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It's episodes like this that make me believe I'll be giving Chihayafuru a 10/10 when it ends. What a conclusion to the match!
The third and final episode for the Akashi v Mizusawa showdown brings the arc to a close in the most brilliant of ways. We've been building up to this moment for the past two episodes, leaving a lot of expectations to be met in this episode's conclusion. Did anyone honestly think Chihayafuru wouldn't deliver?
The tension between Chihaya and Megumu was kept up right until the last moment. It was never clear who would come out as the victor - a hunch regarding that may have been eating away at me - and that too did so much for the episode. I'm talking with Komano's victory in mind, which was so satisfying to watch after his fears were brought to light by Nishida, who lost another important game. Chihaya's loss is understandable, giving her a learning experience and at the same time allowing her fellow team mates to have her back. We're still very much in the theme of team work for this episode, and it too reaches its apex. With each episode the characters are getting more involved, taking some of the attention of Chihaya. This continues to be one of my favourite things about this season of Chihayafuru, as it provides more attention to the characters who were in the background of the first season.
Mizusawa's win wasn't the only notable event in the episode. Much to the dismay of a certain alumni, Hokuo lost their game to Fujisaki. Hints were being dropped for this conclusion ever since a mysterious girl was introduced at the beginning of this match, and was told to observe the Megumu-Chihaya showdown. No doubt the final will pose a great challenge to Mizusawa, for more than just the obvious reasons; as we learn later on, Kana can no longer go on. She's been holding it in for a while, supporting her team and not yielding in this match. Always the more resilient of characters, she's been struggling for a while now and she's reached her limit. Luckily she got a win, before exiting and thus rewarding her before her absence. As we've seen with Komano, Kana-chan proves that there are many ways to be a team player and to help out without being an ace or top player.
On the subject of teamwork, I was surprised to see some Queen-Arata scenes in this episode. Well-timed scenes, which cut away from the match at just the right times, leaving us with even more suspense because we clearly didn't have enough as it was. It's unclear whether Shinobu's remarks about team karuta were intended to be sarcastic or not, but she still has her rivals to be aware of. Now that Chihaya is fresh off a loss, it's hard to believe she won't be getting even better to take on the peerless Queen.
As usual Chihayafuru is great, Chihayafuru is wonderful and Chihayafuru makes my blood boil. Now that the semi-final match is finished, I can only wonder if the final will take the same number of episodes, go shorter or longer. Essentially, the next arc will determine how much more we'll see in terms of story progression.