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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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:20 PM)
    Decided to marathon Giant Robo, I think this was mentioned by someone on here before. I guess it was fairly entertaining, great action direction, looked good for its time, you don’t notice the hour long episodes go by, adequate characters, nice retro artstyle also, not sure if I got excited over this as big O and Mazinger however but still fun enough nonetheless.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:50 AM)
    Oh yeah Hoffman was a massive talent and a beloved actor, so I don’t take it lightly when I call Synecdoche his greatest role ever. Given his death and knowing the circumstances of his life at the time imbues this performance with a chilling sincerity that just breaks your heart and leaves you in awe.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:42 AM)
    Oh Andrew Niccol, oh how the mighty have fallen.
    Hoffman showed up in Capote and most wanted man, the latter which I especially love and there need to be more thrillers of that vein coming out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:37 AM)
    It’s funny how they also each have a Nicolas Cage movie. Kaufman has Adaptation and Niccol has Lord of War. Although despite the usual Cage antics neither of those movies is really that bad.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:33 AM)
    Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show are the two roles where Jim Carrey really demonstrated his acting chops well outside of his usual comfort zone. But Kaufman moved forward from Sunshine with the superior Synecdoche, while Andrew Niccol went from doing Truman Show and Gattaca to doing young adult garbage like The Host *wretches*

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