Despite the trials and tribulations of their meeting with the disenchanted Arata, both Chihaya and Taichi are now finally singing from the same song sheet in terms of the creation of a karuta club at their school. Lo, thanks to a little persuasion of the relevant school staff, the newly created club now has a suitable location as its base, even if it is only a storage room.
With five members required to make up a proper school club, this episode sees our leading duo being that long and arduous task typical of many club-based anime of trying to recruit members. Perhaps surprisingly, they catch someone's eye immediately via the frustrated outlook of archery club member Kanade Oe. Kana's true love is traditional Japanese culture, and in particular traditional fashions, and thus she visits the karuta club in the hope that it might allow her to vent these desires.
Of course, Chihaya and Taichi have little interest in either the traditional clothing of the game, or indeed the real history behind the sport and the one hundred poems of which it is comprised - thus, despite numerous attempts to recruit her, a dismayed Kanade has little interest in joining the club in the name of playing competitive karuta alone. Eventually however, Chihaya's persistence reveals a new understanding between herself and Kanade, as the latter begins to explain the deeper meanings (or at least her interpretation of them) behind the hundred poems, not only enchanting Chihaya but also giving her a new method of memorising the cards. Such is Kana's inspiration that Chihaya will do anything to get this new member integrated into her club, and so two becomes three as we reach the end of the instalment.
After last week's episode filled with tension and emotion, this time around Chihayafuru exhibits a very different energy which is no less compelling in its own way. Helped along with a great moment or two of slapstick comedy, and aided by the increasingly brilliant depiction of Chihaya and Taichi's relationship, we're dragged along by Chihaya's passion and interest before finding ourselves sucked into Kanade's own source of interest via some gorgeous visual clues and some exposition on karuta's history which just about avoids turning into Wikipedia: The Animation to add another facet to this already wonderful series. Every time I worry about this show stumbling it somehow manages to get a little better still - it can't keep improving like this, can it?