「あきのたの」 (Aki no Ta no)
“Of the Autumn Rice Field”

For a while there, I thought the purpose of this episode was to induce as many heart attacks as humanly possible among the audience.

This was so close to being one of the classic Chihayafuru episodes ever.  It had almost everything – drama, humor, long-awaited interaction with Arata, classic lines of dialogue, heartwarming emotion.  I think the series greatly benefited from a break in the non-stop Karuta action, and a return to the character-driven style of the first season.  But no episode with a needless 4-minute recap in the middle can ever be considered a great one in my opinion.  I was all set to praise Madhouse for abandoning the pre-credits recap clips, but at least those are generally two minutes or less and don’t disrupt the flow of the episode – this one came just at the crest of a huge emotional wave and acted like a breakwater.  It’s a shame, but it is what it is.

There was so much happening in this ep, on so many levels, that in a way it almost felt like it was paying debts that had been building up for 44 episodes.  The episode started out in emotional sixth-gear, showing us the awards presentation for the team tournament – the reward for all the hard work Mizusawa has been putting in (and to the audience for staying connected through one of the longest tournament sequences ever).  Yet it switched gears in a heartbeat – just as the BGM did – disrupting the awards ceremony with a jolt of pain from Chihaya as she held the victory banner aloft.  In hindsight might have been better to have Chihaya hold the certificate and Taichi take the flag…

Once again this week, we saw Sumire take the role she took early on in the season – as the outsider who can say what the audience is thinking because she has enough remove from the situation to see the obvious and enough connection to it to understand the implications. She was the one who blurted out Taichi’s obvious love for Chihaya what feels like years, ago, and here she’s the one who says what the rest of us know – there’s a love triangle between our three main characters.  Except that none of them has done what she did and said it aloud – indeed, based on the evidence we’ve seen the only one who even says it internally is Taichi, though it’s implied strongly that Arata feels the same way.  It’s been so long since this dynamic was on center stage that it’s easy to forget it’s what drove the series for most of the first season, but it all came flooding back this week – having lost none of the narrative firepower in its arsenal.  This is still the big dog from a dramatic standpoint, and when it’s in focus it sucks all the oxygen out of the room, leaving any other thread gasping for air.

The scene between Taichi and Arata will probably be the most-discussed of the episode, and it was like a hot electrical cable from the first moment – danger was crackling through the air.  The dynamic between these two is really just as interesting as that between Taichi and Chihaya, and it’s so rare to see Arata actually interact physically with either of his old mates that it feels surreal every time it happens.  It’s Arata who drops the first verbal bombs here – his "The only team I ever wanted to be on was the one with you and Chihaya" being one of the most memorable lines of dialogue he’s ever uttered.  He also drops the bomb on Taichi – with spectacular results – that he plans to attend college in Tokyo (wherever he can get a scholarship – a gentle reminder that he doesn’t have Taichi’s money).

It’s remarkable how different these two young men are, physically, emotionally, temperamentally.  While Arata drops his bombshells verbally Taichi’s are internal (or muttered so quietly that only he can hear them).  "Chihaya wants to be on a team with you, but I don’t.  You’re my enemy."  (note: this is a perfect example of why translators can impact the interpretation of a work significantly. “Teki”, the word Taichi used, can be translated as “enemy” – which Crunchyroll did – “rival”, or “opponent” – all are correct in this context, and in common usage. How different does this scene feel if it’s translated as “rival”?). It’s startling to hear Taichi utter these words (only we do hear, not Arata) but, unpleasant as they are, at least they’re honest.  I think it’s quite possible to feel that someone is both a rival and a friend, and I think Taichi does feel that way here (the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference), but his complex over Arata must be dealt with before Taichi can move forward in his life.  Arata isn’t Taichi’s problem when it comes to Chihaya, Taichi is – until he makes his feelings known to her, he can always use Arata as an excuse for why he doesn’t act.  Part of that is no doubt the implied code of honor that both boys are observing – Arata as much as told Taichi he was interested (he flat-out asked if Chihaya and Taichi were dating) in S1, and it seems as if both of them are holding back partly because neither wants to act unless both of them are present and able to fight for their cause.  But it also gives Taichi an excuse not to move forward, and delays his quest to be "a person who doesn’t run away".

