Holy crap, Chihayafuru. Out of all of the minor characters that Chihaya had to face so far, this was by far the best match against it, and it totally went against my expectations. Yamamoto Yumi was wonderfully fleshed out in just one episode, and as a first I actually found myself rooting for both, rather than the match being a simple “protagonist versus non-protagonist”.
I really thought that at this point, Chihaya would get to the queen finals, but then again that may also be because the story is nowhere finished, I kept hoping for some sort of finale with Arata and the Queen. At this rate that ending is not going to be about an important match at all, but who cares? With this series’ writing talent they can still find a ton of great points to end on.
I loved how this episode was even more full of emotion than usual. The hot sun had a lot to do with that, but also Yamamoto and her coach really brought life to this episode, and did so in a way that I’m really not used to for characters who only appear in one episode. And as an added bonus, she wasn’t one of those “I’m really pretty”-girls like you see everywhere in anime, and yet she still looked great. The thing with anime is that it’s so focused on “hot” looking characters that more often than not, it’s the plain looking characters who stand out (and more often than not, the supposedly “hot” characters try way too hard to look good). In this case the animators gave her just as much attention as the rest of the cast, and it showed here.
Also, Chihaya: I really thought that she learned by now. And yet she was taken over by her instincts again. It just shows how hard it is to get rid of things that you’ve been doing for years. Just one tiny incentive is enough to get back to your old patterns. This episode was a great point for Chihaya to actually mess up on the show’s title card “Chihayafuru”.
Rating: *** (Awesome)