Something very interesting happened here. Remember how the first volume of Chihayafuru completely bombed in terms of DVD sales? Well, when I checked back on the latest figures, it turns out that the second volume actually sold much better. While it’s still near the bottom of the season, the second volume sold in the order of five times as much here. That’s something you don’t see often. Still, these numbers are still far too low for a second season here. This show will end in two months.
It was up to this episode to promise that these final two months will be worth watching. And indeed, I made one really big miss-assumption with this series. The characters said that the past tournament was like the “koushien” of karuta, which lead me to believe that there is just one major tournament like this every year. Yes, I’ve probably seen too many baseball series. In any case, there still are plenty of smaller tournaments, including the tournament to decide the next queen. That’ll be a nice place to end things, and with a bit of luck this will also give a bigger role to Arata.
In the meantime, this was the expected intermezzo episode, and with that it really delivered. There was some very good banter, and we got some interesting insight into the way that Chihaya plays Karuta. The big danger for this show is to descend into a training arc at this point. I can very much identify with Chihaya’s dilemma here: having to stop focusing on what you’re best at, in order to become even better. This is something that is incredibly difficult to do, and not everyone actually manages to do it.
And yet again, this episode placed emphasis on every single character. Everyone is trying hard in his or her own way. Also bloody hell. Taichi still had contact with his girlfriend. Yes, “had”.
Rating: ** (Excellent)