Chihaya Furu Ep 07 - the second king in the castle

This episode opens with a game of Karuta. In a way, I was glad they got the obligatory card flinging out of the way early. This means a majority of the episode to follow will focus on other things. Through Taichi we get some insight on how Karuta strategizing works, and it initially surprised me. I will admit, the first time I learnt about Karuta, I thought the game was too trivial to hold my interest if it got lots of onscreen time. In fact, as the series progresses, I enjoy the tidbits of Karuta gameplay that are revealed not because i feel that I know the game, but because the focus is taken off card flinging and placed more onto character growth. It's a nice tactic the director has employed to make the audience feel more included in the show.

I think he's dead.
Today's victim is a boy nicknamed Desktomu, which is a derogatory portmanteau of his name and the word "desk". The pseudonym comes from the boy's reluctance to leave his desk. Ever. In fact, when Chihaya drags Desktomu over to the Karuta clubroom, he clings to his desk and drag it along with him. He's the exact opposite of Taichi and always ranks second to him in academics, a fairly cliche character in many genres of Anime. Desktomu is envious of Taichi because he is the stellar student and beautiful jock all rolled into one. However, Desktomu is interesting because he challenges Chihaya's recruitment in a unique way - by challenging Chihaya and Taichi to play a game with the cards face down.

I bet he takes that desk home and sometimes even sleeps with it.
Until now, most of the focus has been on Chihaya and her growth, but this episode spends a lot of time developing Taichi. Taichi, who had lost all motivation to win over the years, finally regains his competitive drive. He wins a match against Chihaya for the first time in ages. It's interesting to watch Taichi go after Desktomu in this episode, instead of Chihaya. Taichi's growth solidifies his role as a leader in the club, and it should be interesting to watch how the leadership dynamic between Chihaya and Taichi plays out herein. Desktomu's joining of the club is subtle and missable, which is nice because it is both in line with his character and contrasting to Kaname's requirement.

This is how Desktomu flails. So cute! (The context: Taichi threw his desk to emphasize a point.)
With four members in the club, I can only predict that the next episode will see the official completion of their Karuta club. I like the diversity in characters they've gathered in their club and I'm looking forward to meeting the final member. This episode also had spectacular lighting and animation. While the overall series has the pretty shojo style animation, there were many places in this particular episode where I found myself noticing how beautiful the artwork was.