Chihayafuru – 15: Chihaya’s Dreaming of Shinobu Tonight

There is no quitting when you go against the Queen.

As expected it is no accident that Shinobu is the Queen and while Chihaya was playing to win despite being down 16 cards, it was just too big of a deficit to overcome. Still, Shinobu recognizes a threat when she sees one and seems eager to be Chihaya’s arch-rival, hopefully it will not be a rivalry filled with hatred and certainly it seems that Shinobu and Chihaya will be able to connect through Snowmaru. Sudo however can’t get his revenge game and still ended up on the wrong end of a 12 card deficit. I really hope this is not the last time we hear of Sudo as he does help add to a sense that there are other talented players out there to help make up a competitive field. Right now it seems that Shinobu is doing it all on her own and her ability to dominate the game has much to do with her speed, as it does her competitive spirit.

For Shinobu it is not enough to simply win, she hates losing more that she likes winning and it shows. Winning ugly is not Shinobu’s modus operandi she likes her blowouts and she plays for the entire game, Shinobu is the kind of player that complains and feels slighted when she doesn’t win by enough cards. For those of you who never competed in anything in your life and live for nothing not knowing victory or defeat this is an important part of why Shinobu not only wins she flat out dominates. Sudo wasn’t a push over and Chihaya didn’t suddenly get stupid. As much as Taichi complains that Chihaya is too transparent, Karuta is not a big game of deception, after all this is real karuta where you can’t rearrange the cards like he did in his first game against Arata. If Chihaya is to be the dominating force that will wrest the crown from Shinobu she will have to have the ability to make good on taking cards away through brute force. Shinobu can know what is coming, but only if Chihaya needs to be able to take cards regardless. Again, it wasn’t a battle of deception, but one of speed and precision, Shinobu simply has the economy of striking power where she uses the minimum of movement to flick cards away from her foes.

Not once did you see Shinobu break into a sweat and that was in no small part due to her lack of big dramatic displays. Shinobu is not raising her hand and striking poses before smacking the ground, she stays low and flicks cards away so that she not only capitalizes on her speed but she out lasts her opponents who do not economize their energy. Chihaya got tired as the match went on so not only was Chihaya beat she was left gasping in the end. I have no problem with Shinobu running up the score and bowling over her opponents because it is a sign that she does respect the game and to a degree her opponents until they give up. Karuta is just as susceptible to dumb luck as any other sport and her competition isn’t made up of scrubs, they are all Class A players who worked hard to get where they are. So more power to Shinobu for running up the score even when the other player quits, it’s why a team like the Patriots are a perennial power they play hard for the whole game. Besides it would be disrespectful to dumb down her game just because the other player gives up.

Shinobu isn’t one to rest on her laurels though and now that Sudo has been vanquished from this tournament Shinobu wasted no time in knowing who the next big threat was. Sudo was a mean spirited man and their combative relationship spoke to how both Sudo and Shinobu were hyper competitive win big players. It will be interesting to see how Shinobu responds to Chihaya given their common interests and Chihaya’s begrudging admiration for Shinobu’s style of play. On Chihaya’s side I was glad she took her defeat for what it was. It wasn’t enough just to take five cards and Chihaya fully understood how she was not only defeated she was routed. There is a big difference between a sore loser and a true competitor, the sore loser blames everyone and everything but themselves. In Chihaya’s case she held herself accountable and was kicking herself for her own lack of speed, memorization, and precision. Just about every phase where Shinobu had her beat, Chihaya took notice and was rightfully angry and disappointed with her play.

That Chihaya realizes that her dream of meeting Arata in the tournament is coming and quickly moved on to having Shinobu and Snowmaru in her dreams bodes ill for Taichi. Clearly Taichi is going to have to really get his karuta game going as Chihaya is moving on with or without him. If he wants to stand a chance in winning her heart he is going to have to get into Class A and show that he is worthy of being there. It’s great that Taichi did not resort to cheating to try and win, but his willingness to accept second place just shows again how different he is from every other character in the show aside from possibly Desk-kun. It sucks to lose, but it is never acceptable to accept losing as your life story as Taichi has. He wanted to quit karuta before he even started and now after being out lasted in Class B he’s ready to throw in the towel while the rest of the team is on the verge of Dogeza ORZ-ing for him. If Taichi is to be the leader he is supposed to be he will have to have a greater competitive spirit just driving the bus isn’t good enough. They won the regionals this year and the expectation for next year will be that they not only win the regionals but that they advance even farther. In terms of personal goals Taichi has to want to get to Class A that he will never fondly look upon getting second place or ever accept that his shit game is good enough because it isn’t.

