All of the national tournament champions have been decided, but amidst the celebrations and congratulations Chihaya only wants to know one thing from Arata - how? How can he remain so calm and impassionate no matter the occasion when it comes to playing karuta?
With prize presentations about to start there's no time to answer this question, and with the tournament over Chihaya has something a little more pressing to worry about, that being exactly what's wrong with her injured finger. After moving up the chain of doctors and hospitals we get our answer - enchondromatosis. Although this disease wouldn't normally be an issue for your average person, for Chihaya it means that the only way for her to continue to play karuta safely is to have surgery on the affected finger; a scary prospect no matter how you look at it.
Thus, much of this episode occurs while Chihaya is in hospital, either waiting for or recovering from her operation - although this prevents her from playing any karuta, it certainly doesn't stop her from thinking about the game, and the time to herself also allows her to talk to Arata on the phone and get to the bottom of where he finds his constant reserves of cool, detached sportsmanship. In learning the secrets behind this, it seems that Chihaya also learns a little about herself, and more specifically her feelings for Arata - a change that Kana is quick to pick up on as she goes into overdrive cheering on Taichi.
With the series leaving us tantalising set-up perfectly for a third season, I can only hope that this decision proves not to be in vein - as per its first season, Chihayafuru has been simply wonderful week in and week out throughout this second series, melding its dramatic tension and high stakes "sports" with superbly affecting and tear-jerking emotional drama on and off the tatami. It's a tough call, but I'd actually posit that this second season of Chihayafuru is stronger than the first - its comedy is more confident and assured, the new additions to the cast add just enough extra flavour to proceedings to keep things fresh, and the established cast continue to grow and thrive marvelously. This really is an example of a sports anime that does everything right, and it's results are beautiful in almost every way. If there's any passion within the anime industry beyond cold, hard sales figures, then we need to see a third series of Chihayafuru in 2014 without fail.