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Posts Tagged ‘chihayafuru 2’

chihayafuru season 2 episode 6 pic 32

It is still weird seeing one side in traditional dress, and the other in t-shirts.

Who cries the most in this episode: Chihaya, after Arata sends her a text. Taichi is doomed.

Chihaya’s uses her neat trick of  hearing a sound before it is read, allowing her to steal cards at super speed. It takes Amakusa awhile to figure out what she is doing, but Sado knows exactly what is up. After Porky’s early loss, the other four matches come down to the luck-of-the-draw, but the only way for Misuzawa to win is to attack their opponent’s side. Chihaya decides to go on the attack, which cements Taichi’s determination to do the same, this shakes up Retro’s confidence. No matter who wins the tournament, both teams still get to go the nationals. Sumire, Akihiro and his little brothers all join the karuta society, and Arata texts Chihaya asking how she felt about her match.

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haha, porky.

In any case, if anyone else out there felt like some of the karuta rules Hukou put into play during this game were complex to understand, I have to agree there. While the show does a great job explaining things and catches us up to a game we don’t understand as much as it possibly can, there are always going to be things about how karuta works, and tactics that I miss. Not knowing Japanese is a big handicap in that regard. It doesn’t prevent me from generally understanding what is going on enough to follow (in a somewhat crude sense sometimes, albeit) and it doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the series, and that is a relief.

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I don’t think the audience in these things ever wears any other expression, as much as the mouth-hanging-open-in-blank-eyed-shock look.

No, I can’t keep track of where every card is, and what every card that is taken means, and so on, and if that was a requirement I would have given up a long time ago! I am laid back about following Karuta when watching Chihayafuru, in the same way I was laid back when following the basketball when watching Kuroko’s Basketball. I have no idea if they stretch belief in Chihayafuru the way Kuroko did, but I wouldn’t really care if that was so.

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That isn’t the last time someone will equate Chihaya to non-human, I think.

I love how Chihaya’s extremely good ear causes Amakasa to wonder whether she is really human, I’ve often thought “Is she human?” When it comes to Chihaya, and I think this match only further resolves that she is an alien in many ways. Hell, just look at how she instantly falls asleep after a karuta match, yet can always seem to open her eyes the moment she needs to join the conversation again. It is only a small detail of her personality, but it illustrates why she is such a likeable, and fun character to watch in action.

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Nice, Desktomu.

Chihaya has grown as a karuta player so much in such a short time, and so has everyone else on the Misuzawa team, including Kana and Desktomu. So even though Hukou’s experience ends up paying off in the end, even the ace Amakusa has to admit that they are not the best team anymore, since he only moved when he felt Chihaya moving to take his card, and Chihaya has the better senses of the two by far, as well as a greater drive to be the best, I think. Hukou winning despite being lazy about karuta, is interesting, because it proves that Mizuzawa deserved to win just as much if not more than Hukou, and the next time they meet it will be a real challenge for Hukou to pull off a second victory.  I doubt that will even be possible for them, given just how far behind Misuzawa they seemed beyond knowing certain veteran strategies to secure a win, that Misuzawa did not know.

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The “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” face.

I’ll admit that Hukou’s and especially Amakusa’s willingness to fall back on “easy” plans in order to win are a more boring way to play, in my mind, than to challenge yourself as much as possible and make it harder on you, rather than your opponent. In a way, I feel that them employing these kind of strategies is inevitably only going to weaken them as a team, in the long run, since although you can fool a team at the level of Misuzawa once, you would be hard pressed to fool them with the same tricks twice. Hukou had better start relying on their skills a bit more in future. If playing Chihaya isn’t a wake up call for them, I don’t know what is.

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I also don’t think we’ve ever seen a reader who is so personally invested in what was going on before, since Hukou was his team and he was their previous ace. It is cool to see what is going on in the reader’s head while he watches Amakusa deal with the newest karuta monster, Chihaya. I do feel pretty bad for Porky in this episode, he is a little hard on himself after losing his match, I mean, it must happen to every karuta player at some point. He doesnt need to call himself “Pathetic,”  that is harsh.

