Chihayafuru – 10: Winning Time

It's game time kid, time to start the path to being the Greatest Show on Tatami.

Training camp is over but when crunch time comes Desk-kun wants out. Chihaya gets shaken but rejoice for she might soon be stirred for Chihaya might have a rival. Kana-chan wins her first match. Taichi fails at leading and coaching. Its game time and only three are really game on.

While Chihaya has put a squad together to compete for a regional championship expectations were muted but Desk-kun thought he was a beast in karuta and got thumped. Like his hero Taichi Desk-kun fears losing and has no composure when the heat is on. Fortunately Desk-kun lacked the intelligence to actually cheat, but his loser attitude boiled over and somehow shocked Chihaya to her core. Talk about lacking respect for the game, Desk-kun is a fucking n00b playing in a tournament everyone else was preparing the whole year for and yet he thinks that he is so talented and awesome that he would just walk in there and fucking blow out the competition. Well, all of you naysayers who commented that Desk-kun would pull his head out of his ass, I FUCKING CALLED IT. Not only does Desk-kun keep failing as a person he reaches new lows when he quit in the middle of it.

Sure they aren’t a team yet, what the fuck does he expect? You just put people together and that makes them a team? No, that’s not how it works and it was thanks to Taichi that focused on match ups and basically put Desk-kun out to dry along with Kana-chan because he had not faith in them what so ever. However being a dumbass Desk-kun blames Chihaya… That is fucked up, hell if Desk-kun was on my team and he did that his ass would not only be cut from the roster he might find himself falling down a couple stories. I am sure that some fucking idiot with a bleeding heart is going to argue that it was Chihaya’s fault. It wasn’t she did all she could to put Desk-kun in a position to succeed and it was still Taichi who threw Desk-kun out to get crushed, and even then it was Pork-bun’s sound strategy and Taichi merely botched the implementation.

All one has to do is look at how Kana-chan just went out there to play and she played to win because she followed Pork-bun’s advice, take it easy and just play the game. She didn’t always win but she kept at it despite the losses and won one for Chihaya. Now that is worthy of song and praise, Kana-chan understood that she was a rookie playing against seasoned veterans and kept her ego in check. That is something that I like to see, that is something that was a given, and all the credit in the world to Kana-chan for recognizing that and respecting the game. It’s just sad that Desk-kun had to rage quit the game when the going got tough and he left weeping. I think it was great of Kana-chan to be the superior person and tell Desk-kun to his face what a fool and ingrate he was for losing his cool when he started losing. Sadly for better or for worse (probably worse) Desk-kun was forgiven for his melt down, he should have been cut and on any other club he would have been sent packing. However until a better player can be found Chihaya will have to settle for less.

I was surprised that Chihaya put so much weight on Desk-kun’s tirade to the point she lost her composure as well. Her magnanimous heart does her credit but in this case it nearly meant her doom. She did Kana-chan and Desk-kun right by giving them a real training camp against Taichi’s advice and Kana-chan is proof of that. She won’t get that kind of devotion all the time and she needs to realize that she can only do so much off the mat that she has to leave the onus on her players to a point when it’s game time. She can beat the snot out of them when practicing but when it’s game time the best she can do is hope that Kana-chan and Desk-kun have enough sense and cool to do well. Desk-kun wasn’t right she wanted to spread love of karuta and Desk-kun decided to join to follow his man crush on Taichi. Desk-kun will not win a game until he respects the game and puts in the time and played the game for real. Chihaya could not have foreseen that Desk-kun was so fucking wimpy that he would crumble after a few matches. Teams need chemistry they are not simply a collection of parts or people, and the only way you get chemistry is by going through hard times and good times together. It’s like the peanut gallery said they were a first year team and they hadn’t gone through the growing pains and their players did not respect the game enough. Moreover they hit it dead on why Chihaya wasn’t lighting up the competition, they had an argument and it showed.