What this conversation implies going forward is hard to say.  If Arata’s request to his parents was to attend college in Tokyo, he could indeed join his Fukui "teammates" on a team for his final year of high school – but what of his comment that no team matters to him but that with Chihaya and Taichi?  It’s important to note that Chihayafuru almost never gives us any insight into Arata’s inner thoughts, yet does so with Taichi over and over – with the impression that leaves being that Taichi is a person who internalizes his true feelings and that Arata is transparent.  Yet the truth is surely deeper than that, and Arata is surely more than the collection of what he says aloud.  We don’t know the full truth about what he feels about Taichi and Chihaya, only what he’s said openly (mostly to Taichi) and probably won’t know it until the three of them finally are together for an extended period (assuming Suetsugu evert stops torturing us and allows that to happen).

Meanwhile and not at all incidentally, Chihaya’s injury is providing drama of its own.  Her casual "Is there a hospital open late?" is her first aloud admission that something is seriously wrong, and The Empress treats it with the seriousness it deserves.  The X-ray reveals a chip fracture, though the doctor seems surprised there’s not more pain and swelling and recommends a second opinion.  She also recommends that Chihaya not play in the individual tournament, a recommendation I heartily endorse – and Chihaya’s ultimate choice to try and compete using her left hand seems the product of good intentions and fighting spirit, but poor judgment.  What is there to be gained in doing so?  She can’t possibly win that way – though it’s certainly better than trying to win with her right hand, the damaged finger in a splint.  My fear is that’s exactly what Chihaya is going to do once it becomes clear to her that she has no chance to win with her left against Yuube Keiko, who destroyed Nishida in the semi-finals.  There’s no telling what kind of damage she could do to herself if that happens, and with Taichi in another room for the Class B fevent and Arata engaged in his own match, who will be there to save her from herself?

When she returns from the hospital – with The Empress gamely but futilely trying to hide the seriousness of the issue from Sumire and Kana – Chihaya stumbles into the boys’ room by mistake.  Taichi is asleep by himself, the others presumably in the bath.  It’s here that the aforementioned recap sequence occurs and it’s a real shame, because it interrupts the narrative at a very touching and revealing moment.  Rather than immediately retreat Chihaya crawls into the room and lies down next to the sleeping Taichi, which says so much about her feelings.  As she reflects back on what’s happened and worries about her injury that’s where she wants to be – lying next to Taichi, which at the very least expresses her complete trust in him. 

In the complicated triangle among the three leads Chihaya’s romantic feelings are the greatest mystery of all, because while unlike with Arata we do see much of her inner thoughts, they betray almost nothing of where her heart lies.  It reminds me intensely of the moment Taichi fell asleep in the car, and Chihaya cradled his head on her shoulder.  It’s another gut-wrenching twist of fate for Taichi, who seems cursed to sleep through all the moments when Chihaya most openly expresses the depth of her connection to him – if he knew, perhaps his own resolve would be that much stronger.  And perhaps it does reveal something of Chihaya’s heart that she might be more willing to openly express it with Taichi when she knows she can do so in secret.

There’s certainly drama to be had everywhere as the stage is set for the tourney to begin, with Chihaya’s stated aim to have Mizusawa win every class (Sumire’s "What?  We count?" providing one of the episodes few light moments).  That goal is surely one of the reasons she’s pushing herself, as Nishida surely can’t win the Class A event.  Will Tsutomu and Kana meet again in the Class C final, a group where both of them should be among the top competitors?  Can Tsukuba win in Class D (seemingly a very real possibility)?  And we have Arata and Shinobu briefly interacting before the matches, with a fascinating exchange between them that she clearly regards as serious, and he seemingly as a joke.  She has eyes only for Arata – in Karuta at the very least – and with Chihaya not a threat, it’s hard to see anyone else breaking up their seemingly fated meeting.

