Chihayafuru – 25(Final): Kana-chan’s Dream

Apparently Suo has few admirers...

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+

Final Thoughts

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! :)

Wow Suo wastes no time in confessing...

HE CONFESSED WITH HIS MIND.

I have no idea what others will do but I know you ball up and pout.

Chihaya can't believe that there is some one with the same "useless" talent.

Arata may get very little screen time but he's nothing if not diligent.

The Day Reckoning.

The Suo Dynasty lives...

Now here is a guy who knows the value of practice.

Meh, you can do fine without a degree, you just have to work harder. Still must be nice to have that scholarship for being Meijin.

Thanks but no thanks. Now if you excuse her Highness she needs to check on the latest Snowmaru give away.

I guess even coaches need to feel useful.

Apparently Shinobu sees Suo as her hated blood rival.

Suo doesn't feel that way, unrequited hate indeed.

Well that's because they have yet to be asked, it's not like Taichi has enough sense to throw money at them to help make him a better player.

So how's that does of reality?

Well at least now they will be spared from eating that bio-hazard you call cooking.

Well that only means Chihaya can contest twenty but she's still giving up eight... at least she will be in the game.

Quitting time already?

You'll have to do more thinking, you're thinking for Taichi as well now.

If only his grandfather's ghost could still play.

Glad to have you back, may you too also frustrate Taichi's bid to be a master.

Sorry Taichi but Arata has a game to play.

We'll have to teach Chihaya to love math if she is going to make sense of this new money ball thing.

But statistics can lie...

Well almost everyone, I wonder if Taichi has a favorite card.

We'll at least it was more than 2 cents.

That she is Kana-chan.

Alert, Alert enemy males trying to take away your Chihaya.

Yes for you see you two will be forever alone...

Good grief is every one at this school so gutless?

They will hear your prayers.

Of sweet poetry...

Well now is not the time to hide your feelings Kana-chan.

It's like destiny...

If nothing else Kana-chan was able to touch Chihaya's heart.

Well there are no secrets between you girls anyways.

Accept her heartfelt confession?

That's a wonderful ambition.

Love will find a way.

Yes, Kana-chan wants to be by your side forever.

YES.

The path of Yuri Love is never easy but it is worth it.

Chihaya just found her true love.

Is it not wonderful?

So give Chihaya a kiss on your new found life ambition.

Nothing worth anything in life is easy, but take heart you will have a glorious struggle with Chihaya as two girls in love trying to make it in the world.

Yeah I know right, just looking at Taichi is depressing.

Yeah Taichi decided to finally take practice seriously, and people wonder why he was made of such fail for 25 episodes.

I guess this is how Taichi shows his love.

Taichi would do that because he sees Daddy Bear as a threat. Also Sudo would probably destroy Taichi if he knew the latter was trying to copy him. Still I have to congratulate Taichi on choosing to emulate a real man.

Funny I don't recall you winning this one. It must be time to quit...

I guess Kana-chan is going to be Sudo's blood rival then.

Maybe in two and ten thousand years...and then another eight thousand years may pass. Even if it will take two thousand and a hundred million, Taichi will get there some day, just not today...

So this guy's the Emperor? I always wondered what he'd look like when he got off the Golden Throne.

I think you severely overestimate your chances.

The Empress is indeed old.

At least she wrote legibly.

As if you were contributing anything to the club coffers Taichi...

The first things every freshman boy sees...

Millions will see but only guy ever tried...

The Jersey Club spirit is strong in this one.

And you got even older, what's your point?

Hopefully next time you will have moved with Kana-chan to Kamogawa.

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24 Comments

  1. Lin
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    “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.”

    It’s not late at all for him, and if you think he can’t be as good as Chihaya or even Arata…. well, let’s just say you should start reading the manga…

    • Crusader
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      It’s late for the anime unless Taichi can time warp and crap dark matter.

  2. ectholion
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    my what a final episode that blush on arata, the king and queen, and Taichi mom all made the episode so great. Im glad their was now rushed original ending, the staff has really done an amazing job they seem to have judged how to space out the content perfectly. If they do a next season they have plenty to build on, the recruiting and training of additional members and all the lovely character development involved in that. Taichi and his new try hard practice ideas. Also the fact that the characters are getting older as well. I’m definitely gonna miss this show, im probably gonna cave and instead of waiting for a second season pick up the manga.