While Kana-chan was the bright spot in all this the fail did not stop with Desk-kun as it should have once again Taichi tried to take over the team with his “excellent” coaching. You have to be retarded to think that a pat on the head will change the momentum of a game, maybe that shit will fly in terrible fiction but that doesn’t work. What works is essentially telling your team that they have a chance to win and that they got to take it one play at a time and that victory must be grasped and forcefully taken. Instead Taichi plays the match up game and throws Kana-chan and Desk-kun under the bus and flat out tells them that they can’t be relied on to win so they should just lose. He does it on Pork-bun’s sound advice but fails to remind Kana-chan and Desk-kun that they are still expected to play their best. He then allows Desk-kun to poison the team and lets Desk-kun go on Desk-kun’s terms. That was a dumb move because it validated Desk-kun’s outburst. Even worse Taichi gives Chihaya the patented Mashima family motto, “You can’t lose.” Like I have said before when you play not to lose, you will lose, and that advice has demolished Taichi’s hopes and dreams for most of his life and it just goes to show how terrible a motto it is when Chihaya nearly lost in a blowout. Just all round awful coaching and as if a pat on the head brought victory, well if Taichi had been giving good advice and holding Desk-kun accountable it would not have been a problem. That pat didn’t with the game Chihaya won her game after hearing Desk-kun apologize, Pork-bun was never in trouble and Kana-chan was always in the fight. All it did was reassure Taichi that it wasn’t his fault that he did no wrong when the only right thing he did was call a time out.

Fact is Taichi should not be the one coaching the team it should be Pork-bun because Pork-bun has a better game and has a grasp of team karuta schemes. It was Pork-bun who made up the line up and demanded change once they got deeper in the tournament. Moreover Nishida had the proper attitude, yes the rookies were to play the toughest competition, but they were still expected to play even if they probably weren’t going to win. It was a continuation of Steel Sharpens Steel and that you get better when you play tougher opponents. Good of Taichi to follow his advice, but shame on Taichi for not telling Desk-kun like Pork-bun told Kana-chan that they should still play and play to win when possible. Nishida was the tourney veteran and there was no reason why it should not have been Nishida doing the line up and coaching the team. Chihaya is the heart and soul of the team and club, but Nishida clearly has the brains and experience to lead them during tournament time. I was most delighted that Pork-bun out-shone both Taichi and Desk-kun and acquitted himself well in the tournament and repaid Chihaya’s faith in him and his abilities. He also has a winning attitude and focuses on winning instead of not losing like Taichi. Anyone who knows anything about winning knows that you don’t think of losing period, you just focus on winning and you play every game like it is your last. Losers behave like Taichi with their “can’t lose” attitudes and “it could be be my last game.” It should always be I want a win, this is my last game so I won’t hold back and regret that I did not give my all. I really like how Nishida reacted to Desk-kun’s outburst, that Desk-kun was not allowed to leave and that he was out of line in insulting Kana-chan and Chihaya. Pork-bun got up for that and I just only wish Pork-bun just punched the shit out of Desk-kun for being an ingrate and not a team player. Taichi just sat there and took Desk-kun’s shit.

Still that near loss and subsequent comeback at least brought Chihaya to the attentions of a great karuta power in Hokuo and one Sudo the Sadist. Taichi is never going to raise Chihaya’s game, Pork-bun can give her a good fight, but it is quite likely that Sudo is Class A and can give Chihaya mighty fits. Moreover I think Sudo is a likely rival candidate and would be able to give Taichi mighty fits when Sudo asserts himself as a contender for Chihaya’s attention. Most interestingly of all though is that the reigning Karuta Queen is powerful foe, I cannot wait to see this show down between Chihaya and the current Queen. Also way to go Kana-chan for making good on her contract demands and promoting her family business as well as showing off Chihaya as a lady.

Hana’s thoughts: on Dem Clothes

Firstly, can I just be really girly and say how great everyone looked in this episode? I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’. Seriously, Chihaya, Taichi and Kana-chan looked stunning, and even ‘Desko-kun’ and Nishida looked rather smart in their respective pale and navy blue hakama. Thankfully, the Scooby Gang don’t just know how to scrub up well, but know how to bust a move on the tatami floor too. Well, eventually. Yes, eye-rolling at Desko-kun’s tantrum and Chihaya’s deafness aside, most of the episode flowed pretty well in terms of getting everyone through round one of that tourney for the first time together as a team without making it all look too easy and allowing them to show off their skills as well. Perhaps the biggest not-so-surprising surprise though, was the slow, but steady Manning-Up of Taichi. Yes, I disagree with Crusader’s overly-harsh view of Taichi. Moving on. I thought he really showed true leadership and team-work skills, without forgetting how much he still wants Chihaya all for himself either. And this is another reason why I thought Taichi’s attire was appropriate. Clearly, those greens look great with his colouring, particularly against his hair and eyes, but I also think that the green works well as a symbol of both his jealousy of old, and of the more nurturing/ supportive role he resolves to take on in future. ‘Green-eyed monster’ and ‘Gardener’, if you will. The latter idea is also supported by the flower print on Chihaya’s hakama, which (aside from looking damn pretty) could in turn symbolise her as a flower-like talent that needs cultivating in order to fully develop. Overall, clothes are important to all the teams we’ve already seen so far in the tourney, and I like the way they were used in this episode to aid the bonding between the main characters and to fuse their identity as a team.