And then there’s Taichi in Class B, as usual fighting himself more than the opponents.  His forlorn "Why am I here?" expresses his dilemma and his penchant for self-defeat – as Arata and Chihaya (hopeless and misguided though it may be in her case) stride into battle in Class A – finally "on the same tatami" as she says, which is surely the biggest reason she’s playing at all – Taichi is off on his own, an outsider to their club.  There can be no question Taichi is strong enough to play in Class A – he’s defeated a number of Class A players already in this tournament.  Yet his "even if I never have my card read in a luck-of-the-draw again" promise of last week continues to hang in the air and cast a pall of foreboding on the Class B final.  In so many ways Taichi exorcising his demons has been the most consistent narrative thread in this series, and it’s rarely been on display more prominently than it was this week.


  1. I guess with only 5 episodes to go, Chihaya’s unwillingness to withdraw from the individuals in her current condition is bound to turn out badly. I can understand that she is desperately trying to find ways to continue, but it will turn against her.
    In a way it is a good thing: this experience with the injury will serve her in the future (providing it will not worsen out of control of course).

    1. It could work out massively in her favor. So far she’s been trying to surpass Shinobu and Suo by copying both of their styles.

      But an ambidextrous karuta player… Now that’s something we haven’t seen before.

  2. Honestly I’m pretty frustrated right now because truth be told I don’t think Chihaya will make it very far through the tournament with her injury. And it’s such a shame too what with her ‘finally’ getting to compete in the same place as Arata. It seems like she made it so far only to have such bad luck 🙁

    That said, hopefully some of the other players will also be going up a rank. It’s more than time that Taichi goes up to A rank and it’d be nice to see Tsukuba or either Kana or Tsukue-kun make an advance too.

    The scene with Taichi and Arata was also very good too, a bit of tension there and I’m also glad we’re finally getting to see more of Arata interacting with the main cast.

  3. When 2 male friends are hitting on same girl, they become enemies in sense of rivalry, but often stay friends anyway. When 2 female friends hit on same man, friendship usually evaporates fast…

  4. I think the word enemy is just too much, he should have said rival instead. Because for me, you can have a friend as a rival, but you can never have an enemy as a friend, well that’s just my own opinion.

    Faint Smile
      1. I may be mistaken, but I think there is a nuance of ‘being on opposite sides’ in that word. And even if not, the context clearly says it – you can have a friendly rivalry with someone on the same side, a teammate can be a rival, it’s someone who might succeed too, but your goal is just to be better. And Taichi does not want to play in the same team as Arata, he sees him as a menace. Also, the seriousness and emo atmosphere around this declaration don’t look to me like a competitive spirit. I actually think ‘enemy’ is a good shot.

    1. Imo, the seriousness of that scene made more sense for the use of “enemy”, if only because it reminded me so much of another one of Miyano Mamoru’s character, Light Yagami.

      “rival” always feels like its being used in a playful context when I see it in anime, especially since the word often used in such a case is the borrowed word “raibaru/ライバル”.

  5. “…And then the girl of my dreams walked by, and I was reminded that I could use my right hand.” Oh Chihaya, you’re such a romantic. God bless this show. All logic goes out the window when SUPER SAIYAN CLASS A QUEEN SHINOBU WALKS IN IN ALL HER FABULOUS GLORY.

    There were a lot of things to be excited about in this episode. As amusing as it was to have Arata dropped that bomb on Tachi in the more awkward ‘bro’ conversation ever, it’s really taking a toll on him during the individual matches. As far as anyone can see, nothing is going right at all; Chihaya’s injured, she’s up against a stronger female, who seems to want to fight Megumi. Seriously what is going on with these two, show me some backstory I’ll be really interested! Just for the love of God, spare me those camera nerds. I mean first you supported her, now you can’t stand her or you rival her I mean whatisgoingonz!? Is this a menstrual thing? Anways Chihaya loses her GUST card and I gotta say I really miss hearing Chihaya’s card being read… For some reason it always trigger that ‘OHMYGSHITISGETTINGSERIOUS’ moment for me.. Movingon, Shinobu isn’t please that she isn’t fighting Arata, and for some reason, Tachi is so out of it to not really care, and for some really weird reason his opponent is Retro AGAIN? Like how many times must you face this guy, what are the odds!? WHAT IS THE SHOW TELLING US!?

