Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Chihayafuru - Episode 3

After a fractious start to some of their relationships, by the time we reach the start of this third episode of Chihayafuru Arata, Chihaya and Taichi seems to have struck up quite the friendship based around their now mutual interest in karuta.

To this end, the three of them go to check out a local karuta society - a decision which soon allows the two less experienced individuals to get a feel for just how serious competitive karuta is taken.  Despite being the youngest people there, our trio soon find themselves thrust into their first game - a team match no less, with our three principle characters working together against another relatively young trio in an attempt to make them take back their initial disdain for these inexperienced newcomers.  Well, I say "working together", but it's Arata who does enough winning for all three of them, although Chihaya in particular still finds her own little slithers of excitement from proceedings.

With all three youngsters deciding that they want to continue attending the society, they're also encouraged to enter a forthcoming tournament for their age group, which requires them to enter as a team but play individually - a scenario which means that the only road to victory will be via a lot of training from Arata.  As the contest draws closer however, other issues take precedence, as first Taichi and then Arata reveal that they'll be moving away from the area for various reasons once they've graduated from elementary school; news which leaves Chihaya distraught as she faces the prospect of losing both her two friends and the only people she can play karuta with...

With so much ground covered by this single episode, I can't help but think that there might be enough important content here to justify the events depicted here being spread over two instalments to maximise both its entertainment and emotional value.  Having said that, this still proves to be another wonderful episode of Chihayafuru, which makes the best of its characters (with Chihaya herself dominating every scene she's in of course) before throwing us into the emotional wringer with its tearful realisation that this brief, happy time in the lives of its main trio is about to be torn asunder amidst the revelation that nothing lasts forever.  When a series can make you smile then turn around and bring a tear to your eye in a single episode, you know it's doing something right, and Chihayafuru continues to be pretty masterful at its particular art.

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