    Hana as always your post have been lovely as always :) Thank you for such wonderful reviews.

    Crusader your thoughts and rage been both interesting and infuriating. all an all i have enjoyed debating this show and all other nonsense with you.

    • Crusader
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Eh don’t hold hold your breath Zero no Tsukaima gets sequels, shoujo series as a rule do not. I can’t believe you’d give Taichi credit for discovering that practicing hard gets results… Reasonable people have known for eons.

      • ectholion
        Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        I didnt praise him i said it is something they could build on in season 2. relax man.

    • Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      That blush indeed – great use of faces in the show, and so much fun to see a selection of the best rounded up in that E.D. sequence. And thank you, as always, ectho! ^ ^

  3. Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    There will have to be more Chihayafuru, eventually, but I hope it’s not dependent on disc sales. It’s possible they don’t have enough source material for another season just yet, so idk.

    • Crusader
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      It’s always about money, when has it ever been about anything other than their bottom line? Maybe if people bought Taichi dakimakuras we’ll get another season.

    • Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I think Kyokai said somewhere that there is already enough material for a second season, so… Well, there is always hope, I guess!

  4. ryujin
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    holy crap dude, what the hell was that? I get having issues with characters but this was practically character assassination. Like I seriously thought for a second you were projecting either some kind of subconscious desire to act out your rape fantasies or some kind of reaction to you or someone you know being raped. Like that was the only way I could squint and see what you were describing in this show.

    “then Taichi is a boon because his miserable failures make us feel superior and good about ourselves.” – What? No. Just no. No one with any empathy would look at someone who’s failing and relish in their failures as a way to prop up their own ego, and if that were the case said ego must be really pathetic. That’s not something to be encouraged and definitely not something to champion. Taichi worked hard to maintain top grades and other responsibilities so that he could do Karuta.

    You mentioned that he should throw money at his problems? How the hell do you propose he do that in the context of Karuta? That he cheat and bribe off the judges, or the contestants? That’s what seems to be implied here, and I’m honestly kinda disgusted at the thought. What the hell do you think it is that people do with their money?

    He dislikes getting help from other people? So a basic modicum of misplaced pride in his teen years? Well color me shocked. I assume then that you were never weary of getting help or being seen as weak or in need of help. I guess you just went around all the time asking for guidance and counseling about everything? I dunno about you but I still have issues with taking directions from time to time. I’d like to imagine that it’s not a monumental personal flaw that will lead me down the road of serial rapist and general good for nothing scum of society.

    Man I can’t believe you even managed to get me to respond to what I’m sure is trolling or inflammatory comments just to get a rise.

    I’ll put it this way, nowhere during the viewing did I or others of my acquaintance see or even suspect the kind of behavior you’ve described. It again makes me wonder if you’re projecting something or if you’re making Taichi a scapegoat for other things in your life that you have no analogue for and so you’re ranting and taking it out on a fictional character that conveniently encompasses the desired traits you’ve attributed to him in order to manage your own issues.

    You’ve gone on about the girlfriend, and yes that was pretty crappy of him, but why aren’t you making any assumptions about the girlfriend? Why can’t she be a money grubbing slut who was only superficially interested in his looks or body or wealth? (it’s no worse than what you’ve implied of Taichi. If that were true I guess you’d assume that they’d be perfect each other? A pair of snakes?) I wouldn’t make either of those assumptions, and though the content of the show indicates you’d be in the right (in that specific instance) that doesn’t allow you to extrapolate to the conclusions you’ve managed to reach.

    I could go on and on. It would probably just fuel your sadistic glee at getting some white knight internet straw man to step up and feed the flames. I dunno dude. That shit is messed up.

    I get that teenage boys are untrustworthy but so are adults and everyone else. I get that people who are mentally weak or who don’t give it a 100% deserve to fail at times, but again so is the better part of humanity. Slamming the greater part of people who all have those traits at some point in their lives when they’re faced with adversity or challenge… are you really that callous? Fear of rejection, sure it’s not a mans man thing but it’s a very human thing. Jealousy, greed, etc. Those elements are there but so are the ones of kindness and genuine growth and desire to improve. I’m not trying just to defend Taichi here, good lord knows he’s probably got the most supporters out of anyone of the cast for the rest of viewers. I’m just trying to defend real people. Human characters. Sigh.

