Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Chihayafuru - Episode 13

It is perhaps a sign of Chihayafuru's success in what it does that I've missed it arguably more than any of the other series which took a one week hiatus over the Festive break - but now we're back, with Mizusawa's finest (well, three of their finest and a couple of others if I'm being harsh) at the steps of Omi Jingu and ready to take on the best the rest of Japan has to offer.

Then again, are they really ready for the competition?  As their preparations begin in eanest, Chihaya doesn't seem her usual over-exuberant self, and by the time their first match begins something is clearly very wrong indeed.  Is it simply nerves on Chihaya's part? 

We're left holding that thought, as our focus switches at perhaps the cruellest of moments to Arata - despite learning that he hasn't entered the competition's individual tournament he still seems to be on his way to attend, although before that we're waylaid a flashback into the troubled health of his grandfather, with a failing heart and the early stages of dementia blighting the once great man and thus Arata's emotional state as a result.  No sooner does Arata arrive however than he finds himself handed the limp, unconscious body of Chihaya after she passes out mid-game - a fact which leaves her distraught once she comes around again with little concern for her own health.  Despite feeling that she's let the side down, her team-mates seem to have no such concerns when they visit her that evening to tell of their achievements, even if they couldn't make it all the way through to the final.  Still, perhaps she can recover in time for the individual tournament the following day, which looks set to provide her with some interesting opposition.

I know I perhaps spend too much time waxing lyrical about Chihayafuru, but this was another great episode - when we shifted away from Chihaya's physical plight during her first match I was worried that we were headed on a road to nowhere, but instead the story of Arata's grandfather was delivered in a difficult to watch yet brave depiction of the ravages of dementia upon not only the brain but also the relatives of those affected (has such a thing ever been portrayed in such a hard but believable manner in anime before?), before returning us to Chihaya's unexplained illness which brought a surprisingly swift conclusion to the team's Omi Jingu adventure.  Given that I was expecting this segment of the show to last at least a couple of episodes, you can't accuse Chihayafuru of running at anything other than a fast clip, while still managing to find plenty of time to focus on the important human elements.  In short, it's continuing to exhibit exactly the elements that have caused me to fall in love with the series.

No comments: