Chihayafuru – 08: The Circle is Now Complete

Sadly there would be no more female members joining us this week...

Last man up is a guy who likes to eat for two. Taichi finds himself in Bad Company though he won’t be going Beyond the Call of Duty anytime soon with Desk-kun and Pork-bun. Now that the circle is complete one can hope that Arata will finally be able to play some role instead of being a boogey man to Taichi and Pork-bun.  While Pork-bun wasn’t he most amicable of people at least he seems well-adjusted, more than Taichi and that thing that is Desk-kun any way. Also I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and a most valuable Black Friday.

Nishida might be his given name but I’m going to call him Pork-bun because that is the name he earned by stuffing his face to the point he is rarely seen without food in his face. So good of Chihaya remember Number 2 and to be honest Pork-bun ought to be happy that someone remembered that he was a Number 2 because Number 2s don’t get remembered we don’t fondly remember those who lose the championship game they become butts of jokes. Unlike Taichi who just goes with “the sure thing” Pork-bun actually went into another sport and worked to get better. Though Pork-bun is a long way from being a Prince of Tennis at least he didn’t let his girth get in the way. Still it was unfortunate that Pork-bun was born somewhere other than the Unites States, because if he had he would have been a football player like the character designer intended. After all it is a special kind of athlete who can pack on weight and be so light on his feet with speed.

Sadly it seems that Arata also ruined Pork-bun’s life just as he was getting fitted for his championship ring. I have no idea what is going on, but after three guys I see a pattern here. For whatever reason these guys just don’t know how to roll with the punches that life throws their way. It makes no sense to me but I guess that all three of them have shit bags for parents and they never had to deal with a real problem, like poverty or something. They all have petty First World problems and they don’t even know it all them are like “Woe is me” and it’s getting damn ridiculous. I am starting to like Arata more and more despite the fact that he has barely had much screen time its great how just by winning and working harder than Pork-bun and Taichi he managed to RUIN THEIR LIVES and make time cry like little children. I quite like the idea of Arata being the personal monster of Taichi and Pork-bun to the point the quake at the mere thought of him. Just goes to show how petty and small the guys of the Karuta Club are even if Pork-bun has enough mass to make a big guy. Still at least Pork-bun still has some fight left in him and he’s not resorting to cheating.

Congratulations to Chihaya for recognizing Pork-bun after three years’ time and going after him. Sure she came on too strong but she did successfully goad him into playing karuta again, and that deserves plenty of recognition for rekindling the fire. While Taichi and Desk-kun have proved to be habitual let downs Chihaya has finally found a worthy opponent who can catually help improve her game. I look forward to seeing Chihaya battling Pork-bun daily. It’s funny how Pork-bun had lost his love for the game the day he only wanted to win I suppose there is something invariably something lost in a game when you play just to win and not because you love it. It’s great that Chihaya helped Pork-bun Remember Love for karuta I hope she can do that and more with Kana-chan. I wonder what will be next on the agenda though since now that the circle is complete and the club is now official I wonder how they will now proceed. I am curious as to what grand plans Chihaya has for her group. All in all while her group is not the most enthusiastic about karuta at least she gathered the needed three, were it left to Taichi there would have only been Desk-kun at best, and a poor club that would have been. I really dig how she used poetry and her super human hearing to out Pork-bun, most deliciously of all though her old foe and I do mean OLD foe the Empress lost a member of her mediocre tennis club. If nothing else the last member isn’t a total ingrate and we are finally done with the introductions.

Hana’s thoughts: on following one’s heart vs. following one’s head

So, this episode was basically about the (re-)discovery and introduction of the fifth and final member of the Karuta club. I.e. Nishida.. Yes, NISHIDA – Chihaya, I adore you, but that selective deafness thing wasn’t exactly your finest moment. Moving on. I enjoyed the episode, but I felt the whole thing was wrapped up too neatly. Yes, we had Kana-chan and ‘Desko-kun’ both wooed by Chihaya in the space of just one episode each, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt that Nishida would join the club, however vehement his initial protests. Well, that’s anime for ya. Also, I guess The Ghosts of Aratas Past may have had something to do with it. Clearly, Nishida loved Karuta, but (like Taichi) made himself give up on his first love, in favour of something else (tennis) at which he could excel. In this sense, he is similar to how Taichi was, though the latter’s parental pressures ultimately had more to do with his previous decisions. However, I’m still not entirely satisfied by Nishida’s story. Clearly, we’re shown that he has always loved Karuta, and it feels right for him to quit the tennis club in favour of joining the Scooby Gang. However, the way Chihaya just happened to find the former 2nd best Karuta player she knew, and the way she just happened to overhear Nishida using the rhythm of the 100 poems to help his tennis(!), and the way Nishida revealed that he only gave up the game because of The Almighty Arata… I mean, come on! Then again, I’ve never played Karuta, or played tennis, or met Arata, so who knows…

One other thing, though, regarding Nishida’s similarities with Taichi; that’s twice we’ve now seen characters giving up on things that they can never excel at, in favour of an easier route to becoming The Top Dog at something. And ‘that something’ seems to be ‘anything’, as long as it’s not that thing that they couldn’t excel at, as long as it leads to Top Dog status. ‘Follow Your Head’ (and do something you’re good at), it seems, is the best policy. However, of course, both Taichi and Nishida are persuaded to return to the loving arms of their beloved Karuta, in which case, ‘Follow Your Heart’ (and do that thing you might not be that good at, but want to do anyway) is, in fact, the best policy. I guess for now, as we approach the final arc(s) of the series, it doesn’t really matter whether or not any of these kids are ever going to do anything with Karuta other than practice it within the club and the occasional tournament. However, I find it interesting to see the importance their society places on the pursuit of activities/ anything for the (sole) purpose of winning, as opposed to taking part at all. ‘What use is Karuta?’ Desko-kun asked Chihaya last week, before being promptly kidnapped by the latter and lectured into submission by Taichi. ‘Just do it because you (will) love it’, seems to be the answer, but clearly Chihaya will not settle for anything less than being ‘Queen’ to Arata’s ‘King’. In short: I don’t know where the show is going with this. Though, it’s certainly fun watching the Scooby Gang bonding together – with ARATA, I hope!

Sorry Taichi he doesn't swing that way...

Yeah I felt the same way when I was taking Organic Chemistry.

Where have I seen that pork bun before...

...Still Chihaya remembers.

Chihaya has the last jelly donut...

I see he likes jelly donuts.

Sorry Taichi but Chihaya needs to play a real karuta player...

I hope he washed his hands...

Chihaya might not be the best karuta player in Japan, but she can still do a take down...

It was well past the two second rule, probably passed the 10 second rule too...

Pork-bun calls this his Flying Monkey Pose...

This one he calls the Rising Tiger.

T-Minus ten until rumors of Chihaya having a crush on Pork-bun of Tennis spreads...

Yes Pork-bun is surprisingly agile given his size, unfortunately Pork-bun wasn't playing Football and making interceptions like Vince Wilfork.

Too bad he took it lying down.

I wish Taichi was able to see that expression on her...

Sure could use more time conditioning than stuffing your face yeah?

Face it Pork-bun she put a spell on you.

Yeah I'd be weirded out too like Pork-bun if Tiachi looked at me like that.

Finally a real game.

Down to the wire and well played, t'was a bad omen my team lost a road game this week.

Sorry Empress Track Suit but Pork-bun decided to join a better program.

Sleep well Chihaya you have earned it.

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12 Comments

  1. ectholion
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    H3SO4…. what type of madness is this fool chem teacher teaching them!?!?!??!?!?!? and its not even that highly unstable imaginary compound its a picture of butyl-2-one :( By your words i assume you are a bio major comrade in science.

    • Crusader
      Posted November 26, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Yep thank goodness my student days are over.

  2. Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Ahaha Hana, this is anime where you meet people you haven’t met in years in less than 5 minutes and recognized them right away. It would be better though if in the previous episodes Pork-kun pass by or something as a background character. Then we all can be “Oh, it’s that kid who has been passing by since episode xx!” I’m still not comfortable at how Nishida pops out of nowhere. It’s too convenience for Chihaya. But oh well, anime.,
    I still don’t understand about his obsession with Arata. Or every characters’ obsession with him. Not because I don’t have any experience for being No. 2, but I never stop playing my violin because a 12-years-old kid was better than me at playing it :< Instead I take it as an experience and use it as an incentive to get better at playing violin. Maybe I'm too much of a Follow Your Head person. Or maybe it's because I haven't played karuta

    • Crusader
      Posted November 26, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Maybe it is a cultural thing, still you are already doing well if ranking doesn’t matter just keep on grinding until you get nothing more out of violin. I gave up after three years and I still sounded terrible, killing a cat with sound terrible.