    Regardless, this was a very crazy emotional episode. I can’t wait to see them cover Shinobu and Arata in action next week! I’m crazy excited to see how much the Queen has changed after one year and how much of a better player has Arata become.

      1. Really? Cause he stated that he was really excited that Tachi was really thrown off to focus. It looked to me like it was implied that he was going up against him now. Which reminds me he couldn’t even if he wanted to, Retro is Class A. So I guess it was an overall statement then.

        Rion? Enzo, is this a spoiler that he’s going to face her next? 8D I kid, she is a Class B I’ve him so it’ll make sense. I’ll look forward to it regardless. It’s ironic really, Tachi is a ball of emotions and Rion doesn’t even show hers.

      2. i think from narrative standpoint it makes sense — and a very attractive one to watch — for Taichi to match against Rion in fighting for the Class A seat. He just beat the captain of Team Fujisaki — an Arata look-alike and a solid player. It would be very interesting to see him fight against Rion — the Chinhaya look-alike and a talented player with great game sense.

      3. I am quite positive it will be Rion, Taichi needs to know that his ‘I’m not like Chihaya days’ are gone, he is better in his own way if he really puts his mind into it.

  6. The class B battle is going to be interesting to watch as it will likely lead to a Rion vs Tachi showdown. Questions remain as to how Arata’s encounter with Taichi will affect his matches the next day.

    I can see Mizusawa winning class C and D. Oddly enough, dont care how the class A will turn out. I predict an Arata vs Shinobu final, with Chihaya dropping out early.

    1. It’s a rather harsh judgment, as Taichi has every reason to fear Arata, and his state might be understandable but yeah, it was pretty uncool. If he thinks of Arata as of an enemy/rival, he could just let him know that and take up the challenge.

      And a recap episode, lol. I liked the build-up toward the individuals, though.

  7. I’m glad you provided some context of the translation. The whole “enemy” thing kinda shocked me – I know taichi has complicated feelings for Arata and is definitely competing with him on several fronts (at least in his mind), but calling him an enemy is just too much and I doubt that’s what it implies in this case. You eased my mind, Enzo, thanks!

  8. I was really agitated at the filler 🙂 No offence, ruined the episode for me. While I did feel emotional, I just kind of.. was sitll in that moment with Taichi sleeping, and she just goes in, just like Enzo, I remembered S1 moment and kind of laughed at the thought of Taichi always sleeping through the good moments.

    About Arata, Chihaya & Taichi – the way I see things is that we got three charecters and friends, brought up together by Karuta, but all have different attachments to when they were kids:
    1- Arata: the thought of having had friends to play with connected him to the other two.
    2- Chihaya: having her dream set up by Arata, she connects herself with him.
    3- Taichi: chasing Chihaya, he becomes a member for the team and part of the three. Karuta becomes a way to prove himself (particularly knowing he doesn’t want to be left behind.)(Thought: would Chihaya have left him behind if he didn’t play Karuta?)

    If you think about it, without Chihaya, Taichi wouldn’t have been part of their trio. Sometimes it is confusing though, the writer has confused us many time, while Taichi blurts out ‘rival’ to Arata, there’s still this notion back to S1 (one of my favorite episodes), when Taichi and Chihaya both cry when they see Arata play, “part of me didn’t want to see him here, but deep down, I’m celebrating” – I never forgot this line really, so what is it? what does Taichi want? isn’t keeping Arata from going to Tokyo close to running away? or will he beat Arata in Class A match to stop it? I am either tired tonight, or I’m writing much nonsense.

    There’s 2 moments highlighting my episode, that sleeping scene and the ArataxTaichi scene. Very well done to making our hearts shake.

    Thanks for your review, M.

    1. Agreed…that two sequences were the highlights of this episode — a long-awaited one that focused on the three main leads. I have been thinking about it since yesterday. The convo between Arata and Taichi may have some foreshadowing. Arata simply blunted out that he wanted to move to Tokyo — I think we may be able to see him win the Class A match in the remaining episode. Taichi, knowing that Arata will be coming back, gets another urge. I think his questioning of why he’s in the room of Class B matches at the end of the episode is actually a reaction to his thinking and own acceptance who he is and what he’s actually capable of. That’s a sign of confidence — I hope — and he’s gonna put on his fierce mode and prove himself. I hope that we can see him make Class A in the remaining episodes.

