Chihayafuru – 18: Savvy Mature Women

Reiko nee-sama it is then, because honestly she doesn't look old enough to be Kana-chan's mom.

So Chihaya’s first foray into the full Class A field was a disaster though it wasn’t the kind of drubbing she got from Shinobu. Kanai Sakura may have matured into full woman-hood but it wsa great to see a wily veteran take Chihaya to school in karuta. It gives the series more credibility given that the field of Class A isn’t getting rolled by Chihaya who has very few matches in Class A to her credit. It would cheapen the Queen title if Chihaya just walked herself onto that throne, and by making the field better it shows that Chihaya has a long way to go just to catch up with the rest of her competition. Sudo wasn’t rolled, and Shinobu demolished Chihaya, Hiroshi is unafraid, and Sakura gave Chihaya fits, all this points to Chihaya being in Class A but not anywhere near the top. Chihaya was getting overly reliant on speed and as a result of being able to simply be faster than most and her discipline waned. Sakura pointed it out and I am glad she did even if Chihaya’s pride was wounded. In the end even if Chihaya finally took stock of the situation it was already too late as Sakura was savvy enough to no blow her lead over Chihaya.

I rather like having mature women playing a part in karuta as it indicates it’s broad appeal and how there are other people who still play for decades despite not making Mejin or Queen. Certainly Sakura did prove that there is still life after 30 and just because you love karuta doesn’t mean you can’t have a family. Moreover just because you don’t win glory early doesn’t mean you should give up and move on. Just because you are a late bloomer doesn’t mean you can’t beat younger players or win championship glory. As the saying goes old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill. Sakura fangirling Chihaya while giving her fits also made this episode into a gem. I just hope that there will be other contenders that will help Chihaya develop a better game. Even if Taichi gets into Class A that doesn’t mean he is just going to take over and start blowing out Arata or anyone else for that matter. If the field is this good against Chihaya then I suspect that Taichi’s karuta struggles are only just beginning. Class A contains the best players and while it seems inevitable that Taichi will somehow get in, if he loses more often than not he will continue to be ignored. Fundamentally though Taichi has no indirect route to go, if he wants something to happen he will have to confess and confess clearly.

It’s great that Chihaya was dazzled by Kana-chan breaking down Desk-kun to get into Class C, it’s just really bad for Taichi that Chihaya forgets that he’s playing. I personally find this to be rather amusing as Chihaya has already confessed to Kana-chan and now seems to react with shoujo sparkles for other girls. The way things are going Taichi will never take decisive action, and even if Arata is more bold and decisive Chihaya just seems too far gone for both of them. Assuming that Arata still is the player he used to be then he has a better shot of getting Chihaya’s attention, while Taichi is going to have to move heaven and earth just to get noticed. With each passing episode Taichi seems to be getting deeper and deeper into the friendzone. I was saddened though that Reiko was undercutting Kana-chan’s beauty, looks aren’t everything, personality and how you carry yourself also factors in. Still I think Kana-chan has more than a slim chance at beating Desk-kun to get into Class C.

Desk-kun might have the Moneyball method but he is horribly distracted by Kana-chan and I doubt that he has enough discipline to not gawk at her. Moreover I think Kana-chan has the edge in precision and speed now that she has fixed her posture. Desk-kun might be able to run the numbers but just because he knows doesn’t mean he can beat Kana-chan to the cards. Just as Moneyball couldn’t overcome everything for the A’s I don’t think Desk-kun is going to number crunch his way into Class C by a blowout. He has struggled before and right now the moment might get to him, while Kana-chan is laser focused on winning. If Nishida is still the player he once was he should be able to beat Taichi since he is a savvy veteran who just needs to put the boot to Taichi’s neck and finish him. Of course since Taichi is the designated golden boy he might just win because well he’s the good looking moneyed rich kid who has had his “struggle” episodes. Even if Nishida beat PSP-kun bishies usually find a way before the support character. Even if the advantage should belong to Nishida based on wins versus Class A players and experience, Taichi will probably win this one. I guess that’s why everyone but Retro-kun ignored their match.

Hana’s thoughts: on yummy mummies

So, Chihaya loses her first match outside of a high school tourney as a Class A player to a 35 year old yummy mummy who still dreams of being Queen. It seems like she still has a ways to go before being able to apply Dr Haruda’s advice (mingled with Desk-kun’s statistical observations) about the dangers of taking cards based on speed alone. Having only lost by six cards though, it seems like she’s on her way to learning and integrating newer techniques, such as the three syllable rhythm method… However, I don’t want to get bogged down with gameplay, as significant as it is. Sure, I enjoyed the episode, but I still very much admire and am mesmerised by her determination. Nothing else matters to her, it seems, and I find this as admirable as it is mystefying. Thus, let’s hope she’s also forced to think about her wider relationships and future goals (e.g.: that career survey won’t complete itself) with the return of Arata in the next tourney (I think, as it’s presumably partly the reason why Taichi is so keen to qualify as a Class A player so soon). Also, Kana-chan, Kana-mummy, and that other yummy mummy were all kinds of cute in this epi. I also enjoyed Desk-kun’s view of Kana-chan and on her Karuta as image-based, as well as the effect that wearing Hakama has on her (not sure at her mum’s view of using her to replace Chihaya as their new poster girl, though). Finally, it was interesting seeing Chihaya viewing her friends not simply as people requiring her support, but as competitors from whom she can watch and learn/ take all she can. This might sound rather calculating, but I’m glad she’s being more reflective and critical, as opposed to just being ruled by her impulsiveness. And speaking of her fellow competitors, I’m sure we’re all eager to find out how Taichi and Nishida’s match went, so hope to glean more Karuta wisdom from what we’re shown of the latter next time.

Chihaya, MARRY KANA-CHAN because she is one of those rare otome who loves baseball too.

If that were to happen I might mistake you for a child...

Wow...Hey Taichi maybe if you wore a pink dress, Chihaya would find you adorable too...

I love how Sakura nee-sama was fangirling Chihaya.

In the US we call them the Oakland Raiduhs.

OH SHI-, Chihaya I think she's going to take you to school...

I wouldn't got that far, you can still clash with Shinobu in High School circuit. Besides this is DESTINY.

Looks like you will have to change that Sakura nee-sama.

She can read Chihaya like a book.

Remeber Sakura nee-sama you are only as old as you feel.

Feel free to take her home for a bit.

So what is this now, Yuri - 3 Snowmaru - 1...Taichi - 0. Yeah Taichi, you better hope you can turn into a girl when doused with cold water.

Sakura nee-sama has a most lovely family.

This will not be a quick and easy path...but Shinobu is worth it.

KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE.

Is such a thing possible? I fear Chihaya might melt from the cuteness if you were to show her pictures of your glory days.

But every once in a while you beat them down so bad it was like they stole something...

Love will NEVER DIE.

Her husband is a very lucky man, and I bet he didn't cower from confessing either.

Mashima "Dump Truck" Taichi vs. Nishida "Line Breaker" Yusei.

As rivalries goes this is a far cry from Amuro vs. Char...

Kana-chan today you must destroy Desk-kun utterly for your Lady Chihaya.

Some dude with glasses and the girl you love...

KANA-CHAN, KANA-CHAN, KANA-CHAN

I hope that now your eyes are open you get into Class A in a BLOWOUT.

Thanks for image Desk-kun, but you seem distracted...

Chihaya's internal monologue no doubt.

She would bake a worthy bride for Kana-chan.

Indeed for her radiance is hardly masked by her Snowmaru T-shirts.

Kana-chan is beautiful no matter what she wears, for her soul is alone eclipses galaxies.

I don't think you should use Kana-chan in a "before and after" ad campaign. Go with "reinvented" campaign.

BE AFRAID Desk-kun...

Because he got high... He was going to take that card, but he got high...

But she can hear the beating of you lovely heart Chihaya.

Kana-chan just took her breath away.

See Desk-kun this is what you get for gawking...

That she was AND HOW.

Remember Nishida this will be won in the trenches.

Are you that out of shape?

LOL Chihaya cared more about Kana-chan advancing to Class C...

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11 Comments

  1. Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    I honestly thought that Sakura’s playstyle was primarily psyche-based. She didn’t seem to have anything other than experience and that rhythm thing going for her, and it was her constant trolling remarks that caught Chihaya off-balance.

    Not that I don’t like players who troll, but it would explain why Sakura never became Queen – because under all that style, there’s simply insufficient substance.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      I see it more as Sakura being a more complete player than Chihaya even if Chihaya has more potential. I don’t think it was Chihaya getting psyched out it was that Sakura had played many more players like her before and knew how to win that kind of game. It wasn’t as if Chihaya caught on to every remark but certainly Chihaya was not using any sort of memorization or card placement, hence why Sakura was able to throw Chihaya off with a placement change and strategically sent certain cards to Chihaya. Experience still counts for a lot, since rookie mistakes can often cause a slump that a player never really recovers from. Say you take the an average NBA player like Nazi Muhammad sure he’s not winning titles on his own but I’ll bet he can take on John Q. Public in a game of one on one and blow him out. Sakura does play a fundamentally sound game, but certainly Shinobu has that and speed and accuracy as well as ice water in her veins.

