What They Say:
Chihaya’s proclamation leads to a showdown between Mashima Taichi and the transfer student Arata, who is being shunned by their class. The stubborn Taichi, who’s upset by how close Chihaya and Arata have gotten, steals Arata’s glasses in the middle of the tournament. Arata, good as he may be, is unable to take cards without his glasses. That is when Chihaya steps in to take his place.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the basics established in the past tense in the previous episode, events moved to have Chihaya set up a match between Arata and Taichi. After the way she learned how good Arata is at the game, seeing her mouth off (as is perfectly natural at that age) about how he could win against anyone in the class, it led to the big match of karuta being played in which the two young men who have varying interests in Chihaya go at it. Though the game itself does still escape me to some degree, it’s portrayed in quite the intense way here with a whole lot of speculation and concern among his friends about whether Taichi can actually win. And considering the way things have generally gone his way before, it’s a difficult challenge for him to face.
The tension that arises between the two young men is quite well done as it’s framed against the poem readings that go on as part of the matches as they find the right way to attack each othe rto build the best response to it. Arata’s skill is intense to be sure with the way he flings the cards out hard from his pile in order to grab the first move and a lot of it comes down to a fantastic bit of memory where he’s able to place all the cards in a way that lets him gain an advantage. Unfortunately for him, when things start to turn against him after the cards move and his glasses are stolen, the quiet that had gone on because nobody was rooting for him is overturned by the heady cheers of others for Taichi since he’s a favorite in class.
A surprising move, one that you think wouldn’t be legal in the game, is when Chihaya shoves Arata out of the way and takes his spot in it. He had commented before that she has a natural gift for karuta and she puts it and her particular style to good use as she plays rough and intends to win. You have to be amused at how it throws Taichi off considering his interest in her and even the others in the class aren’t quite sure at times where to root, though they do largely come down in favor of him, even as he plays just as rough as she does but in a way that puts a bit more physicality into it than she first expected. Though this doesn’t radically change their relationship, as we know from the present time that they’re friends, it’s cute to see how quickly they bounce back with each other after the match which is definitely a big part of how old they are.
As the show continues to bring us the way that events played out a few years prior, we get a good feel for how the romantic triangle developed even if it wasn’t something that they were all that conscious of at that age. It’s neat to see more of how the karuta game plays out but I’m still clueless about the game itself, much like I blanked on a lot of what was involved in the Saki series. That said, there’s a certain intrigue to it with how it’s played here and we get a good look at it in a real way while also seeing just how intense Arata is with it and the kind of dedication he has, which makes sense considering his parents. I’m curious how much of the show will take place in the past like this as I’m more interested in the present, but it’s certainly illuminating a lot of what will define the present.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.