It's finally time for a tournament arc! After getting to know all of the characters as individuals, how will they work as a team?
Since we didn't actually see the match the last time there was a group tournament, it was great to finally see the teamwork side to karuta instead of just the individual matches. Of course, they're all still playing their matches on their own, but as this episode showed, team spirit accounts for a lot. However, before it gets to that point, Tsutomu's disappointment in not being able to keep up causes him to point out the flaws in the group, and in more ways than one. For most of the first half, we see a lot of how Tsutomu and Kanade are having completely different experiences in their first tournament. At first, they're both losing their matches, but eventually Kanade nets her first win. Meanwhile, Tsutomu is taking cards to the face from Chihaya's match and doesn't manage to take any cards. It's only natural that he feels disappointed and unnecessary back to what I said earlier about pointing out the weaknesses... What he said to Chihaya may have been a low blow, but as I pointed out last week, I'm not completely sure of Chihaya's intentions anymore. Is it to meet Arata at nationals? Become Queen of karuta? Or is it just to get and keep the friends that she has in the only way that she knows how, through a game?
And as usual, the other half of this is Tachi. I forgot to mention it in last week's post, but making him president of the club was a good idea. He's more dependable than Chihaya, who runs strictly off of her impulses. Throughout the episode, we got to watch Tachi struggle a little with his leader position after Tsutomu called out Chihaya but then bring them all together with Chihaya let the pressure get the better of her for the first time. It goes without saying that he cares about the team as much as Chihaya does, but I can't help but wonder where the line is drawn between what's best for the team and what he wants personally (i.e. his crush on Chihaya). At the beginning of the episode, he says that Chihaya belongs to both him and Arata... but judging by his actions at the end of the last episode, I don't think that he really believes that deep down, or at the very least, he wants to change that dynamic so that Chihaya will look at him more. While I'm not budging from my Arata ship, over the last couple of episodes I've come to like Tachi quite a bit and now regard him as a worthy opponent. I love how there's so much stuff going on underneath the surface of the character relationships in this show, and how everyone is still growing and changing with each episode. And I still really want Arata to show up and throw a wrench into the works, just to see how everyone would react to him.
Images from Crunchyroll.com.