Suo has finally shown himself and so ends Chihayafuru. There isn’t much of blatant to be continued, and there is no championship parade for Mizusawa. It was a fun ride, even if the chances for another season are slim to none. Such is the state of shoujo anime that sequels are few and far between; hell I am still waiting for a second season of Skip Beat! Chihaya might just be another Class A player along with Arata and Sudo, but it didn’t go down as a downer end and it still brought closure as the Shinobu and Suo were able to demonstrate their superiority and show everyone how taking them on was no small task. They are right about one thing though talented people do not make for good coaches all the time. Magic Johnson was a great player but his attempt at coaching was a disaster, it’s not his fault though since if things come easy for you it is hard as hell to really articulate it beyond just do it. Shinobu might struggle a bit more though given how it seems that Suo is better than her in some aspects and certainly Suo is a four time champion to her two. You can teach technique, you can teach strategy, but you cannot teach speed or talent. Mighty though they are dynasties do not last forever, even if no one comes along to beat them in their prime at the height of the power, old age steps in eventually. As Willie Mays said so eloquently, “growing old is just a helpless hurt.”
While Chihaya and Kana-chan did not win top honors this year I am glad that they were both able to find new goals to occupy their time. Kana-chan wants to be a card reader, but I guess she underestimated the gravity of her ambitions. Chihaya seems to be able to take lessons from others to heart so hopefully Kana-chan will make Class A to be the reader at Chihaya’s Queen match. I must say it is a beautiful dream that Kana-chan has hopefully it will be so beautiful that she cannot help but endeavor to make it happen. Nothing worth anything in life is easy, part of the journey is the struggle of getting over the hump and while Kana-chan is in Class-C she has time and the ability to make Class A if she really put her heart into it. Chihaya seemed very pleased that Kana-chan shared her dreams, and given how they are so close Chihaya will be able to help Kana-chan get to Class A. Nishida is Class A as well and if he were serious about the Kana-chan sweepstakes he would do his best to help her out in between getting roasted by Sudo.
Still while this show hasn’t been heavy on the shipping I was given plenty of ChihayaxKana-chan. They could have instead tried to animate Taichi’s attempt at a confession instead we get a yuri filled end where Chihaya and Kana-chan reaffirm their love through karuta. Not only does Taichi fail to make the desperation confession, he barely advances his chances. It’s delightful Kana-chan not only has gotten close she has started sharing her dreams and pays very close attention to Chihaya and isn’t put off by Chihaya being who she is. Chihaya may have the social grace of a bear but it is better that Kana-chan sees so much more than a pretty face. Another crop of students may simply admire and cry like babies over beauty in vain, but their opinions are irrelevant like all the musings of cowards. Besides in the end Chihaya confessed her love for Kana-chan along with Nishida and Desk-kun. The latter two aren’t going to win in all honesty, they are going to have to do much more to impress Kana-chan. Hell neither one has even started to read deeper into the poetry.
Suo seems to have impressed Chihaya, but the knowledge that he is better put a damper in her ambitions. Thankfully Desk-kun was able to use stats to impress upon Chihaya that she had a legitimate chance against the likes of Suo, even if Desk-kun can’t help himself much. If nothing else Desk-kun is much better coaching material than the others since he still struggles mightily and needs to use stats more than the others to make up for his shortfalls in talent and speed. Chihaya has only begun to fight and she will need plenty more when her destined showdown with Shinobu finally does take place. Disappointed as Chihaya is I am glad she was able to believe in herself and the people who believe in her largely on faith. I’d be surprised if Chihaya fully understood Desk-kun’s notes but if being able to contest 20 cards against Suo make her happy then all the more power to her. Chihaya won’t be taking down Suo anytime soon but it is great that she is undaunted enough to dare.
Arata was able to overcome his despair in short order and his sempai finally came around. Suo is Meijin now but he is still human and bleeds when he is shot. As mere mortals invincibility is not a forgone conclusion and certainly right now it seems that everyone thinks that Suo is just coasting on superior hearing but I think that it is far more than that. Just because one is talented doesn’t mean that they don’t have to put in the hard work. We know that Shinobu practices plenty by herself, and I am sure that Suo is likely the same, if nothing else we know that Suo is not busting his ass trying to graduate. Suo is the master but like everyone else he has his own share of quirks and failings. Being in college in perpetuity likely gets him heat from other corners of society even if he is something of an embarrassment to the coaching establishment. We saw Shinobu’s circumstances and it would have been interesting to delve into Suo’s. Alas there simply is no more time.
Taichi as usual was about to crumple in the face of adversity, he should be grateful though that Arata was willing to hand him some advice. Sadly it is terribly late for Taichi to start taking practice seriously and come upon the conclusion that other players have worthwhile things to teach him. Emulating Sudo is a step forward, but talking big and threatening Chihaya is one thing, beating Chihaya at 90% is quite another. I’d still take Chihaya at 90% than Taichi at 100%, Chihaya isn’t permanently fazed by Sudo’s mind games and while Taichi can copy all he wants Chihaya has already faced the original. Still if there were a second season I would dearly love to see Taichi try that act against Sudo, my money would be on Sudo but it would be fun to see how Sudo would destroy Taichi for his impertinence.
