Saturday, 2 March 2013

Chihayafuru 2 - Episode 8

It's time for Mizusawa to get their game on, which can mean only one thing - it's national championships time!

To celebrate the occasion, Nishida's sister has even created some new-look t-shirts for the club, although these are quickly jettisoned when it turns out that they aren't quite as complementary as the first seem.  That potential disaster averted, it's on to the first round of matches, and with some members to spare we see just how dedicated the club are to winning this time around, with Tsutomu giving up his place in the team to concentrate on scouting out potentially tricky opponents.

As for those who are playing for Mizusawa, they find themselves facing a decidedly unique proposition in their first round match - a bunch of foreign people.  The horror!  Some casual racism aside, this group from an international high school in Chiba initially throw the more experienced players off their stride thanks to more than just their exotic looks - ultimately though, despite the freedom of play exhibited by this unusual bunch of karuta lovers, there's no discounting the class of our more experienced players as they win the day while still kindling a spirit of friendship over the shared love of the game with their opponents.

For a little while there, I was really worried that this week's Chihayafuru was going to go off at the deep end in its depiction of Mizusawa's opponents (and it almost did in the case of their black player, although it maybe isn't all that inaccurate a summary of some Japanese attitudes towards them), but this series being what it is a shared love of karuta ultimately shone through to make for an episode that, in spite of its predictable ending, still proved to be both entertaining and really funny in places.  It's the occasional comedy angle of Chihayafuru that can often be easy to overlook, but it feels as if this second season has really got a good handle on when to deploy jokes for maximum effect, and in recent weeks its been working superbly to bring another dimension to the overall entertainment value of the series.

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