Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Chihayafuru - Episode 4

Having used its first three episodes to great effect to set its scene and establish the relationships between its main three characters from their youth, we now return to the present day and both Chihaya and Taichi's current circumstances.

While Taichi might be luke-warm towards karuta these days, Chihaya is (as we saw in episode one) still as obsessed by it as ever, although we learn here that she has still only managed to move up the "B" class at her local society, much to the teasing amusement of Taichi.  Thus, Chihaya makes a bet that if she can move up to the "A" class in a forthcoming tournament within her society, she'll force Taichi to make a karuta club with her at their school.

With the pressure on, Chihaya has to prove both her dedication and application as Taichi watches on, while we also get to fill in the gaps a little regarding Taichi himself as he's clearly drifted away from karuta in pursuit of a more "normal" life, complete with a girlfriend and aspirations of joining the school football club, even if his reasoning behind this is simply the realisation that he could never compete with Arata's ability in the field of karuta.  However, is that really true?  The intervening years might not have seen Arata turn into the karuta master he promised and dreamed of becoming after all...

Despite a pretty hefty drop in animation quality this week, thankfully Chihayafuru's story hasn't taken the same kind of nosedive even though we've moved back to the present in terms of plot.  With our shift forward in time, we still find our female protagonist to be as quirk, spontaneous and determined as ever, only now offset with the added awareness that comes with growing up - at least somewhat, although she still seems to have no clue as to how she affects those of the opposite sex, not least Taichi.  This lends another angle to the already compelling character-driven aspects of the show, while Taichi also brings his own traits to the table and come the end of this episode it appears that we have a lot more to learn about Arata.  Couple this with some surprisingly tense scenes of Chihaya in action during her karuta tournament (which also allows us to assess how she's changed and matured over time), and you have yourself another decidedly enjoyable episode of Chihayafuru.

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