Saturday, 6 April 2013

Chihayafuru 2 - Episode 13

The closing moments of last week's Chihayafuru brought us what could be a pivotal moment in Mizusawa's semi-final battle against Akashi Girls School (who I keep wanting to call Achiga Girls School - wrong show, Andy).  But is this really the moment where everything turns around for Chihaya and company?

Maybe, if our protagonist hadn't been so distracted by celebrating this big win that she ruins her own flow and concentration.  Still, this isn't the only twist in this particular tale by any means, as the entire episode sees the advantage wax and wane between the two teams across their various matches, focused largely around Chihaya's face-off against Megumu.

Aside from pure skill and ability alone, there's a rich vein of psychological warfare going on here - some of it verbalised but just as much of it expressed through reactions and body language, as we try to grip on what Megumu is thinking and just what drives her onwards to being the karuta player that she is, while her friends and team-mates also seem to be trying to get a handle on the centrepiece of their side.

It's this amalgamation of the abilities and attitudes of the individual against the wider dynamic of the two teams that makes this such a fantastic episode that arguably sits amongst Chihayafuru's best - while the tension of drama from the games toing or froing is palpable, the aforementioned psychology of proceedings is utterly engaging to watch throughout as we see the innate understanding between Mizusawa's players and what they can bring out of both themselves and one another, set against the more focused but perhaps less concrete relationships between Akashi's team.  It's such compelling material that you could probably make an entire series out of this one match alone, but either way this was another delicious serving of this series at the peak of its powers.

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