Chihaya managed to find her third member last week, and she may still be beating Taichi with fearsome regularity, but she's still a couple of members away from her karuta club becoming a fully fledged one in the school's eyes. Fear not though, for our leading lady has a plan.
That plan is, of course, not the most graceful of things, as she deliberately targets the second smartest boy in the year (behind Taichi), and less attempts to persuade him than to bribe and physically drag him into the karuta club. However, Komano Tsutomu (or Desktomu as he's less flatteringly known to his classmates) isn't easily persuaded - indeed, all he's interested in its studying and proving himself via that medium, claiming that he has no time for games whatsoever even in the face of Chihaya's beauty.
Having been dragged all the way down to the karuta club room while literally hanging on to his desk for dear life, Tsutomu is at least persuaded to watch a game of karuta having been lectured about its intellectual merits and the possibility of improving his ability in school. However, his disdain for the way the game makes it easy by allowing its cards to be placed face up leads to a rather unconventional game where all of the cards are turned face-down, making memorisation all the more important and actually giving Taichi a chance of winning for once. Essentially, this episode is his rather than Tsutomu's, as he casts off his cloak of disinterest in winning or losing and openly admits that he wants to win - sentiments he further explores as he appeals to Tsutomu to take a chance, even when playing something he has little chance of winning.
It's Taichi's final sentiments that really lodged in my heart from this week's Chihayafuru. While "it's not the winning, it's the taking part" is a tired, lazy and hoary old sentiment, Taichi's creed is different - no matter how hard the fight or how small the chance of victory, you have to play; to take a chance and do the things you love, and if you take the chance and do come out victorious the rewards are all the sweeter. This isn't really about karuta at all, but rather a handy piece of life advice - you might well have little chance of reaching the top of your chosen sport or profession, or winning the love of a girl you so admire, but does that mean you should just give up and not even try? Of course not, and it's a beautiful, wise sentiment that stands proud as a highlight of an episode that was otherwise both funny and just plain fun to watch. Thank goodness those involved with Chihayafuru never gave up, because they've created something really special thus far.