Chihayafuru 25 ~ final thoughts
March 29, 2012
Chihayafuru was a wonderful series, and the most consistent series I have ever watched. I have watched bad anime, and anime that has flashes of brilliance, but also falls a bit flat on occasion, but never have I seen a show like Chihayafuru, a show that was absolutely solid from start to finish. If you are wondering if Chihayafuru is worth watching, it is. It certainly is my favorite show of 2012 so far. If there is ever a second season, I will watch it.
If you want a spoiler-free introduction to what this series is about, take a look at my first impressions post. For those who want a more in-depth discussion of this series, I have blogged every episode and even wrote about the first volume of the OST. The rest of this post is specific to episode 25 — the final episode! Don’t read it unless you want to see spoilers.
Episode 25 starts off with the Karuta club feeling overwhelmed. The distance between them and the top seems impossible to traverse. The Meijin says he has 28 one-syllable cards — something that is impossible, because there are only 7 one-syllable cards amongst the 100 poems. After the others have left, Taichi sums it up: “how am I supposed to stay motivated?”
On the way home, Tsutomu announces a shocking (and wonderful) surprise: Chihaya plays as if she has 20 one-syllable cards. The distance between her and the Meijin isn’t anywhere near as far as it had seemed just a moment ago. Suddenly the energy of the entire episode changes. Chihaya is back on track towards her goal of becoming the Queen.
Taichi calls Arata, who has been feeling the pressure himself. Arata is serious about taking on the Meijin next year, but he knows he needs real physical matches against a strong opponent. Just as Arata is explaining his insight into the way the Meijin lays out his cards, the strongest player in Arata’s area shows up to play Karuta with him. Arata has the opponent he needs, but he also did something else: he inspired Taichi.
This was one of my favorite scenes in the episode. Kanade is despairing that her own goal of becoming a certified reader is out of reach, since it requires becoming a grade-A player, something that has eluded Taichi, despite his obvious talents. Taichi, however, starts loudly slapping the tatami mat and vigorously taking practice swings, all while a new (and very high-energy) musical theme starts playing. Everyone knows that Taichi doesn’t practice his swings, so this is a clear sign of his new-found motivation to achieve the goals that have eluded him thus far.
Taichi’s intensity cheers up Kanade, who remarks that, “nobody wants to give up their dream”.
Of course there is also a little conflict to keep us from thinking the road ahead will be easy. The Karuta club is put on notice that they need to double the number of members, or they will lose their club room. But even this bit of tension was a great way to develop the Empress even more. She has gone from a constant critic of Chihaya, to a true supporter.
Another flawless episode. It was difficult to imagine how this final episode could work, since everyone had been knocked out of the tournament long ago. It turned out to be a story not only about them watching the tournament, but facing their own inner doubts and realizing the power of their dreams is more forceful than their fear of failure. Each member of the original three faced a crisis and overcame it, as did Kanade. Meanwhile Tsutomu was the one that helped Chihaya overcome her demon (much as Taichi helped Tsutomu slay his “desk” demon when he was first introduced). It hasn’t been an easy ride for anybody, but they have all committed themselves anew to their chosen paths.
There is so much more that these characters can share with us. Chihayafuru was a remarkable series. It had flawless direction, great music, art, and acting. I don’t want it to end! And yet there is no second season season announcement. This is truly a shame. Hopefully one day soon we’ll all be celebrating, because a new season will have been announced.