Chihayafuru – 12: The Death of a Dynasty

Smooth move Kana-chan, smooth move...

The Hokuo Dynasty is no more and Sudo will not be returning next year. Chihaya gets the jitters and can’t get her family to get excited. Taichi hits Chihaya. Retro-kun makes a bid for more screen time and hands over Hokuo state secrets to Taichi. Pork-bun going balls to the wall crazy for the nationals. The Empress has adopted the alias Quattro Bajeena and is looking for Char, have you seen him?

I think Pork-bun deserves a medal for how much he has improved, not only is he outclassing Tacihi in Karuta as a worthy rival to Chihaya he’s leading practice and taking over player development. In fact Nishida beat Chihaya to the punch and already inducted Kana-chan and Desk-kun into his karuta society and already tapped his old mentor to help out. Just all round astonishing and great, Chihaya might be the heart and soul but Nishida is the brain, muscle, and gut of the team. Chihaya and Taichi seem to have reduced roles in developing the rookies and rightfully so. Taichi has at best an average game and at this point you need a guy who knows what he is doing during tournament time to do the teaching. Chihaya plays a great game but it’s hard to replicate so hats off to Nishida for knowing that he was the most well rounded and fundamentally sound player out of them. Taichi should thank Nishida ceaselessly from now on not only does this net him some alone time with Chihaya after the club shuts down, but now Taichi no longer needs to pretend to be a coach and stink up Desk-kun and Kana-cha’s game.

I am glad for once we got away from hearing how “bad” Taichi has it and I am glad his screen time was largely killed. Sadly all this time Chihaya’s been hanging around Taichi she almost took on some of his lousy loser habits. You do not ever need to apaologize for winning a game where you didn’t cheat, you don’t have to be the best player to advance; you just have to be the winning-est. That is how tournaments work while in a vacuum the best team would win, but that is not always the case. The hot team can and does win, and hot teams aren’t always the best team.  There is no need to apologize to Hokuo, even if you do get bounced which is likely Sudo isn’t even telling you not to lose, he’s telling you that you better not give anything less than 100%. Besides Hokuo won the regionals last year and lost in the nationals so they can’t call you out for losing. Fact is the game was theirs to lose and they lost it the minute they underestimated Mizusawa and crowned themselves regional champions. It’s any given Sunday when you play a game anything can happen. Just now some scrub named Dan Orlovsky a guy who was labeled the dumbest Quarterback EVER just posted a two game win streak against two winning teams while playing for Arguable the worst team in the NFL. So DO NOT EVER tell yourself that the best team deserves to win, because that is not how it works.

I like how Chihaya isn’t using her family woes to incite pity nor is she airing out her family business to other people. It sucks that Chitose is getting most of the attention and I think that the parents should be smacked around for neglecting their youngest daughter like that. At least they are aware of her existence and they are making an effort to encourage Chihaya. I just hope they all get on the same page because for Chihaya will overtake Chitose someday. Chitose may be pretty but Chihaya is just as if not more so and Chihaya has higher cognitive functions and can use a buzzer a game show. Once Chitose gets old she might well have nothing because she coaste4d on looks for most of her life while Chihaya has been working towards something even if she has less than stellar grades. To err is to be human to forgive is to be divine and I am sure Chihaya will forgive her family for ignoring her for most of her life up to now. Still plenty of time to change that, and I see why Chihaya holds Arata in such high regard.

Kana-chan is getting better and cleverer by the week. Taichi might be trying hard but he is failing mightily while Kana-chan is already in Chihaya’s good graces by using poetry to get to her heart and helping Chihaya become a better player. Taichi might be stealing second hand kisses (a very poor substitute) while Kana-chan is going for sleep overs and intimate hugs. Given her new placement scheme I suspect that Kana-chan is going to make placement and schemes as her hard edge to becoming elite, she already has most of the poems memorized so having a unique set up and scheme she could give her opponent’s fits when they try and take cards from her. Given how most players do not memorize the poems in their entirety Kana-chan could have an edge but only tournament play will tell if she is on the verge of a break through.

Taichi got his time cut in general but thanks to Nishida finally got some alone time with Chihaya… and Taichi BLEW IT. What he said wasn’t entirely wrong but come on hitting the girl you allegedly love is not the best use of said alone time. This is why Taichi is destined to fail, poor time management, piss poor presence of mind. He has a report from Retro-kun in hand and instead of telling everyone the good news during the club meeting he kept it a secret. I have no idea why he would do that but I can tell you it was stupid of him. Taichi should have handed it over to Nishida that instant so that they could best use the data because Taichi wouldn’t understand all of it and he would have boosted morale over all. Instead we get Taichi hitting Chihaya… yeah Taichi really squandered that opportunity because in the end with Kana-chan quoting poetry Arata’s shadow once again dominates Chihaya’s thoughts and heart.

