Chihaya is now all grown up, but does Taichi’s girlfriend really know the deal with Chihaya? Did Taichi do the right thing and break up with the girl he doesn’t love? Taichi is still a quitter, but how and why is Arata’s Shadow beating Taichi around?
Welcome to episode 4 where when the going gets tough, Taichi quits. Today Chihaya wins her A-Rank over the beaten and bloodied player that was a three year veteran, but first we have to deal with Taichi due to losers being first and because I find it highly amusing that Arata’s Shadow is still dominating him in every aspect of the Chihaya sweepstakes.
I said it before I’ll be saying it again and again Taichi is a quitter, and not he good kind that quits bad habits like smoking. A couple of you wanted to plead his case that Taichi struggling makes him endearing, but I am throwing a bullshit flag and penalizing Taichi for some just awful decisions and non-decisions. Say what you will about an athlete but an athlete who quits is no athlete to me, it’s not that Taichi can’t compete he quits before he even tries. In Middle School he played in a small club but instead of finding stronger opponents he just told himself that he would never be better than Arata. Talk about quitting without even going through your progressions. What a defeatist attitude to have as your life motto. Man did Ali take this shit attitude when he took down Frazier? Did the 2004 Boston Red Sox let the 86 year old Curse of the Bambino kill them when they were 0-3 games vs. the New York Yankees? Did Tom Brady give up playing Quarterback when he was 7th on the Michigan depth chart and after he was the 199th pick in the NFL Draft? Did Michael Jordan give up after the Bad Boy Pistons bounced him out of the playoffs two seasons in a row? Did Magic Johnson give up playing basketball after playing some of the worst basketball in his career in the 1984 NBA Championship where he was derided as “Tragic Magic”? The overwhelming answer is no, so what the hell is this idiot doing quitting right out of the gate? It makes no sense unless we come to grips with the fact that Taichi really has no backbone in that scrawny frame of his. Taichi was gone for three fucking years THIS is the solution he comes up with?
So we finally get visual confirmation on Taichi’s girlfriend (because you never know if Taichi is capable of telling the truth as he likes to lie to inflate his image). She seems like a nice girl, but what the fuck was Taichi thinking when he blew by Chihaya, never bothered to make a formal introduction, and tried to play it off as if Chihaya was just scenery that they didn’t know each other? Well a most deserved EPIC FAIL on Taichi’s part as Chihaya challenges him to play karuta leaving him flabbergasted and lost once again as his game plan for cheating on his girlfriend blew up in his face. Then Miss Girlfriend rightly asked the question of who Chihaya was as that sneak Taichi tried to blow her off and chase after Chihaya. I wonder what choice words Taichi used to explain the deal with Chihaya and maybe someday we will learn. I’ll spoil this much for you though; it wasn’t an immediate break-up that much is certain at Chapter 10.
Also for a guy he who likes to shamelessly spend his parent’s money on himself he sure had issues buying Chihaya chocolate. So a 24 piece assortment is about 25.00-32.00 USD, excessive but surely $25-$32 is like lunch money when his daddy is making doctor money. Hell I got that shit monthly when I was in college but unlike Taichi I had the presence of mind to think like a poor man and enlist for the chance to raid the Air Force PX for Godiva at a substantial discount. Besides Chihaya asked for chocolate, not bees wax and sugar like that cheap stuff he was going to get at convenience store. Lastly if money is going to be the first consideration when it comes to Chihaya then I really don’t think Taichi is in love with Chihaya. Rather he seems to want to get her attentions and affections through a Chihaya charity where he gives nothing and gets everything. This is the sort of stuff makes Taichi out to be a lazy bum. If he is going to romance Chihaya does he really think that showing up with Hershey Mini-Bars and dandelions is going to beat out Godiva and Roses? Also if money was such an issue Godiva does have cheaper options and a fucking reasonably priced candy bar for $3.99.
