The national team final is upon us as we reach this fifteenth episode of Chihayafuru's second season - although to some extent, this instalment is all about those who aren't playing in the final.
For starters we have Kana who, having stepped aside to let Tsukuba play, reveals the true cause of this decision as it seems that she's been hiding a hand injury for a little while now to keep her place. Even after making this sacrifice, she spends the rest of the episode regretting her decision as the true enormity of the final, and perhaps more importantly the selection of reader, comes into view. Then again, at least she had a conscious choice in the matter unlike opponents Fujisaki's line-up, who see one of their stars switched out of the line-up in the final and replaced with a first year club member by their no-nonsense coach.
Indeed, Fujisaki are a very different beast to Mizusawa in all sorts of ways - brimming with personal confidence and self-assured mannerisms, but not really anything that you could call a "team" in any real sense, with all sorts of in-fighting and clashes between club members bubbling under the surface. Perhaps none of this will matter as the game begins however, with Mizusawa well-briefed by the ever-accurate and reliable Tsutomu, and some unexpected faces appearing to cheer them on...
Even without a single card flung across a room in anger, Chihayafuru still knows how to produce some compelling content - anyone with an interest in any sport will be able to relate to the abject disappointment of missing out on a final, and there was an enjoyable blend of comedy, character profiling and interactions between individuals throughout all the way through to Arata, who has arguably become a spare wheel too often within the show. Of course, this is but an appetiser for the main course, which we'll have to wait until next week to hungrily devour.