「しつこころなくはなのちるらむ」 (Shizukokoro Naku Hana no Chiruramu)
“A Whirlwind of Flower Petals Descends”

It’s back to high school on Chihayafuru, but fortunately the series is just as compelling as ever.

Time skips are always dangerous but interesting for any anime. They offer an opportunity to witness a great deal of change for the characters, but the trap is that the dots are sometimes never connected – the writer never really reconciles the person that was with the person that is. I don’t see any evidence that will be a problem here, because the writing for Chihayafuru is tight as a drum. As fascinating as it is to see just how different 10th-graders are from 6th-graders, it’s abundantly clear in the case of Chihaya and Taichi that these are still the same people at heart. Of course that leaves Arata out of the equation, but we’ll get back to him in a minute.

The awkwardness implicit in the situation facing Taichi and Chihaya is painful, but the circumstances are understandable given that as far as we know they haven’t seen each other for over three years. So it’s natural enough that the socially dexterous Taichi would have a casual girlfriend, but it’s pretty obvious he’s still hung up on Chihaya. Her feelings aren’t so clear – she’s clearly a romantic sort, but seems as much in love with the memory of her childhood adventures with both Taichi and Arata as with either of them as boys. I don’t give Taichi’s GF much of a half-life, especially considering that Chihaya has the advantage of going to the same school and living close enough to get off the train at the same station. Here’s hoping he shows some grace and doesn’t string this girl along.

And then there’s the matter of the Karuta club that she’s roped him into helping her form. Taichi – he of the success-obsessed family – has soured on the game a bit because he knew he could never become strong enough to beat Arata. But Chihaya’s enthusiasm seems never to have wavered, and though she’s been stuck in Class B, she’s only a win at the Tokyo Regional Tournament away from joining Arata (she thinks) in Class A. Taichi’s (ineffectively) incognito return to the Karuta salon to root for her not only confirms he’s still smitten but offers “Eyebrows” a reunion with Harada-sensei (Ishizuka Onshou). He remains a great character, just the right combination of humor and sincere mentorship.

The tournament itself is given a little more time than the 6th-grade one, and it once again called up memories of the Go matches in Hikaru no Go. As then, I wonder how it can be that watching folks play a game whose rules I barely know is so exciting, but it is (admittedly Karuta is a little more spirited – I can’t imagine Fujiwara Sai doing to a Go stone what Chihaya does to Karuta cards). More so than in the premiere we get a sense of just how dedicated to the game Chihaya has been, even joining the track team to help hone her reaction times to get better at Karuta. Her short-term goal is to win the tournament so that Taichi will help her with the club (though I never actually heard him agree to that) but in the big picture she’s been chasing Arata, trying to reach Class A so that she can compete with him again.

While it was the major twist of the episode, I can’t say I was surprised to hear that Arata no longer plays Karuta. There could be a myriad of reasons – maybe his beloved Grandfather died, and that soured him on the game. Maybe he has to work to support his family. But Arata remains the mysterious figure of the trio, as always the hardest one to read. Chihaya being the stubborn idealist she is, there’s not a chance in hell she’s going to rest until she has an answer at the very least, and I suspect until she drags Arata kicking and screaming back into the Karuta ring with her and Taichi. And yes, I do expect Taichi to take up the game again – not just to be with the girl he loves, but because the look in his eyes watching her play makes it clear that he had more fun playing Karuta than doing any of his parent-approved activities.

From a story standpoint the question that interests me is that of just how large a role Arata will have in the near-term. Is he going to be drawn back into the story immediately, or will he be the “goal” for a while, giving Chihaya and Taichi a mystery and a problem to solve? Between Chihaya and Taichi getting the club up and running and sorting out the personal entanglements my guess is the latter, and that Arata will be more of a presence in the psychological than the physical sense for a while.


  1. It’s nice to see Chihaya having the same spirit as her younger self, and Taichi still debating the usefulness of karuta. I can’t wait to find the reason for Arata to quit, will probably give more tearful moments (not going to read the manga till the anime is over).

    And the girl calling him “Ta-kun”… could it be a sister or some relative instead of a girlfriend?

    1. Well Taichi mentioned having a girlfriend, so the nickname and the jealous Chihaya only points to her being the girlfriend. Unless this is actually an incest anime which i highly doubt.