    • Posted November 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      You play the violin?! Awesome! Remind me to tell you elsewhere about the time I was offered violin lessons as a kid, before my parents (from the Taichi’s-Parents-School-of-Thought) aborted that idea. Anyways. I think most people follow their heads at least to some extent; I think (no pun intended) it’s safer than purely following your heart.

      It would be better though if in the previous episodes Pork-kun pass by or something as a background character.

      Yes, that would’ve been a far more satisfying way of (re-)introducing him. However, I can’t really fault the overall pacing of the show so far, each episode has certainly been pretty concise and action-packed. Can’t wait for the next arc!

  3. Bob from Accounting
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    A heroic effort from our noble heroine this episode, tempting Nishida away from the evils of outdoor activity so that nothing will prevent his weight issues from becoming progressively worse. I kid of course, this is anime! There are no such consequences in the animated kingdom, so Nishida is free to follow his heart and become as strong a karuta player as he needs to (rather than an American Football player as Crusader mystifyingly suggested). Jubilations! Now that the Karuta Rangers have been fully gathered together, I’m also curious to see what direction things will go in now. A training arc full of character development, or will we be going into a tournament arc sooner than usual? Either way, I can only hope that it will contain MOAR KANA-CHAN!

    • Crusader
      Posted November 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      It’s only mystifying to you because your ignorance is boundless which is why you will always be counting other people’s money instead of your own. If you only knew how much Pork-bun could make over the course of ten years in the NFL. Still Pork-bun could use Football conditioning (as athletes go Football players are among the most fit people in the world even the big guys) and at the very least he could use some Play60 time.

      We got roughly 24 eps total (supposedly), I just hope we don’t get pointless filler for most of it.

    • Posted November 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      MOAR KANA-CHAN!

      - FINALLY PLAYING A GAME OF KARUTA, I hope!

  4. Dein
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    I found it hilarious to see that Arata, despite being the best player we’ve seen so far, also has an additional kick of traumatizing his opponents for decades to come. I don’t mind Pork-bun too much, seeing as he did admit why he quit the game instead of saying it was some stupid kid thing he’s too grown up to do or some other lame excuse. Even though I don’t really like him, he’s certainly sporting a better attitude than the other two guys in the club.

    Speaking of which, I found it hilarious how Taichi pumped up his chest and then challenge Pork-bun for a game… with Chihaya. I Know he wouldn’t really have a chance against him, but at least pretend to not be a coward.

    • Crusader
      Posted November 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I know Taichi is now hiding behind Chihaya, it is both sad and HILARIOUS. Quite why and how Arata is managing to traumatize his opponents probably has less to do with Arata being the the Greatest Show on Tatami but rather the fundamental weaknesses of Pokr-bun and Taichi. Both of them lived for praise and without it their self worth plummets. Still at least Pork-bun can actually play a good match against Chihaya which is more than can be said for Taichi.

  5. Posted November 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Arata really managed to ruin NIshida and Taichi’s lives but in the end he has more messed up life. Not that I dislike him, but I really wish that Pork-kun or Taichi would beat him in Karuta even just for one time.

    Hana, I think the “follow your heart” has deeper implications with Taichi. He likes Karuta but he loves Chihaya which made him came back to play Karuta once again, if I’m not mistaken. As for Nishida, clearly he loves Karuta, he chose to play Karuata despite the fact that receives more recognition when playing tennis. Also, I don’t like Chihaya to settle as “Queen to Arata’s King” too. I haven’t read the manga so I don’t know what’s stored in this series, but I prefer if Chihaya doesn’t have feelings for Arata (actually I prefer her and Taichi).

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see why she has to end up with anyone either. Though, at the moment, I think I’d prefer to see her with Taichi too.. Unless Arata has a pretty swift and impressive change of development and heart compared to the direction that he’ll probably go in…

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