      As for the ChihayaXTaichi moment, I particularly loved the gentle head-butt…that was pretty cute and intimate. The whole sequence simply overflowed with a sense of closeness, comfort and trust…it’s quite endearing.

    2. To be completely honest, I don’t think Taichi plays Karuta because he likes it.

      From the very beginning of SS1, he just wanted to be with Chihaya and not left out of the group. In junior high, he mostly focused on soccer I think. And in high school, which is now, he was thinking about quitting Karuta for good if Chihaya didn’t start a Karuta club at school.

      Honestly, for crying out loud, he’s playing Karuta just because he wants to be with the Karuta freak. I won’t judge if that’s bad or not. You can argue that he won’t try so hard to get to A class if he doesn’t love Karuta but in my opinion he just simply can’t stand the thought of being left out of Chihaya’s world. I wish there’s some sort of moments explaining his efforts for Karuta rather than for Chihaya’s sake.

      I hope the love triangle won’t have such bad ending like Vampire Knight T.T and it’s argonizing and pleasing at the same moment since I can’t get a clue of which of the 2 guys Chihaya’s gonna ending up with. The mangaka really gets on my nerve sometimes. This moment I was so sure that it’s gonna be Arata and then the next completely clueless. Her actions speak for Taichi while her inner thoughts speak for Arata, arg simply argonizing.

      I’m really looking forward to more moments of Shinobu and Arata :).

      And also Arata looks extremyly handsome in this ep during his conversation with Taichi, with the moon shining on his serious face, lol I was like “Kya Kya” :))

      1. I agree with what you said about Taichi – it’s actually one of the main reasons why I find it hard to root for him in the romance department.

        I have a different opinion on their “love triangle” though. I actually think that it’s not really a triangle, more like a line which looks like this:

        Taichi > Chihaya > Arata

        It’s clear as day that Taichi likes Chihaya. As for Chihaya, her inner thoughts (which is full of only Karuta and Arata) is more than enough for me to believe on her adoration for Arata, and her interactions with Taichi (which are all very cute) just tell me that Taichi is (and forever will only be?) a dear friend to her. Arata’s feelings are the real mystery to me, and hopefully it will be highlighted before the season ends.

      2. On a different note, @Saki, I don’t know if Arata is intersted in Chihaya, I always go back to “I thought you guys are a couple” to Taichi, means that Arata already acknowledges them as a pair, or perhaps it was a confirmation on his side, to know that his field is open. Though Taichi, straight line relationship? I don’t really know. There’s always the thought that when Arata called Taichi a ‘coward’ back then, Arata can be only telling those things to Taichi to let him know that he’ll be back, I mean, he doesn’t really tell Chihaya as much as he tells Taichi those things. There’s many ways to look at it, I really think that Arata doesn’t see Chihaya the way she sees him, and Chihaya doesn’t see Taichi the way he sees her, and Taichi deosn’t see Arata the way Arata sees him, there’s so many ongoign things that its rather a circle at moment, o rno shape at all, a series of zigzagged lines. I don’t want to go into conclusions because it would hurt me eitherway, I mean even as a viewer, I don’t know what it will be or if I want her to be with either Arata or Taichi. Maybe it will be Harada-sensei xD…. Though on a serios note, I would like Taichi’s dilemma to bear fruit, Taichi remains one of the most influential anime charecters to me, he sure landed a huge burden on my head as a viewer, that I would like resolved.

  9. The way Arata is drawn seems to have changed somewhat. He is increasingly drawn very determined and forward moving (also hot :D). As well, we are given many long shots of his back, which frequently in shoujo manga are used to represent the guy the girl is chasing after/afraid of losing.

