Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chihaya Furu 23: Who will be the challenger?

The episode picks up right where the last one left off. That is, Chihaya is devastated from her ignominious defeat by Yamamoto Yumi. So much so that she can't even face her club members afterwards and runs to hide inside a locker. To make matters worse, Sudo-kun comes around to remind her and everyone about the bet they made and assures her that some girls look pretty with a bald head. A horrified Taichi, Nishida and Desktomu-kun volunteer to shave their own heads. Even Kana wants to do it but Nishida objects to this solidly. Then, Harada-sensei arrives and, after learning about the bet, tells Sudo-kun to drop it if he loses to Harada-sensei. But even with that taken care of and a bribe of chocolates from Desktomu-kun, Chihaya still doesn't come out of the locker, prompting Taichi to tell everyone to watch the games while he stays behind. After everyone leaves, Taichi gets an email from Arata, saying that he's made it to the fourth round of the Western qualifier. Taichi tells Chihaya the news, which naturally draws some fierce reaction from her. Kana later returns to announce that Harada-sensei won his match and is next playing Sudo-kun. Chihaya suddenly opens the locker door then, causing Taichi to fall back and onto her lap. A tear-stained Chihaya urges him to go, not to cheer Harada-sensei on, but to watch the game as these two will be his rivals once he becomes a Class A player next year. Kana reasons that Taichi is only staying for her, which Chihaya realizes just now so, wiping away her tears, she stands up and drags Taichi with her. Taichi is too shocked to say anything, thinking only to himself that he is hopelessly in love with Chihaya. At the match, Harada-sensei is demolishing Sudo-kun despite a bad knee. The gang is standing outside, watching the game through the glass windows when Taichi offers Chihaya his jacket as she looks cold. Chihaya keeps thinking back on her match with Yumi, realizing that it was because she did not want Yumi to contest every card that she sacrificed accuracy for speed. Also, she realizes only now that she's been too focused on herself, not even realizing that her friends were all watching. Eventually, the match ends with Harada-sensei scoring a win for Chihaya's hair (though he's totally forgotten about the bet until they remind him about it) only to lose the next one that will determine the Easter Master/Queen challenger finalists, who turn out to be Yumi and Tsuboguchi Hiroshi. The month that follows has Chihaya getting asked out for the first time by a boy from another school. Kana advises her to reject him, which bothers Chihaya somewhat as she's worried she'll never be asked out again. This, of course, brings up the fact that Chihahya is a beauty in vain. A mopey Taichi first tells her to try it out and see for herself that it will never work out, then seems to have a change of heart as he blocks the poor boy's number from Chihaya's phone. Kana remembers two poems that portray just how Taichi is feeling and secretly supports him. Chihaya is, of course, clueless about it and continues to wonder about Arata, who by the way did not make it as the Western Qualifier. Sometime later, the finalists' round is held and the Queen challenger is none other than Yumi and the Master challenger is Hiroshi. The latter's win is especially touching as it has always been Harada-sensei's goal to produce a Master one day. Back in school, it's the Christmas season and Chihaya gets suckered into attending the class party where she wows everyone (especially the boys) with her fashionable outfit. In the midst of all this fun, Chihaya finds herself wishing that other club members were there as well. Desktomu-kun points out that it means she thinks of those people as family. Later that same evening, Chihaya calls Arata, who knows it is her almost immediately. Chihaya can barely say anything, thinking only of that one poem about the misty bridge that connects two people together.

Well, well, well. My worst fears are true. The final match with the Master and Queen are really between characters we barely know. But the beauty about the story is that, take Hiroshi, for example, he's a character that's been around for some time but we don't really know him and then this one scene shows him, not saying anything, but suddenly crying at the sight of Harada-sensei, knowing that he's just one more step closer to achieving a life-long dream shared by everyone...I have to be honest, it brought a lump to my throat. This, about a character I don't know and don't really care that much about. Ah, hot damn. Now I want to see him win the Master match just for the pleasure of seeing him play against Arata in the next one. And Yumi? She had her spotlight in her match with Chihaya and the way the show portrayed the whole thing, even though I love Chihaya to death and would always root for her, I couldn't help but wish Yumi to rise up, too. Her match with Wakamiya Shinobu will be that much more devastating, because, of course, Shinobu will win it because she is Chihaya's one and only opponent. Oh no. Two more episodes. Are we going to see a second season? Because I can't think of a good resolution for this series at this point.

more screencaps from episode 23: