Hello, Hana here, doing the main part this week while Crusader-senpai is partially preoccupied with never-ending Mid-Terms (I apologise in advance for the lack of RAEG). So, this week sees Chihaya do battle with the former Queen, Yumi ‘Tenacious’ Yamamoto, who may have had her crown stolen by current Queen ‘Ice Cold’ Shinobu, but still proves to be a tricky customer for our heroine. Chihaya is suitably perturbed at the prospect of fighting such a
reluctant irritating formidable foe, however the resulting match is a close, twisting beast and its delivery does very well to introduce and develop Yumi in a short space of time, while showing us the issues that come with being a successful Karutard, such as Chihaya hopes to become one day.
Aside from occasional commentary from the rest of the Scooby Gang (with minor epiphanies from Kana-chan and Taichi, regarding the possibilities of being a Masters match level Reader and the importance of mental strength, respectively), this episode was all about the battle between Chihaya and Yumi, with the latter’s backstory thrown into the mix, along with overriding themes such as confidence, dreams and perseverance. (The younger) Yumi is similar to Chihaya, in the sense that Karuta was her life. However, now a graduate who’s been working for a year, Yumi clearly struggles to maintain her devotion to her first love, which seems to have cost her the Karuta Queen crown after only one term. A figure who’s tired of her current duties and of failing to meet the expectations others have had of her over the past year, we wonder why she’s so dejected and soon feel sorry for her, as intended by those flashbacks and her views of Shinobu and Chihaya within them. It’s sad and moving to see someone who’s worked so hard to achieve her lifelong dream only to see it evaporate so quickly and so gallingly, and inevitably we wonder how Chihaya will cope if she ever becomes Queen and something similar happens to her.
…‘If’, being the operative word, of course; the fun of ‘the chase’ is fine, but when ‘irl’ issues take over, or someone younger, prettier and more talented comes along to challenge and defeat you… Well, clearly it can’t be easy. However, Yumi is not exactly that old, and she contrastingly reminds me of that yummy mummy from a couple of episodes ago, who I found more admirable due to the fact that she knows she’s older and slower than most of her competitors and yet she still hasn’t given up on her dream of becoming Queen one day. In contrast, Yumi, does seem to have given up and does not even seem worthy of winning with that attitude, as is emphasized by Chihaya’s vow not to give up a single card to someone who has, well, given up. Which is, of course, great for those of us who are rooting for Chihaya, but it would have been a shame in a way if Chihaya had beaten Yumi when she was so weak and was not putting up a proper fight. Thankfully, or irritatingly (depending on your perspective and what you want out of the story at this stage), Yumi’s passion is rekindled and the rest is history.
In addition to the above mentioned girls’ and Taichi’s thoughts and comments, Nishida’s perspective was also interesting to see, being an ‘in between’ figure who is both rooting for Chihaya and admiring of Yumi’s tactics. Aside from my bias towards Chihaya, I’m still not sure whether or not I fully agree with Nishida’s admiration for Yumi’s old tactic of contesting every close call. Unless, of course, she really is right each time she calls out. In other words, one could either see it as being tenacious and showing a strong desire to win no matter what, or one might think that such a tactic is rather scrappy and unladylike. Which would in turn imply that Chihaya is either ‘too nice’ in battle, or needs to be more ‘ruthless’ too…
In short: I found Yumi both easy to empathise with, and annoying in equal measure, but mostly interesting because of the way that she represents so many themes and issues to do with success, giving up versus not giving up, time, the pressures of ‘irl’ duties versus ‘dreams’, and confidence. And speaking of confidence – Don’t give up, Chihaya!!!
Crusader’s Yumin’s Counterattack
Hana might have a problem with Yumin arguing every close call, but I admire this asshole quality because it is well within the rules and every card matters. So long as you aren’t cheating, like Taichi did as a kid, you should argue every close call. Chihaya just had the misfortune of not being able to brow beat Yumin but after this hard loss I am sure she will reassess just where she is at. Yumin might not be the fastest or the prettiest but she works the hardest and was once queen. That was no small feat and certainly having a real job is going to cut into practice and play time. Mashima “His Laziness” Taichi would do well to remember that practice is important and that hard work counts for something instead of being a B-Class lout who can’t even bothered to practice his motions. Yes Taichi fans will crown his ass right now after the epiphany but Taichi is destined to be a spectator for the Mejin and Queen Qualifiers because he was just too good to practice.
Chihaya probably lost the game once she started getting lazy after an amazing run where she took a few cards in a row. It’s Class A so the quality of player is going to be better and given what heights Yumin climbed one should never count out the heart of champion. Yumin may have forgotten for a while what got her the title of Queen, but playing Chihaya reminded her of the horrible taste in her mouth after Shinobu took her crown after a year. I like how Yumin got to the top only to be cast down and is now on a quest to reclaim what was once hers. Every year is a new year and one should never rest on their laurels, that Shinobu has vanquished many to keep her title says plenty about how she is not only talented but has the good sense to maintain her work ethic. Yumin may think that Shinobu has forgotten, but give how Shinobu seems to remember her foes like Sudo and Chihaya, I think Shinobu remembers Yumin. Should they meet again I am sure Yumin will do all she can to put Shinobu to the wall. Yes arguing is frowned upon but you should never have to apologize for a legal play no matter how ugly it is. Just win and if you have to win ugly. You don’t get extra points for style just the cards so go get them.
Chihaya did not win so she will be going home, and while she is down now I am sure that this harsh lesson in humility will be one that sticks. Yes she did well, but she got lazy and started having delusions of dominating the match before it was over. She just better hope that Sudo lost his match or at least is going to be a gentleman about their friendly wager. If nothing else I know Sudo will do his best to remind Chihaya of this loss and never allow her to forget her loss to Yumin and Shinobu. Nishida may be Class A but Sudo will likely roast him at every opportunity. If Taichi manages to get into Class A then I dearly hope that Sudo will be there to baptize him too. Chihaya may have been younger and faster than Yumin but as the saying goes “old age and treachery will beat out youth and skill.” The treachery part doesn’t apply but old age will defeat youth every time. Chihaya has the skill set now she just has to do her time and earn some experience. It’s not like Chihaya is losing to every one of her peers, but certainly there is no shame in losing to Yumin who was once Queen before the advent of the Shinobu dynasty.