I really love how Chihayafuru gets better each episode.
The beautiful and delicate pacing of Chihayafuru this season reminded me of how much I like the flow of Sakamichi no Apollon last year (the first half, that is). And once again despite this episode having a number of development going on, it never felt rush. In fact, it felt so slow that this episode didn’t seem like 20mins once again.
The rematch of Mizusawa and Hokuo turned out a lot better than I expected. It was actually better compared to their first match. First off, I like the development on their new captain, Amakasu Nayuta (Honda Takako). Last season all we knew about him was the fact that he’s a Class A karuta player. This episode showed that unlike Hokuo’s former captain, Sudou Akihito (Oohara Takashi), Amakasu has given up on becoming a master due to the existence of strong players. He kind of remined me of Taichi who’s stuck in the mentality that he’ll never reach the stronger and talented players out there although Taichi still has his reasons for getting stronger.
It’s a really good thing that Kinashi Hiro (Nakai Kazuya) is Hokuo’s reliable esper when it comes to deciding their order. I like how he’s the opposite of Amakazu. Just now, I think that they complement each other. Amakasu is strong but he wants to take the easy route. In terms of ability, he’s definitely qualified as the captain and current ace of Hokuo. Hiro-kun, on the other hand, may not have the ability yet ror pure talent as a karuta player but his strength is his pride and mentality of being at the top. He may want to get the trophy back from Mizusawa more than anyone else but he doesn’t want to do it in a way that they’ll win instantly. He wants to show Mizusawa and everyone else that Hokuo is really strong.
BUT the greatest surprise for me in this episode is actually Sudou. I never expect Sudou to be a reader. Looks like he’s taking his mastery of karuta on another level. Being a reader will help him in recognizing the cards more when they are read. (On a side note, his reading made me realize how good his voice is :3)
With Sudou being the reader for the match, Mizusawa is pushed into a disadvantage. Setting aside the fact that Hokuo members are probably use to Sudou’s reading (although it probably changed a bit since he studied it), he also adds pressure to the team itself most especially to Amakasu who wants to take things lightly. Aside from that, the Class A members of Mizusawa don’t seem to be on their best shape most especially Nishida who just lost his match. Chihaya, on the other hand, looks like she’s trying to gain the ability of both Karuta Queen, Wakamiya Shinobu (Nakamichi Mihoko), and Karuta Master, Suou Hisashi (Touchi Hiroki). BUT her focus on their style is costing her her match with Amakasu.
The current standing for the match being 1-1 is exciting. Class A, Nishida, loss while Class D (is it?), Kana won her match due to Sudou’s beautiful reading and her hatred towards the name Amakasu referred to her.
Since both teams are automatically going to the nationals, I have this gut feeling that Mizusawa will lose this one. I mean, why else would they brought up the two teams going to the nationals? You see, even if Chihaya wins her match against Amakasu, there’s a good chance that Komano-kun will lose his match. As for Taichi, I think that some focus on his match against Hiro-kun will be done next episode along with further developments on Hiro-kun and his improvements, perhaps? and finally winning a match against Taichi. But still, I’m routing for Taichi to win~
Finally, I don’t want to forget Miyauchi-sensei’s (Fujita Toshiko) growing love for karuta. I really likehow she tries to contribute to the team despite not being that familiar with karuta yet. But I think that the best thing about her in this episode is her line: Every poem read sends you back a thousand years. How many sports are capable of such feat? which shows how karuta how grown in her. I wonder if she’ll start playing karuta as well(: