While out scouting for more recruits, Chihaya comes across the second-smartest person in her year, only losing out in grades to Taichi – a nerdy guy called Tsutomu. He initially clings to his desk and refuses to cooperate, but soon he challenges Chihaya and Taichi to play a game of karuta with the cards flipped over, wanting them to prove their statement of improving memory skills.
Bubbly Chihaya once again goes out scouting (after stalking Kanade all the way back to her shop last ep) and this time sets her target as Tsutomu the nerd, who is a guy that does nothing all day except sit at his desk and study. And yes, background characters, his head DOES look like a jelly bean o.O I kinda felt sorry for the guy though – he lets other people copy off his notes in an attempt to fit in, but ends up getting used by them and cast off. Also he has a one-sided rivalry with Taichi in the sense that he’s always going to be second place to him in terms of grades. Not that Taichi actually cares about grades, but it’s similar to how Taichi feels that he’ll never surpass Arata even if he spends his whole childhood playing karuta.
I guessed that Tsutomu would end up joining the karuta club points at OP sequence but not in the way I expected, which was that it would be a chance to beat Taichi at something he’s dedicated to. Instead we had Tsutomu’s desk symbolizing his beliefs before joining the karuta club, sticking to a solid, down-to-earth lifestyle, with his constant clinging to it showing his unwillingness to open up. At the end, him choosing to drop the desk and run in the direction of the clubroom represents his acceptance of the situation and of karuta, throwing away his old beliefs.
…Okay if that was just a load of complete and utter bullshit, blame my English Lit classes. His desk addiction did remind me of that one retarded squirrel from Ice Age – you know, the one that keeps going after the acorn xD Right, must not go off-topic…
Another concept we were introduced to was the idea of flipped karuta. Or is that a one-time thing? Now because Chihaya’s style doesn’t incorporate in a good memory, rather focusing on speed, when the cards were flipped over Taichi suddenly had this massive advantage, and it was pretty much a landslide victory for him. From this we can see that Arata’s skills are a combination of both Chihaya’s and Taichi’s – Arata has Chihaya’s amazing speed, as well as epic memory skills, as we saw in that childhood flashback ep when he played Taichi. I really hope flipped karuta doesn’t become a regular thing though, it was hardly as exciting as the dramatic swishes that everyone normally does when they can read the cards face-up. All of the grabs in the flipped game were subdued touches, probably to not mess up the order of the cards to prevent a memory spaz. Chihaya had one anyway.
Finally, Taichi also told Tsutomu that he does have the motivation to win – as cheesy as it did sound, Taichi looked genuinely happy to have won against Chihaya, who is the better (and higher ranked) karuta player after all. Taichi will keep playing, even if he repeatedly loses, for the reward of winning when he finally does succeed. That was a much better speech than what I’m used to, i.e. shounen fist pump + “I won’t give up!”
So now the karuta club has four members – Chihaya, Taichi, Kanade and Tsutomu. At this rate, Arata will definitely have something to come back to ^_^
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