      It’s kind of the same thing here. Players in Class A are the best and just because Chihaya is a hot new comer doesn’t mean she is going to make an impact right away. Just because Sakura never made queen doesn’t mean she is no good or simply using tricks, Dan Marino never won the Superbowl but no one can dispute his QB play and the records he set when defenses could destroy the quarterback almost at will. Were Sakura playing Taichi or Nishida she would have destroyed them by a wide margin. You can’t talk big to claim victory you have to have enough game to back up your talk.

  2. Dop
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Sakura may have been an example of “mutton dressed as lamb”, with an outfit and mannerisms that weren’t befitting her age, but there was definitely some serious gamesmanship going on there.

    It was good to see Chihaya take on seasoned players from outside her circle and learn from them. Even when she loses she gains something from the experience that will make her a stronger player in the long run.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      You are only as old as you feel. Certainly Chihaya will grow more against a bigger field than she could trashing Taichi day in and day out. Right now Chihaya is the big fish in her small pond but we shall see how she does against the ocean.

  3. Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:56 am | Permalink
    • Crusader
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      If nothing else let it never be said that reality is all that different when it comes to karuta, at least int terms of participants.

  4. Dein
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Ok, there’s one thing I very much don’t get. Chihaya has been playing and practicing karuta relentlessly for, like, 8 years now? She even managed to make it into class A, and yet the very concept of strategy and tactics is absolutely new to her. She is obviously talented, but you cannot possibly coast that far on talent alone without covering some basics. Especially after investing so much time into it. This makes zero sense to me. Even Kana-chan is constantly improving her game and looking into new things.

    Speaking of which, she was awesome this episode, and I’d love to see her win. Desk-kuns mind is somewhere else, and unless Kana-chan burns her stamina early, there’s no way she can lose. Or so I hope.

    And yeah, it was very funny how Chihayas attention just naturally managed to slide away from Taichi without her even realizing it. The yuri is truly strong with her.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I am not surprised there are plenty of athletes who are so physically talented and gifted that they never focus on becoming a complete player. The best example today would be LeBron James who has talents and is a superior athlete but he is limited in some areas and when it comes to the 4th quarter he just isn’t the same guy consistently. Shaq was kind of the same way he was just so big that it was hard for anyone to defend against him, he probably could have done more but that he did so much while generally being out of shape speaks plenty as to how rare Centers are in the NBA. So yeah talent can carry very far, but it depends on the level of the competition.

      Besides I think it has more to do with the level of play Chihaya was working on her game but her ability to use her new lessons was limited by her own inexperience of recalling them in a timely manner. Speed plays a big part and against mediocre competition she looks amazing, but against more complete players she looks like a lost rookie. This is a good thing as it indicates that Chihaya has a way to go and that speed can be overcome when played right.

      Desk-kun could win just because he’s just that pitiful and needs to show improvement, still I want Kana-chan to win. Taichi is losing ground fast, even if he gets into Class A he will struggle more mightily than he did before. He has yet to contend with the likes of Sudo, Shinobu, or Sakura, and he’s inferior to Arata, so yeah Taichi is going to have to get used to losing for a while… supposing he gets in.

  5. Dein
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Hm, I suppose, but Karuta is more of a game of the mind than it is physical, as far as I can judge. It seems strange to let such a big part of it slip past, when you can quite literally control the battlefield and your opponent. That being said, it’s hard for me to tell if it really is an completely untouched issue, since all the games we’ve seen so far (with the exception of Chihayas game against Shinobu) have been shown purely in a fashion of who’s fast and who can remember the cards better. This was definetly a very good episode, and hopefully now Chihaya can finally feel the joys of strategy, once she gets a hang of it.

    And Taichi will probably have to do one better than just suck up some asskicking if he gets into class B. If Chihaya is having trouble, so he’d have to step up his game a lot to keep pushing forward, seeing as he’s main advantage is a good memory.

    • Dein
      Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:48 am | Permalink

      *Sorry, for some reason the comment cancelled the reply just as I was posting it, and made it a separate comment. Odd.

  6. Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    OH MAN! Your yuri-goggles are strong. <3 <3 <3

    I've assumed given the angst that Taichi was the main ship option, but this post has opened my eyes. I LOVE your reading. :D

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