Chihayafuru Episode 16

Sigh…I’d like to make an interesting post about this week’s episode, but unfortunately, it’s only a recap episode. That said, they add in a few random comedic snippets that I found pretty funny. They all looked like they came out of a 4koma or something, so it was pretty interesting. But I generally dislike the idea of a recap episode…it just seems like a waste of an episode.

Chihayafuru Episode 15

Picking up from last week, Chihaya and the Queen (Shinobu Wakamiya) are still in the middle of their game. Despite Shinobu’s commanding lead, she’s lost her cool due to Chihaya’s attack. In the end, Chihaya is only able to take five cards before losing to Shinobu, but Shinobu is noticeably shaken (scary eyes O.o). In the end, everyone is eliminated except for Taichi, who reaches the finals.

Taichi is running into trouble because of his own memory, which is confusing him with the card positions from other rounds. Taichi ends up losing by three cards, unable to keep up with his opponent and his own thoughts. Taichi forces himself to hide his pain from the loss because he believes he didn’t work hard enough. But everyone returns home with renewed vigor.

I still respect Taichi’s character a lot. He’s able to remain a strong leader, keeping rational despite losing and despite how flustered he became during his match. I also liked how this episode introduced the idea that memory isn’t everything in this game. Tsutomu originally mentioned that the game was focused so much on memory, but it was revealed to be a weakness in this week’s episode.

Arata is also back in the game, so I’m assuming a match with him against Shinobu is inevitable. We’re only halfway through, but I’m definitely sensing the potential for so many more episodes. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Chihayafuru Episode 14

So yeah…remember that girl from the shrine last week? Turns out she’s the Queen, and the youngest one ever at that. Chihaya wants to win quickly and watch the Queen, but the Queen finishes too quickly for that. In the second round, Chihaya gets her wish though, as she’s playing against the Queen. So what’s the Queen’s strength? Her movements are so fast that she doesn’t have to have the reaction speed that Chihaya has (not to say her reaction is slow).

Chihaya starts to lose hope, but when a random spectator turns off the lights on accident, Chihaya notices Taichi and the adviser watching her. Chihaya then remembers the feeling when she played Arata and manages to take a card from the Queen’s side, giving away her Chihayafuru card and immediately taking it in the next round.

So most of the stuff in this episode was fairly predictable, but I guess it was okay. I highly doubt Chihaya will make a full comeback, but she’ll probably annoy the Queen a bit. And she’ll probably take a few more cards before she loses. I guess this is the Akira situation from Hikaru no Go, where the Queen seems so powerful, but really wants a friend to play with or something. I’m curious to see how it will turn out.

Chihayafuru Episode 13

The national tournament finally starts. However, a new enemy approaches, as Chihaya runs into a strange girl at a temple before the tournament. In the first round at the tournament, Taichi is able to raise everyone’s morale as usual, but Chihaya seems to be overwhelmed by the pressure of the event. Meanwhile, Arata is trying to get to Omi Jingu to watch the match, and we start to see his memories of his grandfather.

We see that the original stroke caused partial paralysis, which later became early stage dementia, causing Arata’s grandfather to forget about karuta. But one day, when Arata is forced to skip a tournament to watch over his grandfather, his grandfather suddenly tells him to go to the tournament.

Back in the present, Arata arrives to see Chihaya collapse. Taichi calls her match forfeit and leaves her in Arata’s care. Chihaya is taken to the hospital, but Arata stays behind. An old friend recognizes Arata and tells him that his karuta is just like his grandfather’s. When Chihaya wakes up, she finds out that everyone else made it to the playoffs before losing. She also finds out that Arata has decided to play karuta.

So Arata’s story ended up being basically a copy of Hikaru with the whole Sai thing and quitting Go. I guess it was what I expected to happen. I wonder if Arata’s message meant that he’s going to be participating in the individual tournament or if he can’t sign up. Kind of anti-climactic for the team tournament to end the way it did, but I suppose the individuals are going to be the focus (kind of opposite of Saki). Still plenty of episodes to go. So far, it’s been pretty interesting.

Chihayafuru Episode 12

The aftermath of the regional tournament. Chihaya’s announcement is overshadowed by her sister’s news of being on a game show. Back at school, Chihaya finds out that Tsutomu’s test scores have dropped recently, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Everyone goes back to practicing, with Chihaya playing a match against Harada for the first time.

After losing to Harada, Chihaya starts to freak out about the nationals, but Taichi uses his trademark chillness to calm her down. Nice touching scene when Chihaya gets home, where she realizes that her parents truly do care about her accomplishments.After that, it’s just back to practice again in the clubroom, with the adviser noticing their dedication and taking their trophy to the case in the principal’s office.

Kind of a feel-good episode this week. Just everyone dealing with their worries about nationals, I guess? The episode ended with everyone leaving for Omi Jingo, so I guess nationals are getting started already? Weird that they don’t really have a training camp or something. I was kind of expecting something like that. Maybe it’s good they get straight to the point, but does that mean nationals are going to take the rest of the season? Or maybe a Queen/Meijin tournament to end it? We can only find out as we go along, I guess.

Chihayafuru Episode 11

Time for the finals! Chihaya ends up facing Sudo, and Taichi ends up facing Retro (the guy from the past). As the finals get under way, we go over to Arata, who reveals that he’s been missing Chihaya’s emails due to computer problems. Back at the game, Sudo takes the initiative against Chihaya, but everyone else manages to repair her morale.