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Not sure why he said that.

One minor issue for me is how Amakusa thinks, “I might be small, but I can still defend my cards against a girl.” What the hell? If any show should know better than to discriminate against someone because of gender, it should be this one. Yet we have that one guy thinking Kana was “boob girl,” and even Kana seemed to know what he was thinking and had a saucy reply regarding her boobs during the match in the previous episode. I doubt anyone would be thinking about their boobs that much when they have more important things to think about, and even if Kana does think about her larger than average chest, focusing on something else about her character would still be better, in my opinion since boobs get too much focus in other shows to begin with. This one doesn’t need to start doing it too.

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Taichi channeling Chihaya insanity.

To end on a good note: I am happy to see that Sumire is becoming more willing to put effort into helping the team, by joining the karuta society. It also looks like Kana and Desktomu are not just going to take a backseat to the A and B players, as this episode shows that they are learning some skills of their own and contributing to their team’s success as much as anyone else is! Also, Go Taichi! I think I like him best when he is on fire, and on the attack with that crazy look in his eyes!

Errant Princess Says,

greenfairy

Another awesome episode, it is striking that when I compare how well Chihayafuru season 2 is already doing this early on compared to shows like Psycho Pass and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure which are already seventeen or so episodes in, that Chihayafuru can hold its ground just fine even against the best that the fall 2012 season had to offer.  

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chihayafuru episode 5 pic 8

He has a good point.

Sumire’s scouting reveals that Hukou’s plan to beat Misuzawa is to pit strong players against weak ones and have an easy to win match. Retro decides to make he wants to win fairly instead of cheating, and matches equal players against each other instead. The child-like president Amakusa wonders why anyone would want to put in such effort to win. Sudo returns as reader, causing Hukou to have to keep up to not anger the s inside him. Misuzawa’s coach proves useful despite her lack of karuta knowledge. Chihaya tries to copy Shinobu’s style, while information overload gets the best of porky.

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Of course they put Retro with Porky’s sister.

I’m sorry it took so long to get this post up. I was glad to see the intensive competition taking center stage this time, and  the latest group tournament against retro’s group is the most suspenseful thing season 2 has had to offer us yet. It is hard to appreciate just how much skill it probably requires in order to do what Chihayafuru does all the time, like a machine. It might seem effortless, but it must, like a good karuta match, really sweat to make it happen.

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Which version does she aspire to be, skinny or chubby?

More than any others so far, this episode has reminded me of what I most respected about season 1, the depth this series goes into, and the way it handles explaining all the rules is unique. It doesn’t just explain the rules, either. No two people see anything alike. No two players understand the cards or their meaning in the same way. Each person learns at their own speed, in their own special way, with their own experiences defining just what becomes important to them, and what they struggle with. The fact that it can do all this and usually end on a cliffhanger that leaves me wanting more, is freaking impressive.

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There is also another talent Chihayafuru has that I didn’t really realize until now: Multi-tasking. Seriously. The ability this show has to look at karuta from every possible angle, through each player’s perceptions, filtered through each character’s personalities and playing styles while juggling everything else it has to do at the same time, is insane. All that, plus it always considers  whatever the obstacles the particular person has had to overcome, and it takes it upon itself to examine even things you would never imagine being integral to the play. That level of attention to character’s emotions and thought processes is incredible and rare in any show, let alone a card game show.

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One of the things that is more obvious when watching a group tournament than an individual match is that one of this series prominent strengths is multi-tasking point of view and showing us a bird’s-eye, omniscient view of everything that is going on. None of this could have been so amazing if we had only been in Chihaya’s perceptions, or it didn’t make such an elaborate effort to have each layer unfold like this, until all the myriad layers are unraveled and everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are thoroughly examined. It is such an expert at making even the smallest thing seem interesting, that I don’t even notice if a character I don’t particularly care for takes up the lime-light. This is because Chihayafuru could take a loathsome person and make them seem wonderful if it wanted to, merely because it is so skilled at creating sympathy in you for every single player in every single match no matter who they are.

