Oh man, this match been absolutely fantastic. Episode 12 and 13 are another pair of episodes that you will greatly enjoy watching back-to-back.
It feels so good to see both Dr. Harada and Haruka clutch the first win! LETS GOOOOO VETERANS!!!! My favourite thing about this match up is the history between Dr. Harada and Arata. It is both amazing and pretty darn special to not only be competing against the grandson of the Master he had always admired, but also play a role as his mentor as well. Actually, it is a pretty funny contrast to how he used to be as when he was younger. He was known for his notorious antics and being picky about who the reader was, which he later praises and acknowledge for her improvement, but the grudge from the past of those still lives on (some of them for the most petty reasons).
Yet despite his history, it doesn’t surprise me much that Dr. Harada yielded the second match, in fact regardless how good the reader may have been, what Dr. Harada needed most was to maximize his rest time. While yes, there was a chance he could also win the second game and end it there, considering how close the first match already was, there is a very good chance Arata would have won that one. Another thing this gives an opportunity for Dr. Harada is more time to re-evaluate his next strategy to accommodate Arata’s newer play-style. But it appears rather than reflecting on Arata’s updated strategy, Dr. Harada was simply too exhausted to do so (an understatement given the pain he is in).
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Queen’s Qualifier second round ended within the first seven minutes of the episode 13, but I still wished they spent a bit more time on it. I am super happy that Haruka emerged victorious, and I am looking forward to her rematch against Shinobu. It was so endearing to see her kid Aki give her flowers and call her Queen. It definitely given her that extra boost of morale that fired up the momentum she already had from her first win. It is also promising to see her have a decisive win back-to-back, which shows just how strong she actually is.
And then we head straight to the “third round” after Dr. Harada had yielded the second round’s match. But before we dive into that, we go back to what Chihaya had whispered to Arata after the first round. Turns out the tip she had shared with Arata was, “You can’t beat him as just Arata.” There is a lot of weight to those words because he was a mentor to them all. One of Dr. Harada’s advantages is his experience, and to fill that void, Arata brings his grandfather’s presence to the game. I already knew Arata was wearing his grandfather’s kimono, I couldn’t imagine him wearing anything else. And what made it even more special that he was wearing it, was the how it seemed almost as though he was channeling his grandfather’s spirit. Everyone who knew Master Hajime, felt as though that was who Dr. Harada was playing against. And it was because he did it so well that Dr. Harada soon found himself swept up in the memory lane and taken right back to his youthful days as a teenager when he played against Master Hajime. It was delightful to see him have so much fun, and relish the passion of the game. However the pain in his knee quickly snapped him back to cruel reality that with age, the game has also taken a toll on his body.
Speaking of Dr. Harada, this match is turning out to be a tougher one in more ways than one. It is hard to say whether or not it is to his benefit at all that he (up until his knee acted up) felt like a teenager again. Hopefully Dr. harada will be able to close Arata’s lead and emerge victorious.
That being said, I do find it rather annoying when Dr. Harada’s peers who bear grudges against him wishes for him to just burn out already. Arata isn’t even in his peak form yet and he is still young, he has plenty of time to become the next Master. But Dr. Harada, this is his last chance to chance his life-long dream. It would also be incredibly gut-wrenching if Dr. Harada were forced to yield his match because of his knee. He took the gamble so he could have longer rest time, and had confidence that he would be able to win the next match, and not to mention, he has gotten this far, so shut up and let him be!
Hmph! At least Suo acknowledges him as his opponent. Regardless of unpopular personality, it can still be considered a high praise from a guy who has protected his Master’s title for four years straight.
Considering how Suo has acknowledged Dr. Harada’s abilities and admits if he had the choice, he would pick him to be his opponent in the Master’s match. For Suo, he considers Dr. Harada to be an exciting player, the opposite of Arata, who he had criticized him for being boring. Back in episode 8, when he made the comment, I thought perhaps the reason for that was because Arata is constantly in his grandfather’s shadows. So the fact Arata consciously decided to embrace his grandfather’s play-style to the game makes it rather interesting how he will proceed going forward. But to be fair, Arata also did more than just place himself into the zone of his cherished memories of his grandfather. He seemed to change up his flow a bit by making it increasingly more difficult to get a read on him. His unreadable play-style is a frustrating obstacle to the point everyone watching thought of it as an ‘awful play-style’.
During the second round between the Queen’s opponents, we saw how Chihaya had mysteriously vanished. Turns out she had gone out to speak with Suo. Unfortunately for her, she really doesn’t get any of her questions answered (besides the fact she wasn’t really asking the ones she REALLY wanted to besides the one about playing a match against him). And yet, perhaps the most ridiculous and hilarious development is that Suo mistakens Chihaya asking if he has a girlfriend and appears to be (though honestly, I am not too sure of it myself) to be smitten by her. If there’s any weight to his words, then ahaha, watch Taichi, Arata, you might have another rival to worry about hahahahahaha!
That being said, I do find it rather funny how Chihaya seems to always miss some of the best parts of various matches, to the point that I want to shake her shoulders and say, “WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING THE MATCH?!?”
Looking forward to the next episode! Until then, I hope everyone had a Happy New Years!
PS: DAMN, Dr. Harada was one heck of a looker back in his days!