Chihayafuru – 23: On closets, sadists, lovers, losers, workers, players and bridge builders

 Don’t worry, love; your time will come. 

This week, having lost the match against Ms. Tenacious shown in the previous episode, Chihaya does what any sane, self-respecting person would do; she locks herself in the nearest closet and has a good cry. Thankfully, despite the wobble, Chihaya holds on to her confidence, and her hair, by the end of the episode, with a few more memorable encounters and epiphanies along the way.

Unlike the episodes immediately prior to this one, this week hardly has any lengthy Karuta action in it, instead focussing on the aftermath of Chihaya’s defeat and on how the other key characters feel about their game and each other. Chihaya clearly learns from her mistake of sacrificing accuracy for speed and the desire to dominate in her match against the previous Queen, as we see from her tears and later from her musings during the Eastern vs. Western Meijin/ Queen Challenger matches. In fact, pretty much everyone we know, aside from Yumi and Shinobu, are out of the running to be Meijin or Queen by the end of this episode, with the main reason being lack of experience, skill or practice. Thus, most of the episode is reflective in tone, but still has plenty of the usual funny moments and faces to relieve the tension. In particular, aside from Chihaya’s disappointment and fretting, the focuss on Taichi’s realisation of the depth of his feelings, on that random other boy who asks Chihaya out, and the frequent juxtaposition of Chihaya’s progress with Arata’s, all of these moments and sequences also allows these characters to not think about competitive Karuta for a short while and further develop them in other ways.

I guess Taichi’s development is not very surprising, as his silent confession merely confirms what we already knew about his feelings towards Chihaya. And yet, his words (or rather, his thoughts), are double-edged; he’s ‘hopelessly in love’. Whether or not he means more ‘passionately’ or ‘fruitlessly’ or both, it’s still moving to see him as he is now (i.e. a good friend and club-mate) suffering such apparently unrequited feelings, especially given the fact that Chihaya does care about him (albeit as a future professional rival), which somehow makes it feel worse for Taichi, who is thus ‘so close, yet so far’ from her heart. And to make things even worse, he has to see Chihaya almost agreeing to go out with another guy simply because he asked her first, lol/ groan. Speaking of which, CHIHAYA! Y U SO DENSE?! Moving on. While Random Guy Incident and its aftermath is pretty funny, it also raises the idea that Chihaya probably does need to spend part of the holidays at least playing something other than Karuta, and I enjoyed the Christmas Eve party scenes. Not only did these show her broadening her circle of fun activities and friends, it also reaffirmed how much she does enjoy Karuta-related things and people, and how the latter doesn’t need to become her sole obsession or ‘life’, as it was for Yumi. Similarly, although I’m not sure I want Murao to quit either, his conversation with Arata when they discuss Murao rejoining their Karuta society is also interesting because a doubt seems raised in Arata’s mind about whether or not he should be playing Karuta for the sole reason of becoming Meijin.

Finally, I should mention Dat Poetry. And how much I adore Kana-chan even more with every episode. But Kana-chan’s awesomeness probably deserves a whole other post, so I’ll just focus on the poem that she and Chihaya recall which concerns the two deities and lovers, ‘Orihime’ and ‘Hikoboshi’. In brief, according to legend (and, er, Wikipedia), ‘the Milky Wayseparates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar’ [for more information, see Wiki]. Also represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively, Orihime and Hikoboshi and the stars that separate them can thus be seen as symbolising both separation and connection, with the same stars as being seen as a ‘bridge’. Interestingly, like she did with the Tale of Genji verses a few episodes ago, Chihaya seems to compare the verses on Orihime and Hikoboshi with her relationship with Arata, but in a more platonic light; their mobile phones help to bridge their distance, but Chihaya seems content/ resolved to see Arata only at habitual Karuta matches… Well, perhaps only for now, until she’s skilled enough to play alongside Arata as a worthy opponent. However, given that Arata has already shown that he may be interested in Chihaya in a more romantic light (as we saw when he wanted to know if she and Taichi were an item), there is of course nothing yet to confirm either way if Arata and Chihaya could end up together in the future, as they clearly complement each other too. As always, I guess we’ll see…

Crusader’s Dude Really?

