Now that we’ve seen what happens with Arata, we get to return to the part of the plot where Chihaya starts up a karuta club at her high school. I’ve been wondering how this will turn out and if they’ll even become an official club or not. The first thing we see this week is Chihaya and Taichi lugging tatami to an old storage room that Chihaya had to beg one of the faculty members to let them use for karuta. As they’re slowly but surely making their way towards the building, the rest of the school is watching them and making comments on how it’s a shame that both of them are into karuta. Several students comment on the “beauty in vain” description given to Chihaya, but both of them ignore everything being said. As the two of them make their way through the school’s courtyard, we see the archery club jogging past and several of the girls are wondering where Kanade Ōe, one of their fellow members, has gone to. We then see Kanade hiding out in a storage room, lamenting about the fact that it’s impossible and embarrassing to run in hakama. Right after she says that, her club mates find her and tell her that the upper classmen are angry that she tried to skip out on their warm up. Kanade reluctantly follow them back to the club. After apologizing to the upper classmen for skipping, Kanade is wandering the halls after practice and spots the poster Chihaya put up for her karuta club. She starts imagining playing karuta with Chihaya, the most beautiful girl in school, while wearing luxurious kimonos.
Curious, and somewhat excited by her imagination, she goes to investigate the club and is surprised to see that they were able to get the building way at the back of campus. However, instead of seeing the upper-class version of karuta she was imagining, she sees a competitive match between Chihaya and Taichi. After the match, Chihaya and Taichi are discussing why Chihaya does so poorly in the first half of every game she plays. Taichi mocks her, saying that she relies too heavily on her hearing so she hasn’t memorized every card yet. As always, Chihaya gets angry and starts beating up Taichi, but a branch snapping outside catches her attention. As she looks out the window, Kanade gasps when their eyes meet and she suddenly takes off. Being the track star that she is, Chihaya runs after Kanade and easily catches up to her. After catching up to Kanade, Chihaya asks her if she likes karuta and is interested in joining the club. Kanade suddenly starts rambling off the history of karuta (apparently the nobles brought together 70 or so poets to create poetry for decoration), which intrigues Chihaya. However, Kanade then scolds Chihaya for not wearing a kimono while playing, since karuta was supposed to be a sport that only nobles played. Chihaya and Taichi tell her that kimonos make it difficult to move and that they’re expensive, so they can’t really see themselves wearing them to play in tournaments. Kanade then becomes extremely upset and it’s revealed that her family owns a kimono shop, but business is so bad that all they can sell are yukatas (and not very nice ones at that) and they can’t afford a model for their new magazine. She then apologizes to Chihaya and excuses herself.
The next day, Chihaya approaches Kanade about playing karuta with them again, though Kanade quickly tells her that their love for karuta is completely different before excusing herself. Taichi approaches Chihaya and tells her to stop pestering the poor girl, since she obviously doesn’t want to play competitively. Despite everyone telling her to leave Kanade alone, Chihaya is determined to recruit the girl for their club. Over the next few days, Chihaya sneaks up on Kanade and tries convincing her to join their karuta team. Every time, Kanade rejects the offer and quickly leaves before Chihaya can embarrass her further. One day, we see Kanade at archery practice, feeling rather disheartened about not being able to hit the target, no matter how hard she tries. She starts to wonder if she’ll ever manage to accomplish anything and heads home along with her teammates. We then see her at her parent’s kimono store where her mother tells her that she has to go to a neighborhood meeting, so she’s in charge of the shop. Kanade agrees, though it’s extremely slow in terms of customer traffic, so she merely sits at the desk and reads. When she spots the History of Karuta book she was reading, she remembers how her classmates teased her about being born in the wrong era and hides it under another book. She then walks around the shop, looking at the different kimono before coming to a stop in front of an extremely gorgeous one. Chihaya then shows up and comments on how pretty it is, and as always, scares the ever loving shit out of Kanade. Without missing a beat, Chihaya makes the comment that she thinks she knows what the meaning of her favorite poem is about now. Curious, Kanade asks what her favorite poem is and Chihaya tells her it’s the chihayafuru card and that she thinks it means something about fall.
Kanade tells her that’s not what it’s about and tells her that it was because the author of the poem was in love with a woman who was betrothed to someone else. When his love’s husband asked him to write a poem, he wrote the poem about his unrequited love and disguised it as a poem about fall. Chihaya suddenly has a whole new appreciation for the poems and begs Kanade to tell her the meaning of every single poem. Kanade happily agrees and spends the rest of the evening telling Chihaya the history of each poem and what she thinks it means. Chihaya is elated with this new information and thanks Kanade profusely as she makes her way home. The next day, Chihaya and Taichi are having another practice match and Chihaya is able to grab every card right off the bat! It seems as though Kanade’s information has helped her improve her game because she now thinks that every card looks different and it’s easy to tell which one is which based on the color of the text. Kanade is, of course, watching from the shadows and Chihaya manages to catch her before she leaves. She tells Kanade that playing karuta is something that she loves and though Kanade loves it for another reason, it shouldn’t stop her from playing. This moves Kanade and she agrees to join the club, but she needs Chihaya to do her a favor. Turns out, that favor is to model the kimono for her family’s shop! Chihaya is embarrassed, but she goes through with it anyway. With Kanade officially a member of their club, she also makes them promise that they’ll wear kimono to play in tournaments. Chihaya and Taichi reluctantly agree and start to set up the cards, but Kanade objects; her first order of business is to clean up the room they’re in. Chihaya and Taichi protest at first, but Kanade tells them that karuta is supposed to be a noble sport, thus, they should have a clean and orderly place to play. The other two agree and they spend the rest of the day cleaning and organizing everything. Once they’re done, Taichi starts teaching Kanade about how to place the cards and the general rules of playing. Meanwhile, we see Arata in his home back in Fukui, pulling out his karuta cards for the first time since his grandfather’s death.
Opinions: This was definitely a different episode, but I still liked it. Kanade is definitely a girl with classic tastes and while I admire that, it was also just a bit strange. I’m glad that she was able to give Chihaya a bit more of an edge in her game, though I have a feeling Chihaya took more notes during their impromptu session than she does in school. Seeing Arata finally pull out his karuta cards is definitely a good thing and something I’m excited about! I can’t wait to see whether or not he’ll meet up with Chihaya at a national tournament or if he’ll come back to Tokyo. Unfortunately, this episode didn’t have a whole lot that happened and while I’m glad we got a back-story on Kanade, it felt like something was missing. Either way, things are moving along and with a new member, Chihaya will have more opportunities to practice with new people.
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