As expected it is no accident that Shinobu is the Queen and while Chihaya was playing to win despite being down 16 cards, it was just too big of a deficit to overcome. Still, Shinobu recognizes a threat when she sees one and seems eager to be Chihaya’s arch-rival, hopefully it will not be a rivalry filled with hatred and certainly it seems that Shinobu and Chihaya will be able to connect through Snowmaru. Sudo however can’t get his revenge game and still ended up on the wrong end of a 12 card deficit. I really hope this is not the last time we hear of Sudo as he does help add to a sense that there are other talented players out there to help make up a competitive field. Right now it seems that Shinobu is doing it all on her own and her ability to dominate the game has much to do with her speed, as it does her competitive spirit.
For Shinobu it is not enough to simply win, she hates losing more that she likes winning and it shows. Winning ugly is not Shinobu’s modus operandi she likes her blowouts and she plays for the entire game, Shinobu is the kind of player that complains and feels slighted when she doesn’t win by enough cards. For those of you who never competed in anything in your life and live for nothing not knowing victory or defeat this is an important part of why Shinobu not only wins she flat out dominates. Sudo wasn’t a push over and Chihaya didn’t suddenly get stupid. As much as Taichi complains that Chihaya is too transparent, Karuta is not a big game of deception, after all this is real karuta where you can’t rearrange the cards like he did in his first game against Arata. If Chihaya is to be the dominating force that will wrest the crown from Shinobu she will have to have the ability to make good on taking cards away through brute force. Shinobu can know what is coming, but only if Chihaya needs to be able to take cards regardless. Again, it wasn’t a battle of deception, but one of speed and precision, Shinobu simply has the economy of striking power where she uses the minimum of movement to flick cards away from her foes.
Not once did you see Shinobu break into a sweat and that was in no small part due to her lack of big dramatic displays. Shinobu is not raising her hand and striking poses before smacking the ground, she stays low and flicks cards away so that she not only capitalizes on her speed but she out lasts her opponents who do not economize their energy. Chihaya got tired as the match went on so not only was Chihaya beat she was left gasping in the end. I have no problem with Shinobu running up the score and bowling over her opponents because it is a sign that she does respect the game and to a degree her opponents until they give up. Karuta is just as susceptible to dumb luck as any other sport and her competition isn’t made up of scrubs, they are all Class A players who worked hard to get where they are. So more power to Shinobu for running up the score even when the other player quits, it’s why a team like the Patriots are a perennial power they play hard for the whole game. Besides it would be disrespectful to dumb down her game just because the other player gives up.
Shinobu isn’t one to rest on her laurels though and now that Sudo has been vanquished from this tournament Shinobu wasted no time in knowing who the next big threat was. Sudo was a mean spirited man and their combative relationship spoke to how both Sudo and Shinobu were hyper competitive win big players. It will be interesting to see how Shinobu responds to Chihaya given their common interests and Chihaya’s begrudging admiration for Shinobu’s style of play. On Chihaya’s side I was glad she took her defeat for what it was. It wasn’t enough just to take five cards and Chihaya fully understood how she was not only defeated she was routed. There is a big difference between a sore loser and a true competitor, the sore loser blames everyone and everything but themselves. In Chihaya’s case she held herself accountable and was kicking herself for her own lack of speed, memorization, and precision. Just about every phase where Shinobu had her beat, Chihaya took notice and was rightfully angry and disappointed with her play.
That Chihaya realizes that her dream of meeting Arata in the tournament is coming and quickly moved on to having Shinobu and Snowmaru in her dreams bodes ill for Taichi. Clearly Taichi is going to have to really get his karuta game going as Chihaya is moving on with or without him. If he wants to stand a chance in winning her heart he is going to have to get into Class A and show that he is worthy of being there. It’s great that Taichi did not resort to cheating to try and win, but his willingness to accept second place just shows again how different he is from every other character in the show aside from possibly Desk-kun. It sucks to lose, but it is never acceptable to accept losing as your life story as Taichi has. He wanted to quit karuta before he even started and now after being out lasted in Class B he’s ready to throw in the towel while the rest of the team is on the verge of Dogeza ORZ-ing for him. If Taichi is to be the leader he is supposed to be he will have to have a greater competitive spirit just driving the bus isn’t good enough. They won the regionals this year and the expectation for next year will be that they not only win the regionals but that they advance even farther. In terms of personal goals Taichi has to want to get to Class A that he will never fondly look upon getting second place or ever accept that his shit game is good enough because it isn’t.
