Saturday, 13 April 2013

Chihayafuru 2 - Episode 14

Arata might be missing the big semi-final that his Mizusawa-based friends are taking part in, but that doesn't mean that he can't get to at least hear about their progress thus far, as news reaches him that they've successfully made it through to the semi-final of the national team tournament.

Of course, our attention soon shifts back to that gripping ding-dong semi-final between Mizusawa and Akashi Girls school as it reaches its crucial final stage.  After Akashi take first blood with Nishida suffering defeat, things are quickly leveled up in the match as Kana wins her game to make it one apiece.  Once Taichi makes it 2-1 to Mizusawa, all eyes turn to Chihaya's game against Megumu as seemingly the natural climax of the match which everyone is now watching.

If you think this is where the game is going to end however, think again - after losing her most precious card to a surprising turn of speed from Megumu, the psychological balance arguably shifts away from Chihaya, while Megumu herself seems to have quickly built up some new techniques simply from playing against such a strong opponent.  It's this new-found speed of taking cards which ultimately leads her to a win, and us to a gripping finale, with Tsutomu and his opponent left with one card each and a luck of the draw ending which Mizusawa's database wins with, all of things, a touch of superstition.

It's this second half of the episode which once again shows Chihayafuru at its most powerful - glimpsing into the teetering psychological tug of war between players, bringing high drama by engineering a few surprises and a tense finale to a match, and showing us the raw emotions in the aftermath of such a game.  It's a heady blend of elements that work brilliantly at drawing in the viewer and leaving them on the edge of their seat, and it'll certainly interesting to see what spin the team tournament final will have given the strength of Mizusawa's opponents.

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