That Taichi is losing to Learning Center Curry on Chihaya’s list of things and people she cares about is not a good sign. The longer this series goes on the more abundantly clear it becomes that Taichi will never get much attention from Chihaya so long as he is beneath her in karuta. Taichi might have a better chance being the biggest Snowmaru fan in his attempts to connect with Chihaya but that is unlikely not to mention another sign of how little he knows her. He expected her to be asleep after her crushing defeat and found that the opposite was true. I have no idea if Taichi has a real master plan for winning Chihaya’s affections but showing up and being close has netted him little if anything. He failed in ending Chihaya’s dreams of karuta glory and failed in keeping her isolated, his only option now is to compete and compete fairly as cheating in a tournament would make him the most vile player in karuta and likely make Chihaya distance herself from him as well as forever disgracing Mizusawa High. That Nishida is kicking himself so hard that he beat Taichi in a foot race again highlights Taichi’s lack of drive. If Taichi had an ounce of pride as an athlete he should be kicking himself over how an out of shape Nishida just embarrassed him in a race, so much for Mr. Big Time Champion Athlete…

I am proud of Nishida because he has responded well after being in Arata’s shadow for so long, like Taichi he lost his way, but unlike Taichi he took those lessons to heart. Nishida got mad when Taichi got further in Class B despite the fact that he knew he was as good if not better than Taichi. That Nishida is willing to improve his level of physical fitness and is now out running Taichi and chasing Chihaya in a foot race through sheer force of will is a great sign that Nishida will likely make Class A and not shy away when he feels it is time to make good on his fondness for Kana-chan.

I am not sure where they are headed next but I do hope they spare us filler eps until the next year. Preferably there will be other competitions and we will see more of Shinobu, Sudo, and Arata.

Hana’s thoughts: on second best

Bloody hell that was emotional. Firstly, though, I’m glad that Chihaya (if predictably) had no real chance of winning that match against H.R.H. The Ice Queen (as that, quite frankly, would’ve been pretty stupid). And LOL/ *shudder* at Her Majesty’s evil side. Though, she was also quick to reveal her cute side when faced with Chihaya’s simple and earnest respect for her as a fellow cute T-shirt fan. They certainly made a big deal of Chihaya winning those five cards, though. And making it seem like she just needs to be a bit faster, then that icy crown will surely be hers in the end. Hrrrmmm. [Enter unconvinced face emote.] Secondly, OMG TAICHI. And Nishida. Second place, eh… gosh, such a loaded phrase. Even though it shouldn’t be, it also seems like the highest point of failure, coming so close but still feeling like a… well, loser. Of course, it seems like Taichi will eventually progress from Class B and make Class A too, as long as they all put in the effort. Dem Tears were hard to watch, though. :< And the spectre of Arata (or rather not) in Chihaya’s dreams… Lord knows the Yuri fanboys had a field day at the idea of the Queen appearing before Chihaya in the middle of the night and all, but I wonder about Arata and what this means regarding Chihaya’s feelings for him. Clearly, she still wants to meet him properly and play with him again, but, well, how does she feel about him now, I wonder. I’m glad that he ended up rejoining a Karuta society though, as this brings him one step closer to reappearing in BOSS mode. Also, semi-randomly, love how PUMPED this show gets me. Yes, it’s focussing a heck of a lot more on the sporting action than I thought it would, but, thankfully, the whole thing still seems to be all about everyone’s inner dorama and the themes of friendship and sportsmanship as a whole, as well as Chihaya’s personal growth. In short: still loving it and still wanting more. MOAR! >:3

Shinobu is not amused... it's not enough to just win she wants to blow people out.

