Ooof, well if there was a time that highlighted what makes Suo so unpopular by so many, this episode did exactly that. Gosh he really is nasty. Although I agree with the context, I was appalled when he said, “when I see someone straight as an arrow, I want to bend them.” Seriously dude, what the fuck? Like Taichi, I was insulted on Chihaya’s behalf, especially since she played against him so earnestly! Talk about disrespecting your opponent!
And poor Chihaya, Suo’s words really hurt her to the point she cried on her way home and she hasn’t been able to play well ever since. Even Dr. Harada noticed she was feeling down and tried to cheer her up after she had visited him to share what she has learned.
I am super bummed out we didn’t get the chance to see Taichi and Suo duke it out. Instead we are only given the results of the match, what Taichi learned from it and Suo’s reaction. The outcome as I expected was Suo winning despite Taichi not committing any faults. This was actually the main reason why I was hoping to actually see them play. Suo won by 14 Cards (which is his target number), but because Taichi didn’t commit any faults, it forced him to use his own abilities beyond relying on his opponents to make mistakes.
Taichi however took the initiative to seek Suo out for a ‘review’ of their match. He’s a smart guy and already gotten a good read on how to appeal to him, from providing him snacks (so he’d agree to play against him) and then later admitting he is not Chihaya’s boyfriend to get on his good side (lo and behold, he was able to turn it into a formidable weapon). Among the things they have discussed, the more prominent topic was how there are four outcomes in Karuta. You can take cards, your opponent takes cards, you make mistakes or your opponents makes mistakes. Most players are ‘offensive’ (such as Dr. Harada, Chihaya and Arata), which means they are proactively chasing the cards and are the most likely to commit faults for being too aggressive, whereas Taichi and Suo thrive more with the defensive play-style.
But goodness! Taichi is full of secrets right now! It seems ever since he decided to skip the class-trip to the Western and Eastern Qualifiers, the tension between him, Chihaya and Arata have been growing thicker. I understand Taichi is seeking to close the ‘power-gap’ between them, I know that one part of it is part of an effort for Chihaya to finally ‘notice’ him and his feelings for her. However I find it quite suspicious how he is choosing to not only to keep the seven minutes conversation he had with Suo to himself, but is actively withholding whatever precious information he got out of both their match and review. As result, it makes me wonder a lot how honest he was when Chihaya had asked him about how it felt to play against Suo. Despite his loss, it is quite clear that Taichi learned a lot from it. One example, is realizing how he is drawn to the play-style of pressuring his opponents to make mistakes. Nevertheless, it is clear he intends to hold his cards close to his chest.
There is also the fact that Taichi seems to subconsciously be catching onto the confession that transpired while he was gone. The guy isn’t stupid, he knows something significant has happened between them. After-all, every time Arata’s names comes up, Chihaya has been acting overly flustered and doesn’t know what to do with herself. (Don’t even get me started how CUTE Arata and Chihaya were over the phone. Gosh I couldn’t stop squealing!) And frankly speaking, it feels Taichi is like a time-bomb waiting to blow. Bearing that in mind, I am kind of glad that Arata couldn’t make it to the Master’s and Queen’s Match in person. Surely the moment he appears in person, everything will become clear to him, and that’s when the strength of the bonds between them will be put to the test.
That being said, I still can’t but help feel bad for Arata being unable to make it. He wanted to be there to support Dr. Harada and be with his friends. Even more disappointing for him since he has already made the trip to Kyoto too! Luckily even though it’s not being broadcasted on the national television network, it’s been broadcasted via live-stream so he can watch it from his phone. He ought to turn off the comments feature on NicoNico, but the live commentary does add to the experience in a fun way—until it’s completely blocking out the screen ahahahaha!
Last but not least, we got to see bit more of what Shinobu is going through. She hasn’t been able to be in top form ever since she lost to Arata. She is legitimately concerned about her opponent because of her history when the stakes for her couldn’t be higher. For Shinobu, all there is is Karuta, and without her title, there won’t be anything left. The cards are her family and friends, which is really tragic and lonely, especially when you compare it to the friendship that is between Chihaya and team. It broke my heart when she said her mother doesn’t feel like family. Although we haven’t really been able to get a read on her grandmother, I was super impressed with how she took a marker and drew over the tatami mat (which she said she was gonna switch out anyways) and how she asked her to join her for some snacks. We also have to remember it was thanks to her grandma that Shinobu was introduced to the game of Karuta.
Next week, ohhhh goodie it is time for Master’s and Queen’s big match! I am really curious to see what Chihaya observed to be Suo’s weakness considering Dr. Harada commented how it could also be turned a source of strength. I guess you could say it’s a double-edged sword.
PS: Chihaya as Santa is HILARIOUS. She nailed it.