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Well, that was a first for Chihayafuru.

Instead of diving straight into the deep end of the competition, we're dipping our toes with a much more relaxed and almost filler-like episode.  Just for the record, I am completely on board with this and still enjoyed this episode like you wouldn't believe.

You have to credit Suetsugu-sensei for actually doing what she did - assuming this was in the manga - by introducing some very loveable foreign opponents.  When you think about sports loved across the world, your mind goes to football or tennis.  Karuta doesn't come close to being a sport loved by people across the globe, or being a sport that a decent number of people would even know about.  That doesn't stop this from being another loveable moment in Chihayafuru.

There's no other word to describe this episode, other than "fun."  It was just that.  We didn't have any big start to the tournament or build-up to an intense match, we just had an episode dedicated to the appreciation of karuta caruta.  A part of me feels, this was a chapter by the mangaka to voice a hope or desire for the sport she loves so much.  A hard concept to grasp for any of us who don't have such a sport, although the conveyance of the author's passion more than made up for it.  In fact, Chihayafuru has always been about passion on many levels.

Of course, there was that one thing that happened.  You know what I'm talking about right? For many of you that was presumably the highlight of the episode.  Either way, we can't forget about Shinobu's sudden appearance, since it brings with it quite a few developments; romantic or dramatic, there'll be some interesting outcomes to watch out for.  I personally welcome both the romantic and dramatic and await all that is to come impatiently.

Final Thought: Chihayafuru needs to at least have a preview at the end of the episode.  The wait is killer.