With just one more member to go before their karuta club becomes official, can Chihaya and her new friends work their magic and find someone else to join their fledgling club?
Although the more traditional recruitment drive of handing out flyers falls on deaf ears, a slice of serendipity comes the way of Chihaya as she runs into a familiar face from some years previously - namely a boy named Nishida (or "Porky", as Chihaya prefers to call the rotund fellow) who gave Chihaya and Taichi some trouble in a karuta tournament back in grade school before Nishida was put to the sword by Arata - a humbling defeat which still seems to haunt him, to the point of jacking in karuta to play tennis.
Given this past (and Chihaya's insistence on calling him Porky), it's hardly surprising that Nishida wants nothing to do with the karuta club - however, it seems that the game still hasn't entirely left him, as Chihaya's perseverance leads to her discovery that he still uses karuta to some degree as the basis for his tennis. Having found this out, Chihaya at least has enough information to hand to coax him into playing her at karuta - an experience which proves that he's still got what it takes while also rekindling his enjoyment of the game. Thus, the club has their requisite five members and we can move on to the next stage of the series.
After the life-affirming train of thought around which last week's episode centred, and compared to the charming nature of the instalment before that, Nishida's recruitment didn't really bring us anything to make it stand out from the pack in those terms - bringing him on board always felt like an inevitability, while the link between karuta and his tennis playing felt... well, kind of stupid. Thankfully however, the episode wasn't a complete write-off courtesy of a combination of Chihaya's continuing excitable vigour (which is not only charming and lovable, but kind of reminds me of someone) and perhaps the most compelling slice of karuta action so far. Maybe it's just that we know a little more about the game now, but it certainly seemed a little more tense and fascinating than previous bouts, which could well bode well for the future. In closing then, this is perhaps the weakest episode of Chihayafuru we've had served up yet, but it still had enough entertainment value to see it through.