[gallery columns="4" ids="12558,12559,12560,12561,12562,12563,12564,12565"]
After an infuriating recap, Chihayafuru is back this week. Unfortunately that means a reset in tension, but much more goodness nonetheless.
In previous reviews, I've stated how much more Chihayafuru's second season has felt like a sports anime. Throughout the season a lot of the dialogue and developments during matches have included ideas from other sports. What makes this episode notable, is how it combines that with more karuta romanticism to give the series a chance to leave its own mark on the sports genre.
Call it a karuta appreciation society with a sports crossover. Very old meets new, east meets west that continues to show us the mangaka's passion - speculation on my part, but I refuse to believe someone could write scenes like this without it - for the sport and make it accessible for those who know little about it. It's this kind of passion that comes through to someone like me, who just doesn't care about the game of karuta.
As expected, the final has started off on rocky ground for Mizusawa. Fujisaki was always going to be a tough obstacle to overcome being the final match and all, especially for the team as a whole. On top of that, we get a little background info on the coach, who as it turns out treats karuta like any other sport. Physicality is being addressed in the episode in more ways than one - Chihaya's injury comes later - which is a rarity for the series, and can only be done in episodes like this one. On top of physicality, we have a brief note on psychology when Chihaya's injury brings up evil tactics courtesy of Harada-.sensei. Again, something that's very common in sports anime but comes only once in a while for Chihayafuru.
The bigger message of the episode on the sports side of things was team dynamics. With Mizusawa's bond as strong as it is, their unity comes at a convenient time at the end, to nicely contrast all the strained teamwork we see in the episode. Rion ends up at the centre of this because she's a first year who took a third year's spot, not to mention she more than anyone doesn't want to let people down. Of course if that wasn't enough, Shinobu's presence in the episode was one of complete disinterest - her sticking to her ideology that team games are stupid - that makes the outlook on teamwork a little more obvious. it ended up leaving the strongest impression out of all the past episode, that this is truly a team match.
All in all, a good episode of Chihayafuru. I mentioned already that this was a reset episode for all the tension, which now explains last week's recap episode. It'll be time to build up the tension once again come next episode, and bring a swifter finish to the team game so we can move onto the individual tournament. All's still well with Chihayafuru.