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I think that is why it is so successful and so brilliant. For two reasons, really. The information flow is coming from so many different places, one moment you are in Retro’s head and the next in an audience member’s head. You never get bored or tired of hearing about anything because the view is kept fresh and shuffled enough that you can feel you are being given a broad enough knowledge. Yet it is also smart enough not to be too scattered and knows when to slow down and let you simmer with one character’s thoughts too. This moderation is working  in Chihayafuru’s favor.

Errant princess says,

greenfairy

Best episode of season 2 yet!

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chihayafuru episode 29 pic 51

He needs faith! I don’t mean the religious kind either.

Who cries the most in this episode?:

Oh my god, do my eyes deceive me? Nobody actually cries this time?! Does sweating count as crying? Taichi sweated a ton.

chihayafuru episode 29 pic 53

Taichi loses his confidence.

Arata and his family visit his grandfather’s grave, where Arata has a request for his parents. Meanwhile Chihaya’s team participate in the Tokyo high school regional against Homei. Homei’s advisor is Tsuboguchi, who is also the ace of the shiranami society, and the east representive from the previous year’s master match.  Taichi worries he won’t be a good leader for his team, and has trouble focusing on winning his own game at the same time, as Tsubogushi’s team puts into practice the tricks he taught them to try to beat Taichi.

chihayafuru episode 29 pic 24

Ths guy is a trickster.

The Homei players seem just as eccentric and determined as anyone else Misuzawa has faced before. Sasa, the girl Taichi plays, considers “Tsubogushi her savior after he helped her karuta club work hard and have fun again, and she acts really strangely throughout the match, but it is because she has wanted to be queen since she was young. We don’t really see the other part of the team match besides Taichi and Sasa, as this was definitely a Taichi episode. The guy Chihaya plays hits on Chihaya in order to get under Taichi’s skin, but that only lasts until Chihaya completely zones out everything but Karuta. The match gets off to a rocky start as the reader is nervous and reads off rhythm, but the players adapt and move on without much issue, so that didn’t seem to be too bad of an obstacle.

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I kind of wish Sasa was the new member instead of Sumire.

Homei prefer mental warfare as a tactic, although they don’t really go the distance with it, and are really no match for Chihaya and Taichi once you get them in their comfort zones. Chihaya’s Karuta “sense” is simply better than most, and Taichi is a monster at memorization.  The problem with Taichi has always been that he doesn’t trust the others or himself enough, and he needs to be more like Chihaya in the sense that she knows when to shut out everything else and just go for it.

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Rage suits Taichi.

One theory some of the more superstitious characters propose for why Taichi can’t seem to win, is that Taichi has plenty of skill but terrible luck. So things always seem to go wrong during his matches, for instance in this episode the air conditioner right above his head breaks down and being hot and sweaty distracts Taichi from doing his best.  Dr. Harada doesn’t really seem to blame the bad luck theory, but he does pick up that Taichi doesn’t focus enough on himself during the team match. His advice to Taichi is, “An individual match is a team match, and a team match is an individual match.”  Taichi must not doubt himself! If he feels he doesn’t have talent, he starts to waver and get stressed out.

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In other words, be more selfish.

This piece of Harada wisdom completely goes over Taichi’s head until he calls for a towel to wipe away his sweat, and Chihaya falls on top of Desktomu to give him one. This oddly affectionate act from Chihaya seems to boost Taichi’s confidence, being noticed by the girl he loves, and he is able to see the match through with a better attitude. I saw it like that anyway, conceivably that wasn’t the only thing that changed his perceptions on the match. Yeah, I really didn’t really think bad luck was the issue here, that felt like more of a coincidence than anything else, and also a chance for comedic relief during a tense match. Even though his opponent was plenty comedic already. However, it was made a big issue of during the episode which was kind of annoying.

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Taichi is not unlucky! Everyone loves him.

I felt that this episode and the second season in general, are a little weaker in the story and visuals than the first season. Not much, but is noticeable at this point that they are pushing to add variety to the show and it is still awkward. It is trying a bit harder now in general, though it is not that big of a deal yet since it is still quite good anyway.