Taichi wasting alone time wasn’t the dumbest thing I saw that honor goes to Retro-kun who makes an ass of himself when he seizes the trophy, cry’s as if the world is going end, and embarrasses Hokuo. I understand being upset, but you DO NOT EVER take the trophy from the winning team and publicly whine about how you deserve to win. If I am Sudo Retro-kun is going to get cut, losing happens, how you react is a direct reflection of yourself and the team you played for. Just classless Hokuo could have gone out with heads held high, congratulate Mizusawa, wish them luck, and compete next year. Instead Retro-kun makes a scene and they all look like whiny little ingrates who don’t deserve to win. Retro-kun’s stupidity doesn’t end there he goes all the way to Taichi’s house to hand over valuable intelligence. I am fine with him trying to help out a team in the same region, I just have no idea why he gave it to Taichi since Nishida was clearly the veteran and probably the only guy who could make the most sense of it. Moreover it is a slight on Chihaya who took out their ace and still gets no respect, Retro-kun and Chihaya were in the same karuta society and played longer there and now Retro-kun can’t even bring himself to congratulate Chihaya and hand the report to her says plenty of how he is a misogynist and very small person. Retro-kun deserves to be alone for the rest of his life, just pathetic.

The Empress was also a major chunk of fail, I can’t believe she is an educator and it seems that the Mizusawa faculty is more interested in stroking their own egos than you know helping their students. I get that the Empress wants to be on Prince of Tennis, but come on her sport gets belittled plenty and yet here she is belittling karuta. I just hope that this little trip will change her tune and make her apologize to Chihaya for the shit way she has been treating Chihaya by undercutting Chihaya with the appointment of Taichi, and for mocking their achievements and success.

Still next week will hopefully see Arata return in person.

Hana’s thoughts: on ‘trophies’

I love the way this show takes traditional elements of shoujo, slice of life and sports anime, puts a fresh spin on things, and leaves us wanting more. ‘Retro-kun’, Chihaya’s family, and ‘the Empress’ are far from original on the surface. However, the former’s ability to rise above his jealousy, the parents’ quiet support of their younger daughter, and the Empress’s recognition of the Scooby Gang’s dedication and achievements, all of these add further to our enjoyment of a show that, because of its blend of genres and depth of characters, continues to entertain and maintain tension. I particularly like how ‘success’ is explored this week. Retro-kun’s seizing of the trophy was funny and yet moving, indicating how much success means to him, but (as we see from his later meeting with Taichi and sharing of his information) showing that he is also able to think as part of a wider team. Similarly, the Empress is keen on associating with successful individuals (i.e. the tennis club), and yet is able to recognise and value commitment and dedication. After all, she knew about Chihaya and co.’s win in the regionals, but it wasn’t until she saw them practising well after school hours were over that she decided to take a more active role in supporting them, as is symbolised by her placement of their trophy in a more prominent position. Finally, it might’ve been enough for us, as viewers empathising with Chihaya, to see her family continuing to view her as inferior to her older sister for now, as this would’ve made her (we hope) eventual win even more sweeter. However, the fact that we are shown that they are aware of Chihaya’s achievements and value her as much as her sister after all makes the family dynamics, and the show, far more interesting. In a way, as this episode shows, Chihaya has already achieved so much success, but – as is symbolised by her childlike bawling at the end – it is her family’s recognition, their love that Chihaya is most appreciative of. This also reminds us both of how hurt she was when she thought her two closest friends were abandoning her at the end of middle school, and of how happy she was when their club was approved of and when they won the regionals in the last episode. ‘Just do your best and success, in more than one form, will surely follow’ isn’t a new idea, but seeing it explored here was pretty sweet.

We'll have to work on those deft hands of yours Kana-chan.

Retro-kun wants to embarrass himself and his club by going out a sore loser...

Sudo was addressing Taichi and Desk-kun.

Because the NFL isn't on why else?

Chitose might want to consider adding something more to her resume and skill set...

Yeah I guess you were so unimportant that the host could block you with impunity.

That's debatable Chihaya, still at least you are willing to support a sister who can't reciprocate the love.

Oh stop it was so boring no one showed up but you.

Let's be honest Desk-kun HAS NO WHERE ELSE TO GO!

Pork-bun is now organizing practices, Taichi better thank him. Nishida should have been made coach and he's giving you alone time... what a guy.

Taichi doesn't take criticism easily, I wonder even if he's paying attention.

Hi, I heard Chihaya was holding out for a Hero...

I am so disappointed Chihaya, you sound like Taichi... I knew that his fail was like a disease, but not you too damn it.

Just wow, really Taichi, Nishida gives you some alone time and THIS is how you use it? Physically abusing the girl you "love"?

That is one long confession letter you got there...

...

Seldom praised but you aren't forgotten Chihaya. Also fear not for you can over take Chitose because beauty is fleeting.

Worry not for Kana-chan plans to expand the next catalog.

Get used to it, Kana-chan is only going to get more extravagant.

GET LOUD! and get some game music too especially for RALLY TIME.

Kana-chan doesn't like Pork-bun's schemes, she has something better in mind.

Who dares insult poetry?

Kana-chan is not amused by your lack of appreciation.

Oh Taichi even Kana-chan is using poetry to get into her heart... enjoy the friend zone.

The old bag is jealous because she never won anything since she was born in Triassic.

She is looking for Char, have seen him?

Chihaya can't wait to see Arata again.

Hear that Kana-chan? You make Chihaya's cards red.

Fret not Kana-chan, Arata maybe number one but you are way ahead of Taichi in the Chihaya sweepstakes.

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