Chihayafuru 7 ~ quit griping and play a game
November 16, 2011
In Chihayafuru episode 7, the hunt for club members continues. This time Chihaya has her eye on a boy that doesn’t know it yet, but he desperately wants to be saved. In addition to giving us more of Chihaya’s hilariously straightforward character, and a new club member, this episode also provides Taichi with an opportunity to shine.
Tsutomu is called “Desk-tomu” by others, because he never leaves his desk (that is, instead of getting up to chat with the other kids, he sits there studying). By working so hard, he has managed to take the number two spot in academics (behind Taichi). No doubt Taichi’s presence in the Karuta club is a bit of a mystery to Tsutomu, and he seems to be intrigued by Chihaya’s assertion that Karuta improves the memorization ability of the players. Still, unconvinced Tsutomu demands to see a game played “flipped”, that is where the players cannot rely on the visual clues of the lines of poetry.
This game demonstrates another aspect of Karuta (well, this was hinted at previously, particularly as Arata’s strength), it also shows that Chihaya has a weakness that she needs to fix to truly become the player she wants to be. It also did something for Taichi; he had been content to lose to Chihaya, because he was supporting her dream. Having an opportunity to win aroused his own passion for the game.
Even after the game Tsutomu isn’t willing to join the club. He argues that he doesn’t have any talent for Karuta. Taichi hears his own voice in Tsutomu’s fear. He has struggled because, unlike Chihaya and Arata, he doesn’t have a natural ability for Karuta. He was taught by his parents to give up on things that he wasn’t able to succeed at, but he learned that there was something to trying hard particularly when it doesn’t come easy. Taichi gives Tsutomu the option to go back to sitting alone at his desk, but Tsutomu wisely takes the opportunity to return to the Karuta club instead.
In some respects this episode focussed more on the gameplay of Karuta than recent episodes have. Taichi’s inner monologues, and his explanations to Kanade indicate just how much he knows about the game. Whereas Chihaya’s approach is mostly physical, relying on her senses and reflexes, Taichi has thought a lot about strategy and tactics and rules. I got so caught up in the “flipped” Karuta game (and Chihaya’s recruiting efforts) that I was surprised when the episode ended so “quickly”. This show continues to stand out as my favorite of the season.