Chihayafuru 2 Episode 6: Luck of the Draw
“…Did you have fun at the high school regional final?”
Chihaya manages to power up her game, and starts employing her ability to recognize the inherent sounds of the cards before they are actually spoken. With Taichi, Kana-chan and Tsutomu all playing close games, all four remaining pairs end up in a situation where two cards are remaining on the field – resulting in the winner of every single match decided through luck of the draw.
What…what is this warm feeling? No, I’m not crying, of course not. There’s just something in my eye, that’s all. There’s uh…also something in my other eye…
and something in my heart ;_; *cries a river* That was beautiful. Everything about that episode was beautiful, and I’m once again in awe of how this show effortlessly continues to be amazing.
Building on from last week – I did feel that Nishida’s early loss was slightly disappointing, especially with his status as an A Class player, and having done so much training over the past year I would have thought Nishida’s victory to be a solid, secure one, as he wasn’t up against a particularly strong ace as far as we know. In addition to that we have Nishida’s guilt at being the first one to lose (by 13 cards) after proclaiming to Tsukuba that he’d make him strong, which must have made him feel really bad. Well, Chihaya sure pulled her game together as speculated from last week, and it turns out that her focus on accuracy in the first half of the match wasn’t all that misguided after all – as now she can focus on taking larger risks with her speed, yet maintain a similar level of accuracy as before. It’s nice to see her “special ability” come into play once more, the idea that she can “hear” an oncoming sound before it even forms, being able to take a card before the first syllable is spoken – on a poem that isn’t even a one-syllable card. While I wouldn’t go so far to label it a power, it’s very similar to the level of play Suo Hisashi competes at, to the point where there are 28 one-syllable cards for him, as he can hear the difference in the way each syllable starts off as.
It must be frustrating to be in Sudo’s position – to be an excellent karuta player himself with an affiliation to Hokuo, and wanting Amakasu to disrupt Chihaya’s flow and her concentration. But from a reader’s perspective, Sudo almost feels obligated to do the exact opposite instead. In contrast to last week, Amakasu’s casual lack of care last episode has completely disappeared, and he’s putting all of his effort into defeating Chihaya yet is angry at Retro for setting him up with such a difficult match. It may have made his situation harder, but I don’t blame Retro for that at all – there’s something about the reward you receive for hard work that is much more satisfying than cruising through situations easily, and after suffering, it feels good when you succeed. And if you fail…well, then you’ve tried your hardest, haven’t you?
The luck of the draw situation that served as the finale of the match was pretty cruel – it was bad enough last season with Nishida and Taichi duking it out for a promotion, yet it was rather bizarre to end up with every single competing pair having two cards remaining, essentially splitting the chances of them winning by 50-50. I was hoping either Kana-chan or Tsutomu would have somehow been able to get ahead of their Hokuo opponents and get the ball rolling for Mizusawa, but in the end Hokuo managed to put their team experience to good use. I agree with what their sensei said – that sort of overwhelming advantage has borderline levels of legality, as with two of each card collectively on Hokuo’s side of the field, they can guarantee victory by camping their own card. Well, that’s if they don’t commit faults of course. Cheers Retro :D It’s very fitting that Taichi is the one to overcome something as arbitrary as luck once more with his own personal dedication and determination.
Hokuo won in the end – and the decider of the entire team match was the card Amakasu and Chihaya touched at the same time, which resulted in a victory for Hokuo as the card was on Amakasu’s side. I really admired Chihaya here – instead of contesting what could have potentially been a win for her, she decided to swallow her pride and assert what she really thought was the truth, even if it meant that Mizusawa would end up losing. Truly, she’s graceful in defeat even while it was a difficult loss for her to handle, but she’s also passionate enough to admit that she had fun playing in the tournament, which is arguably what it’s all about. Amakasu and Hokuo now can’t clearly say that they’re the strongest school in Tokyo, but they’ll strive and work harder to improve – and in the end, you walk away from the show feeling that everyone’s gained something, regardless of whether they won or lost.