    • Crusader
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      No you had it right blatant character assassination. Good luck getting certified as a shrink, because I was just waiting for my PTSD diagnosis.

      Taichi could have paid for lessons or a karuta coach, I am surprised the thought of cheating bothers you so much considering Taichi has cheated before.

      I have worked in teams all my life, hell I like team sports. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, as an apprentice engineer I ask questions all the time as I don’t want to lose a limb or look even dumber by causing a catastrophic failure and be infamous through out the plant. As a member of the military I asked plenty of questions regarding my job, combat training, first aid, weapons operation, urban combat, etc. If you are the kind of sorry bastard that can’t ask for help because of “pride” and don’t want to look “weak” do not come to me looking for sympathy after you have an unmitigated disaster because you could not admit your own ignorance. I cannot fathom how people can be so craven as to not ask questions. Isn’t better to learn from the mistakes of others than to have go through the embarrassment of making mistakes you will never live down? Hell I know I wasn’t the average teenager, but come on even at that age I knew that asking questions could only help me pass tests and not screw up experiments.

      Don’t get me wrong I like watching Taichi suffer, not because my life is crap although I work in waste extraction, but because it’s like a trainwreck I cannot help but watch as time slows down and Taichi crumbles. It’s like clockwork and it’s always good to see people suffer the consequences of their actions. Heck if you never asked a question in class and you failed the test, hell yeah I would laugh at you. If an F is going to be the low point of your life, I have news for you, you have lived a very charmed and blessed life. It’s always fun to have a buttmonkey, in Taichi’s case it’s willful ignorance on his part and sinful pride that keeps him from making Class A and noticed

      I get it people these days adhere to some silly notion that following orders is bad that their ideas are all worthwhile. Fact is unless you work for yourself, you will have to follow directions and take orders. For me it was a natural fit, it’s easier to have a chain of command than having people argue among peers and get nothing done. Hey I hope you can learn to suck it up and embrace directives even if you object to them if you end up working for someone else.

      As for Taichi’s girlfriend there’s no indications that she was vile woman, I just think she deserved a face to face break up. I think she deserved to know that Taichi left her roughly a year before. Break ups happen I get, but you know even if technology progresses it’s still sad that she had to call him. Not only was it rude, but cowardly. Still cowardice is a running theme with Taichi.

      It’s fine if you fail and pick yourself back up within a reasonable amount of time. In my experience though people who work the least have most time to bitch about First World Problems. I don’t feel for people who don’t rise to the occasion, life suffering. I choose to embrace the suck because at the end of the day crying about a problem won’t make it go away, there only so many hours in the day and I have better things to do than mull over the existential implications over hurt feelings. Taichi took years to mull over Chihaya, he’s still mulling it over. Why the fuck should anybody feel bad for him he can’t step up and declare his love. The worst she could say is no, but he will never know and remain in misery so long as he choose to be a coward. Rejection is part of life, you aren’t going to find that person without asking. Unless significant others simply drop out of the sky or are summoned through magic, you are going to have to dare.

      Me being messed up is relative, and honestly I know I think differently from most people. I was poor, I joined the military, I was activated for the tail end of Enduring Freedom, I spent High School despising my peers after hearing their cheers for getting out of school on 9/11. Yeah I know shit is messed up, but so is reality. You speak of empathy, but I doubt there are enough hours in the day for you to really care about every living being on this planet. I just don’t believe in saving people from their own stupidity, I find it hilarious when people deem Taichi’s problems as something serious. I would like to think that people would give more of damn about solving hunger than the romantic woes of a rich kid.

      You can’t save people from fucking up their own lives, hell in my neighborhood alone there are plenty of gangsta thugs who got old and discovered that they made some piss poor life decisions. Funny thing is I remember some of them dealing out misery in their youth, they thought little of going to jail but now they feel very different though they all seem to blame the police and other people for not helping them. Call me callous but I am more than capable of ignoring those who have to sleep in the bed they willingly made. I don’t give to every pan handler I see, I have neither the money nor inclination, however I do volunteer. If that incites disgust for you, whatever. Jealousy, Greed, Pride…once upon a time they were known as some the seven deadly sins, these days people want to be be rewarded for committing them instead of dealing with the fallout.