Chihaya starts to rally, and Harada realizes that she has started to subconsciously analyze the reader’s style. Meanwhile, Nishida’s opponent taunts him about his absence from karuta, but Nishida is able to rally as well. However, Kanade and Tsutomu end up losing fairly quickly. Taichi takes the first win for their team, quickly followed by Nishida. Finally, Chihaya wins (of course, on her own card).

I really like Taichi’s character. He’s very mature and he has a pretty decent sense of how other people are feeling. Also, he approaches karuta in a very analytical way, which is a complete pleasure to see because I love listening to strategy. So, I guess this is the style of show that goes all the way to the nationals in a straight shot like Saki. I feel like Arata has to come back into the picture somehow. Is he going to just be an observer? That’s the vibe I get, but I’d like for him to play. They did a good job of making Sudo an unlikable character if that was their intent. I almost feel like they tried a bit too hard. Anyways, more stuff next week.

Chihayafuru Episode 10

The day of the Tokyo regionals. Naturally, Kanade is a bit excited about everyone wearing hakama (even if they’re the only ones). Tsutomu gets a bit depressed that he can’t take a card, but Nishida later reveals that he was paired up with the strongest player. He realizes that the team is focusing on Taichi, Nishida, and Chihaya, and throwing away Tsutomu and Kanade’s matches.

Things become even more complicated when Kanade wins a match. Tsutomu finally snaps and tries to go home, but Taichi convinces him to stay for the finals. Chihaya is shaken by Tsutomu’s outburst and starts to lose her edge in the next game, even losing her own card. Tsutomu hears about Chihaya’s performance and rushes to the game.

Taichi realizes his role and manages to reassure everyone through their games, which results in victory. Taichi is surprisingly perceptive. He makes a good leader (with Chihaya for motivation). I think the next episode will determine a lot of things. With these sorts of shows, there are the more common styles where the main character’s team just keeps winning up to the championships, like in Saki, or the style where the main character’s team loses the major tournament, but finds another path to their goal. I’m curious to see how this show approaches it.

Chihayafuru Episode 9

With the karuta club officially recognized as a club, practice finally starts. While Nishida and Taichi are both Class B, Tsutomu and Kanade are both still beginners. Chihaya has them both play against stronger opponents, saying that she started similarly with Arata. She also expresses her plan to enter them all in tournaments.

When Chihaya idly mentions a camp she attended, the rest of the club members latch onto the idea, choosing Taichi’s house as the venue. At the camp, Chihaya gets a bit overzealous with scheduling games, nearly running Tsutomu and Kanade ragged before Taichi stops her. Taichi’s mom comes home early, and Chihaya is forced to escape with Kanade.

Chihaya worries that she has overworked Kanade, but she suddenly awakens with a burst of energy, dragging Chihaya out to meet with everyone else. Chihaya quickly apologizes, but everyone just tells her that they had no problem with her approach. The meetup turns out to be for celebrating Chihaya’s birthday, which she has forgotten.

Well, this week’s episode was pretty mushy…not that I’m complaining. I’m still interested in the strategy of the game. It was pretty intriguing when Taichi was talking about how to factor in your opponent’s skills when you’re placing the cards. I’m wondering about Taichi’s reaction to Arata’s message at the end of the episode…jealousy? Oh well, just have to wait and find out.

Chihayafuru Episode 8

One more member for the club before it’s official, so everyone is out recruiting. Unfortunately, this isn’t going so well, but at lunch, Chihaya recognizes someone from the flashback episodes (I don’t actually remember him, though). Meanwhile, Taichi explains the rules of karuta to Komano and Kaede.

The prospective member, Nishida, is a member of the tennis team, but Chihaya still tries to recruit him with her normal overzealous style. Chihaya notices that Nishida uses karuta to keep his rhythm while he plays tennis and points it out to him. He tries to play without karuta, but starts to perform poorly.

Nishida goes to the karuta club to check it out, and Taichi proposes that he plays against Chihaya when he says that practicing is pointless in karuta. Nishida takes an early lead, but   Chihaya starts to come back and manages to win. Nishida ends up quitting the tennis club and joining the karuta club.

The cast is assembled, so hopefully more stuff can happen. This show follows a pretty predictable trajectory and I don’t know how I feel about that yet. But it’s still entertaining, so I’ll keep watching. It was nice to learn more about the rules of karuta and strategy…those are the sorts of things I like to see. Look forward to more!

Chihayafuru Episode 7

Interesting. Some strategy. Although it’s a bit difficult to follow, we get a glimpse into Taichi’s thought processes during a game of karuta, as he switches up his patterns depending on what’s been read and what’s left. Despite all of this, Chihaya is still faster without having to vary her strategy at all.

Chihaya goes to recruit Tsutomu Komano for the club as he is rank two in the class after Taichi. Komano is introduced as a typical smart guy, who enjoys studying and is constantly teased by everyone else. Komano refuses to join, but Chihaya just drags him off.

Chihaya emphasizes that karuta is based from memory, so Komano challenges them to play with the cards flipped over, believing it to be impossible. Taichi naturally has an edge in this game due to Chihaya’s poor memorization ability, and he easily beats her.

After the match, Komano just leaves, jealous of Taichi. Taichi recognizes the same self-deprecating attitude in Komano that he had with karuta, and manages to inspire Komano to play karuta and join the club.

New characters…one more left? Personally, I thought it would have been more interesting if Komano was first in class with Taichi as second, but it doesn’t really matter. I like that they don’t focus so much on the karuta, but it’s nice to know things like strategy that are a bit deeper than just whacking cards.