It's a great day for Kana-chan, her terms were finally realized.

Sorry Taichi but Chihaya is going to catch the attentions of many this day.

Try to not look so disgruntled Taichi when she texts Arata after all you have a girlfriend as far as Chihaya knows.

I see Taichi is paranoid of Chihaya getting more female attention.

An Old Foe returns...with friends of his own.

It's a reunion!

It's true Chihaya, Kana-chan is your best friend in the whole world.

Go on...it's KISSING TIME.

Indeed Kana-chan Chihaya must look her best this day.

Wait aren't you supposed to put the best player first?

His is Sudo of Hokuo, tremble Taichi for he has Chihaya in his sights.

Arata is on her mind.

I see Kana-chan fully supports Chihaya's feelings for Arata.

Now that Orange-kun is a guy who is playing to win no matter what even if it is a losing effort for his team.

Victory Kana-chan!

It's a most joyous occasion for master and pupil.

Yeah Taichi really fucked u[p when he put Desk-kun above team and demanded that everyone make up for his quitting.

This made me RAEG Taichi cops a feel and then gives the worst advice ever in the history of competition.

Yep Taichi because you chose Desk-kun things are looking bad.

Yeah they might not be as talented but they made a deep run because they were a TEAM.

It seems that Sudo is a fan of Chihaya's brand of Torture Karuta.

THAT HAND OF CHIHAYA'S GLOWS WITH AN AWESOME POWER! IT'S LOUD ROAR TELLS HER TO GRASP VICTORY!

I approve of this pairing even though Pork-bun is too good for Taichi.

It' was a beautiful comeback wasn't it Kana-chan?

Did you really think you could walk away from them Desk-kun? After what you pulled?

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8 Comments

  1. Posted December 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Crusader! I definitely disagree with opinions about various events in this episode, but nobody can criticize you for bottling up, and keeping your criticisms to yourself!

    I’ll focus on Tsutomu (Desk-kun): I don’t think anybody was really to blame for that meltdown. If anybody was, it was Desk-kun himself. To use a military analogy, what you basically have is a couple of green recruits dropped into the middle of a battlefield. Nobody should be surprised that one of them pissed on himself. In a real war, Desk-kun would be going home in a bag. He is lucky that Karuta is more forgiving.

    As far as I can tell, Desk-kun couldn’t possibly have been playing more than 4 months before entering this tournament. He was ridiculously optimistic to think he would win. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, just that if it did, that would have been an achievement. Chihaya, Nishida, and Taichi all had been in many tournaments. Kanade had the right attitude: fight your best for a team victory. When Desk-kun realized how unlikely it was that he would win, he switched from optimism to pessimism. He never considered that just because he wasn’t one of the top 3 players on the team, his match might be important for a team victory.

    I don’t blame Taichi, Chihaya, or anyone else for Tsutomu’s meltdown. I would say it was likely that one of the newbies would snap, but if anyone was to blame it would have to be Tsutomu himself.

    Oh, and Hana, I liked even how the other teams wore slogans like “Fight!” and “Karuta Win”. They managed to give the different teams some personality, even though we only see them for a short while.

    • Crusader
      Posted December 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      To compare this tournament with a war is insulting to to war, this wasn’t a case of life and death as war so often is. This was a competition not kill or be killed.

      What you call optimism I call arrogance, because it was damn egotistical for Desk-kun to think that he could light it up in his first game against people who had been playing for years. Once in a life time you get that transcendent player in a game that starts out as rookie of the year, rarely does that person go into the game thinking that victory is a forgone conclusion like Desk-kun. Fundamentally they will never become a team until they cut Desk-kun or he gets his head out of his ass and respects the game as one that doesn’t gift victory to him.

      What you call pessimism I call quitting because that is exactly what he did he quit right in the middle of it, the tournament was still in progress but because his ego was crushed he put himself above the team and ran away. He also poisoned the locker room and blamed everyone else for his failings. So I do think he deserves to be killed, because it was the same shit he pulled when he joined for Taichi. Why is it that finishing what you start so cheapened these days? Why must Desk-kun’s feelings be so protected and excused? If you tried that shit in the real world you’d get pummeled and rolled over, at best you live a pathetic meager existence, at worst you end up on the streets with no friends.