I can get use to this kind of hand to hand combat...

A Happy Queen is a beautiful Queen, but right now your ugly intentions really do show...

Undefeated...

Why yes that is Love's name...Ayase Chihaya.

I can still see the hostility...

That it is.

You are not alone Shinobu. Did Chihaya just make your heart go dokun dokun dokun?

Don't forget better. Still I am glad you're mad it shows that you have what it takes to compete kid.

And she hardly broke a sweat...

She's lying...

And boy does Sudo know that he's been played like a chump.

Dang Taichi is lower than Learning Center Curry on Chihaya's list of things/people she cares about.

Nishida knows the holes in Taichi's game. He is also a BIG fan of Naruto.

There's hope for Nishida yet...

If you were smelling Taichi comeback you should shoot yourself in the face. The cards being called got progressively dire.

So in the end speed still matters.

No you did not...unless you want to replace the Buffalo Bills as the face of runner up.

Meanwhile the rest of the team was just one step shy of Dogeza ORZ over your Shameful Display of accepting your loss.

It's sad that every one has to be disappointed for you.

Nishida never accepted his second place status, even if it was in Arata's shadow. Unlike a certain rich boy...

This will go great with her throne.

In fact you're probably better since you have that veteran savvy.

In fact Nishida can give Chihaya a good run.

SHAMEFUL DISPLAY Taichi... Nishida is beating you in a foot race, NISHIDA!

Those eye are dreamy...

Snowmaru gets more Chihaya love that Taichi. If Taichi had half a brain he would be buying Snowmaru merch by the ton.

It's called love kid.

Worry not Kana-chan you can still be Shinobu's handmaiden as well as Chihaya's.

And who is this mysterious person?

Who is this Mr. Tall Dark and Megane? Well i do know it's not Taichi.

I can't wait to see who is the better player Arata or Shinobu.

Her Highness will be ready to do battle again.

Remember Chihaya sweat is merely weakness leaving the body, and that odor is just lose getting expelled.

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21 Comments

  1. Ida
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    I suddenly had an “ah!” moment this episode, about Taichi of all people. He also wants to meet Arata of all the people next time during a match. But that is what is holding him back.

    But I do have to say. My inner yuri fangirl was extremely happy this episode.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Hey Taichi can do whatever he wants if Shinobu wins the Chihaya sweepstakes. This show is not about him.

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, nice to see Taichi rediscover his love of competitive Karuta and to compete against Arata simply as a fellow player. Good for him!

  2. Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I know it’s probably just the art style, but dang if Arata and Shinobu look like cousins, siblings even. They even have the same blue eyes.

    Also ChihayaxShinobu is superior to ChihayaxArata. Although Shinobu can’t quite grief Tachi like Arata can.
    ( ゚∀゚)アハハ八八ノヽノヽノヽノ \ / \/ \

    • Crusader
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Could be the rule of symmetry starting to make itself felt. Taichi better be praying that the rule is enforced and some how Shinobu and Arata end up together if he wants to have a a shot at Chihaya.

      I just want to see Shinobu destroy Taichi if and when he makes Class A. Knowing his track record he’s going to underestimate the Queen and will get bitch slapped back into Class D. Still if Chihaya is all about Shinobu for a whole arc and ignores Taichi maybe Shinobu will cast a long shadow of her own to grief him.

      • Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        I don’t actually want Taichi to ever reach Class A. So even in the worst case scenario if he does end up with Chihaya, he’ll always be aware that he can’t take her for granted because there are always people close to her who can kick his ass six ways to Omi Jingu.

        Hurrr I’m vindictive.

        • Crusader
          Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Taichi will always be inferior to Chihaya. It is not being vindictive rather this is about being resolute in your righteous fury at Taichi underachieving.

          • Posted January 20, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            Actually, I get the feeling that even if Taichi fulfils his limited potential, I’d still despise him for all the shit he pulled when he was younger ಠ_ಠ

          • Crusader
            Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            Taichi certainly is limited. Still never forgive never forget.

