After winning their tough and all-important regional tournament at the climax to last week's instalment, it's only fair that Mizusawa's newly-crowned champions get a little more time to enjoy their glory, trophy and all, even if that joy is offset against the devastation felt by some members of the losing finalists.
Despite their achievement, it feels like a very quick return to earth for Chihaya in particular however, as the school karuta club's advisor takes little more than a fleeting interest in their victory compared to the exploits of the tennis club, while her parents still dote over her sister's every moment in the spotlight to the point of having no real time for their other daughter. However dark and depressing this may seem on the surface, there's actually more to both of these stories than that as the episode progresses - Chihaya's parent's aren't completely ignorant to her efforts and achievements after all no matter how bad they may be at verbalising it, while even the club advisor eventually comes around to the hard work and effort the karuta team have been putting into their hobby.
That aside, this week's episode also whips through preparations for the big national tournament at Omi Jingu, with the karuta clubs members training at local societies as well as with one another and generally working hard to make their appearance at the finals a proud and worthwhile moment. That said, with even Chihaya suffering from a rather intense bout of pre-tournament nerves as she feels the fear of possible failure for perhaps the first time, it might not be an easy journey for Mizusawa's finest.
For starters, I have to give Chihayafuru some credit for keeping its pacing so rapid throughout the series so far - it hasn't allowed itself to sink into a rut of filling time or dragging things out in the name of either tension or bulking up episodes, and instead chunks of time like the pre-tournament preparation here are squeezed into a single instalment nigh-on perfectly. What really ensures that this series carries on its winning streak however is its simple but effective human touch - the story of Chihaya's family and her ultimately incorrect assumption that her parents care not for her achievements is as realistic as it is touching, and stands out as a great example of what this series manages to achieve without ever being too heavy-handed. It's wonderful, compelling stuff, and doubtless there's still plenty more of the same to come.