That was a good bit of pre-match tension there, which doesn’t come too often – most match episodes jump straight into the action, and with this being the semifinals I’d have expected that to be the case. But hey, that’s just me and my desire to have Arata reunite with Chihaya and Taichi, which looks like it’s getting postponed for a couple more episodes at least. Anyway, Ousaka Megumu! It’s all about her and her Kansai accent this week, as last year’s West representative – as Chihaya can’t play Shinobu in the team matches, Megumu is practically the next best thing, as she’s someone more accessible to Chihaya’s current skills. That’s not to say that she’s a pushover – in fact, she’s the exact opposite, and the four-card streak she built up straight from the start of the match proved just how frightfully strong she is.
From Tsutomu’s intel, it was apparent that Akashi Girls’ didn’t change around their order at all in a bid to aim straight for the finals. Both Tsutomu and Taichi got the idea that they weren’t taking Mizusawa seriously, despite Mizusawa deciding to do a Retro and avoid dodging their opponents – placing Chihaya in 3rd, the traditional ace position. And indeed, they got it spot on – Megumu actually went up to Fujisaki, commenting on how they should just skip to the finals. The ultimate burn for Mizusawa…yet the rest of the audience seems to be prejudiced that way too, deciding to watch Hokuo vs Fujisaki while thinking that Akashi Girls’ had their match settled. Then we had the woes of Hokuo’s advisor – finding Fujisaki’s advisor scary and wanting Hokuo to beat Fujisaki’s 5 third-years. Definitely some strong politics going on here. It doesn’t help that I’m sympathizing for Megumu from that flashback (not the perverted stalkers one) where, along with her team she harbours a strong desire to become Queen just like Chihaya does, and has put countless hours of effort into it.
For Chihaya to bring home the win is easier said than done – there’s been a lot of foreshadowing over Megumu right from the start of the Nationals, and they finished nicely building her up as Chihaya’s opponent this episode. Megumu being way faster than she was in her representative match might be heavily related to her intense practice with the rest of Akashi Girls’, but her skill of adapting to her opponent really shone when she forcibly changed Chihaya’s usual patterns, sending all the unique cards over to target them. She’s a tough opponent (that even Sudo easily acknowledges) and even with Chihaya paying extra attention to certain cards, Megumu is still able to beat her to them – and Chihaya’s forte is supposed to be her speed. I’m struggling to determine whether she’s just really ditzy or a very, very good actor – I’d like to say the latter, but when she picks up three of the same card and doesn’t realize it…it’s probably genuine.