If there's one thing I already like more about this season, it's the supporting cast. People like Desk-kun and Kana-chan are really stepping up in Chihayafuru.
It's back to the building blocks with these two episodes. Not meant in a negative way, just how it is. We're starting over from scratch and progressing the story in a fashion similar to season one. In this instance, it works. We've started off fresh and in need of some build-up once more, instead of throwing ourselves back into the main story.
Sumire and Tsukuba had an interesting two episodes. The former had to discover a reason other than Taichi to remain in the club, whilst the slightly cocky Tsukuba had to readjust to "mainland karuta." I wasn't expecting them to be forced into a match so early on, but I can see it being an integral part of their development. Not as characters, but karuta players.
Mentioning the progress of these two players cannot be done without mentioning Kana-chan and Desk-kun's hands in this. Those two have stepped out of their cages this season and we're only three episodes in. Kana has been the behind-the-scenes manager, whilst Komano has relegated himself to the supporting player role. I think Tsukuba's, "He's so cool" reaction just about sums up my own feelings for Komano. He's come far as a character, and that's great to see. Nothing quite like the happy feeling of a character developing right in front of your eyes.
The first set of matches are progressing with all the semblance of last season. Retro-kun's return and proclamation of a new ace for his team should provide some type of hurdle. Probably not a big part of the story, though I doubt it'll be too insignificant to register on the radar. Chihaya looks in top form, so it'll be boring to just let her dominate. That piece of course can't come close to the last revelation the episode provided.
It's no longer a love triangle, it's a square. Shinobu make her first appearance of the season a powerful one with her feelings for Arata being hinted at. Now, either way, Arata is the winner of the romance and Taichi sadly trails behind. More on this later on should nicely progress both the romance and karuta sides of the story.
Three episodes in and I have no complaints. The series is as good as I remember it. New developments are afoot to keep things interesting and the old cast is spectacular this season.