It would probably be less damning if Taichi kept his loser attitude to himself but he constantly tries to get Chihaya to accept his shitty way of life by telling her to stick with track because she will never improve in Karuta. At this point I am leaning toward Taichi having spent the last 3 years hating karuta because he was never good at it. Hell almost everyone I know played sports of one kind or another as a kid and had some positive memories about it. Sure not one of them was able to play professionally but you still get company softball games, pick-up basketball, and pick-up soccer. In Taichi’s case he just gave up on karuta, never practiced seriously, kept losing, and then decided that it was stupid and no one should play it. First off it was short sighted of him to give up when he never played seriously nor practiced the way Chihaya did. Secondly just because he sucks doesn’t mean that Chihaya also sucks and will never make it. Just because Taichi was the better as a kid doesn’t mean that Chihaya can’t surpass him. What just because Chihaya is a girl she should not show his sorry ass up and be in a higher league as she plays a better game? Even if he quit the game doesn’t give him license to tell Chihaya to quit and belittle her efforts to be a master.
Taichi being full of LOSE, FAIL, and QUIT aside, maybe he will finally play karuta out of a genuine love for the game. If he plays just to get close to Chihaya he will fail because his shit game doesn’t help Chihaya achieve her goals. If he half asses it again then he will never ever beat the shadow of Arata. Speaking of Arata’s shadow it is mighty big, and certainly has a much more profound and better effect on Chihaya than it affected Taichi (who reacts with weeping, quitting, emo, and defeatism). Whether he intended to or not Arata did light the fires of Chihaya’s passion for karuta. It’s sad that we find out that in three years his situation has worsened and that he has quit. Before the Taichi apologists start jumping on Arata, Arata is still poor (and using a rotary phone for crying out loud) and his reason for quitting had more to do with losing his Grandfather than it did anything else.
I cannot help but love Chihaya’s fiery attitude when she took Taichi’s discouragement, doubt, and disapproval stuffed it into her bag and tried to take him out with it. A lesser person would let Taichi’s social stature give credence to his litany of lose, but not Chihaya. Chihaya is right, just because she isn’t great doesn’t mean she can’t be great. Just because things take time doesn’t mean they are not worth doing. In a hateful age of instant gratification it is good to see Chihaya being a hard worker grinding it out for three largely lonely years. Because if you want to live a real life you have to work for something and believe that your day will come. Arata might not be garnering much in the way of romantic feelings from Chihaya, but Chihaya is still seeking what she imagines would be absolution and vindication from her karuta hero as repayment for his faith in her. As Chihaya has always been in the shadow of her sister and the butt of many jokes, most of them originating from Taichi, it is hard to fault Chihaya for her hero worship for the first and for a while the only person who acknowledges her achievements and talents.
Still this doesn’t really give much justification for Taichi being a karuta hater and his attempts to demean Chihaya’s love for the game. It is good that Chihaya’s hero worship of Arata helps maintain her blindness of Taichi’s half-hearted attempts to clarify his feelings. It’s damn selfish and damn despicable of Taichi to try and pry Chihaya away from karuta in an effort to kill her connection with Arata. Chihaya loves the game and if Taichi were a man he would love that part of her too. Hopefully he can learn to but his initial reaction and his praise of quitting raises serious questions of whether he loves Chihaya enough to overcome three years spent hating the game and then some more for being envious of Arata. Since Taichi likes quitting so damn much who’s to say he won’t quit on any relationship with Chihaya should he be so blessed as to be chosen in the first place? I for one would have the nagging suspicion that he would quit on being Chihaya’s boyfriend after a month and go off with a girl who is easier to get. It’s still fucking sad and lame how Taichi is jealous of Arata’s skill at karuta and resentful of Chihaya’s love for karuta. Taichi is so focused on killing Chihaya’s love for karuta that he still hasn’t changed with his lame keep away tactics, first it was Arata now it karuta. Why for love shoujo/josei can’t he focus on bettering himself, learn to be honest and acknowledge his failings in karuta while encouraging Chihaya?
While I am confident that Chihayafuru is fairly faithful to competitive karuta play I cannot deny being giddy at the sight of not only displays of sheer speed, but the equivalent to pump fakes, match-ups, line-ups, crossovers, and blocking in a card game. As an American Football, Basketball, and Baseball fan it makes me respect the game of karuta more. Even if you don’t understand the game you can at least respect it as something more than pure memorization.
Next week I am hoping Arata will finally stop being a shadow, but so long as the manga holds true, which it has for the most part, I am bracing for more Taichi QUIT and FAIL.
Remember folks, Nobody destroys Mashima Taichi’s day better than Ayase Chihaya.