      • ryujin
        Posted April 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Taichi was part of the society and he practiced with the group after school, on top of whatever work he needed to do to appease his mother by maintaining top grades. For starters there’s no indication of how much spending money he has although changes are high it’s money regulated by his mother as there’s no indication he has a job (and is barred from having one if my memory about japanese students still applies) so the chance to get his mom to pay for fees involving a hobby or sport that she already wishes he’d drop are on the low side. More to the point it doesn’t make any sense in the context of the story to have one character constantly away from the group to be studying on his own.

        The primary purpose of the show is to see people grow (and it simply happens to be under the context of them learning Karuta) as individuals and in a group. Taichi is in fact the de facto main character of the show because we spend more time with his thoughts and viewpoints than we do any other character. That is because essentially Taichi has no love for Karuta (at first). He begins as an outsider like the viewer and therefore is ambivalent about it until he is drawn to it because of Chihaya. Which again mirrors the viewpoint of the audience. Taichi has no real talent for Karuta unlike Arata and Chihaya so his perspective makes the most sense to follow with.

        He IS a coward, or cowardice and running away from his problems is a running theme and the character arc for him. In fact he’s notably the only one with any real character arc. Chihaya is too much of a genki perfect protagonist to have a real developed emotional arc, and the same can be said for the rest of the team. They’re all great people with moments of weakness here and there but they can’t be described as flawed. Taichi is established as a bully, jealous, insecure, and conflicted from the first episode. So again the theme of growing as a person/in a group through Karuta has more meaning for him than anyone else. He’s spoiled, he’s been rich, he’s gotten great grades, he’s athletic, and good looking. He’s also in love with the girl that he knows can’t see him. So if he needs time to get over the fact that he needs to be willing to play while not looking “cool.” I can buy that.

        They’ve been playing as a group for what? Less than a year? In that time he’s made pretty good progress, and he’s certainly asked for help from the old sensei at the karuta club. The problem I feel is you’re equating an after school club that he joined to impress a chick with your experience in the military or at an engineering plant where stuff could be life and death. To compare the two situations is ludicrous. Yes there are elements of reaching out and group dynamics. But as you’ve pointed out in those situations listening to orders and clarifying what you should do is paramount because of potential hazards. This is a after school club activity where he’s learning more about himself and Chihaya, it’s nowhere near the same kind of situation so comparing the two has no meaning. Chihaya has demonstrated that listening to orders is great and all, but the only real growth/change comes from personal understanding. Everyone has to make their own mistakes, and you generally learn more from doing something wrong and reflecting what you did wrong and why then doing something right a hundred times without knowing why. Again Taichi has demonstrated that he’s learning from his mistakes and changing his approach to life/Karuta/Chihaya etc. I guess that’s my main beef now that i think of it. I can accept your opinions and perspective on Taichi (and even agree with them), but I can’t understand the ignorance or lack of acknowledgement about the growth and change in the character over the course of the series.

        He’s already had a turning point where he’s given up on the easy road to class A (which official rules qualified him for) because he doesn’t want to run away. I get that you could take issue with the numerous faults he’s displayed but no one is saying feel pity for taichi, boohoo he can’t confess to Chihaya, oh noes he’s rich and good looking wah wah~! For starters Taichi doesn’t vocalizes his feelings, he doesn’t bitch and whine about it aloud. It’s all inner turmoil.

        As for confessing. I can only assume you think Taichi is really just lusting after her body. I would say at least a part of him aside from the fear of rejection really is treating Chihaya like a friend. He knows that she is in no place for a relationship, that anything that would take her attention away from giving Karuta everything she has right now would just be a deterrent to her dreams and desires. Chihaya simply isn’t anywhere in a position to be having any kind of serious relationship, and should he confess, and should she go out (chichaya kind of reacts on instinct to this kinda thing) with him it could only end badly and then that would affect the club as well. He is inconsiderate but he cares about both Chihaya and Arata and the people in his club

        Reality is shit. That was the point. Taichi is a reaistic character and so he knows he’s not going to measure up to natural talents like the current Meijin or even Chihaya or Arata. More than the people who are stupid that you seem to despise, Taichi is self aware and intelligent to know that whatever his natural talents the reality is he’s probably never going to measure up to the natural prodigies of the karuta world. He’s still sticking with it though. I’d consider that rising to the occasion as a personal character growth point.

        Taichi’s problems aren’t serious like food and survival no. It’d be silly to pretend otherwise. Still they are real problems, and they have weight if you treat people like they’re worthwhile inherently and not just the sum of their decisions. Rejection is a rich people problem it’s a human thing. Dealing with handling rejection is a growing up thing.

        Empathy is feeling for the people that you know or care about when they have problems. It’s not spending every minute picking a random person to feel about. Confronted with another human being and their issues then you decide how to feel about it, not approaching it on a global scale.

        You can’t save people from their own lives no. You can try to be there for them when they need someone to talk to or at least provide a counterexample through your own life. Kudos to the volunteering, eye rolling to the suggestion that anywhere in the previous post I was advocating the celebration or rewarding of the seven deadly sins. Throwing the first stone and all that.

        I’ll leave it with this (an incredibly off topic tangent) yes stupid people have to lie in their bed. So what of corporations or governments that do the same thing on a much larger scale but get away with it because they know how to use the system. Governments and people in charge can make incredibly bad decisions and we have to lie in their bed for it. People always expect to be rewarded for the 7 sins because that’s the shit world we live in today. True prosperity and wealth is often built on the advantage of people who are weak or stupid or desperate. You may be callous to those people now, but one day you might wake up to realize you number among them.

        • Crusader
          Posted April 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          Here’s where you are wrong, Taichi gets money hell he got $1500 USD as a snot nosed kid every new year adjusting for inflation that is still a handsome sum. Moreover in the case of New Year money it usually trends up wards. Taichi is loaded, hell he bought plane tickets on his own and went overnight to play in a tournament by himself not too many people in High School can do that. Taichi is not hurting for money, he simply failed manage his expenditures to maximize his economic advantage.

          I think you misunderstand me, Taichi could and should get advice on karuta, that he did not only highlights his cowardice. Looking “uncool” is a lame excuse if your desire is to compete. It’s not that Taichi has no talent, he lacks work ethic and passion for the game. He has some skills given his good performance as a kid, but as he currently is he will not be worthy of Class A. No one else pays any heed to looking cool, a win is a win even if you win ugly. There are no style points so Taichi’s obsession with looking cool is silly. What’s the point in looking cool if you lose? It’s fine to make mistakes, it is not fine to make the same damn ones again and again. Again why make your own mistakes when you have people around you to learn from? Why waste what time you have on this earth with duplication of effort? I prefer to do it once and do it right, second chances are not a given. Your mistake ridden ideal learning curve is precisely why youth is wasted on the young, the do know better they simply think that they will be an exception.

          I fail to see the point in empathizing with every one whose name I know, knew the people in my class. Still I didn’t give a rat’s ass what stupid shit they did, so what if one guy flunked, he never worked hard anyway and I don’t have the inclination to get teary eyed for his lazy ass.

          The basis of Taichi’s attraction to Chihaya is fairly shallow, he hardly knows her and is still surprised by her. He grew up with her, and yet never seemed to look beyond the fact that she’s pretty, nice, and frenetic. I just think Taichi wants what he cannot have, every girl was in the palm of his hand except her, but by not having her Chihaya becomes desirable. Taichi never bothered to give his full support, he was dragged along by her rip tide. Were such a relationship to ensue I believe that Taichi will offer nothing of value to Chihaya with the exception of his money because in all other matters he has troubles with. Hell when Chihaya needed academic help, Taichi never offered to help (I suppose that is to others a sign that he cares). Taichi had a three year window, Arata free to make a connection, and elected not to. Instead Taichi went to another school and found himself a girlfriend, excuse me for doubting the depth of Taichi’s love but in my book ignoring Chihaya for 3 years tells me that Taichi isn’t terribly in love with Chihaya the person. He never moved, he knew her address, and yet didn’t make anything happen.

          Simply put I am not obligated to let people off the hook, I am not obligated to give a hand out to those who made one too many mistakes, often times the same mistake. Funny how you mention that I may end up among them, I told you live among them I just learned from their foolishness to avoid running up debt. Besides given that I am messed up I joined the military, and since I am not learning the hard way and getting NJPed or dishonorably discharged I think I will have decently long career to look forward to. If not then hell Uncle Sam will bury me for free, even better my will, power of attorney, life insurance, etc. were all taken care of due to his generosity and my own sick comfort with the idea that life is finite. Funny you say I am building wealth on the backs of weak and stupid. I get paid with tax payer dollars and last I checked it was graduated income tax, and even if local taxes are fixed. Poor people as a rule probably aren’t or at least shouldn’t buying all that much to make up a significant portion of that. Unlike most people I decided to earn my benefits through military and municipal service I know my limitations and just because the rest of my peers were too afraid to die if need be doesn’t mean I need to make that mistake and cry about not having health care for simply breathing.

          Taichi is never going live through shit, hell you probably wouldn’t volunteer to live across the street from the local liquor store and crack house (I’d call you stupid and pretentious if you did). Yes there is value from learning from one’s mistakes, however one too many mistakes and the damage will be most lasting. I say there is better value from learning from the mistakes of others, less risk and if you have the right mind set just as tangible if not moreso.

          I also find it funny that governments and the people in charge are the ones ruining every thing. I prefer to blame the whole damn electorate that you know put theme there and I especially blame those would be college intelligentsia who complain vociferously and rarely manage to vote. These days people are too smug and sanctimonious to do what needs to be done, few if any have the will to create a solution. But hey I made a career of cleaning up other people’s shit. Inner turmoil or no, he’s still bitching and I have to watch it instead of seeing Sudo roast Nishida and Shinobu taking people down.

          I still don’t see how 25 episodes of Taichi being miserable and then marginally better is an efficient use of screen time. If you are mulling over a girl or a boy for more than a year without doing anything, I think that that person should either make a confession or be mum and accept the misery that is the friendzone. People who expect love fall into their lap are simply lazy and craven, and Taichi is just that.

          If there is a system out there that keeps the poor in poverty and the stupid in stupidity I have not seen it. I see people who manage to move on up in life and drag themselves out of bad situations. But believe what you want, hard work just isn’t in fashion anymore it’s all about what the government should give people. I just think that the lazy and the stupid simply have no real assets to speak of, in fact I believe that in the US they get money and food for free, but there are some, though not a few, who simply mismanage what little they have and waste their time doing other things than working or looking for work.

          • ryujin
            Posted April 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            Point – fair enough. I’m still going to say it would be redundant to have him do private tutoring on top of his work at the club and the society + whatever after school tutoring/prep school stuff he has to do for uni.

            He has gotten advice but certainly not to the point that Chihaya or the other teams have. Again that is because Taichi doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Karuta at first. He has no talent. He can memorize things, that’s not an amazing talent. He can make up with hard work for a lot with Karuta but he could also instinctively tell the difference between himself and Arata when he was a kid.

            He acknowledges that he doesn’t deserve to be in Class A.

            It’s not an obsession with looking cool, it’s an obsession with not looking dumb in front of Chihaya which changes the moment he sees Chihaya actually lose and the amount of passion she displayed before about it. That’s another character beat where Taichi starts to realize that he can’t just go around half assing it anymore.

            Taichi losing is what should happen. Yes it’s partly a result of mistakes but after only playing for less than a year should he be winning against Karuta players who have been playing for much longer and who have worked harder? All of the things you keep railing about are demonstrated in the show. Talent/luck only go so far in the face of actual work and experience.

            Youth is wasted on the youth. Bursting out the greatest hits huh? So I’ll acknowledge it, this is a story about young people being stupid at times, but again they’re learning from it and they’ve got their whole frikken lives ahead of them. People get second chances every day of their lives, and most people live plenty long to waste all of them.

            EMPATHY IS NOT CRYING BITCH TEARS FOR EVERY RANDOM PERSON THAT SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED TO. It’s looking at the person’s circumstances and decisions and deciding “yes I can understand and see how that could happen and still treat you like a human being.” ffs dude don’t be deliberately obtuse. You seem rational enough and experienced(life) enough not be saying stupid crap like that.

            Did you notice he only says he loves her (in his thoughts) one time? And that was at the tail end of the series after witnessing her ups and downs and growth as a person? Spot on with the shallowness analysis. I agree. It also changes as they both grow though and the person he was at the start of the series is different from the person he’s shaping up to be in the future.

            Sigh… I know you’re mad or something but please read before you respond. I didn’t say “you” were profiting off the backs of the poor (although if you want to bring the Native Americans into this in a pointless show of retroactive guilt association just for the sake of being a dickhead about things-nvm) I said you live in a system where the government or corporations responsible for aspects of your day to day life have been built on unfair dealings with the poor/uneducated/destitute or are pushing people in that direction for the sake of profit. The US government spends close to 200 times it’s budget on military development as it does “solving the hunger issue” or education or any other number of things that could help people. If even a portion of military spending went to relief aid- nvm. That’s getting off topic and not something that was my point to begin with. I’m just going to say I did not suggest you made your living off the backs of others, but rather that the life you’ve had up to this point, including possibly being poor is you being in your bed as a result of the actions of your parents, or circumstances out of your control. We both agree whining and bitching about it is not the answer, but being callous and asserting that everyone deserves the bed they’re in can’t be right either.

            Let’s say you learn from the mistakes of others. My point is you’re going to make your own mistakes based on that. Everyone can only learn so much by proxy before they have to start taking risks of their own. Life is finite, try something someone hasn’t tried before, or that seems too stupid to work, that’s the only way things of merit get made. When people make mistakes and keep trying until the succeed. (assuming it’s not crack or something else equally retarded) case in point: Eagles are Turning People into Horses. Thesis work that received no funding and almost got the student kicked out goes onto getting into film festivals and rave reviews. 80% of the time your peers know better and you should take advantage of their experience. Innovation comes from taking that into account or disregarding the “accepted logic” entirely. Taichi never got the advice that he shouldn’t memorize all the cards in their entirety to the point where he could recite them at random. Most teachers would probably say that’s pointless as you only need to know the first few corresponding syllables. We don’t know how that skill will turn out in the future, and whether or not it’ll be useful.

            Let’s not kid ourselves, the people who are in office on the grand scale are there because of connections, wealth, and pre existing political clout. People may vote or not vote but in most of the world corruption, and bribery is rampant. People don’t have many options, and should by some miracle we manage to get an “honest” official into a position of power they’d be far outweighed by people who’d band together to ensure their own benefits over the general populace. SOPA?

            4 out of 5 characters are good characters. They have quirks instead of flaws. They are interesting and they’re great fun to follow. They create no resonance though because again, they have NO FLAWS. It doesn’t have to be a soap opera with you know dramatic hysterics all the time, and honestly that never felt like it was the case. Maybe you couldn’t see past the Taichi depression filter but I think most of the rest of us just took note, and then followed along to the next scene.

            Honestly I think Taichi shouldn’t confess. Like you said he has nothing to offer her. I believe if I remember correctly that his desire is to be able to compete evenly with Arata so that he can be on a level playing field with him when he tries to compete for Chihaya’s affections. (all of this after he meets her again) Hence this whole Karuta thing in the first place. Like I said I hardly believe he loved her until that moment where he acknowledges it in his mind a few eps ago. Until then there’s some passive aggressive bullshit, but he doesn’t come to terms with the fact beyond him being attracted to the “unattainable girl.” Here’s the things he knows about her from the onset: she treats everyone nicely, she isn’t like everyone else, she sticks up for others, she’s passionate, she doesn’t care about his money, or “coolness”, she just treats him like a normal kid, and she’s pretty cute. That seems like a pretty solid basis for being attracted to someone, but not love. Let’s not get into love being fickle/sudden/unpredictable/causes you to do stupid/crazy things.

            I still don’t see how you’ve managed to assume Taichi expects Chihaya to fall into his lap. Nothing about his behavior or in dialogue or even thoughts indicates that’s what he expects to happen. If anything he’s all too aware of the fact that Arata has a bigger part of her than he ever will.

            TV? Mass Media? Terrorism? Drugs? An education system designed to be useless and curriculum mandated to ensure that most developing students learn basic skills at the expense of rational or creative thinking so that the state can manage the results in a way that’s quantifiable rather than trying to bring out the potential of the individual student? The system of debt where the us dollar prints at a debt per dollar that ensures the economy will never recover in a meaningful way and that everyone is headed towards an economic spiral that has continued and will continue for the foreseeable future? The system of land ownership where people with wealth manage to buy out land causing prices to go higher to the point where an average household with two earners will be unable to afford to buy their own house in another decade or two at the given rate of inflation? I’ll agree on that last point, tons of people squander what they have. Sure.

          • Crusader
            Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            Tiachi got advice he just never acted on it, his lack of work ethic in practice was all him not a lack of advice.

