Saturday, 4 May 2013

Chihayafuru 2 - Episode 17

Now that the inevitable, if oddly timed, recap is out of the way, it's back to the team final of the national karuta tournament we go, as Fujisaki and Mizusawa face-off in this epic battle to take the trophy.

Given their place as firm favourites, and considering that one member of their team is the grand-daughter of the reader, it isn't exactly a surprise to see Fujisaki flying out of the gates early on in the match - such is the grueling training that they've undertaken as part of their club with its long history of tournament success, they have no shortage of stamina to go with their innate abilities.

For the most part, our focus within this episode is upon Chihaya, as she finds herself falling far behind her relatively inexperienced opponent Rion.  As the game progresses, and thanks to her remembering some previous advice doled out by Kana, our protagonist begins to "dial in" to the unique tones of the match's reader - this isn't enough to allow her to find her rhythm, but it does at least allow her to start winning cards.  When Chihaya injures her finger while contesting a card, this only looks set to give her a further disadvantage, but perhaps the opposite is true as the series ponders the psychology of such injuries and how they can effect the psychology of the opponent who caused the injury more than the person carrying it.  They might still be behind even in light of all this, but one thing is for certain as this episode ends - Mizusawa have no intentions of giving up.

Looking back upon an episode when I'm writing these 'blog entries as I do, it never ceases to amaze me just how much Chihayafuru manages to cram into every episode - my synopsis really only scratches the surface of each instalment's scope as it analyses every facet of the teams involved, the individuals within them, the wider game of karuta, and even the reader and poetry inherent to the game.  That it manages to do all this and still hold plenty of personal resonance towards and fascination with its characters tells you everything you need to know about why this series is so good, and even without any broader interest in karuta its window into human psychology and sportsmanship is something that anyone with a competitive streak who has taken part in any sport should be able to appreciate.

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