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If making cookies won’t make us like you, nothing will.

I also feel that Sumire is quickly wearing out her welcome in that she doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the main characters. Right now her chemistry with the others is weird and she is the odd one out of the group. Every time she appears, I kind of forget for a second I am watching Chihayafuru because she makes it seem like a different show to me.  I would think that by episode 4 I would be used to her presence enough that it wouldn’t be unsettling, but it still is.

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At any rate, Taichi has always been so overly analytical that he often fails to have any faith in himself and in his team, since he is so busy calculating how things can go wrong, and worrying about every possible angle, instead of just letting it go. His positive talent of being able to concentrate also turns into a negative one of fretting about the wrong things. Once he does let go, his Karuta improves as well. It is simple but hard to master:  if you are stressed out and can’t relax you’ll never do a great job. I know, because I can’t write when I’m stressed out. You can’t do anything well in a tense, overwhelmed state, you have to be calm and confident or you will trip yourself up every time no matter what task you are trying to accomplish. If Taichi can overcome his stress, he will be fine.

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Errant Princess Says,

greenfairy

A good episode, though there are more flaws this season. You know Taichi is way too stressed out since I get stressed just watching him! Be cool, Taichi!   

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Chihayafuru episode 28 pic 24

Who cries the most in this episode?:

Akihiro gets his first, and what I presume won’t be his last cry, when he is touched by the coolness of Tsutomo’s kindness.

Chihayafuru episode 28 pic 47

Yes! Kana always seems to take the words right out of my mouth. This time, when she was helping Sumire put on her hakama, and Sumire compliments the beauty of the robe. Kana thinks , “I’m so happy! At first I thought this wasn’t going to work, but now it feels like we finally have our second female member!” It is no secret that Chihaya is more the athletic tomboy type than girly, but I didn’t think any of the characters would think this about Chihaya now, if they hadn’t already mentioned it before. Beauty in vain strikes again.

Chihayafuru episode 28 pic 16

We get another brief, teasing glimpse of Arata losing a tournament against someone from his own society, and of course he is angry to get second place. He reveals that he wants to play in the high school championships against Chihaya. I haven’t read the manga or anything so I have no idea, but I am starting to wonder if we’ll ever see more of Arata than some scant moments here and there, before he inevitably faces down Chihaya in the end. I don’t really have a problem if we don’t see very much, since he is clearly not the hero here, I just feel he remains too much of an enigma for it being the second season.

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Then it is on to Chihaya  handing back Mizusawa’s school’s trophy (it must suck to have to give it back!) and the club getting ready for a regional team championship. I got a kick out of it when Akihiro’s  three younger brothers run into Chihaya, and upon seeing that they are identical she shouts, “What?  Cloning?!” and again when Akihiro explains why they just rushed straight up to Chihaya like they loved her or something. “In our family, were taught to run into pretty people.” What the hell kind of family does Akihiro live in? I am scared to even ask. I was already freaked out by Akihiro, now I discover he has three little brothers are exactly like him, who adore him and want to be like him.

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Akihiro tries to get on the team in order to live up to his brother’s adoration, which makes Taichi and Yusei mad, but  Tsutomu suggests they switch Akihiro and Sumire in to allow them to play in the tournament. That leaves Chihaya, Yusei and Taichi to handle the rest. Tsutomu does this because he was given the opportunity too, and wants to give it to others. Akihiro makes it through the first round, only to get paired against a class A player in the second.

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The sneaky part of Tsutomu’s plan is the somewhat dubious information he has on the teams they will be playing. One team is a boy’s team and “weak against girls,” so putting Chihaya, Kana and Sumire against them is a good idea, while the other team is a female team who estimably “favor a focused style” so putting Akihiro in works, as long as Akihiro uses his loudness and aggression. speaking of loudness and aggression, Retro-kun appears and gives Taichi a hard time about being in class B.

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I don’t think something as silly as this tactic should be used often, since how many teams could really afford to be weak against an entire gender in reality, so much so that one of the players even helps Sumire take a card by pointing it out to her! You wouldn’t get very far in a competition that way. I suppose it isn’t cheating to know your opponents weaknesses and use it against them, but I certainly don’t want other teams being stupid to be the way Chihaya’s team wins all the time! That would be kind of dumb.

