HAHAHAHA, up until the last scene with Haruka and her kids, I am pretty sure I was laughing for almost the entire episode. It was great to see that Chihaya and Taichi both choose to root for Dr. Harada (though it was really cute when Taichi wished Arata luck over the phone) and passionately impersonate his opponents (Taichi as Arata, and Chihaya as Suo). There was were also a number of emotional moments, the first being with Taichi still reeling his loss from the Quarter Finals, and Haruka struggling as a mother of two to balance her dreams and her love for her children.
In preparation for the big match, Dr. Harada called in all the members of the Shiranami Society to come up with a crazy training plan by having Taichi serve as a Virtual-Arata, and Chihaya volunteered to play as a Virtual-Suo. Initially Taichi was completely against the idea of being assigned to memorize Arata’s card layouts so Dr. Harada could practice against him. The very notion of it was basically rubbing salt into his wound, so he tried to get out of it. However that all changed when Dr. Harada earnestly acknowledging Taichi’s role in contributing to how he became the Eastern Representative. Had it not been for his wager with Sudo, and making an exception with conditions for Sudo to participate in the tournament, Dr. Harada would have had to play another game which would have hurting his knee even further. Oh man, Taichi my man, who would have thought your proposal to let Sudo participate under those conditions would have such a positive impact! I can’t tell you how happy I am that actually ended up happening.(Though I must say, I can’t help but laugh because two weeks ago, I was just comparing the scenarios of what could have potentially had happened had Dr. Harada been up against Hiroshi or Taichi, and yet I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THE AGREEMENT!)
Also can we take a moment to appreciate the way Dr. Harada supports Taichi? He is that guy who will believe in him when he doesn’t believe in himself.
But the idea of Dr. Harada having Chihaya and Taichi role-play as his opponents for practice is actually to their benefit. It enables both of them to obtain yet another weapon to add their ever-growing stash. For Taichi, putting himself in Arata’s shoes and trying to grasp his mindset offers a new perspective on his strengths, such as the cross attacks. He learned that cross-strokes can be refined and used as a way to level the playing field against opponents with good game sense.
As for Chihaya, she is learning how Suo arranges his field and how he holds his cards down. It is actually both pretty scary and absolutely hilarious how well she is able to mimic him. I was almost in tears from laughing so hard when she started whispering and offering snacks!
There was also discussion on how age factors in the peak of players’ primes. Both Eastern Representatives Dr. Harada and Haruka have a huge age disparity against their opponents, and have a variety of new challenges they have to face as they get older. For Dr. Harada, while his game sense seems to be sharp as ever, it’s his knee that is screwing him over the most. As for Haruka’s case, she has it particularly rough since both challengers the Queen’s title are 17 and 18 while she is 34 and a mother of two. Such responsibilities that comes with motherhood is weighing her mind making her wonder whether or not it is still worth to pursue her dreams of reclaiming the Queen’s title.
And speaking of Haruka’s dilemma, my god she had it so rough this week, I want to give her a big hug! It is so tough for her to balance her dreams of reclaiming the Queen’s title and be a mom at the same time. She is incredibly lucky to have a husband who supports her by taking care of the children while she goes to train. However the guilt of not being there when her children needs or wants her to be is eating her alive. It was hard to see her be put in a distressful situation on the day of the big match where her eldest child Aki, innocently asks if she will be going to the park with them, and not knowing how to take care of her youngest one Jin because she had her kimono on! Thank goodness Kanade’s mother was there to show her how she can breastfeed with the kimono on, because gosh, she was so overwhelmed!!!!! I was actually afraid that haruka was going to forfeit her match, but I am glad that it looks like that isn’t the case anymore. HARUKA DO YOU BEST! I AM ROOTING FOR YOU!!!!! I wonder if we’ll get the chance to see her match against Megumu?
And last but not least, Arata is back in form and HOT DAMN, HE IS LOOKING SO DAMN FINE. I am really excited to see his match against Dr. Harada, it’s going to be lit with the best of three!
PS: Chihaya is advised against being a Physical Education teacher because the empress is afraid she will kill the students, OH GOSH!