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Have I mentioned how much I love Chihayafuru? Oh right. I try to do that every time I write about it.
Watching these two episodes you can see the continued efforts of Chihayafuru to be a sports anime. I know on paper it's a sports anime but it's easy to forget. Not only does this episode remind us about the sports side of the series, it makes it more relatable by focusing on the difference of individual and team sports.
Being someone who spent a good few years in high school playing on teams, I can certainly appreciate what episode nine was doing. It managed to convey the big difference there is in being an individual player as opposed to a team player, which only made more sense when it was centred around Arata. His drama was always going to come, even if he's not on the screen as much as the others. Especially since he's been separated from Chihaya and Taichi, leaving his situation to be that of an individual player.
Well it certainly didn't hurt the episode to be so focused on Arata. Watching him dominate was as enjoyable as it could be, even up to the point he was found out. Then came the drama, which as we found out in the subsequent episode had a few more implications.
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Episode nine was all about Arata, but episode ten was all about everyone. Just a brilliant mix of everyone's own personal drama, with some juicy developments.
This was another episode of Chihayafuru where we had a different "odd" opponent - karuta's understated popularity - who provided us with some nice laughs. All the while, Shinobu starts to make another move and shocks the people inside the hall and the higher-ups with her ultimatum. I couldn't help but be a little happy about her going to Arata's protection, because you can just sense the drama coming up. In fact, when Taichi stopped Chihaya from asking the question about who it was Shinobu helped, I was a little angry with him. Regardless, the prospect of more drama involving these four and Shinobu and Arata's increased participation in Chihayafuru has me gleeful.
Also sharing some of the drama this episode was Komano. In the past few episodes it's been mostly about the Arata-Chihaya-Shinobu-Taichi drama so the rest of the characters have become less present. Now it seems the focus is shifting towards them slowly as they get more screen time. It seems like our beloved Desk-kun may be more comfortable as a manager and not a full-time regular. This again goes back to karuta being seen from a sports perspective, which I again appreciate. I also must say, this may have been unnoticed but it's been in the works for quite some time now.
Komano was never really a player, but his support capacity as the strategist has been invaluable. He's shown in moments when the team needed his straightforward thinking, and has even given advice to Chihaya about her style. The subtle hint in all of this was his willingness to give up his playing rights when Tsukuba first over-stepped and now Nishida is possibly lending him an olive branch.
To wrap I'll say what I always say: Chihayafuru was great these past episodes. It makes me wonder if studios had no worries of profit, would they make more anime like Chihayafuru?