Sumire and Akihiro play their first official competitive karuta match. We see them both in hakamas. Chihaya advances two rounds untouched, literally and figuratively, with perfect scores in both. We are introduced to Akihiro’s three younger brothers. The Queen makes an appearance. But we don’t care about any of that because…
Even if Taichi is more handsome, which is highly debatable, Arata is far more cooler and sexier. His expression at coming in second place is enough to move a mountain. His self effacing choice to focus on the high school tournament instead of the Masters is the very definition of adorable. Then there’s his voice. Deep, strong and full of conviction. Alas, his screentime thus far leaves a lot to be desired. The show definitely succeeds in teasing the viewer like a good lover.
Another consistent strength of the show remains the visceral emotions it induces. And it achieves the effect in a matter of heartbeats. It’s even more impressive to note that there is nothing original at work here. In other words, Chihayafuru, similar to eX-Driver or Shodo Girls! or any good writing, excels at depicting universal experiences everyone can relate to. In short, it’s all about the feels.
I had wanted to talk about the drama and intricacies involved with recruiting new members and growing a club in the last episode but figured that I would have another chance so refrained which I now regret. It’s disappointing that the brief, albeit intense, exchange between Kana and Sumire constitutes the entirety of this conflict. Having had first hand experience in founding a club, there is a goldmine of possibilities potentially at work. I can understand if we only have thirteen episodes but at twenty five, it’s a wasted opportunity.
A joke was made at the expense of Chihaya when Sumire is considered the second female player of the club, implying that Chihaya counts as a male. This is problematic.
I have said it before at the conclusion of the last season (if I remember correctly) but I will say it again. And again if I have to. Chihayafuru is awesome because it has a strong girl playing the main role. With the exception of Studio Ghibli, it is rather rare in anime or any medium of pop culture to portray a girl of Chihaya’s traits in a leading role.
Traits predominantly and conventionally attributed to males.
It’s as if the show wants to tell girls that they are not allowed to be ambitious, to explore passions, to expand their identity, or even to have their own thoughts given that another joke was made doubting the probability that Chihaya thinks.
In a sense, Chihaya is Kathleen Hanna. Instead of an object being acted upon, she is a subject who acts of her own accord. You go grrrl!