Chihayafuru 3
Episode 15

by Bamboo Dong,

How would you rate episode 15 of
Chihayafuru 3 ?

It's good that this episode of Chihayafuru steps back a bit, and gives us a little more comedy than usual. I'm not sure my heart could handle many more episodes like the past few, what with all the tension in Dr. Harada's victory, and that confession! Just seeing the flashbacks kind of make my heart flutter again, although I admit that I am biased because I've always been a staunch Arata supporter. Maybe it's that adorable accent, maybe it's his folksy charm, or maybe it's that killer black kimono he walked out in, looking like a teen movie makeover.

Truly, the only thing that could make it better is if someone actually told Taichi about it, to really make him squirm and confront his own emotions. But no, Sumire wants to seize the opportunity to take Taichi for herself. I get it, but if this is the season for honesty, I barely register Sumire as a character anymore. Her support for Taichi has been sweet in the past, but as far as background characters go, the only club member I think about less than Sumire is Akihiro. Does he even go to this school? Someone check the registrar's office, please.

To fill a little time before the championship finals, the episode gives us our weekly dose of karuta action when Suo calls Chihaya unexpectedly and asks if she wants to have a practice match with him. Naturally, she's excited to say yes, and she and Taichi set off to meet up with Sudo and Suo.

It's neat to see Suo outside of the context of competitive matches, but his character doesn't do much for me. His quirks have always struck me as one-note and tiresome, and I don't find him to be half as compelling as, say, Haruka.This episode tries to give him some extra flavor, namely in a way that shows him as a ruthless karuta player with strategies we haven't yet seen in the series, but it fails to inspire. Even watching Chihaya try to adjust her strategy against him falls flat, because any style of hyper-defensive sport is tedious to watch. Ask hockey fans what it's like to watch games against defensive trappers and you'll get a taste of why--despite it being an efficient strategy--it doesn't make for gripping television. That's how the entire back half of this episode felt, and my only hope is that it pays off by giving Dr. Harada the recon tools to completely steamroll Suo's obnoxious play strategy. (He is now my second least favorite karuta player, next to that dead-eyed gal who contests every play.)

The quiet hero of this episode is Taichi, who's feeling glum after learning that Arata wants to go to college in Tokyo. His small shot of bravery gave him the adrenaline to defend Chihaya against Suo's advances, but that hasn't translated to opening up to her directly. Instead, he bemoans his lack of relentless positivity. It's partially referring to him not getting down about his karuta defeats, but it's mostly about his future with Chihaya. On the upside, just like he's settling into his own unique style of karuta, hopefully we can expect him to finally emerge as the Taichi he needs to be to confess his feelings.

Compared to the past few episodes of Chihayafuru, this episode feels a little blase, but they can't all be heart-pounding winners. It's nice to see Chihaya process Arata's confession, rather than sweep it to the side, but I would've liked to see more. Fingers crossed that we'll get Taichi's side of the equation soon, too.


Chihayafuru 3 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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