Well one down and only two to go, and still Taichi can’t confess. Yes he is hopelessly in love, but the key word is HOPELESS. I am glad that Taichi had the balls to be a possessive dick and block the inquiries by the random stranger. I am sure that Taichi fans everywhere are making up stories of the devious stranger who had the gall to ask Chihaya out because she is Taichi’s property. Still I APPLAUD the man for having the guts to walk up and ask Chihaya out, fact is most people can’t even work up the courage to do even that much, moreover it was fitting for Stranger-san to pull a Patrick on the week of St. Patrick’s Day. Too bad Taichi can’t even muster that much courage to tell Chihaya how he feels and ask her to take a chance on him. He is by far the closest to Chihaya physically while jealously guarding her; too bad Chihaya has real friends who drag her to social functions. Taichi better beware her whole class saw Chihaya at her prettiest and a few lads finally dared to talk to her. I am sure that now that Chihaya’s circle of contacts has expanded that more boys are going to take notice.

Arata is secure in that Chihaya is still thinking about him always and has started calling him. Taichi however may as well be in another galaxy. Not only does Taichi not confess; he can’t even make up an excuse to shadow Chihaya and ended up with a harem that did not include Chihaya. Way to go Taichi, way to SHOW YOUR LOVE by not asking Chihaya out on the biggest date night in Japan and choosing to hang out with a bunch of girls during a class party which you were the only guy “invited.” I can see it now CROWN HIS ASS because he’s going out with Chihaya by going out with other girls. Indecision is bad enough, worse still is the unwillingness to commit, and now a special party where he is the only guy… I am sure that Taichi fans will protest that he was not cheating (he could have left but hey he stayed…), but hey it’s not about what they believe it’s about what people think and surely for the average person Taichi got roped into a harem. Taichi just can’t do it, Patrick has abandoned him, Andy has forsworn him, Noe has cursed him, and Zeus himself just packed him off into harem and all but out of the Chihaya sweepstakes.

Taichi has TWO episodes to make it right, he’s on the clock to make Chihaya is property and give a big FUCK YOU to the 13th Amendment. Go ahead Taichi threaten all the boys in Chihaya’s class, block Arata’s calls, tell Harada-sensei to back off, and take Sudo on in a FIGHT. Taichi refuses to confess but hey he may as well try and beat up every guy Chihaya has ever met to make Chihaya his. Get that Nike endorsement and JUST DO IT Taichi. I am tired of his sorry ass not doing what needs to be done, but hey I am sure there are plenty of idiots out there who think he’s a winner and SURE THING.

Yes Taichi is hopeless and when it came time for Sudo to collect on his wager Taichi could do NOTHING to dissuade Sudo. Sure Taichi did a “MANLY” block on some dude he never even met, but when Sudo gets in his face Taichi’s courage fails and it was up to Harada-sensei to save Chihaya. Taichi begs and pleads with Chihaya to cheer up but in true Taichi fashion he can’t do it. Even now at episode 23 Taichi has to use Arata’s shadow to cheer Chihaya up. Things are looking up for Arata he’s getting more assertive by the day and can sense Chihaya by the sound of her sweet sighs, and it is always a good sign when Arata is the only person who can make her smile without fail. Really Taichi? 23 Episodes have passed and you can’t even say the words? Just shut up and eat shit while destiny passes you’re sorry ass by. Brave enough to block a dude on a phone but not brave enough to confess? Dude really? You are the fucking new manliness standard? I’ve met professed Bronies who have more guts than you.

 In the closet. ‘Good thing it was big enough.

 Daww, Taichi!

 Well, you can’t blame him for trying.

Kana-chan, you are a true Poetrytard. We salute you!

 I wonder…

 …Who’s right?

 CUTE outfit. (*Hana resolves to try this combo soon, one day*)

 Of course…

 …For, even though you may be at a distance,

 …You are connected… Somehow…

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  1. Mikako
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Taichi was rather annoying with this number-blocking, he used to date his own bimbos (and cheat on them) and I don’t recall Chihaya trying to sabotage that. Oh wait, maybe that’s because she doesn’t give a damn about him romantically.

    • Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, I think I just found it funny, and of course full of dramatic irony. And yes, Chihaya does not seem the sabotaging type, and clearly doesn’t think of Taichi in that way right now.