  10. Geez banning myself from anime so I could concentrate on finals was the hardest thing ever LOL but having 4 episodes of Chihaya to watch was so great!! Anyways, I’m really confused by Taichi this episode, and the questions some of you guys have thrown out there have caused this haha. Towards the end when Taichi asks Retro why is he even here, or calling Arata his enemy (or rival depending on how you want to take it). What does Taichi want from Arata? Or from Karuta? Does he really like playing Karuta? Or was it really just for Chihaya’s sake? I just can’t bring myself to believe that Taichi doesn’t truly love Karuta for himself, he plays way to hard for him not to. And then there is Arata… I have no idea what to think on how Taichi truly feels towards him. Like you guys said you can still be friends and be rivals, but the way Taichi said it, it just seemed so harsh. That’s enough of my ramblings, nice review Enzo and I will see you lovely people next week!

    1. Tachi’s basic instinct of being the ‘best’ as a child is what led him to competing into Karuta, not because he liked the sport, but because Chihaya was being friends with an unpopular student name Arata. He feels inferior to Arata cause he has Chihaya’s attention at an early age, when he got in the same HS, he pretty much joined the club for Chihaya’s sake. It wasn’t until later events that Tachi wanted to be a ‘certain’ person that Karuta was an outlet to let him be that. If he wanted to be stronger, better etc, Karuta helped him get there, little by little. So he does love the sport, even if he comes from an ‘analytical’ perspective like Desk-kun may come from, whereas Chihaya has a crazy passion for it.

      I don’t think Tachi wants Arata to do anything, in anything Tachi needs to do something to stop being ‘scare’. It’s something Tachi must do, not Arata. He can’t want Arata to go away, he already has been for a long period of time, and during that time he was in Chihaya’s thoughts. He can’t really say “YO I LIKE HER K, BACK OFFZ”, cause in S1, Arata assume they were a couple, and Tachi quickly denied it so quickly that Arata felt like it was ‘ok’ to venture there if needed. Unfortunately Tachi’s problem won’t get fix even if Arata gets a different GF. Tachi can’t even say “HEY GIMME A CHANCE FIRST”, he had a long time to do so! The real issue resides in Tachi doing something for once, and Chihaya’s lack of romance that is the biggest issue. Maybe Tachi already knows how much of a big air head Chihaya is that he knows confessing wouldn’t really do much. This is really frustrating considering how complex their characters are emotionally. There is like no win-win situation at this point.

      1. Hmm…I like what you said. As for Taichi’s question — why he’s even there, I am betting that Taichi is actually questioning why he has let himself stay in Class B for this long. I am thinking that he’s gonna really put his act together and win the Class B match this time. Look forward to some awesome exciting Karuta — from both Taichi and Arata/Shinobu — in the remaining episodes.

      2. @ronbb
        Well that’s one way of looking at it. Considering the timing of it, since just last night Arata dropped that bomb at him I quickly that was the reason he was doubting himself. More like defeated if anything. I prefer your way of thinking, cause it gives Tachi a more sense of purpose to focus on getting Class A, and him stating that can motivate him to greatly question why he is still in Class B. Anything that focuses on Tachi working on himself is something I prefer over any rivalry romantic motives. Cause only when Tachi improves himself, he’ll be able to make the next steps necessary to put him out of his Hell hole and to finally get what he wants, whether it’s Class A, or to say what he really needs to say to Arata face to face in order to move forward instead of saying it under his breath behind his back, or to make any progress with Chihaya, even if it’s just friendship. Just any kind of progress out of him is something I always look forward to seeing.

      3. I definitely agree, watching Taichi grow has been amazing to see. @ronbb I hope you are right, and we see Taichi kick major ass in class B, it’s about time we see him dominate.

      4. @Solara:

        “Well that’s one way of looking at it. Considering the timing of it, since just last night Arata dropped that bomb at him I quickly that was the reason he was doubting himself.”

        A part of me saw it like “why am I here?” was more like “I should be there where Arata and Chihaya are, why am in this room?” or like “Why am I playing Karuta in the first place?” but I think my understanding is shifting for the first one. I don’t think its doubt, but rather a blame for not putting the effort to already be there with them.

        Taichi will make it, I’m sure, and I have no doubt. #strong believer ;__ ;..

      5. @Mi-Chan
        Ah. That’s another point of view I didn’t consider either. Good call. But regardless of what it could mean, I hope it just becomes aan impetus for a change in him. I look forward to that.


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