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.