Or I just wish that Yuube had stood up for a few minutes (stretching the limits of politeness, just as Chihaya did) to look at the entire field and re-memorize. I don’t mean to rant! I just feel so bad for her, losing in the first round and never even coming close to a match with Megumu, given that she’s such a good player and she’s tried so hard.

    Thank you for another great commentary. Reading through the comments section, I find myself agreeing with a lot of the things you say about Arata and his desire to make a real connection again.

    • June 2, 2013 at 8:58 amStöt

      I gotta say that people are setting themselves up for disappointment by predicting Chihayafuru too much. Either everything happens exactly as you predicted, so you’ll disappointed by the series predictability, or it doesn’t happen, and people complain about it being unrealistic.

      And I can also list a number of reasons why Chihaya wasn’t absurd in winning the first round (the second round is of course easier). I mean, is reaching and grabbing something with your wrong hand so freaking hard for people? Do you always reach for the coffee cup with your preferred hand, and miss constantly if you use your left? I like to climb a lot, and I don’t especially have a preferred hand to climb a route, and if I fall, or jump, both hands are equally quick to react and reach for something. It’s not at all like kicking a ball with your left foot. Karuta might just be a sport where it might be easier to use both hands.

      Regardless, with this experience in the bag, I can see Chihaya being much better at tackling a left-handed competitor like the Queen.

  • June 2, 2013 at 8:23 amSaki

    I daresay, at this point, that Chihayafuru is also about the love story of Chihaya and Arata. I’ve been keenly watching the subtle hints since season 1 and at this point, I can say that Chihaya likes Arata, but I can say that’s it’s not the same for Arata – yet. I mean, Chihaya was somehow friendzoned, since Arata treasures his childhood team more than anything. But the story preaches about fate, and based on the hints I’m convinced that these two are fated for each other.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I also like Taichi. But I believe that Taichi getting the girl is not the best thing that can happen to his character. Taichi’s fate – his ultimate reward – is to overcome his insecurities and become a man who can still be happy even if his hardwork is not being paid generously in return. I would like it if he can beat Arata and become Meijin!

    • June 2, 2013 at 9:33 amMi-Chan

      It is hard to admit it, but I belive you are partially right. I reall am not sure anymore ;__;’ I’ll focus on the Karuta to avoid having my heart smashed TuT’ I have no one to root for of the two besides Chihaya’s final moment of realization xD

    • June 2, 2013 at 11:51 amSolara

      From a perspective it appears that Chihaya may harbor romantic feelings for Arata, but I believe what she is feeling is admiration for him. She sees Arata as this insane talented guy who is like a ‘God’ to her. Her hand outreach, while touching to many, can be interpreted as her yearning to be with him romantically. While it can also be preceeded as Chihaya simply wanted to be on his level playing Karuta. It’s a mix subtle situation considering that Arata is suddenly back on her life for at least that day, anyone who is fond of their friend who be rather clingy and emotional just to see them. It wouldn’t necessarily mean you’re in love with them.

      On a previous episode(s) Chihaya was thrill to be in the same walking Mat with him because of what it signify. There wasn’t any romantic gesture there, but it can be seen as such. Chihayafuru has cleverly created such scenes for the public as a whole to enjoy, and since they are vague it can be interpreted in any fashion. Thus the endless torture we have.

      I honestly don’t mind either pair, I just dislike the fact that Arata shows up out of the blue and quickly annuls all the work he’s been doing over 40 episodes. Like are you serious? Lol that’s fair. I prefer a full out war when he’s actually in Tokyo just to have a fair playing ground.

    • June 2, 2013 at 1:16 pmShalaKairos

      I agree with the notion that Taichi needs to overcome himself and his insecurities. Becoming Meijin would be one way to do so. But I would also like for him to develop his own dream and future. I’m half-way expecting sometime like what happened in Fruits Basket to happen: Taichi getting pulled into another circle (and, in Fruits Basket, love interest) that gives him a more profound focus and purpose in life. I wish him well!

  • June 2, 2013 at 8:12 pmraitei_shourai

    Wow really was not expecting Chihaya to pull off so many wins. Regardless of whether or not it was plausible or not it was really interesting to watch all the more for being unexpected. I’m glad Arata finally got some more screen time this episode. The part when he comes out after the matches have finished and is all ‘Wow that was amazing Chihaya!’ was really cute too. I’m glad she was able to show him how much better she’s become at karuta at last. I actually thought she was going to touch his hand during that ‘Can I reach him?’ scene but it was all imagined, lol.

    Anyway, since both Shinobu and Chihaya (for the time being) are left handed players, next match is sure to be interesting. Hopefully Chihaya can finally bring herself onto Shinobu’s radar in a major way this time.

  • June 3, 2013 at 4:08 pmTadaima

    There’s something I ought to tell you…I’m not left handed, either…

    >:)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7zvffHu_wo

  • June 3, 2013 at 4:18 pmTadaima

    Dokidoki Precure has aired its 18th episode of its 49 episode run.

    Interestingly, this Precure anime pays homage to Chihayafuru. In episode 14, the blue Precure is discovered having caught the karuta bug and wants to defeat the karuta queen. In episode 18, the pink haired princess of Trump Kingdom–a kingdom from an alternate universe–is shown engrossed in Japanese karuta. Both episodes mimic some of the karuta action from Chihayafuru.