Posted by psgels on 3 February 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

This was one of those episodes that really caught my attention. It played with a common trope in fiction: the Underdog. With these kinds of competitive series, the underdog is a lot of times the focus: the people who you would not expect to win, yet prove to be surprisingly skillful. They’re very often main characters.

In Chihayafuru though, the characters aren’t underdogs. Perhaps the juniors, but all of the seniors have this undoubted talent, and stand out like they will get very far. And in this episode, they had to fight a group of underdogs. A group of players who only started recently, and yet who made a a huge improvement thanks to a very passionate coach who has regrets over never reaching his own goals.

And I love how they gave the cast a challenge, especially Taichi had a difficult time, and his opponent would have fitted perfectly in any underdog team. I also lvoe the way they were announced: completely out of left field. Taichi has always had his problems, but this was a big moment for him to realize that he thinks too much. In this way he really needs to take an example of Chihaya, whose entire mind is filled with nothing but Karuta. In that area, they really are the complete opposites.

One detail I really loved: Taichi finally dares to ask for a towel, and Chihaya immediately leaps over Tsutomu to give him one. No dialogue, no animation even. The creators just kept focusing on the same shot for what felt like ages. That was simple, but made a ton of impact.

Beyond that this episode also showed how important good readers are in order to keep people on their focus: a different rythm must make things more difficult for the seasoned player who is always used to the same timing.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

6 Responses

  1. Puran says:

    Yup, this was an awesome episode. The scene where Taichi asked for a towel was amazing. It restored my faith in the series direction.

    The animation does still seem like a step down from season 1 though. There are no distorted faces any more and stills from the series look just as good (or even better) as the first season, but the actual animation is lacking I think.

    Season 1 had a few super-smooth animated shots during the matches (usually when a significant card is being taken), these kind of shots are absent in season 2. Maybe it’s just that we haven’t seen a super-important match in season 2 yet.

  2. Kim says:

    I notice people complaining about the animation, I don’t really notice myself. But I do wonder if the series got a bit less budget this time around. Even though we got a second season (which I am ecstatic about) keep in mind that the first season didn’t sell all that great. I mean the manga sold wonderfully which is probably why we have the second season but low anime sales might still have affected the budget.

    • Puran says:

      Rewatch the first episode of the 1st season. It’s not really fair, because studios usually pour more budget in the first episode, but it will be easier to get the point across. Notice how in the first episode there is always a lot of movement and still frames are kept to a minimal. The first season had a bit more of that compared to what we’re seeing now.

      It’s not that big a deal of course, the anime is still good regardless. And yeah, it does seem like they got a smaller budget.

  3. kero says:

    I definitely noticed that the animation wasn’t as good, but the story line is still A++

    Just happy it got a second season!

  4. Random says:

    I loved how this episode explored so many aspects of the show at the same time. It had individual, group, relationship and game development. Really, really good one.
    The towel scene was indeed well done. Funny, revealing and endearing at the same time. The director made the right choices here.
    It still strikes me how brilliant this series is in spite of its simplicity. I just love everything about it xD

  5. laren says:

    hahaha this was 1 of the best
    hope this anime still be on the air for a long time

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  • k-off
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:07 AM)
    You simply cannot say it is insignificant just because it happens to a larger extent somewhere else. Is hunger in the West not important because it is far more severe in Africa? No, you’re supposed to look at both sides with equal scrutiny.
  • k-off
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:02 AM)
    @Eeelo Listen up m8. Sure this happens every other day in other parts of the world. Iraq, to name one among many. However, Canada is not Iraq, and the victims were not expecting to die guarding a building in the capital of their own god damn country, unlike the men in Iraq. Therefore, not only is deeming their deaths insignificant completely illogical, it is retarded.
  • Eeelo
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:51 AM)
    Also, the soldiers who died shouldn’t be touted as heros. They were doing their job standing outside the building and they got killed. Its not like they jumped on a grenade or saved a burning baby or something. What, do I get to be called a hero if someone kills me at my McDonald’s cash register?
  • Eeelo
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:40 AM)
    Two soldiers or one, it doesn’t really matter
  • Eeelo
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:40 AM)
    I don’t mean to sound cynical, but that happens every few months. Politicians just yell stuff at whoever we’re supposed to hate right now, and we give money to the red cross or something. Nothing to fret over because two soldiers died, they die in attacks in the middle east every other day. Where is the coverage for them?
  • Friend
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:21 AM)
    @Asuka I honestly do not know what is on the mind of those lunatics. Storming into a government building, murdering innocent soldiers, and they think they’re accomplishing anything? It boggles my mind.
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:03 AM)
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:29 AM)
    @sonic: That just shows that they have budget issues and problems with asset management. Deen tends to hire a lot of commission contracts so the talen behind each work, and hence the quality, varies greatly.
  • sonicsenryaku
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:06 AM)
    Deen’s art has certainly improved and their cinematography has gotten a slight bump in refinement but their animation still could use some work and they still have trouble keeping their art and animation consistent through their series. All these critiques apoply to their tv series productions by the way; some of the movies they have worked on as well as they co-production works are pretty good
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:49 PM)
    @Emma I think Deen makes some really good looking anime. People tend to give them crap for some of their mid-2000 stuff and justifiably, but their recent stuff and early stuff is really quite visually arresting.

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