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Sometimes Chihayafuru is just plain mean. It takes its time with the episode and leaves me yelling for the next episode. Seriously, that's just mean.
There's just so much greatness in this series that singing only songs of praise each week should get boring. Notice I say 'should' since I still haven't run out of good things to say about Chihayafuru. Right now, the probability of a negative review coming from me is less likely than Brain's Base making a non-Natsume Yuujinchou sequel.
What this episode proves, like many this season, is the versatility that Chihayafuru has. This season has definitely felt more like a "sports" series, and with episodes like this it's easy to see why. You can't have a gripping sports series without the necessary amount of tension, which this episode has in excess. Not only that, but the slower pace that was adopted for this episode really did wonders for the episode, giving each second a terrifying control over me.
Given that this is a major hurdle for Chihaya to clear, I'm glad to see the story slow down just a little bit more. It's not such a change that'll have you bored, but instead it'll have you glued to your screen. As opposed to the three other games Mizusawa has had at the national tournament, this one is being worked on a lot more right from the beginning. That's not to say they weren't enjoyable, because they were. Nevertheless, those three other matches were nothing more than a filler in anticipation of this showdown.
Chihayafuru is great as usual. This week it was a little more special from the point of view of a sports anime, since it took the appropriate time to build-up the air of tension and set the groundwork for the rest of the match. I can see how some might have been bored, but for me this was yet another delight to watch. It is bringing a little more focus to the sports side of things, which I presume will disappoint some of the fans but bring joy to others such as myself.