Chihayafuru 11’s national Karuta prelim final match had the ups and downs you’d expect, but for some reason, for me, it didn’t have quite the energy and excitement that the previous episode did. Maybe because I had accidentally learned the outcome before. But it still should be exciting to see HOW they all succeed, right? I guess so.
I think the main reason was the Chihaya-Sudo match. In spite of its wonderful and unexpected payoff at the end, I’ve lost track of what makes Chihaya tick as a karuta player. It’s her blinding speed, of course, and an instinct for the cards, but when she stumbles, as she does early on (it wouldn’t be dramatic otherwise), I wasn’t sure if was anything more than getting rattled by a trash-talking opponent who knows something about mind games. She gets some interior monologue about how she’s a part of the team, and we see all of them cheering each other on while working on their own matches, but I don’t really see that as the reason she snapped out of her funk. I suppose it helped, but then what was all that about Sudo’s hands, reminding her of you-know-who? I know there can be a series of reasons for regaining focus, but it all felt a little messy to me.
The other struggles are covered by order of importance for the win. Porky, up against a kid he used to beat regularly but has now passed him in rankings, has some angst first about Arata beating him long ago (get over it), but more importantly, how it made him quit. You can have a nice discussion about how unimportant it is to stress winning to children, especially if a loss discourages them too much, but I won’t go any further with that. Porky’s internal struggle (and the kid’s another trash talker. I hate it when every member of the other team is a total asshole) is at least easier to understand, and so’s his response-to get pissed off and do a barrel roll taking a card, which, naturally, fires everyone up on his team. Taichi’s struggles are less worrisome. He seems to know that he only needs to concentrate in order to win, but he also feels pressure as the team leader–not that he needs to worry about that. He’s doing a good job of it, as his old mentor immediately notices, and when he doesn’t, he takes the responsibility. Kana and Desk-kun are there to get pump their side up when they actually manage to get a card, and in one entertaining scene, Desk-kun lobbies for a point he feels cheated out of. He goes down, but he goes down fighting. That’s all Porky needed to see to get his own game up.
Getting back to the main matchup, one more thing bugged me. Sudo was meant to be playing all these mind games with Chihaya, but near the end when Chihaya comes roaring back, we get the same sort of inner confusion stuff that we’ve seen before. Suddenly he’s thinking about his mentor, and how the game is fun (doesn’t look like much fun for him at that moment), and how he wants to take his team to the nationals. I can understand him losing his focus when Chihaya shows him what she’s capable of, but his particular internal monologue feels out of place, not natural from him from what we’ve seen before. Never mind. The good guys win. We’ll see Sudo again, I’m sure.Now I expect we’ll take a break from competitive matches for a bit and get Arata back in the show as more than a bystander.
Kimi to Boku 12 is one of the better episodes. Shun’s younger brother Fuyuki needs a notebook, so Shun and the gang go to his middle school, where, save Chizuru, they all used to go. Naturally Fuyuki is nothing like his older brother. Foul-mouthed, abrasive and sex-obsessed. You know, a middle schooler. His tough act is quickly undone by circumstance, because it seems to be a rule to this series that everyone is not exactly how they appear, well, that’s a rule about life, but this show likes to play with it. Soon Fuyuki’s secret girlfriend, Mamiya, gets involved, things get more complicated, there are upper-arm references, confiscated cell phones (Chizuru, at his most annoying, manages to get HIS confiscated as well, and he doesn’t even go to that school), injured ankles, and the smell of kendo armor. One moment of oddness: Chizuru has been knocked unconscious, and his life-force or soul or whatever comes out of his mouth, like you’ve seen in other series. We see Yuta stuffing it back in. This show doesn’t normally go for that sort of humor.
And finally we say goodbye to C3, next to Horizon, the most confusing show of the season, at least out of those I watched. In the final episode Alice uses her magic mirror to make copies of herself, and by then using a combination of attacks and guilt trips, almost has the good guys defeated, until …
C3 love to stick something incredibly silly into the most serious of moments, but at least Shiraho and Sovereignty turn the tide, then leave, thank goodness. So the good guys win, in spite of the fact that the evil Alice truly loves them. Never could figure her out. She also gets some help from old characters (I assume, since I’ve forgotten them) and escapes, and then there’s the usual happy ending:
But I never watched this show for the bondage gear, or the weird weapons that Fear would produce, or the concept of sins and forgiveness. No, I watched because it would do something at least every episode that was visually stunning. If often had little, if anything, to do with the story, and there are other shows more deserving of such images, but, hell, they got me to watch this inane series all the way through. Here’s one more from the final episode: