Another week, another episode of the greatest anime of the past three years.

Another week, another episode of the greatest anime of the past three years.

Chihayafuru season 2 episode 4 was more of the same, meaning more awesome than any other anime you are watching. How a series can be this consistently excellent, episode after episode, is beyond me. What I discuss in this post, instead, is what makes this episode a perfect sports show episode. Now some folks might ask, “why do you think this episode was better than any other episode of Chihayafuru?” I don’t. This show is extraordinary in the sustained level of quality it demonstrates.

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Chihaya Ayase in tears -- hey, it's an emotional show.

Episode 24 of Chihayafuru does the seemingly impossible: it makes an entire episode about the main characters watching a TV broadcast compelling. We finally get to see the match to decide the new Queen, which delivers quite a surprise. This episode also introduces the Meijin. Let the Karuta begin!

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Tsutomu Komano X Kanade Ooe.

Chihayafuru episode 22 had a stunning conclusion and I really wonder where we are going for our season conclusion. I’m gonna keep it short this time.

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Kanade has prepared a special hakama for the Eastern Meijin Qualifier.

Maybe humans aren’t supposed to be perfect, but Chihayafuru clearly is. This series will go down in my book as the most solid series that I have ever seen. I have a tendency to love anime that show brilliance, even if they can be a bit uneven. I’m willing to overlook some flaws, because I tend to think of that as a sign of Art pushed to its limit. And yet here is Chihayafuru, a series that delivers a compelling viewing experience episode after episode. To me the pace has never once dragged. I have been sucked in to this show from the beginning of episode 1, and each week something remarkable is delivered. My only concern is that this wonderful experience will end.

Now, I’m not saying that Chihayafuru is the most mind-blowing show I have ever seen. I still have a soft spot for shows like Mawaru PenguinDrum and Tatami Galaxy that delight with crazy ideas, even if there are times when they go a bit off the rails. Instead Chihayafuru is consistent — the amazing part is that it is so consistently GOOD.

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An emotional episode.

Episode 19 of Chihayafuru completes the Saitama prefectural tournament, which means two major victories and two major losses. In addition to the tension and emotional release of gameplay and determining the victors, this episode also covered some of the relationship management that is necessary when a group of players fights amongst themselves. All in all another very satisfying episode.

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Kanade Ooe and Tsutomu Komano battle in earnest with an advancement in rank as the prize.

The series of tournaments that were introduced last week are now enjoined in full. The entire Mizusawa Karuta club shows up for the Saitama prefecture tournament, and you know what that means, it’s Hakama time! This time the episode was mostly split in half, between Chihaya’s match and the final round of the tournament, which has a double shocker. Kanade and Tsutomu are playing for the rank D title, and Taichi and Nishida are  battling over the rank B title. Winning these matches won’t just mean taking a prize, as they qualify the winner to advance in rank. Despite Chihaya’s poor performance in the A rank matches, Mizusawa is destined to go home with two prizes, which should feel pretty good, but for those on the tatami mats, the pressure to be the one who advances is intense.

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Tokyo Regional High School Karuta Champions.

Episode 12 was a nice little interlude on the way to the National Championship at Omi Jingu. It showed the team looking forward to the Nationals, while those around them were mostly indifferent to their success. In particular  how Chihaya’s family reacted, and the mini plot with the Empress, were nicely handled. Plus Kana-chan had an adorable moment. With all of that, the episode still managed to bring us literally to the steps of the Omi Jingu shrine.

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