  3. Mikako
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Sudo should get Chihaya or even hook up with the Queen (though it’s a long shot). I like his belligerent yet respectful attitude towards the Worthy Female Opponents of the series – it’s childish, but not unmanly, unlike a certain rich boy’s. Sudo does not whine, he kills….or, at least tries with all his might, what is so endearing <3

    • Crusader
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Sudo is made of sterner stuff than Mr. Rich boy. Certainly Sudo could use his karuta connection to enter the Chihaya sweepstakes and certainly he does have a long relationship with Shinobu to the point they know each other all too well.

  4. Posted January 19, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    I actually really related to Taichi in this episode. Yeah he’s been kinda whiny and “why am I doing this,” but I think that with victory so close in hand, that was the extra push he needed to really start trying to excel. When he was running to retrieve the card and his coach’s words came to mind of not even trying to beat Arata, I think that was the turning point for him. It’s fairly clear that Arata and Shinobu will always be the ones first and foremost in Chihaya’s eyes, but I think part of why I like this series is the growth of the other characters. It’s why I’m not really cheering for Taichi romantically.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      You know 15 eps in is a long time for Taichi to find his sorry self, but maybe he can make Class A. The thing is though it only gets harder and unless Taichi is all in and no wavering he is going to get destroyed by Arata and Shinobu if he meets them. In Shinobu’s case since Taichi lacks speed he could get a whole game against Shinobu without taking a single card.

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      I also liked the way Nishida was shown to empathise with Taichi’s during his defeat, it was very moving. The growth of the other characters, as you say, is certainly being done very well in this series so far and definitely one of the show’s strengths.

  5. 13sugars
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    What I’m looking forward the most now is y’all’s reaction for when/if a blasphemous event happens -> ChihayaxTaichi prevails in this anime… or if Taichi becomes the strongest Karuta player… :D

    • Crusader
      Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      The’s a really big IF for a manga series that is not even complete yet. LOL Taichi as Meijin… you so funny. How is Impz and married life?

      • Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Lol – I doubt the latter will happen and ChihayaxTaichi seems even less likely, not that he should give up trying, though!

        Hope you and the boss are both doing well!

  6. Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I really love the post of this blog, bit i can’t see the images in google reader please please fix this

    • Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Saw your comment when it got stuck in the spam filter so I figured I’d respond. We’ll look into this. I’m wondering if it might be related to a glitch I’ve noticed since we upgraded WordPress about a month ago. Ever since then, when writing a post in the visual (as opposed to html) format, the images won’t show up but they’re fine when you preview or publish the post. The two seem like they may be related, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  7. Dein
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Ah, finally! Internet! Just caught up with the show, after pursuing my own sport-related passions.Also, an absurdly late Happy New Year/Merry Christmas to you guys, as well.

    I’m not sure if it’s just the break from the show or the fact that these past episodes were full of awesome, but I’m so into this show I think I actually jumped up in my chair a few times. Thq Queen character is amazing. At first, I was a bit disappointed with her psycho side, but after giving it a bit of though, I realized that it takes a special kind of player to keep that kind of drive when you’re mostly sorrounded by people who can’t even touch you. Shinobu is definately worthy of every single bit of her title. Chihayas always-play-to-win attitude was fantastic as well, almost as much as her ability to push through the tears and pain and do whatever the hell it takes to get better. Unlike Taichi, who, after very slowly improving in the past few episodes took a massive step back with all this “good enough” crap.

    It was also cool to see Sudou and Arata appear again. While initially Sudou wasn’t my favourite character, I find myself liking him and the role he (hopefully) will play from now on. As for Arata, I hope his appearances will become more frequent and we’ll be able to see him play the Queen. Or, possibly, Sudou. Would be awesome.

    • Posted January 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      SO. Much. Dorama, right?! Shinobu’s evil/ cute sides were conveyed very well, even if (as others have noted) she seems more of a young genius than a seasoned player, which may or may not sway some people’s opinion on her as worthy of being the Queen (regarding the timing and storytelling, i.e. us meeting her so soon, as opposed to her skill). Sudo the sadist has really grown on us too, he definitely seems to be an interesting and dynamic character in his own right, rather than just a ‘bad guy’ type that Chihaya had to defeat. Hope to see more of him, as well as Arata, too. And thanks for the good wishes!

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