The karuta club now has all of its requisite members and is ready to officially swing into action... with one slight alteration, that being that the club advisor refuses to allow Chihaya herself to act as club president. But hey, she can always be captain instead, right?
So, as club activities begin, it's time to start practising in earnest, with Chihaya taking the lead with the seemingly ill-advised idea of pitting herself amongst the newcomers - an intimidating introduction for them, but one which Chihaya is convinced will give them the same passion for karuta which she derived from her introduction to the game at the hands of Arata.
With her ambitious thoughts already turning to national tournaments but with little time to practice, it's clear that some kind of training camp is required - cue a hastily arranged weekend meeting at Taichi's rather impressive home while her mother is away at a wedding. Chihaya's over-bearing attitude shows no signs of letting up here as she tries to force her charges through a beyond gruelling fifteen match playing session which threatens to break the newcomers - perhaps luckily, this idea is broken by the early return of Taichi's mum, giving time for Chihaya and the others to reflect upon things before attention is turned to a different matter - Chihaya's birthday.
Although that birthday celebration came more than a little out of the blue (I know, I know, it was a surprise), this episode again succeeded in demonstrating what Chihayafuru is so good at - while the framework of the episode is pretty run of the mill stuff within the "school club" anime fold, it's the small details that brings the instalment out of the ordinary and into a realm of its own. Most notably, its the telling glances and moments between Chihaya and Taichi that really come to the fore, speaking volumes with barely a word said and granted even more depth once Arata's shadow over them is involved. It's perhaps this love triangle angle that will weigh ever-more heavily over the series at it progresses, but to this point it's been depicted so well that I have no problem with it heading down that path, and at the moment it seems as though it's going to be an interesting journey no matter where it takes us.