The individual tournament starts and Chihaya slowly learns to play with her left hand, which she does quite impressively as she wins her first two matches against class A players. Arata, on his side, wins easily against both his opponents as well; the first one overwhelmingly, and although he has a bit more trouble playing against Nishida, he still beats him pretty easily. Chihaya, who was keeping her right hand for her match against Arata, suddenly gets faced against the Queen, and decides to undo the bandage anyway; shit’s getting serious.
Wooh! That was unexpectedly awesome.
I really didn’t think that Chihaya would do so great with her left hand. I really enjoyed watching her try to figure out her balance; even more when she said “it’s the same thing, just flipped!” It seems so simple to her, and yet I’m sure anyone else who would have done the same thing would have been completely confused. She’s just that kind of a person when it comes to karuta, I guess: the moves are so familiar on one side that flipping it is just basically the same thing. I was quite surprised to see her come back from a 10 card lead against a powerful class A player (Keiko did beat Nishida, after all), but the match was much more interesting than I expected it to be.
I can only say that Arata’s two matches were pretty much just as interesting; man, this kid is ridiculously good at what he does. To think that he hasn’t practiced nearly as much as Chihaya, and yet his speed makes it seem like he’ll destroy her completely if he ever gets paired against her. I found it quite entertaining that he lost 27 cards over (the other guy was so screwed), and his match against Nishida was just way too impressive. It’s the first time I see someone go after cards so damn quickly. To be honest, I really do see him able to beat the Queen now; maybe he will get to Tokyo, after all. I was really fun to see him play and talk to Chihaya normally, and I slightly fangirled inside when he kept looking at her and told her she was amazing. He’s really seeing all the passion for all the Mizusawa players, and it must be quite impressive for him who seems to live in a strictly competitive karuta world.
Overall, the pacing for this episode was much, much better than all the other matches for the team tournament. Obviously, now that there are only 5 episodes left, the producers don’t really have a choice in the matter, but that was one reason why I really enjoyed this episode; two matches in one episode hasn’t happened often this season. It doesn’t seem like this will happen next episode, however, and yet I feel I really won’t be disappointed with it.
I’m hoping we won’t get too much “my hand hurts but I’ll force myself” next episode; I’m really looking forward to Chihaya playing seriously against the Queen. Obviously she’ll be at a disadvantage and I doubt that she’ll win, but I really want to see her to much better than the last time she played against her; it was basically a recreation of Chihaya’s first match ever against Arata, and was pretty pathetic. After a year, I’m sure that girl has improved a lot, and I’m looking forward to seeing her improvement; and too bad for her match against Arata, she’ll have to do that another year.