Final Grade: B+
This series falls more in line with a sports anime than a traditional shoujo series. Not only is the shipping rather light, there is no “pair the spares.” This show is about karuta as much as it is about Chihaya and her friends. Your mileage will vary depending on how much you can accept karuta and how much sports anime you are willing to let leech into your nominally shoujo series. Chihaya isn’t the smartest girl in the show but there is something to be said for her drive and willingness to rise to the occasion. She takes plenty of lumps but she gets out of her funks sooner rather than later. Little is seen of the other characters aside from Taichi which is unfortunate. Arata gets some development but for much of the series he is casting a long shadow that fills Taichi with dread. Sudo and Shinobu were fun to have around but their screen time is tragically short. Kana-chan gets her fair share though Nishida and Desk-kun don’t get as much time. It is understandable given how this is a shoujo series and the guys get less screen time with the exception of Taichi.
I made no secret of my dislike for Taichi, for me any guy who doesn’t give his best in practice deserves to lose. Taichi hardly practiced hard and I relished each of his failures due to his own lack of effort and his underwhelming crumple response to tough situations. That said one benefit that Taichi does bring is contrast to Chihaya since they are nearly opposites in every way. Taichi gets all the love publicly but is miserable while Chihaya gets some attention but is quickly ignored by public opinion. Chihaya is perfectly fine with not having to adhere to unrealistic expectations while Taichi chooses to torture himself by maintaining a façade of good breeding. Having Taichi around certainly makes Chihaya look all the more heroic. I suppose if you like your male characters to be paper tigers with no real toughness, then Taichi is a boon because his miserable failures make us feel superior and good about ourselves. That said if you really want to ship his sorry ass with Chihaya, Taichi isn’t going to do you any favors given his refusal to confess and force an escape from the friend zone he made for himself. Taichi had it all once, good grades, a girl friend, and a bright future thanks to his father’s money. In the end Taichi chose to be a dick and harass his crush to the point where she went right into the arms of Arata to learn karuta. That karuta addiction of Chihaya’s has proven to be the bane of his existence, Kana-chan is making inroads, Arata is always in the back of her mind, while he struggles to gain notice.
Admittedly I have been poor and as a member of the proletariat and a hated occupier of Japan I feel no sympathy for Taichi and his first world problems. I find the laughable because they are largely of his creation, as a military guy I don’t see any point in giving him pity given how he has a simple decision to make every episode and if he chooses to not confess and be miserable then so be it. Taichi chose to give less than 100% in practice and could not win his way into Class A, again you only get what you put in and Taichi got exactly what he deserved. Seeing him struggle and reading all the White Knight comments rushing to Taichi-chan’s defense gave me a measure of sadistic glee. I am demanding but it was just interesting to see what kind of excuses people were willing to proffer for his failings. Taichi will be an underdog to some but for me he will always be a rich underachieving overdog. Taichi unlike the rest could throw money at his problems but he lacks the sense to do it, moreover he seems resistant to outside help and he suffers for it as it should be.
I dislike Taichi but I love this show Chihaya is always a joy to watch and I love seeing Taichi live out the consequences of his past mistakes. Also Chihaya and Kana-chan gave me ample opportunity to put on the yuri-goggles and derive maximum enjoyment. If I am being honest there will likely be no second season as is the way of most shoujo series, still I can pray to Zeus for it to happen but this show made for some fun times.
From a technical stand point there were some drops in animation, but shoujo series are rarely well funded and this can be forgiven to an extent. The music was by and large good, but I am a little disappointed that the ED and OP weren’t changed mid season. As shipping fodder this show wasn’t making it a priority though in the face of Aquarion EVOL there was enough shipping fodder to be had this season. From the look of things there isn’t that much on offer for shoujo anime but there is always next season and at least the manga for Chihayafuru is on going.
Hana’s final thoughts
In short: I loved this show and I’m going to miss it very much.
In not as short: What a great season finale, with so many cool moments showcasing the major characters, not least during that wonderful extended O.P. -song-overlaid E.D. sequence. Seeing THE MASTER finally play some Karuta in this episode was good, even if his ear-picking wasn’t, and it was interesting seeing the effect of his game on others. I particularly liked how Suo and Shinobu were presented as experts, but ones lacking in that certain passion and willingness to take on and dish out advice that Chihaya and some others have in spades, as in evident in Kitano-sensei’s comment that the current Meijin and Queen don’t really heed their teacher figures and won’t make good teachers themselves. Clearly, Suo and Shinobu will be very tough to beat, but it was good to see that they are not quite as infallible as they might’ve first appeared. Her passion aside, I doubt that Chihaya is ready to wrestle Shinobu’s crown away just yet, but Desk-kun’s observation that Chihaya has more one-syllable cards than she previously thought was a step in the right direction, and certainly seemed to motivate Chihaya in a suitably fiery, yet realistic manner. I also thought that Arata, Kana-chan and Taichi’s responses to Suo’s game were interesting. As we see during the match, Arata follows along with his own cards, and this sequence told from his point of view is another great example of how the show presents more complicated concepts such as Karuta techno-babble in an engaging way that both develops the characters as well as the plot, with another example being Kana-chan in her charming poetrytard mode. In contrast, Taichi has not been doing enough to focus on and learn from his superiors’ techniques, but his interaction with Arata in this episode, though brief, was great and motivated him to discover other ways of gaining advatages while playing against oponents (though, for the record, I do not condone the burning of any Daddy Bear merchandise, especially Chihaya’s). Finally, Chihaya and the Scoobies are clearly all set to return in a second season (I hope!), as is apparent from the new threat to their clubroom and the subsequent need to recruit more members. Thus, all it reminds for me to say is fingers crossed that a sequel is made – and to thank you guys, as always, for reading!