      Come on man this wan’t Desk-kun’s first outburst and it was arrogant of him to think that he was hot shit and better than the competition simply because he was Desk-kun the “Chosen One.” If anything he should have been inspired by the fact that non-A Ranked players were playing their asses off win or lose. This wan’t the case though, Desk-kun thought himself so much better than most of humanity that when reality hit he curled up an cried.

      • Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        First, my point wasn’t that Karuta is as serious as war. My point was that inserting people who may have been properly trained, but lack ALL real experience into the real thing should be expected to result in some sort of failure rate. It will break people at the very least. Desk-kun was the one that got broken. In retrospect Chihaya’s training system was completely appropriate, because if they couldn’t suffer the frustration and humiliation of losing, they were going to collapse at the tournament. The thing is, even WITH the training, when the real thing happens, expecting fresh-faced newbies to have the composure of those who have gone through many tournaments in the past is ridiculous.

        I completely agree with you about Desk-kun’s ego, BTW. You can call things anything you want, but I see it the same way. He had too high expectations of himself (optimism), and then when reality started happening all around him, he flipped to the other extreme, and decided that he was worthless (pessimism). I don’t blame Chihaya’s training, and I don’t blame Taichi’s leadership. It was bound to happen that one of the two green recruits would crack under the pressure of a real tournament. Everyone lives in some sort of mental bubble, and few situations truly expose how distorted our view of ourselves is. If you take some number of people who have been living comfortably in that bubble, and then confront them with their limits, some number will snap.

        To the extent that blame can be attributed for something that was bound to happen to somebody (as I said above) I place that on Desk-kun. Not for having snapped, and had a break-down when his comfortable illusion was popped, but for the way he responded. I wouldn’t have criticized him for curling up and crying all through lunch, but quitting was wrong. He chose the path that had the most potential to harm the other people on his team.

        • Crusader
          Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          Losing was acceptable at his level, that outburst and subsequent refusal to play is never acceptable under any circumstances that were given. Desk-kun is prone to breaking down he broke down the first time he was introduced and he’s breaking down again, it’s habitual and it is inexcusable. It’s one thing to make a mistake it’s another to make the same mistake time and again. It’s not just about making an ass of himself his behavior reflected badly on the team and gave everyone else the impression that they as a team did not respect the game. This was a public tournament, a degree of decorum is expected.

          I am glad we agree that quitting was wrong, but for me quitting, bashing his team mates, and crying in the middle of a game was inexcusable. Karuta demands respect and Desk-kun disrespected not only his teammates but also the game. His team doesn’t need him, Karuta doesn’t need him, but he needs his team because he has no friends otherwise.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      I liked even how the other teams wore slogans like “Fight!” and “Karuta Win”. They managed to give the different teams some personality, even though we only see them for a short while.

      Ooh, I didn’t notice their slogans ’til you pointed them out, but yes, it’s a great way to convey their collective identity, esp. given the time constraints – well spotted! :)

  2. Dein
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Goddamit, Desk-kun, I would snap you in half if I could. Horrible selfishness and arrogance, thinking you can just roll in and start winning against people who played for ages (massive respect to the guy on the orange tshirt, by the way). I know that Deks-kun is supposed to be a pushover, but he’s also supposed to be smart. Which, if he was, he would do his damn best and closely watch all the players around him and LEARN instead of running away like a sissy.

    Taichi also kinda sucked on a few levels this episode, particularly when he just let Desk-kun bail and then put all the responsibility on Chihaya with the whole “you HAVE to win” thing. I mean, seriously, how was that a good idea? I do kinda agree with Hana though – Taichi didn’t really “man up” but started thinking in the right, not-so-self-centered direction, at least. Ah well, on step at a time. Or as the case may be, one pat on the head.

    • Crusader
      Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Indeed if only Desk-kun is as half as smart as he claims, he’s only book-smart and not street smart. The memorization of data doesn’t make him smart if he cannot understand the finer points of using said knowledge beyond a test.

      Taichi letting Desk-kun go off made clear that he was going to play favorites with the team. He wants to treat them differently instead of treating them the same and making the same demands with regards to performance. He might have moved on but that test will come again when Desk-kun folds again… and then Desk-kun gets to leave then nothing will have changed.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Taichi didn’t really “man up” but started thinking in the right, not-so-self-centered direction, at least. Ah well, on step at a time. Or as the case may be, one pat on the head.

      Lol – it was a rather paternal/ priest-like head-pat, wasn’t it?!

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