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It's been a while since we've had more focus on the drama in Chihayafuru. Too long if you ask me.
The biggest difference between the two seasons of Chihayafuru is the change of focus from drama to sports. Season one introduced to the sport of kaurta but did so by surrounding it with plenty of drama revolving around the main characters and extending to the supporting cast. Because of this, season two's bigger focus on sports came naturally, even if it meant less character drama. Some might say, the drama became almost exclusive to the matches and disappeared from the romance and slice-of-life elements of the series.
This episode brought back the drama we saw a lot of in season one. With the team portion of the national competition now over, it's nice to get back a little bit of that drama even for a short while. As expected, it's all about Chihaya, Arata and Taichi. The love triangle as pointed out by Sumire is back on the radar, with Taichi's resolve strengthened against his lifelong rival Arata. Taichi is still trailing behind Arata in both the race for Meijin and Chihaya's heart but he's come a long way from season one, and has at least gained the confidence to challenge Arata and not just cower at the huge gap between the. As much as seeing Taichi in pain has become the guilty pleasure of Chihayafuru, his development is a welcomed development for his character.
Funnily enough, that was a small part of the episode. The character in the spotlight was still Chihaya and her drama was still sports-centric. Not including the nice but ultimately time-consuming flashback, she's again faced with a roadblock in her path for individual attainment. A roadblock that doesn't come as a surprise but does so in a frustrating manner because it limits her play and in turn makes it hard for us to know how much she's progressed. When you add in the visible progress for the other players, especially Taichi, that point is made more evident. She has faced a slew of opponents in this season, however almost none of them have been the heavyweights of Chihayafuru.
Well whatever that may mean for the individual tournament, we'll have to wait and see. Everyone is fired up and ready for the one-on-one fights and I suspect we'll be breezing through them a lot quicker than with the team games. Chihayafuru has five episodes left in which to bring the individual tournament to an end, and to do so calmly yet briskly.
Final Note: The S in Sudo stands for sadist.