Chihayafuru – 22: Tenacious She and the Trick of Destiny

Yes, but it would be nice to see it in the first place, love.

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.

Good question.

Don’t worry, Harada-sensei; your time will come.

Aww, poor Nishida! Still, nice to see Sudo’s still got it.

I believe it’s called PASSION.

Aye, it seems Destiny’s on your side this time.

Er, I don’t think that’s in his job description, Kitano-sensei.

Nishida seems to approve of Yumi’s sadism/ irritating old habits, at least…

…Well, if that’s what it take to win. Hrrrmmm.

Yes, Taishi – hurry up and join ‘em!


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  1. Posted March 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Random thoughts: Shinobu is gorgeous in the hakama, Sudo is really a heck of a person and Yumin is a tad annoying…
    Yumin’s habit isn’t bad coz it’s unladylike. Heck! in 21rst century that we live in and the ‘savoir vivre’ has evaporated that should be the last thing to come in mind when watching Yumin’s playing. I’d rather say it feels like she’s cheating. The card being touched with the back of her pinky… that’s too much. Or she’s over-jealous with the bad intention of breaking your nerves and thus your defenses…
    But, yes, she represents reality here on multiple levels and that’s admirable.

    • Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      You know, the more I see of him, I think that Sudo should have his own spin-off show…

      Perhaps ‘unladylike’ was a bit unfair of me, though ‘cheating’ feels a not harsh too… Except that it really did feel like she was playing dirty, for some reason (my ias towards Chihaya, I guess). In truth, she’s certainly a very interesting character and I’m glad that we met her at this stage and that the match ended that way.

      • Posted March 15, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        who isn’t biased towards Chihaya? :P

        hm, yes, ‘playing dirty’ is what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t really find the words that moment

        (about the ‘unladylike’ I’m sorry I sounded a bit reprimanding… I should phrase myself better)

        • Posted March 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Nah, you’re alright; especially since, as Jay points out below, that she wasn’t actually cheating in the slightest. Guess it’s just a style/ mannerisms preference thing.

  2. Ida
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    …you know, I’m sensing a double standard. When Desk-kun had the audacity to call the “pinky rule” he was ridiculed left and right. Which was pathetic, I do agree. But when Yumi said practically the same thing, suddenly it is praise-worthy? It is no less pathetic or annoying than it was with him. Instead of relying on your own strength of securing a card, it is a very sleazy way to win.

    • Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Good point. I’d have to rewatch that bit in order to comment in more detail re: Desk-kun’s reference to that rule, but iirc, I think Desk-kun came across as trying to come up with an ‘excuse’, whereas (at that stage) he was still a noob who should have been working harder to not have to rely on such tactics… hmm…

  3. Bob from Accounting
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    I’d back Ida up on the double standard, but I won’t because in this case I’m with Crusader. Yumin was awesome. I love how she does things her way without giving a shit about what others think of her. Worrying about that is part of the reason she lost the title of Queen in the first place, so I really admire her for going ‘Fuck it’ and choosing to persist with ‘her own karuta’, as it were. You may think her tactic cheap, but it’s within the rules and it works for her so if mofos don’t like it, they can shut up and beat her to prove their way is better. Yumin is a plucky devil and dammit if I’m not rooting for her.

    • Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      …I’m with Crusader

      Bloody hell, you two actually agree on something?!

      Re: Ms. Plucky Devil – well, I’m certainly glad that she rediscovered her mojo in the end. It will be great to see her play Shinobu, if she gets the opportunity.

  4. Dein
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Yumin was pathetic. She did not deserve to win that game, and she doesn’t deserve to keep playing at all, as far as I can tell. Not to say that Chihaya didn’t get what was coming to her – fighting the previous queen and expecting to stroll through the match without issue was way too cocky of her. But Yumin herself was just lame, not because she beat Chihaya, but because she is apparently praised for her “amazing” talent of not playing the game at all, and instead acting like a 7 year old child. I get it, every card matters, but it since nobody around had so many close calls (nor did Chihaya in her previous matches, for that matter), it’s safe to assume that what Yumin does is essentially prey on the weak-minded or people who are just too nice/lacking confidence to cut her bickering off and put her back in her place. As a result, I would assume that she takes a lot of cards that weren’t even remotely “close” or hers in the first place. Which is fine, because as Shinobu has proven, the cheap shot attempt at making someone less focused on the game by arguing every card is not something that matters to a player who focuses on their skill of playing, rather than the skill of shooting off her mouth.

    And I do agree with Hana. While I wawsn’t the biggest fan of Sakura, she was clearly a LOT older than Yumin, had a full life of work, family and kids, and yet never lost her passion for the game. That’s what I would call admirable. By comparison, Yumin is only a few years older than her “younger and prettier” competition, and yet she’s already a whiny, passionless husk. Clearly karuta didn’t matter to her that much in the first place. It’s easy to love something you win at. It shows real dedication when you keep loving something even if you hit a low point.

    • Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Yumi’s initial insecurity/ wallowing was probably meant to be just as annoying as some of us clearly found it, but I think felt more sorry for her than annoyed at her. The was-it-cheating-or-not tactics aside, I’m glad that she found her fire again.

      It’s easy to love something you win at. It shows real dedication when you keep loving something even if you hit a low point.

      I really like this. ^ ^ (Thanks!)

    • Jay
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Someone at the Animesuki forums went through and screencapped the relevant parts of the game for the cards Yumin contested, and every time, Yumin really had touched the cards first. So, she wasn’t cheating at all. She was the one who won those cards. It’s just that once she found her stubbornness again, she wasn’t letting any cards she won fair and square go to the opponent out out of a fear she would be seen as ungraceful.

  5. ectholion
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    The card contesting thing i guess would be annoying, but at the same time it being used as a mind game tactic bring i would think another interesting dynamic to the game. So eh i dont know as for this Yumin character i both liked and disliked her, they introduced and built up her character really well really quickly.

    • Posted March 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, defo ‘interesting’. I’m glad that Chihaya looks set to learn a lot from her defeat, at least.

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