Well a New Year and Chihayafuru is back, and so is Arata. While I am disappointed that Chihaya self-destructed during the team portion of the tournament, I can’t really blame her. I don’t think for a minute that the likely reigning Queen got to her when going up the steps. In fact it had little to do with people unless you count the Empress being a heretic. You see they simply prayed at the wrong temple to false gods. Had they converted to Jodo Shinsu Buddhism their faith would have given the power over their enemies who oppose the will of heaven, instead Chihaya gets crushed by the weight of Taichi’s sins. Such is life for a non-believer when you listen to an old bag who is a glory chasing hag. If nothing else plenty of Fukui-ben.
As expected as a team they did not get far although they did not get bounced in the first round when Taichi struggled to get Chihaya off the field. While I am sure every Taichi apologist out there is in agreement that Chihaya is fat, I hope they apply Taichi’s habits and start calling all women who aren’t skeletor, fat. I would totally pay to see the beat down such an ingrate would get. Still it is not that Chihaya is fat, it’s that Taichi is weaksauce and as in much of his life can barely carry his own weight let alone carry Chihaya, so much for the dashing “athletic” Taichi, so much for Taichi putting Chihaya on his back and carrying her to the promise land. Yet this is all the more humorous because Chihaya could and DID carry Kana-chan a great distance to her bedroom. I am saddened by this pointless emphasis on beauty and desirable weight. Were Taichi a real man he would never have allowed himself to be so out of shape as to struggle to help a woman to the door, but in end he blames Chihaya for his inability to carry her. Chihaya is fine the way she is I would personally shoot Empress in the face given the chance. How dare she insist that Chihaya is only pretty when she doesn’t talk and just sits there like a piece of furniture?
At any rate Taichi went where he belonged, off screen. Not only does Sudo return to be Chihaya’s arch rival and claim a more important rank in Chihaya’s heart and mind, we get the whole deal on what lead to Arata quitting karuta. I just want to say everyone who got on Arata’s case kicking cards boy do you all look petty and moronic. As if being a rich boy running around half-heartedly doing things and coasting on talent was such HARD TIME. Then again being there family is an outmoded concept and living selfishly is the way to go in modern era… So in the end Arata had it harder than Taichi, while Taichi was gallivanting around with Miss Girlfriend, Arata had to watch his Grandpa die a slow and painful death. It was a most cruel fate that Grandpa first got paralyzed and then senile to the point he could no longer consistently identify objects, feed himself, or recognize his family.
Arata was always the poorer of the three and not only did his family remain poor their finances declined even further as Arata no longer could travel by car. The medical bills must have been crushing, and the slow mental decline of Grandpa must have been devastating. Arata basically had no social life because he was his Grandpa’s aid, so much for the Taichi idolator propaganda where Arata simply went into a hole and cried. Arata knew he was getting left behind, and he did make an effort to keep in touch but in the end reality and death took over and Arata fell behind. Still Arata being a smart kid did not waste his screen time crying “woe is me.” Instead Arata took the mantle that he was born to have and he decided that he would carry on his Grandfather’s karuta style. Arata went further by giving Chihaya a get well gift and promised to face her in the singles match just like Chihaya had dreamed for all these years. All in all Arata was efficient in using his screen time. Sadly that girl who passed Chihaya by at the temple to the False Gods of the Empress will have other ideas. I have this funny feeling that this dark haired bishoujo is the reigning Queen and will take note of Chihaya, who had bested Sudo of Hokuo.
I really like how Nishida pried Retro-kun’s state secrets book away from Taichi and was the one making all the big decisions, and the biggest surprise yet is that Desk-kun finally realized that he wasn’t going to be a master in this life or the next and took on the status of role player. Bravo Desk-kun you finally found your niche and realized that if Zeus wanted you to be a champion he would have miracle it to you by now. Still a step in right direction and a much better use of screen time than Taichi wasting his with “Chihaya is fat” comment. I am glad Sudo is coming back, and while I understand how Sudo is mad about Chihaya not playing, she’s not there yet and I am sure that after this Chihaya will have Michael Jordan-esque Flu game. Nevertheless a bad sign for Taichi in the Chihaya sweepstakes for unlike Taichi and Arata, Sudo is unafraid to be direct and he does play at Chihaya’s level.
Looking forward to the singles matches, I expect Nishida to put up a good showing and Taichi to not last long, while Chihaya runs into the Queen. Should be interesting to see who this Queen really is, and how Arata is going to make his presence felt.
Hana’s thoughts: On falling
I missed Chihaya and co. during the break last week more than I thought I would. Though, not as much as I missed Arata. Finally, we get details surrounding his grandfather’s demise and Arata’s withdrawal. Finally, and heartbreakingly. Firstly, let’s focus on Chihaya and the Scoobies. Let’s face it, for a club that hasn’t been around long, they’ve had a pretty smooth ride. Thus, the arrival at Omi Jingu, Chihaya’s prayers to do well, and her brush with the possible reigning ‘Queen’, all pointed towards another eventful, but plucky group victory… Perhaps, it might’ve been more interesting if Chihaya had simply ‘choked’, momentarily crushed by the pressure, which would have shown us a different side to her as a Karuta player. (Un)fortunately, she has the pretty air-tight excuse of being genuinely ill. Secondly, as if that wasn’t frustrating enough, we are torn away from Chihaya at her most vulnerable… to see Arata at his. Yep, it was as satisfying as it was gut-wrenching. Satisfying that we finally see the details behind Arata’s grandfather’s passing and Arata’s behaviour surrounding his final tourney, and of course gut-wrenching in the realistic, unsentimental way that his grandpa’s decline and behaviour was portrayed. The terrible irony of the former Master succumbing to a physically and mentally degenerative illness was hard to watch, but sensitively portrayed, I thought. However, at least Arata (though perhaps, predictably, given the genre) can now be seen as blameless in his part in what he thought was the neglect of his grandfather; we now know that he was practically ordered to attend the tourney and wouldn’t have gone otherwise. Unsurprising, but what was inspired, was the way the two stories (Chihaya’s meltdown and Arata’s back-story) were interspersed to convey some much needed exposition and to continue to hike up the tension. Almost as if Chihaya’s powerful, childlike sobbing also symbolised the tears that Arata was unable to pour out. A dramatic, but cathartic and moving episode.