「きりたちのぼる あきのゆふぐれ / はなさそふあらしのにはのゆきならで」 (Kiri tachinoboru aki no yūgure / Hana sasou arashi no niwa no yuki narade)
“Before Wisps of Fog Rise in the Autumn Dusk / Flower Petals Are Strewn by the Wind Around the Garden”
Episode 11 served as the perfect set up for the East-West karuta playoffs. It’s not often Chihayafuru traverses the stories of multiple characters within one episode. It was surprisingly refreshing, especially from the long bouts of watching people sit on tatami mats. Not that I don’t like a good match, but this definitely felt like a breath of fresh air.
I’m definitely rooting for Harada. Every choice he’s made throughout his life has led him to this moment, once again, and it’s time he shows Japan just what he’s made of. Unlike Arata, he has decades of experience under his belt, and he might actually pull off going up against Suo. Or that was the case until he did what he just did.
Withdrawing from his second match was a strategic match. He might say it’s because he wants to hear Makino’s reading, but I have a strong feeling it’s so he can replenish energy and stamina. It wasn’t easy for him to play against Arata. The youngster was quicker, more agile, and didn’t make Harada’s win an easy one. But now with this withdrawal, they’re back on an even playing field. The next winner will be Suo’s opponent at the Master’s final.
As for the ladies, Haruka and Megumu have both worked really hard. Episode 11 didn’t cover Megumu’s training but it did give us some insight on Haruka, an ex-Queen and present mother. She’s at an impasse in her life, conflicted by her feelings towards her children and towards her dreams of being a winning the Queen title once more. I really have no preference between Megumu and Haruka but I did sigh a bit of relief when she won.
It’s as though the twelfth episode is setting us up for either Haruka or Harada to lose. I want to imagine that it will be a ‘balanced’ outcome. One veteran and one high schooler will make the finals. But which of the pair? Will Harada’s more traditional tactics stand their own against Suo or will Arata’s more kindred and modern tactics be the changing wind that blows him out of his seat?