This episode was an extremely emotional journey for Chihaya, though it also helped salve old wounds and left room for her relationship with Arata to potentially blossom. Whether or not they’ll actually become a couple remains to be seen, but after confronting Arata about why he quit playing karuta, there’s a lot of potential things to happen. We start off with Chihaya and Taichi scrambling to catch a train and we find out that they’re taking a day trip to Fukui to visit Arata. Taichi is irritated by the whole thing, but goes along with Chihaya’s plans to confront Arata and find out why he quit playing karuta. He chastises Chihaya for not only being late, but for needing to borrow money from her sister in order to afford the trip in the first place. Chihaya ignores him and instead focuses on what she’s going to say to Arata when they get to Fukui. During the trip, Taichi becomes irritated that Chihaya isn’t enjoying the trip and the scenery like she should and the two get into an argument about it. After the two of them calm down a little, Taichi finally musters up the courage to ask Chihaya if there’s someone she likes. She thinks about it for a moment before saying that she likes Dr. Harada, but every year when she tries to give him Valentine’s chocolates, he rejects her. Taichi is flabbergasted, but tells her that’s not real love, so Chihaya demands that he tell her what real love is. Taichi hesitates, but finally says that love is when it isn’t fun to be with someone. Before he can finish, Chihaya pipes up and says that it doesn’t sound like how love should be and asks if he has fun with his girlfriend or not. Taichi says that he does have fun with her, which irritates Chihaya and she shouts at him, saying that he only brought it up to brag to her. She goes on to say that he should have taken his girlfriend on a date instead of wasting a day on at rip to Fukui with her if he has so much fun with his girlfriend. Taichi becomes irritated and doesn’t say anything, but we get to hear his mental monologue where he continues his thoughts on what love is. To him, being in love is when you don’t always have fun being with the person, but continue to enjoy being by their side anyway.
Once the two of them arrive in Fukui, Chihaya spaces out and stares around her. It’s only when Taichi calls out to her that she snaps back into reality and the two of them call a taxi to take them to Arata’s house. After a short drive, they finally arrive at Arata’s house, but Chihaya is too nervous to ring the doorbell and asks Taichi to do it instead. As the two argue about it, two young boys are staring at Chihaya from around the corner (and they continue making comments on how Chihaya looks like she could be a model) and another young girl appears behind them. She quietly approaches the two arguing teenagers and asks them if she can help them at all. Chihaya informs her that they’re from Tokyo and the girl instantly recognizes them as Arata’s friends (she’s his next door neighbor, so it’s likely that she used to play with Arata when she was little). She lets them know that Arata usually works at the book store down by the train station during the day and Chihaya tells Taichi that they need to hurry. Taichi says that walking there would be faster than calling another taxi and thanks the girl for her help. The two teenagers take off down the road and Taichi calls after Chihaya, telling her that she doesn’t need to run like she’s in a track competition. Chihaya slows down and wonders if she even really wants to see Arata and why she’s there. Taichi catches up to her and the two walk in silence for a ways. Just as Taichi is about to grasp Chihaya’s hand in his, someone races past on a bike.
Chihaya recognizes them as Arata and races after him, leaving Taichi in the dust. She manages to catch up to him (which just shows how fast of a runner she is) and grabs the back of Arata’s shirt. This throws off his balance and the two tumble down an embankment where Arata lands on top of Chihaya. The two stare at each other in shock for a moment before Chihaya starts to cry and tells Arata that she missed him. Arata invites Chihaya and Taichi back to his home, if only to let Chihaya clean up since she was completely covered in mud and dirt. The girl who lives next door to him, whose name is Yuu, helps Chihaya by bringing her a clean set of clothing before leaving Arata and Taichi alone. It’s obvious that there’s tension between the two men and Taichi attempts to make conversation by commenting on how tall Arata has gotten and asking what his height is. Of course, he’s upset that Arata is one whole centimeter taller than he is, so he rounds his height up and says that they’re the same height. Arata scoffs and asks Taichi if he rounded up before commenting on how Taichi was always a coward. Before the two can come to blows, Chihaya appears and thanks Arata for letting her use his bath to clean up. Arata doesn’t say anything other than as soon as Chihaya’s hair is dry, she should leave. Chihaya is shocked by Arata’s cold attitude, but it doesn’t stop her from digging through her purse, saying that she had a letter for him. Taichi shouts at her, saying that she could have just mailed it to him instead of taking such a long trip. Chihaya waves him off, saying that it was more or less something to help her remember what she wanted to say because she knew that she would forget. Her eye catches her deck of karuta cards and suggests that she and Arata play a game of karuta. Without waiting for him to respond, she asks if the adjoining room is alright for them to use and starts shuffling and dealing out the cards. She tells Arata that her favorite part of playing karuta is when the cards are dealt because she gets an adrenaline rush. However, before she can finish setting up, Arata gets up and actually kicks the deck of cards across the room. Shocked, Chihaya looks up and finally notices the shrine for Arata’s deceased grandfather. She remembers how close Arata was to his grandfather, but is unable to do anything as Arata shouts at them to get out of his house. Taichi grabs Chihaya and their things and storms out, dragging Chihaya with him.
