Chihaya Ayase refuses to back down.

Chihaya Ayase refuses to back down.

Episode 17 of season 2 of Chihayafuru officially begins the final match of the┬áNational High School Karuta tournament. Mizusawa is playing a team of all A-class players, except for Rion Yamashiro, Chihaya’s opponent. This episode covered quite a number of interesting things: there was backstory on Rion, information about team Fujisaki’s training under coach Sakurazawa, a lot about how the reader of the poems affects the play by those on the tatami, Chihaya’s injury (!), Mizusawa’s resolve, and queen Shinobu’s curiosity is finally piqued.

I won’t bother going into all the little details, even though many of the little details are quite interesting. This was another episode of Chihayafuru in which I really felt the strength of this show is the way it develops multiple simultaneous stories. There are some who believe that the show is better when it focusses on just a couple of characters, but I disagree. I like the way the main characters are a part of a larger world. Many other shows have main characters that nhabit a world of generic background characters, but I think the trials and triumphs of side characters like Yuusei “Niku-man” Nishida give this show depth. If it were merely about Chihaya trying to become number 1, it would be a simple variation on the shounen narrative. Instead the continued presence of side-character Kanade Oe as gradually developed a lore about the poems, and the readers, which was utilized to great effect in this episode.

In terms of events, the two most significant were Chihaya’s injury and the ninja queen finally growing interested by the gameplay in the team tournament. I hope Chihaya’s injury doesn’t prevent her from playing in the individual tournament. I think a team victory for Mizusawa would be sweet, but more than anything I want to see Chihaya play against Shinobu. Speaking of Shinobu, we have confirmation that she remembers Chihaya as a good player, so we can say that the build-up to their match is under way. I really want to see them go at it head to head.

Bonus Service: Coach Sakurazawa

Coach Sakurazawa surveys the battlefield.

Coach Sakurazawa surveys the battlefield.

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