Chihayafuru S2 22 didn’t draw out the Chihaya/Shinobou match at all. We even had time to watch Taichi stomp Retro-Kun. I’m relieved. I was worried this one would take two or three episodes to wrap up. It was also an odd match to watch. The mood was different, resigned and bittersweet. The music was quieter and gave an introspective feel. Also, there was less thump-thumping. Shinobou is too precise for that. Instead it was swoosh-swoosh as she took card after card.
And there was what was going on in their heads. I thought it an odd reflection of what Nishida experienced last week, except that while he kept crying out “Why? Why?” in despair, Chihaya kept thinking “How? How can I win?” And she tries. No panic attacks this week. This is the most determined Chihaya I’ve seen yet. Figuring that her bandage and finger brace were slowing her down she took off the lot–and paid the price. She shifts cards because she sees that Shinobou is left-handed (though why that isn’t basic, no-brainer strategy I don’t know). She does everything she can, and she gets a couple moral victories, but she’s no match for Shinobou. Maybe it was her injury, but you get the feeling that the Queen really is that much better than her. That might be the reason for the odd mood the show gave off, like it was resigned to the outcome. As for Shinobou, we get another glimpse of her isolation and loneliness. The fact that Chihaya comes up to her after the match and says “Let’s play again!” has foreshadowing written all over it, both for their progress through the later tournaments and as possible friends, or friendly rivals, something Shinobou has always been deprived of. … Well, Chihaya did win the battle of dorky shirts.
Meanwhile, Misaka’s struggles in Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S continue, as other ITEM members show up, fresh and full of fight. Well, one of them is. Mugino, the Meltdowner … Honestly, I’m used to the weird names in this franchise, “Imagine Breaker” and the like, but “Meltdowner” isn’t an inspired nickname. Look at Misaka, she’s called simply “The Railgun,” and it’s cool. They don’t feel obliged to add something to the end and make it “Railgunner,” or “Railgunnerer,” do they? It just makes it sound stupid. “Accelerator” is the exception, but he’s an exception to other things as well, like being a smug, smirking bishie I actually like. Which brings me back to Mugino, another smug, smirking character who bores me to tears. Hmm, maybe I just don’t like smug, smirking characters in general.
Anyway, Mugino fires away at the fleeing Misaka with the help of the third member, Takitsubo, who comprises the other half of ITEM’s great level 5 and 4 combo says Frenda (who thankfully can’t speak, but alas can still think out loud). Takitsubo takes drugs to make her AIM Stalker (another regrettable nickname) abilities work, so at the end it’s just exhausted Misaka and still-smirking Mugino left. Really, Misaka ought to flee, but it’s clear she’s intent on sacrificing her life to destroy the facility. Too bad it won’t be enough. Shinobou, working on espionage on her own, knows this. Too bad she’s caught by yet another AIM member, who doesn’t have a dumb nickname but has an “offense shield” or something and insists on adding “super” to every sentence, making her as annoying as the rest of them. Well, whatever, it’s looking pretty bleak for the good guys right now. I’m just wondering when Kuroko is going to show up.