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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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:43 AM)
    I enjoyed Vivi’s storyline tho. I think even tho he was bland and quiet he still had the most emotional developments as a character, which tied in to identity and what it means to be alive. I also liked the “I want to be your Canary” play within the game, it was like a fleshed-out version of the Opera House scene from FF6.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:40 AM)
    Yeah I remember that my brother would watch me play FF9 here and there and I would fill him in on the details, and he came in when I was fighting Necron and said “who the hell is that?” to which I replied “I have no clue. I think it’s the final boss”. I don’t really know why they decided to do that, but probably to give Kuja a last minute redemption. Still, they should’ve just went with a superform Kuja battle instead imo.
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 10:33 PM)
    @Aidan: I can admit that, in regards to the final boss of FF9 at least.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:33 PM)
    FF9 was Final fantasy goes Dragon Quest. I didn’t like it for the designs and wasn’t into the story at all. Itwas sort of the reason why I didn’t like wind wakers style. The series is good because of it’s more mature feel. Speaking of embarrassing last boss fights FF9 was worse than FF10. With an endboss who literally came straight out of nowhere.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:26 PM)
    @Aidan: yeah, fusing turn-based (or ATB) battles with some real-time elements always intrigued me. That was the only redeeming quality in Legend of Dragoon’s battle system. That recent Child of Light game was a good, albeit basic, homage to those earlier games, and the simple battle system was both fun and nostalgic.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:21 PM)
    @Emma: 9 was a throwback to the earlier ones, and that’s why people ate it up. I did like it tho, even despite the Chibi style which I don’t enjoy. To be frank I liked the series from 7-10 the most. It’s a combination of the games and those specific years of my youth.
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 08:49 PM)
    Though those are opinions which are from my teenaged self back then…
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 08:34 PM)
    That last boss fight in FF10 was embarrassing, then they brought out that silly fanservicey sequel to it. I find FF9 at the time had a good blend of a then modern game but also retro feel, I liked the revelations surrounding garland, Kuja, Zidane and felt that FF9 was where I was the most emotionally involved.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    True, assuming of course that the latter installment is indeed better. Resident evil 5 was no 4. That’s for sure.
    I liked that you could time R1 to give you more damage for attacking with Quall. And it was nice that summons leveled up. So that your earlier summons don’t become completely useless in the endgame.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:46 AM)
    I also enjoyed FF8 quite a lot. I appreciate cinematic presentations and 8 delivered that with a lot of style. The visuals were amazing and the the music was great, and if you learned the GF BOOST ability you used the much-maligned long summon animations to stack up on some damage.

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