"Now the flower blooms, but for winter": Chihaya Ayase listens to the poem Naniwa Bay.

“Now the flower blooms, but for winter”: Chihaya Ayase listens to the poem Naniwa Bay.

Chihayafuru season 2 episode 15 was an extraordinary thing. Essentially nothing happened. The entire episode must have been close to real time in the moments between the semi-final and final matches of the National High School Tournament at the Omi Jingu. A lesser show could not have pulled this off. It isn’t uncommon for a Sports anime to have a comic interlude episode between matches, or to have a build-up episode that sets the stakes, introduces new opponents, or difficulties the protagonists must hurdle. The difference, I would say is the way this felt seamlessly connected to the rest of the show, instead of being an interlude episode.

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The power of data analysis

The power of data analysis

Episode 11 of Chihayafuru season 2 resolved the lingering questions about Arata, as well as the surprising situation from the end of the last episode, in which Tsutomu (aka Desk-kun) was kept from playing in yet another round. Tsutomu is not just a data-gatherer, he also is very good at analyzing the information on hand, as he is able to make something substantial out of the notes that Sumire gathered on their opponents in the semi-final, First Akashi Girls’ High School.

I’m glad we are already building up the match against Megumu Ousaka, because it is a good indication that we will get an interesting match-up between her and Chihaya. Aside from that, we still have the final round against Mizusawa’s arch-rival, Hokuo Academy. It seems that the team tournament will take us through episode 13, which should be the mid-point of the series (assuming it is a 2 course season). That means the next course can spend plenty of time on the individual tournament, and still have the Meijin matches as a climax.

Shinobu Wakamiya ~ a face in the rain

Shinobu Wakamiya ~ a face in the rain

In episode 10 of Chihayafuru episode 2, the story of the national tournament is split into two tracks. In the first, Mizusawa High faces a tough opponent. In the second, the judges agonize over whether Arata should be denied an opportunity to participate in the individual matches that follow the team tournament.

Although this episode had some tension from a hard-fought Karuta match, it stressed both the comedy and personal dramas at least as much as the Karuta action.

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Shinobu Wakamiya, the ninja queen.

Shinobu Wakamiya: the ninja queen emerges.

Episode 8 of Chihayafuru season 2 was a fine tale of people sharing their love for Karuta. It even had a great moment for Tsutomu, who did something truly selfless for the good of the team. He has turned out to be an excellent supporting character. But the greatest thing about the episode, for me, was in the closing moments of the episode; Arata walks up the stairs to the temple grounds and Shinobu appears. All of the important players have assembled at Omi Jingu and the part I have been waiting for, since LAST February, is about to begin.

Shinobu was such a cool character, full of contradictions, and excellent rival material. I really want to see her face off against Chihaya again. Arata has barely been shown in action since his grade school days, but he has been the specter haunting this series all along. There is going to be some great Karuta in the upcoming weeks. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

A young Chihaya Ayase in the falling snow.

A young Chihaya Ayase in the falling snow.

This weekend has been snowy and windy, so I spent a fair amount of time inside, and that means more time for anime. In part, this meant I finally had time to watch a series from 2008, called Kaiba. I also spent some time reading more blogs about anime.

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The exciting conclusion of the Tokyo Regional High School Championship Karuta Tournament!

The exciting conclusion of the Tokyo Regional High School Championship Karuta Tournament!

Episode 6 of Chihayafuru season 2 concludes the Regional championship tournament, and it was PACKED with suspense and exciting reversals. Things didn’t really work out as I had expected, but I can’t imagine a more fitting end to this arc.

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Shoubu da!

February 14, 2013

Anime: Amnesia

Anime: Amnesia

Those who watch anime regularly are used to seeing characters gleefully declaring their eagerness to fight. Competitiveness is both the bread and butter of shounen titles, but the convention of rivalry and the desire to get in there and mix it up is now commonly seen throughout anime, regardless of the target market. Here I offer just three examples of the “Bring it on!” poses that I saw this week.

Anime: Chihayafuru

Anime: Chihayafuru

The first two screen shots are people getting serious about their games and were used for comedic effect, in Amnesia Ikki challenges Ken to a game of sudoku, in the second image, Chihaya has aspirations for her card-playing club. Our final example is a bit more serious, as Captain Genda is still healing from a previous mission, in which he used his own body to shield a work of art from gunfire.

Anime: Library Wars, Wings of Revolution

Anime: Library Wars, Wings of Revolution