      But i do agree about Chihaya. First episode I only liked her a little. But after watching her childhood and seeing how she’s still just as cute now as she was in 6th grade, I like her more than before.

  2. 2:42 – I learnt that the alarm sound in Mawaru Penguindrum is from japanese trains today.

    The series is starting to grow on me. Hikaru no Go did a better job at capturing my interest from the offset but this is doing fine too. I also have more respect for Karuta players now.

  3. Chihaya is such a tease to Taichi. She ate his chocolate, got him to take off his jacket to keep her warm, coerced him to creating a Karuta club, and hugged him like that at the end! Taichi is only a teenage boy (who still have a lingering crush since childhood)! She did have a reaction for meeting with his GF, but she quickly shifted her attention at Arata’s number afterwards.

    I feel bad for Taichi… since he’s clearly in friend status now, back then, and will be in the future.

    1. I would say he is worse then friend zoned, but family zoned even. Her reaction is more like a sister getting jealous of her brothers first girlfriend. She was after all more upset about how the girl uses Ta-kun rather then being a girlfriend. There is no sign of her actually being upset that she herself isn’t Tachi’s girlfriend or regret in that direction. On the other hand so does it seem like Tachi has caught on to what is going on, in the past as well, so I don’t expect Tachi to be more then melancholic about his state and keep dating his girlfriend.

      1. You may be right. If so, it’s more evident that Taichi won’t be with Chihaya. But I’m still rooting for the couple because I know how Taichi feels when someone doesn’t like you back even thou you do so many nice things…

    2. Yeah, I thought her reaction was very cute when she heard Ta-kun, acting all jealous and all. But then she pops open her phone and zones right back to Arata. I prefer Taichi so it was a little annoying, but only a little.

  4. I can’t believe this is actually a real game in Japan. You can look it up on Wiki. I could care less about the game itself as it seems pretty stupid and boring but I do like this show for the characters and the story and the passion the characters have for the game itself.

    I loved the great shows about Shougi (Shion No Oh) and Mahjong (Saki) even though on paper you would think anime series about board games would not be worth watching for a whole series. So decided to give this a try and I like it.

      1. Agreed…

        The game aspect of this series is about as exciting as watching grass grow on your lawn. What I like about this series is the 3 main characters and how they interact with each other.

  5. I think people are overacting on Taichi’s character. We tend to forget how many of us act at a young age, especially in front of the ones we have feelings for. Now that we get to see how Taichi is as a high school student, we see a kid who has matured a great deal and is struggling to figure out if giving into his feelings is the “right” thing to do, given the family obligations that he must uphold. I believe his character is going to continue to grow and as far as I can tell, may very well become one of the more well rounded characters in this series.

    +1 for Taichi

  6. Love, love, love this show! And to think that I wasn’t even planning to watch it, but at the momento it’s one of the series that’s making me ‘feel’ the most, and that’s so important. Really like the three protagonists and the pace that the story is having, really looking forward for the next episodes =)

  7. I could kind of see this coming from the very first episode–one way or another, I knew they’d grow apart. Something about this series’s tone, though, makes me optimistic that they’ll all be friends again before it’s over.

    Also, am I the only one who wants to play karuta after watching an episode of this?

    The Kenosha Kid
    1. Nope…

      Played go after watching Hikaru no Go and played mahjong after watching Saki, but this one is still a ‘wait and see’ type of game for me. I may not even consider playing this.

      Anime>Sleep Otaku
  8. This show feels more and more like a high school drama with Karuta (beautifully) tacked on…

    Still, it’s visuals is going to make the “Best of – Animation” even harder to decide now (now that we can see more of the teenaged Chihaya xD )

  9. Another very good episode indeed, finally the real deal is here and it surely doesn’t disappoint. It seems this episode thought has some facial animation quality drop (may be it’s just me).

    This is the kind of series that made me root for some people, and that is Arata x Chihaya, I hate myself when I do this because it made me not really liking the character that prevents that from happening. When this kind of thing happens, I always remember School Rumble and how I rooted for Harima x Eri pair, it has only hinted in anime but the manga made me really like that pairing, and everyone who finishes it will probably know how it is somewhat disappointing (at least for me).

    Can’t wait to watch the next episode.

  10. This is already one of my favorite Animes I’ve ever seen! It’s so good! It’s on par with my love for spice and wolf. I look forward to EVERY episode. I’m enjoying it as much as Persona this season which I also really love.


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