First off before we begin: [uncorks champagne] WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! DR. HARADA MADE IT TO PLAYOFFS! HE WILL BE REPRESENTING EASTERN JAPAN! I AM SO HAPPY FOR HIM! YOU WORKED HARD MAN! WELL DESERVED!
Man this episode was a rollercoaster of emotions! One minute I crying, the next I am laughing! Seriously, don’t play with my feelings like that! It’s too much! It was unbelievably beautiful with the imagery of Arata’s inner turmoil and how it was affecting him. The delivery was absolutely stunning and brilliantly done, from water to oil, from darkness to light, it was truly a treat to the eyes.
Arata really had it rough in this tournament. There were many things that were interfering with his performance, but the one that almost screwed him over more than Yuu’s meals was none other than himself. It all goes back to the Yoshino Tournament, where for the first time, it was Arata had lost and had to watch side-lines while Chihaya and Taichi competed against each other in the finals. He was both frustrated and upset that it was Taichi who was playing against her and not him. He has always that was his spot. Then there was also that conversation he had with Taichi afterwards, Arata has been regretting the things he had said to the point he started to ask himself why he did so in the first place. The combination of the two have been plaguing him ever since, throwing him off his game as he finds himself unable to envision the safe space that leads him to victory without Taichi invading it. That was why Arata couldn’t help but feel relieved when he saw that Taichi lost in the quarter-finals of the Eastern Qualifiers.
As result, throughout the early part of his match against Murao, we saw how all of these ugly emotions he didn’t realize he had until now came rushing to the surface. For the first time, we witnessed Arata express his inner jealousy and frustration he harbours towards Taichi, and he didn’t know how to cope with it. But what got to him the most was when he realized he may have subconsciously been looking down on Taichi in karuta the entire time. Coming to terms with that hit him hard because Taichi is still a dear friend of his. That’s why he loathed himself for thinking of such terrible things.
It was obvious to the spectators that something was off with Arata, but the one who knew it best was none other than his opponent Murao. He understood because he had seen Arata fall into this pit of darkness at the time when his grandfather had died. So when he reached out to him in the middle of the match to pull him back into the light, I burst into tears and began sobbing like a baby.
And yet not even a minute later, it has me laughing when Arata’s sickness spoils the moment by forcing him to rush to the washroom, poor guy. How embarrassing!!!! Talk about the walk of shame back!
And yet, despite his body forcing him to leave the room causing an even larger deficit and losing out on hearing which cards have been read, Arata succeeds in his reversal sweep and wins by two cards. There were three factors that helped him do just that: The first was the wisdom of observing his opponent closely enough see which cards they are going for to fill in the blanks of the cards which have already passed. The second was playing more aggressively rather than his usual balanced approach of both offensive and defensive style, and the third was the morale boost when he realized just based on Kuriyama’s reaction that the one who will be representing East Japan for the Master’s play-offs was none other than Dr. Harada.
It was bittersweet when Arata won, only because we know how hard Murao has worked as well, and how much he means to him. Arata was in tears, and it was absolutely precious how Muruo told him to smile and he gives him the most wholesome and pure smile ever. Hilariously he ended up telling him to drop it because it made him more depressed. What a special moment between them.
With that we have our representative for the Masters’ And Queen’s Playoffs! In the West we have Arata and Megumu, and the West we know so far it’s Dr. Harada, the Queen representative have yet to be announced at this point. Nevertheless, whoever emerges victorious will certainly be putting up a heck of a fight against Megumu, both Yumi and Haruka are not to be trifled with. If I had to choose between the two, I’ll be rooting for Haruka.
As for the Master’s match, both Chihaya and Taichi will have a tough decision of who to cheer for. (Or maybe not, I suspect Taichi would cheer for Dr. Harada regardless the current circumstances between him and Arata.) And as much as I love Arata, I am rooting for Dr. Harada because this is his last chance, and I am so incredibly proud of how far he has come. It goes without saying the match-up between Dr. Harada and Arata is one to get excited about, so I am looking forward to it!
And finally to wrap things up, I am surprised Taichi was actually able to take part in the remaining days of the class trip- which was honestly the wisest decision considering the shit his mom has already or is bound to give him. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes as far as forcing him to leave the club after this, which is something (according to Komano) he may have already been planning to do regardless of what she says. Nevertheless, whether it’s by his own decision or his mother’s, it would still suck all the same considering Taichi has finally identified his strength.
However, even though Chihaya was able to catch him in the hall when he first arrived, the result was the first thing that came to her mind so she wasn’t going to get any answers about why he didn’t tell her about his participation. But even if she did ask, I don’t think he would have said anything, not yet anyways. That being said, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between them will change once they return to school.