Chihaya Furu Ep 14

I loved this episode so~! I don't know why but I feel like it's been ages since I've seen Chihaya. This anime is slowly growing into one that I will likely watch over and maybe over again, when I'm restless and in the mood to watch something good and nostalgic.

I was surprised to see them warming up, but it does make sense. The attention to small details is one of the better traits of this series.
In the spirit of my normal reviews, I'm trying to recall how the episode started. I just finished watching it and I'm having a difficult time remembering the beginning because of the build-up towards the end of the episode. The character development and storytelling are definitely the gems of this series and they sometimes need to be fished out from the beautiful animation and eye candy. The subtlety is a nice touch and a refreshing tactic which targets the typical shojo viewership, whose main interest is superficial plot lines and shiny packaging, but also satisfies the viewership that looks for consistency and plausibility in the characters and plots. As I mentioned earlier in the series, what I like about this show is how clean it is. It is free of melodrama and is minimally pretentious. What you take out of the series is what you look for. In my initial perusing, I've found some criticism of whether or not Chihaya Furu falls into the shojo genre, and the lack of realism in the characters or plot. However, I stand to argue that Anime does not always strive to be realistic but it should always strive to be entertaining. Chihaya Furu might not be realistic, but it is believable and therein it is entertaining. Rare are the moments where I question "Do people actually behave like this in such situations?" or "Does stuff like this happen in real life?" and these frustrated questions are typical and frequent is typical shojo. In my opinion, it is refreshing to see an Anime in the shojo genre that does not stick tooth and nail to its formulas.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can move onto the happenings of the episode. I promise not to be long winded. This episode sees the beginning of the individual matches. Chihaya is in A class, while Taichi and Porky are in B class leaving Kaname and Desktomu in D class. We primarily watch Chihaya in her match against Shinobu, the current Queen.

Apparently it is weird that she brings her own tea cup to tournaments...!...?
Shinobu is a very interesting character. She has this saucy attitude which adds an interesting flavour to the show. She has the condescending arrogance that comes with the territory of being a prodigal youth but she also has this pure, competitive love for Karuta which drives her to excel. On top of this is a layer of pretentious politeness, which is characteristic of people who are exposed to a lot of PR. The match between Shinobu and Chihaya is fun to watch and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Shinobu dominates, as she is reputed to, and Chihaya's spirit almost breaks. When I was watching Nodame Cantabile sometime last year, I found it interesting that they explored the importance of luck in shaping a prodigy. This topic is lightly touched in this episode, where Chihaya's game hits a turning point because of some trivial distraction caused by a member of the audience. The match doesn't end before the episode does, so alas we have to wait for next week's episode. 

So. Not. Ready. to take on any prodigies.
I think it would be fitting for Chihaya to lose after a tough game. We have already seen some foreshadowing that sets Shinobu and Chihaya up as rivals that will meet again. I do not think Chihaya has had enough growth to tackle a well-practiced talent like Shinobu yet. I think Arata will be pivotal in training her for that match. While Chihaya could end up challenging Shinobu for the title of Queen in this upcoming finals, I think her game requires a lot more solid development before any such face off is believable. Chihaya has come a long way from Kansas, but she has a long rocky yellow brick road ahead of her before she reaches Oz. I would hate to see them rush this. After all, we just passed the half way point.