Chihaya Ayase in tears at the end of the B-kyu Individual tournament.

Chihaya Ayase in tears at the end of the B-kyu Individual tournament.

Episode 23 of Chihayafuru season 2 splits the attention between two very important games. In the A-kyu tournament, two of the most important people in the world of Karuta are facing off for the title. In the B-kyu tournament, Taichi is ready to face down his final opponent … until Chihaya appears ring-side. Taichi instantly loses his cool, and struggles to end the match early, because he wants to release Chihaya.

Taichi’s desire is to support Chihaya, and let her watch the game transpring between Arata Wataya and the the Queen, Shinobu Wakamiya. His good intentions cause him to play recklessly, however, and then he loses confidence in his own ability to win against an opponent that Chihaya barely beat a few episodes back.

The episode had interesting perspectives on Karuta strategy (in both Shinobu and Taichi’s case, a decision was made to focus on winning certain cards, instead of over-committing in the face of a powerful opponent). There was also a surprising insight into the world behind the scenes, as Kanade Oe realizes that the reader for the B-kyu tournament is being graded for a position as a certified reader. Nevertheless, in true Chihayafuru style, the story comes back to the human and emotional elements in the end.

Chihaya and Taichi’s relationship in this episode is a little like the story of the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Chihaya wants to be there to support Taichi in his bid for A class ranking, and Taichi wants to support Chihaya by getting her out of there and back to the battle between Shinobu and Arata. Each of their gifts diminish the meaning behind the gift the other person gives.

We only have a couple of episodes left. I’m going to be so sorry when this show is over!