On the way back to the train station, Chihaya manages to break free from Taichi and starts to run back towards Arata’s house but is stopped by Yuu. The younger girl shoves the karuta cards that were left behind at Chihaya, begging her not to leave them behind. Chihaya asks Yuu if she knows why Arata stopped playing karuta and the girl says she does. It turns out, Arata’s grandfather had suffered a stroke, which was why he moved back to Fukui in the first place. Arata was dedicated to helping his grandfather with his recovery, but one day when he was supposed to be at home and was at a tournament to become Class A instead, his grandfather suffered a relapse and passed away. Because of this, Arata has dealt with immeasurable guilt and stopped playing karuta as a result of that. Chihaya and Yuu begin crying, since it’s obvious that it was hard for Arata to deal with, but Chihaya is still determined to shoot for becoming the Queen of karuta. Meanwhile, we see Arata at his house, curled up in a corner and reflecting on what happened that day. We get to see a small flashback of young Arata with his grandfather and it’s incredibly moving to see how much love was shared between the two. Arata still believes that the God of karuta probably looks just like his grandfather, but pauses in his thoughts when he notices the envelope with Chihaya’s letter inside it lying on the floor. Picking it up, several candy wrappers fall out, all with reminders of things Chihaya wanted to do while visiting, like getting Arata’s cell phone number (if he has one) and asking him if he got her New Year’s card. When he actually looks at the letter, he’s shocked to see that Chihaya considers him to be the God of karuta and something seems to stir within him. Going back to Chihaya and Taichi, they’re on the train, getting ready to head back to Tokyo when Chihaya all but collapses on the floor. Taichi catches her and scolds her for acting like that in public, but Chihaya apologizes for being so selfish while she tries not to start crying. As the train takes off, she suddenly hears something and dives for the window. Taichi looks out too and see Arata chasing after the train on his bike, calling out to them. Though they can’t hear each other (but maybe Chihaya can since she has freakishly good hearing) Arata shouts at them, saying he’s sorry for the way that he acted. As the train speeds away, Arata slows down and admits that he really missed them, especially Chihaya. After losing sight of Arata, Taichi promises to start a karuta club with Chihaya since they need the best club if they’re going to be able to compete with Arata when he comes back. Meanwhile, at the school, we see a girl in her archery gear looking at the karuta club poster and nodding in approval.
Opinions: Like the last two episodes, this was incredibly emotional to watch. Seeing Chihaya brave her worries and actually go visit Arata after he told her not to contact him anymore was really admirable. Their reunion was definitely bittersweet since Chihaya’s plan to get Arata to warm up to them with a game of karuta backfired, but at least we now know the reason that Arata isn’t playing karuta anymore. Seeing how he chased after Chihay and Taichi and really seemed moved to see them was promising. I wonder if he’ll actually come back to Tokyo to play karuta or if he’ll even start playing again. One thing I definitely noticed was the chemistry between Arata and Chihaya. When she managed to topple him off of his bike, there was a spark there and even though Arata was incredibly cold to her, the fact that he ended up chasing after her really sealed the deal for me. Consider me officially shipping Arata and Chihaya together! In a way, I feel bad for Taichi, but on the other hand, Chihaya has obviously always had eyes for Arata…even if she never noticed it. It’ll be interesting to see whether Arata will come back to the world of karuta (and Chihaya) or not and how Taichi will deal with the fact that he has absolutely no chance at all with Chihaya.
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