Chihaya's dream of creating a karuta club dynasty seems to be well on its way thanks to a huge influx of interested members - at least, that's how it looks to Chihaya, but of course for most of these newcomers their interest lies elsewhere.
Thus, a classroom full of first year members soon becomes four and then becomes one, much to Chihaya's abject disappointment. Still, this sole male newcomer is a decidedly interesting one, as Tsukuba not only has a genuine interest in the game but has also played (and mastered) an alternate version of karuta played in Hokkaido. This means that he has a lot of "bad habits" that would be rule-breaking in the regular game, but the passion and basic knowledge is still there.
If only the same could be said of Sumire, who continues to have eyes for Taichi over and above karuta. That said, there clearly is some growth in her interest in the game whether she likes it or not, and it's certainly more than Taichi alone that is keeping her coming back. Not that this is entirely obvious thanks to her attitude, as she frets about her nails and her make-up rather than showing any focus on learning about karuta. The whole thing comes to a head when Hanano blurts out about her interest in Mashima right in front of everybody - an embarrassing moment that somehow ultimately serves to create a surprising bond between Sumire and Kana.
If I was worried about this second season of Chihayafuru becoming stale (and I was slightly), then the introduction of these new first-year characters has really done a good job of shaking up these early episodes. Although neither Tsukuba nor Sumire are all that likeable at this point in time, there attitudes and way of doing things has given an extra frisson to proceedings as a whole, and if nothing else it's been interesting watching the existing club members try to get to grips with how to handle these newcomers. This leaves the series at this early juncture feeling like it has plenty of room for growth, both in terms of its individuals and as a group, which can only be a good thing moving forward.