I may not blog about Chihayafuru every week, but that doesn't stop it from being exceptional. Just watching these two episodes is enough to restore my faith in the Japanese animation industry for a split second.
It really is incredible just how good the series is. Not only does it succeed as a drama series but in these episodes it shows how good of a sports series it is. All that tension and all the build-up had me glued to the screen for 40 minutes. You'd think a sport like karuta wouldn't let itself to the same excitement, but MADHOUSE just laughs at that statement. From the quiet and carefree beginning down to the last second of episode six, I was mesmerized.
Taking a common thing such as a payback match, and turning it into something like this was a feat worthy of much praise. As a fan of sports series, I often understand why many simply can't get into them and it doesn't have to do with it being a sports series. Most suffer from being too basic and lacking the bare necessities to make a gripping showdown. It's easy enough to make an episode or two centred around a specific match, nevertheless a lot of anime fail to make an impact with each passing scene. Chihayafuru on the other hand made each second count.
You could just feel the importance of this match. A game that they couldn't win because they weren't ready on more than one front; Nikuman-kun lost and the team as a whole due to their inexperience. Chihaya may have emerged as a force to be reckoned with, alongside the much improved duo of Kana-chan and Desk-kun but they're still lacking. It's an odd twist of fate to see Nikuman and Taichi swap places, yet it makes some sense. Seeing as how Nikuman was the only one to get off without any suffering, it's only fair he shares in the pain with his fellow team mates.
A loss this may be, but the match was inspirational. Sometimes your best game is the one you lose and that's the feeling you get here. Winning is of course great but you don't learn as much from a win, nor does it make you feel like trying harder. I suspected as much when they announced that they had already qualified for nationals; they just didn't feel ready to win, but that's what makes it better. A match as good as this is a loss for now, but it'll be a win later. It's already inspired the newbies to try harder and grounded a regular member. I can only assume the joy Harada-sense felt when he got five new recruits into his society.
To conclude, I'll simply ask you to forgive my lack of eloquence with this review. It really didn't do these two episodes any justice. In fact, I'd forget about this and go re-watch the episodes. I know I will.