So Chihaya’s first foray into the full Class A field was a disaster though it wasn’t the kind of drubbing she got from Shinobu. Kanai Sakura may have matured into full woman-hood but it wsa great to see a wily veteran take Chihaya to school in karuta. It gives the series more credibility given that the field of Class A isn’t getting rolled by Chihaya who has very few matches in Class A to her credit. It would cheapen the Queen title if Chihaya just walked herself onto that throne, and by making the field better it shows that Chihaya has a long way to go just to catch up with the rest of her competition. Sudo wasn’t rolled, and Shinobu demolished Chihaya, Hiroshi is unafraid, and Sakura gave Chihaya fits, all this points to Chihaya being in Class A but not anywhere near the top. Chihaya was getting overly reliant on speed and as a result of being able to simply be faster than most and her discipline waned. Sakura pointed it out and I am glad she did even if Chihaya’s pride was wounded. In the end even if Chihaya finally took stock of the situation it was already too late as Sakura was savvy enough to no blow her lead over Chihaya.
I rather like having mature women playing a part in karuta as it indicates it’s broad appeal and how there are other people who still play for decades despite not making Mejin or Queen. Certainly Sakura did prove that there is still life after 30 and just because you love karuta doesn’t mean you can’t have a family. Moreover just because you don’t win glory early doesn’t mean you should give up and move on. Just because you are a late bloomer doesn’t mean you can’t beat younger players or win championship glory. As the saying goes old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill. Sakura fangirling Chihaya while giving her fits also made this episode into a gem. I just hope that there will be other contenders that will help Chihaya develop a better game. Even if Taichi gets into Class A that doesn’t mean he is just going to take over and start blowing out Arata or anyone else for that matter. If the field is this good against Chihaya then I suspect that Taichi’s karuta struggles are only just beginning. Class A contains the best players and while it seems inevitable that Taichi will somehow get in, if he loses more often than not he will continue to be ignored. Fundamentally though Taichi has no indirect route to go, if he wants something to happen he will have to confess and confess clearly.
It’s great that Chihaya was dazzled by Kana-chan breaking down Desk-kun to get into Class C, it’s just really bad for Taichi that Chihaya forgets that he’s playing. I personally find this to be rather amusing as Chihaya has already confessed to Kana-chan and now seems to react with shoujo sparkles for other girls. The way things are going Taichi will never take decisive action, and even if Arata is more bold and decisive Chihaya just seems too far gone for both of them. Assuming that Arata still is the player he used to be then he has a better shot of getting Chihaya’s attention, while Taichi is going to have to move heaven and earth just to get noticed. With each passing episode Taichi seems to be getting deeper and deeper into the friendzone. I was saddened though that Reiko was undercutting Kana-chan’s beauty, looks aren’t everything, personality and how you carry yourself also factors in. Still I think Kana-chan has more than a slim chance at beating Desk-kun to get into Class C.
Desk-kun might have the Moneyball method but he is horribly distracted by Kana-chan and I doubt that he has enough discipline to not gawk at her. Moreover I think Kana-chan has the edge in precision and speed now that she has fixed her posture. Desk-kun might be able to run the numbers but just because he knows doesn’t mean he can beat Kana-chan to the cards. Just as Moneyball couldn’t overcome everything for the A’s I don’t think Desk-kun is going to number crunch his way into Class C by a blowout. He has struggled before and right now the moment might get to him, while Kana-chan is laser focused on winning. If Nishida is still the player he once was he should be able to beat Taichi since he is a savvy veteran who just needs to put the boot to Taichi’s neck and finish him. Of course since Taichi is the designated golden boy he might just win because well he’s the good looking moneyed rich kid who has had his “struggle” episodes. Even if Nishida beat PSP-kun bishies usually find a way before the support character. Even if the advantage should belong to Nishida based on wins versus Class A players and experience, Taichi will probably win this one. I guess that’s why everyone but Retro-kun ignored their match.
Hana’s thoughts: on yummy mummies
So, Chihaya loses her first match outside of a high school tourney as a Class A player to a 35 year old yummy mummy who still dreams of being Queen. It seems like she still has a ways to go before being able to apply Dr Haruda’s advice (mingled with Desk-kun’s statistical observations) about the dangers of taking cards based on speed alone. Having only lost by six cards though, it seems like she’s on her way to learning and integrating newer techniques, such as the three syllable rhythm method… However, I don’t want to get bogged down with gameplay, as significant as it is. Sure, I enjoyed the episode, but I still very much admire and am mesmerised by her determination. Nothing else matters to her, it seems, and I find this as admirable as it is mystefying. Thus, let’s hope she’s also forced to think about her wider relationships and future goals (e.g.: that career survey won’t complete itself) with the return of Arata in the next tourney (I think, as it’s presumably partly the reason why Taichi is so keen to qualify as a Class A player so soon). Also, Kana-chan, Kana-mummy, and that other yummy mummy were all kinds of cute in this epi. I also enjoyed Desk-kun’s view of Kana-chan and on her Karuta as image-based, as well as the effect that wearing Hakama has on her (not sure at her mum’s view of using her to replace Chihaya as their new poster girl, though). Finally, it was interesting seeing Chihaya viewing her friends not simply as people requiring her support, but as competitors from whom she can watch and learn/ take all she can. This might sound rather calculating, but I’m glad she’s being more reflective and critical, as opposed to just being ruled by her impulsiveness. And speaking of her fellow competitors, I’m sure we’re all eager to find out how Taichi and Nishida’s match went, so hope to glean more Karuta wisdom from what we’re shown of the latter next time.