That Taichi is losing to Learning Center Curry on Chihaya’s list of things and people she cares about is not a good sign. The longer this series goes on the more abundantly clear it becomes that Taichi will never get much attention from Chihaya so long as he is beneath her in karuta. Taichi might have a better chance being the biggest Snowmaru fan in his attempts to connect with Chihaya but that is unlikely not to mention another sign of how little he knows her. He expected her to be asleep after her crushing defeat and found that the opposite was true. I have no idea if Taichi has a real master plan for winning Chihaya’s affections but showing up and being close has netted him little if anything. He failed in ending Chihaya’s dreams of karuta glory and failed in keeping her isolated, his only option now is to compete and compete fairly as cheating in a tournament would make him the most vile player in karuta and likely make Chihaya distance herself from him as well as forever disgracing Mizusawa High. That Nishida is kicking himself so hard that he beat Taichi in a foot race again highlights Taichi’s lack of drive. If Taichi had an ounce of pride as an athlete he should be kicking himself over how an out of shape Nishida just embarrassed him in a race, so much for Mr. Big Time Champion Athlete…
I am proud of Nishida because he has responded well after being in Arata’s shadow for so long, like Taichi he lost his way, but unlike Taichi he took those lessons to heart. Nishida got mad when Taichi got further in Class B despite the fact that he knew he was as good if not better than Taichi. That Nishida is willing to improve his level of physical fitness and is now out running Taichi and chasing Chihaya in a foot race through sheer force of will is a great sign that Nishida will likely make Class A and not shy away when he feels it is time to make good on his fondness for Kana-chan.
I am not sure where they are headed next but I do hope they spare us filler eps until the next year. Preferably there will be other competitions and we will see more of Shinobu, Sudo, and Arata.
Hana’s thoughts: on second best
Bloody hell that was emotional. Firstly, though, I’m glad that Chihaya (if predictably) had no real chance of winning that match against H.R.H. The Ice Queen (as that, quite frankly, would’ve been pretty stupid). And LOL/ *shudder* at Her Majesty’s evil side. Though, she was also quick to reveal her cute side when faced with Chihaya’s simple and earnest respect for her as a fellow cute T-shirt fan. They certainly made a big deal of Chihaya winning those five cards, though. And making it seem like she just needs to be a bit faster, then that icy crown will surely be hers in the end. Hrrrmmm. [Enter unconvinced face emote.] Secondly, OMG TAICHI. And Nishida. Second place, eh… gosh, such a loaded phrase. Even though it shouldn’t be, it also seems like the highest point of failure, coming so close but still feeling like a… well, loser. Of course, it seems like Taichi will eventually progress from Class B and make Class A too, as long as they all put in the effort. Dem Tears were hard to watch, though. :< And the spectre of Arata (or rather not) in Chihaya’s dreams… Lord knows the Yuri fanboys had a field day at the idea of the Queen appearing before Chihaya in the middle of the night and all, but I wonder about Arata and what this means regarding Chihaya’s feelings for him. Clearly, she still wants to meet him properly and play with him again, but, well, how does she feel about him now, I wonder. I’m glad that he ended up rejoining a Karuta society though, as this brings him one step closer to reappearing in BOSS mode. Also, semi-randomly, love how PUMPED this show gets me. Yes, it’s focussing a heck of a lot more on the sporting action than I thought it would, but, thankfully, the whole thing still seems to be all about everyone’s inner dorama and the themes of friendship and sportsmanship as a whole, as well as Chihaya’s personal growth. In short: still loving it and still wanting more. MOAR! >:3