Chihayafuru 2 Episode 8: Karuta Lovers
“We grew up in Japan and fell in love with karuta.”
It’s the Nationals! Although Mizusawa did make it here last year, we were reminded of how Chihaya ended up fainting due to the heat and nerves, and had to unfortunately drop out of the team tournament. Hopefully they’ll make it further this year, perhaps with the help of some of their new first-years – with Tsukuba actually expressing his wish to be a starter player once more, intending to secretly change the line-up again and hope that no-one will notice. He should really stop doing that no matter how much he wants to impress his brothers, especially in an event as important as the Nationals. Anyway, Tsukuba was actually listed on the line-up, replacing Tsutomu who willingly took a support role to scout out the other teams with Sumire and help out Chihaya – that’s very admirable. I’m sure he wants to play just as much as everyone else does, but unlike Tsukuba he’s willing to take one for the team and act in a selfless manner. I’m going to be keeping my eye on Ousaka Megumu – despite looking like nothing more than a clumsy airhead (with fanboys!) she was the West representative for the Queen match last year, which immediately marks her as a very skilled karuta player and is thus a potential opponent for Chihaya in the future. Chihaya doesn’t get to play Shinobu in the team tournaments, so she’ll probably be paired up with Megumu somewhere down the line xD Other threats include last year’s champions Fujisaki High School, but it’s a long road up to the top, so who knows whether Mizusawa will even get the opportunity to play them?
It was very entertaining how Mizusawa’s opponents were introduced xD Coming from the Chiba International High School, it’s presumably their first year in the Nationals, with every single member looking like a foreigner. Though they ended up being able to speak fluent Japanese, it was hilarious to see them try to pretend they usually spoke English (with Taichi responding with some Engrish of his own) in order to scare Tsukuba…uh, I mean, throw Mizusawa off their course. It might have been a good tactic to use – Nishida lost against that Hokuo kid partly after being distracted by a dodgy swirly hair clip after all :D And was that lady’s kimono put on backwards on purpose? They were clearly out of place, and perhaps there might be a societal message in that towards Japan’s multicultural inexperience – an entire TV crew turned up just because there were foreign people playing karuta.
In terms of competitive karuta, they’re weak players, I won’t deny that. The guy Nishida was up against didn’t even try to go for any of the cards he was unfamiliar with, preferring to stick to just the ones he knows. But…you can really feel that they love the game, and I think both the audience and Mizusawa were taught something this episode – while competitive karuta restricts your playing style, the way the Chiba guys play really reflects how they genuinely fell in love with karuta, and that kind of freedom is something to be respected. There’s nothing wrong about paying more attention to the cards you love – in fact, it’s a better attitude to take than some of the very skilled players, who have no idea about the meaning behind the poems or even what their second half is!
Arata’s always turning up either at the start or end of episodes, isn’t he? Hopefully next episode breaks that tradition as he’s turned up to Omi Jingu to cheer Chihaya and Taichi on, only to meet a very scary Shinobu who seems to be very friendly with him indeed. Maybe it’s because I’m all for Chihaya x Taichi (come on, the poor guy deserves success in love at least), but I’m starting to see a potential ship in Arata x Shinobu, especially as they seem to be childhood friends. Although with black hair and blue eyes, they both seem very similar physically…nah, I’m over-thinking it.