Ah man, it sucks that Dr. Harada lost, but I more or less expected it to happen considering they pretty much jinxed him right at the beginning of the episode. He lost the fourth match due to committing a fault on a dead card. Suo’s went back to his usual mind-games of using his presence to trick his opponents into making mistakes, which was a tough pill to swallow. The fifth match wasn’t given any time either, just a summary with Suo successfully protecting his title in dominating fashion of twelve cards lead. But it was kind of bittersweet in a way considering this was really the first time Suo truly had a lot of fun playing Karuta. Dr. Harada was that worthy opponent he had been waiting for. During the break, Suo became motivated to protect his title and show respect to his opponent by cleaning himself up and show how serious he was about it by pulling his hair back. That said, it is a bit of a shame that he couldn’t properly express how much he had enjoyed the match.
However as one also might have expected, Suo is not retiring just yet. It seems both Chihaya and Arata had the same idea when they both stormed towards him, but Arata had told Chihaya to stand back while he pleads to Suo not to quit just yet. You really have to hand it to Arata’s courage and bold determination, where as Taichi was disheartened to see Dr. Harada who has worked so hard to get there, fail to knock him off his throne. He even (briefly) resigned to the idea that it was better that Suo was retiring. However it was that mentality that only the ‘gifted ones’ can win that him left in the dust again, where as Arata and Chihaya both refused to let Suo’s journey end here. And it worked out, because the thought entertained Suo. So he agreed he would stick around for another year.
But it looks like Arata’s challenge to Suo gave Taichi provoked him quite a bit. I don’t think that magically driven him to participate in the Takamatsu Memorial Cup, rather it is highly likely he had planned that out ahead of time. Poor Chihaya has been left out of the loop again, but as we have learned, Taichi typically does thrive better when she isn’t present. He also wants to get stronger by polishing up his new play-style. And since Arata is supposed to be participating as well (so as long as his cold doesn’t prevent him from doing so), I hope this means we will finally see the two duke it out before the end of the season! And gosh dang it, can you believe Season 3 is already almost over!?! (SEASON 4 WHEN!?!?!) I certainly hope we won’t have to wait as long as we had for this one, especially since the series will be ending very soon! Maybe a year or two from now? Just as long as it’s not another six years wait I’m cool, ahahaha!
As for Chihaya, she definitely had a hard time coping with Suo’s victory since what she hates about him the most is how he doesn’t share the same passion for Karuta (that might be changing though, thanks to Dr. Harada). It made her upset that she wasn’t a boy so she could take him down herself. But after hearing Shinobu’s interview, she was reminded she still has to fight the other strongest player, and that is Shinobu and that’s all she needs. Suo’s defeat can be left to Arata (or Taichi, but I don’t think Chihaya has considered him to do the job just yet).
Speaking of Shinobu, while Suo wasn’t able to really speak true to his heart, it was great to see Shinobu acknowledge her opponent’s abilities (Haruka) and being able to pull through this year thanks to receiving support (Chihaya). It was so sweet to see with Kanade’s help, Chihaya was able to improvise a tasuki with Snowmaru cloths. It is wonderful to see Shinobu be excited for the Queen’s match next year.
On the plus side it looks like Dr. Harada isn’t too disheartened by his lost. It is disappointing, but he is the first one to push Suo to five matches, and was also received his respect and had fun playing against. Instead Dr. Harada took this loss as a learning lesson for those who will follow him as they pursue the Master’s title, and he was already greatly amused to see Suo accept Arata’s challenge. Like Haruka (though Kyouko has faith she will return), this marks the end of his competitive journey to claim the Master’s title. It is highly unlikely he will be able to continue because of his knees. It is a darn shame considering Dr. Harada is one of those players who makes the game so much fun to watch.
With the conclusion of the Queen and Master’s match, we now look towards the Takamatsu Memorial Cup! I just hope they don’t skip over this one! Gimme that match up of Arata VS Taichi!!!!