SAY THAT AGAIN AND I'LL WASH YOUR MOUTH OUT WITH SOAP!
So yeah, that ending. Definitely did not see that coming. I knew that the drama would continue since things inevitably change from elementary school to high school, but I never would've expected Arata to give up the game that he basically lived for. Speaking of changes, despite adding on a girlfriend, Tachi hasn't changed too much; it's obvious that he still has a thing for Chihaya. And he also hasn't been able to leave behind that part of himself that Arata called a coward. He's internalized his mother's logic from the second episode; if you can't immediately succeed, why even try? He asks Chihaya why she would bother spending three more years to become an A-rank player when she's already good at track. He tells Sensei that he gave up on karuta because he "didn't want to waste his youth" when there was no guarantee that he would become as good as Arata. If there's anything that Tachi needs to learn right now, it's that you don't get any stronger by immediately being the best at things. Chihaya is the one who's changed the least; the main thing that is different about her is her looks, otherwise she's still as driven as she was the day that they said goodbye to Arata. She doesn't even call him until she fulfills her promise of becoming an A-rank player!
And she did it with style. The majority of the episode is focused on the tournament that will award her that new rank, showing how much better she's gotten through the years. I loved the bit when Sensei turned to Tachi and said, "Wasting your youth, huh?" Unlike the previous episode, where I felt like we got cheated out of seeing a good match like in episode two, this one was another nail-biter with some humor thrown in as Chihaya and her opponent kept passing her favorite card back and forth to one another. Talk about "the heart of the cards." Yu-gi-oh references aside, it's great to see how far she's come and we're only on the fourth episode! All of the little details such as needing chocolate to replenish brain sugar and how excited she was to face someone who loved karuta made it all the better. Tachi had better not try to blow off her karuta club now. Now we just have to find out what happened to Arata. I'm seriously worried about him--he's the character foil to Tachi, so he wouldn't give it up flippantly like his
Images from Crunchyroll.com.