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Akihiro struggles from nerves in his match, but gets confidence thanks to a comment from Chihaya and his training from Yusei.  Sumire discovers her competitive side despite her lack of skill: “I can feel the blood flowing through the brain cells that I neglected to use!” There are so many great lines in this anime! Of course Chihaya blows everyone away by getting a perfect 25 card score. The question for Akihiro is whether he can keep Chihaya from stealing his little brothers’ love away, and if Chihaya will ever decide what she wants to do after Karuta. I love how Chihaya tries to nab the little brothers for Dr. Harada’s Karuta society.

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At the very end Shinobu learns that Arata will be in the individual tournament, and she is skinny again! I really liked Shinobu last time, I thought she was a cool character and I knd of wanted to see what her relationship to Arata was, since apparently she knows him. Arata and Shinobu’s hair and eye color also match, not to mention they have similar attitudes. I wouldn’t doubt if they were really siblings or something.

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Errant Princess Says,

greenfairy

As usual, Chihaya puts forward a very good episode. I’m not entirely accustomed to the new characters yet, and my questions about the core characters only seem to be growing, but I think it will be fine in the long run.

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Best line, by Kana again.

Winter 2012/2013 has really not been my season for blogging! I apologize if this review seems unfocused, but it is going to take me some time to get back into the swing of things, as this flu has been hanging onto me and I’m way more fatigued than I am motivated.

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Now with, Who cries most in this episode?:

1. Chihaya

2. Sumire

Sumire stalks Taichi (bad Sumire, you shouldn’t stalk people!) and discovers that he is practicing at the karuta society, which blows her mind since like most normal human beings Karuta is bewildering to her at first. Her conversation with Dr. Harada just reminds me why I love Dr. Harada. “I’ve been playing for 45 years and I still don’t understand,” is the best. I have to give Sumire’s commitment to what seemed like it ought to be a fleeting crush based on appearances, my respect. I had no idea that she was that into the guy, enough to take up a sport she isn’t sure she gets. I guess the power of a bishounen to motivate a girl is not to be underestimated. Chihaya is sad that her possible recruits dwindled down to but one, a boy named Akihiro Tsukuba who turns out to have an actual interest in Karuta. It is also going to be interesting since  the type of Karuta he played was called “Second Verse Karuta,” and has different rules from the type Chihaya and company play. For instance, trying to intimidate your opponent by slamming the ground with your hands.

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So when Sumire bursts into the club, Taichi effusively thanks her for coming back. She sees flowers and gets all starry-eyed but ends up telling everyone that the real reason she is there is because she wants to be with Taichi. I don’t know how in these romances people end up blurting out “oh, and by the way I am totally into you,” without thinking, but this is Chihayafuru so I will buy into it this once.

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Mainly the episode was all about the new characters trying to adjust and the veterans watching their every move to see what to make of them. There are a lot of little touches that make getting used to these new characters not at all annoying. I was relieved to see that Sumire’s crush is going to be the catalyst that gets her into Karuta, despite her saying that she doesn’t care for it. I really don’t believe that to be entirely the case, since she was happy when she took her first card, as Chihaya pointed out, and she even trimmed her nails at the end.

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Even if being in love with Taichi is the only thing on Sumire’s mind, if she works hard at Karuta I really don’t care what her objective is so long as she doesn’t get in the way of what makes me love this show. It would still be nice if she does start to care a little for the game itself. Personally, I think she is a funny addition to the cast and will give them all something different to think about, especially for Kana who does have an interest in feminine stuff even if she is a serious person. I thought that Kana’s busybody nature and meddling in these episodes were particularly amusing. She looks so tiny and cute, but she has the mind of a middle-aged school marm or something, and doesn’t take any nonsense.

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The original members do tend to get a bit too obsessive about Karuta even for my tastes, (do they seriously never think about anything else?! That is one thing I do find hard to believe about teenagers in high school. Just how can they be so focused that literally nothing else ever distracts them for long? Karuta players need lives too!) though to be honest, that ridiculous monomania is what I love most about Chihaya. Her ability to totally block out everything else except her goals, it isn’t human and it is abnormally captivating.

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The person who gets the least attention in the episode is the other newbie, Tsukuba. He is definitely going to be a strange character based on what little I’ve seen. It seems he only likes pretty people too, and what was up with him sticking his tongue out like that? Nishida is the right person to deal with him, I think. Nishida is aggressive enough and can knock sense into him, if he needs to.

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I liked the fact that Chihaya wanted to recruit new members  out of her feelings of responsibility for the time she collapsed during a team tournament and couldn’t continue. The fact that she is thinking about the future and about her teammates as well as her own personal goals, speaks well of her. I can’t say I don’t worry about Chihaya a little bit when she says things like, “Now the cards won’t make any more friends.”

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greenfairy

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This girl stands no chance against Chihaya.

Chihayafuru is back in good shape, and as love-able as ever. There are new characters, as Chihaya is recruiting new members for her Karuta club! Unfortunately the first years that end up signing up for the Karuta club are hardly interested in the game, and come to be near/snag Taichi. This includes a girl named Sumire, who is obsessed with the trappings of popularity and in the hunt for a handsome boyfriend. There is one  pale haired guy who hasn’t really had any lines yet, but seems like he may be important later, and we don’t know what his deal is yet.

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Talking sense into Chihaya usually works.

I was relieved that there was at least one dude who showed up, because frankly anime has made me somewhat afraid of girls with hearts in their eyes who go chasing after men the way Eagle’s catch prey. To be honest, I was kind of shocked that this episode  chose to focus so much on love themes right off the bat, since most of the first season was all about immersing us in the sport of Karuta, and much less about crush drama. I think its commitment to examining every part of what Karuta is about, was part of the reason Chihayafuru was able to have an appeal for a wider audience despite seeming at first glance like it would be a shojo-esque romance. However, since it did not stoop to making Karuta only the excuse for boys and girls to get together with a weak context of ‘being in the same karuta club’ as an excuse, there was a reason to celebrate it.

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If they fail, just drop them from the heights.

I could be wrong, but I believe that Chihayafuru is still above fluffy nonsense, and will continue to deliver in future as far as giving the weight of the drama to Karuta tournaments and practice. I don’t mind if there is some romance along the way, since that was always in the cards so long as it remains true to the spirit of putting the game first.  I think it was able to do this in a small way by  having Sumire respond to one of the poems by crying. You never expect her to have any kind of interest in Karuta, so seeing her respond to one of the poems (a poem about how beauty fades away) was a sign that perhaps there was a chance she could be drawn into the game, as well..

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Not everyone loves Karuta?!?!?!

What? A sudden warming up to Karuta isn’t the reason? Damn it. This time the poem only made Sumire realize time was precious, and run after Taichi. How did it occur to Sumire through that poem she would miss out on nabbing Taichi if she didn’t hurry up? Silly female, the real message behind that poem was “find something useful to do that doesn’t involve getting a boyfriend, dummy.”

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Sumire’s Thoughts: “I’m gonna get old?!”

One thing that gets in the way of Chihaya’s goal to recruit new members, is that everyone else in the club seems to be against it. They all have different priorities and don’t want to waste time on training newbies, for the most part. Leave it to Chihaya to end up getting her way simply by not backing down and pushing her opinions more than everyone else. She is really like a bulldozer, I wouldn’t want to be in the way of her goals. Actually, nothing has changed about this show and that is in fact a good thing. There was no real feeling that any of the characters were much different, or that the atmosphere would be drastically unfamiliar. So it won’t be hard to get back into at all. Please, though, if there is another pointless love triangle I won’t be very happy.

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A ghost bug?

greenfairy

“Downton Abbey Bit the Shark. I mean, Jumped the shark!” My mother in law.  I wish she didn’t correct herself though, it isn’t as much fun for me now. Mother in law jokes aside, this episode was basically a good one, if not entirely what I anticipated it to be.

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