  2. ectholion
    Posted March 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh Chihaya, its never a good idea to give your number to someone you do not know, let alone agree to date said person. The whole silent confession thing where Taichi said he was hopelessly in love, from his thoughts i believe hes leaning more to fruitless less since from his thoughts he believe that the only one who care reach her or move her is Arata. It would be nice if Arata would get more screen time then a minute here and there.

    • Crusader
      Posted March 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      A stranger is a friend that you have not met yet, otherwise unless you are born with a social circle your going to have to take chances, smart chances.

    • Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Definitely not, especially for a young girl. Though, we didn’t see the rest of that conversation, so she might’ve guessed that he was harmless (she seems to be a pretty good judge of character after all). And re: Arata – inorite?! >:(

  3. Posted March 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    “I am sure that Taichi fans will protest that he was not cheating”

    Hahaha. I can see that you are jealous. Taichi has a harem, and you want us to believe he is an awful, awful person.

    • Crusader
      Posted March 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Bah you silly otaku and your harems little do you fools realize such things called harems cost money few if any of you are Emirs of a gulf oil state. I just laugh at all you fools who end up paying child support and alimony and lose three or four houses for the sake of a trifling thing. Hey i hope if you ever get a significant other that they will pull at Taichi on you, you can’t date no one else but they sure as hell can.

      • Posted March 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        “Pull a Taichi” LOL They’re not married … YET. You seem to have finally accepted that Taichi and Chihaya are destined to be together.

        • Crusader
          Posted March 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          Big if and IF only it were DESTINY, but funny thing is it just blew by Taichi and if you aren’t careful it blow by your ass too.

          • ectholion
            Posted March 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

            Harems eh? well if anyone i would say Chihaya is the one with the Harem. Chihaya has both Taichi and Arata. We all know if she called Taichi or texted him on Christmas he would have come running. Plus she has the power to make Arata leave his party with just a call, such power! And how it serves her too, she doesnt even have to bother with rejecting guys, she gets her Harem to do it for her.

    • Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Lol at that scene – Taichi should’ve seen that coming!

  4. Frog
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Go, Arata, go!

    • Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      No – more like, ‘Come back, Arata, come back!’ (MOAR Arata please!)

  5. Dein
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Oh, this was all kinds of awesome. Fainlly an episode a little less focused on karuta that I’ve been waiting for. Cool to see the characters both act and think outside of their karuta circle for a change. Also shows that Chihaya is fully capable of functioning without karuta, which a lot of people seemed to think was impossible.

    Hope Arata will be able to bring Murao back into karuta or, at least, use him as a reminder that he shouldn’t quit again. Either way, I think it’s high time Arata somehow reconnected with the main cast in a more permanent manner. Taichi on the other hand, despite his inner turmoils, I simply lost interest in. I can’t really say that I dislike him anymore, but he fails to trigger any sort of emotional responses. That being said, I still wouldn’t want to see Chihaya end up with him.

    Also, Kana-chans poetry scene was amazing, as usual. Wish they’d do those more often. They strike me as this fantastic tool that brings both the competetive karuta and the social/other aspects of their life together in a very smooth manner without forgetting the focus of the show.

    • Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      You remind me of one of the few (tentative) criticisms I have of this show; that it’s all about the Karuta. Not that the whole thing hasn’t been as enjoyable as hell, but it’s basically a sports show with a female lead, though (thankfully) all the other elements are so strong that it makes for a very good show overall.

      Not sure what they’re planning to do with Murao at this late stage in the series, but I agree that Arata needs to be brought ‘back’ into the fold; he’s been far too peripheral of a character. Which makes sense, given that he’s someone/ represents something that Chihaya has been ‘chasing’ for so long, but rather dissatisfying for the viewer. Either way, guess the series finale will be interesting. Taichi seems to be doing his own thing, with little touches to show that he still cares about Chihaya and also show how far he’s come and how he’s growing as his own person. I doubt that Chihaya will end up with anyone, and nor does she need to (right now).

      Oh god, Kana-chan! Love her poetry scenes of course, and how consistently cute, intelligent and sincere she is – such a great character! ^ ^

      • Dein
        Posted March 20, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        I know what you mean. I didn’t really get an impression of a show heavily focused on sports, from the first few episodes, especially the ones with them as kids. Not to complain, because, as you say, it has been very enjoyable, but I can’t help but imagine how amazing it would be if it took a slightly more slice of life approach. The characters are all really interesting and defined by far more than just their karuta. Hopefully, there will be a second season, at least.

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