[SOBBING] DR. HARADA!!!!! HANG IN THERE!
Oof, talk about a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute we’re in the lows because of Taichi’s loss, but the next we’re in the highs when we see Dr. Harada make it to the finals!
It really sucked to see Taichi lose, and it hurt even more when the outcome could have potentially been different had he not lost Impassionate, one of his best cards on his opponent’s side. But what really got to me was how brutal of a blow it was for Taichi to lose that specific card. When you read between the lines, it goes so much deeper. It an embodiment of Chihaya, and to lose that card is basically losing Chihaya to Arata, or anyone else for the matter, which we know is among some of his biggest fears.
That being said, I found it quite endearing how Taichi clung to the offensive karuta despite defensive being his strong suit. It really goes to show how much he cares and respects Dr. Harada as a mentor, who encouraged him to pursue that playstyle since it works best for him. Nonetheless, I think it’s good that he can do both since it gives him more options to play with. That being said, I wonder if Taichi would have been able to build a larger lead earlier on had he just played defensive karuta from the start of his match against Kosaku. In the end, he was screwed over by the the cursed “luck-of-the-draw”. Nevertheless, his loss was a painful one, even more so when the card that would have placed him in a better position overall was Impassionate, which he had lost on his opponent’s side. But man, when you read between the lines of what it meant to Taichi to lose Impassionate on his opponent’s side, good lord, it goes way deeper than just the match. At that point it’s about Chihaya and his fear of losing her to Arata, or anyone else for the matter.
Even though we didn’t get to see Taichi match from start to finish, there were two interesting points about it. The first was his opponent, Kosaku. The guy has earned himself a name as Goofsaku due to the sheer amount of double faults he commits, and yet despite all of that, he was able to make it to the semi-finals. Kosaku is the perfect example of someone who is able to be cool under-fire regardless of the number of mistakes they make. While Kosaku will briefly kick himself for it, he doesn’t hold onto his mistakes. He ‘resets’, and plays on. It’s ultimately what kept him in the game, especially when Taichi went back to his strong suit: Defensive Karuta, and was able to turn the tables for a bit until they became neck to neck again.
I find it quite endearing how Taichi cling to the offensive karuta despite defensive being his strong suit. I think it’s good that he can do both since it gives him more options to play with. That being said, I wonder if Taichi would have been able to build a larger lead earlier on had he just played defensive karuta from the start of his match against Kosaku. In the end, he was screwed over by the the cursed “luck-of-the-draw”. Nevertheless, his loss was a painful one, even more so when the card that would have placed him in a better position overall was Impassionate, which he had lost on his opponent’s side. But man, when you read between the lines of what it meant to Taichi to lose Impassionate on his opponent’s side, good lord, it goes way deeper than just the match. At that point it’s about Chihaya and his fear of losing her to Arata, or anyone else for the matter.
However coming off a lost due to the “luck-of-the-draw”, we learn more about how that isn’t actually the case, and there is a way for players to have control to prevent cards from being read on their opponents side in such situations. Dr. Harada shared over the course of the last 45 years he has been playing karuta, he believes when you spends a lot of time concentrating in practice, you can kind of tell which cards aren’t going to be read. And when you are able to identify those cards, you can spend the second half preparing to send those cards to your opponent’s side in preparation for the luck of the draw. Regardless whether it’s really true or not, it is a pretty damn clever strategy, especially when you’re someone like Taichi, who seems to CONSTANTLY find himself in this kind of situation. It is definitely something that could help him in the long run.
Although Taichi didn’t make it to semi-finals, I am really happy to see that Dr. Harada did and he will be playing against Sudo. Oh boy! I am looking for to this! I expect it to be both exciting and emotional to watch. It is awful to see how much pain Dr. Harada is in, but it is equally as inspiring to see him persevere for sake of his dream. He is a fighter, and boy does he love messing with his opponent’s head. It is going to be so much fun to see Dr. Harada against Sudo, who equally plays as many mind games of his own. I just hope his knees will be able to last him a bit longer since, as I mentioned last week, it is extremely likely this is Dr. Harada’s last chance to compete for his dreams. After this, he may be forced to retire from competing in future tournaments, so I am glad that his students are doing everything they can to support him, such as helping him get the cards on his behalf so he doesn’t have to get up and down over and over again. Also props for the others trying to help him get another minute or two of rest before the next match.
Also for the food for the thought, had Taichi won his match, the Shiranami society would have had 3 members in the semi-finals. This would have brought us back to the same similar that played out in the earlier episodes, when Hirochi yielded his match so that Chihaya could rest for the finals. The only difference this time is what is at stake: to qualify as the Eastern representative for Masters qualifiers. Bearing that in mind, had his opponent been Taichi or Hiroshi, they would have went up against him, regardless of the condition Dr. Harada is in. They would never trample on Dr. Harada’s pride like that, and not to mention, they are in this to win.
Meanwhile with Arata, Suo’s words really gotten under his skin. Shinobu has noticed he has been playing more aggressively than usual, and also beat the one who defeated him last year. We also saw him have a mixed reaction about Taichi not making it to the finals, which confused him because he didn’t understand why he responded in that way.
Speaking of Shinobu, were given some more insight in regards to her loneliness this episode. A conversation she was having with Coach Ise took a chilly turn when he extends the invitation for her to drop by the Myojo society to practice, and that her grandmother was worried about her not having any friends. When he suggests maybe being a practice partner with their rising talent Yuikawa, the first thing Shinobu asks if it’s fine even if she crushes her. It’s really sad how isolated Shinobu has become, she doesn’t want anyone meddling with her. It’s hard for her to befriend anyone when many get sick of losing against her. Honestly, considering how little we have seen of her grandmother, it’s really hard to gauge exactly what type of person she is, and whether she is really looking out for her. All that I can remember is that Shinobu was pressured by her mother to pick up something that would impress her grandmother, and by chance of having found them in the storage space, karuta just happened to be that thing she had instantly became connected to. Although Coach Ise has brought up Yuikawa twice, I would like to believe he genuinely cares about Shinobu enough to be concerned about her well-being, especially since he knows her well enough to know how much she loves Snowmaru.
Gosh dang it, I need Chihaya and Shinobu to be best friends already.
Back in Kyoto with Chihaya, her best friend Michiru finally knocked some sense into her (honestly god, I am surprised she hadn’t done it sooner!). I was really annoyed with Chihaya not paying any attention to her or the trip, it was so rude! Talk about disrespect, especially when she has organized places to go to that didn’t necessarily interest her, but recognized Chihaya was passionate about! I am glad that Chihaya apologized, but gosh dang it, it wasn’t fair to Michiru at all. Hilariously though, she had thought Chihaya was well versed enough to share knowledge on The Hundred Poets, but really what they should have done was just pair up with Kana who was enjoying the exhibit on her own until they finally found each other. (Actually I am a bit sad that Chihaya didn’t invite Kana to join her group for some of the exhibits…) Chihaya appears to have also finally pieced together why Taichi skipped out on the school trip as well.
NEXT WEEK! Both the Eastern and Western qualifiers have a wicked line-up for the finalists!
WESTERN QUALIFIERS FINALISTS: MASTER: Arata VS Maruo | QUEEN: ????
EASTERN QUALIFIERS FINALISTS: MASTER: Dr. Harada VS Sudo | QUEEN: Haruka VS Yumi
Too bad Coach Sakurazawa didn’t make it past the finals, but it was really nice to see that she had gotten this far! It would have been really interesting to see how Chihaya may have been up against considering how fierce the semi-finals were! Also a shout-out to Rion too! She played hard!