            As for your cut the military budget spiel, they did that during the Clinton years, I remember there was a virtual wage freeze. I fail to recall that schools were better in the 1990s than they are now. It’s still the same issue no one wants to admit to, you can throw money at the kids, but you can’t make them motivated to learn. I wen to those “bad schools” where drop outs were common, they had money but at the end of the day if a kid doesn’t want to be there they should not be a drain on resources. So much BS is made about no child left behind, hence why the lazy hold every one back. In ye olde days education was not a given people valued school now kids just can’t wait to get out. Kids are given this grand lie that if they go to college that they will be successful, it’s BS college is not for every one and so much is wasted giving kids degrees that they never really use, last I heard roughly 50% recent graduates couldn’t find work after they left school. Hell I’ve seen more that one liberal arts major just go to school in perpetuity because they never found a job that could pay off their student debt. Again the money is there it just never gets maximized because society does not want to admit that not all students are equally academically talented.

            Don’t give me that BS about the defense budget projects have been cancelled, guys are getting discharged, we feel the pain just as much as you do, and while teachers have a union to bitch and moan, people in the military do not. There was a time when one school room and discipline made people educated enough to function, now we degrade math and science to promote creativity. As for people not affording houses, hell it wasn’t the norm until the 1950s, more over people who couldn’t afford houses bought them on credit. People nowadays believe so much into entitlement that they fail to live within their means, worse still they don’t bother to make contingency plans. Again stupid prevails, entitlement prevails, it’s not an issue of money and resources it’s a matter of mismanaging them. Also where the FUCK are the parents anyways? Kids are in school for only a few hours a week, and in all honesty work ethic begins at home not in school. Why don’t we hold parents accountable as well? Why is it always the big bad military eating up the budget? I know that civilian pukes don’t get universal health care but they aren’t being shot at nor are they coming back in body bags.

            All the characters had issues of one sort or another only Taichi was the one wallowing in his misery and showing us all how miserable he was. I didn’t care because it was all self inflicted, other people may pity his cowardice and stupidity, I just think that he got what he deserved and would have much rather have his screen time reduced.

            Much as you talk about excessive risk taking making for progress, those are the exceptions. Timing plays a great deal, its more than just an idea, its also the ability to get your ideas funded. As much as it is made that Bill Gates was a drop out he wasn’t exactly starving when MS was launched.

            Don’t get me started on aid money and NGOs, they are inefficient all the same, if there was only one group it would be save so much in overhead. Again the money is there only there is a ridiculous amount of duplication of effort.

    • Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Two thumbs up for “Character Assassination” haha…

  5. Dein
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I’m a little disappointed, since the show ended without really resolving anything. At least a lot of build up was done for the second season, if it ever comes. Either way, I enjoyed the hell out of this show, and Chihaya herself was one of my personal favorite leads, maybe even the best in a long while. She definitely sold the show to me.

    The rest of the cast was quite nice as well, despite the limited attention and screen time the recived, with the exception of Taichi. Maybe some key moment completely flew over my head here, but as far as I could see, Taichi was literally of no consequence to anyone or anything through the second half of the show, all the way to the end. I wouldn’t really mind it all that much, but he got so much screen time for doing nothing, when Arata, who could’ve had so much more influence on both chihaya and the audience, got little cutaways here and there. Meh.

    Everything else was pretty neat. Kana-chan finally got a clearly defined goal, instead of just being the groups outfit designer. Would be very cool to see them expand a little on her journey to become a certified reader in the next season, if it comes.

    On a side note, I gotta say I really enjoyed both the animation and the style of the show, as well as the OP. It was one of those rare cases where I watched it every time a new episode came out, not just skipped through it. Hell, even the song was awesome in my opinion, and the band behind it turned out to be very intereting.

    Anyway, it was a great ride. Thanks Hana and Crusader for blogging this show, it was a pleasure reading your takes on it, and you guys certainly made the whole thing more fun.

    • Crusader
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it was 25 episodes of waiting for Taichi to discover that practicing helps. Otherwise at least they didn’t waste every episode on him. We got some Sudo and Shinobu out of it. There wasn’t enough to resolve anything and I am glad they didn’t try to force a resolution. Yeah Taichi didn’t do all that much, he spent plenty of it lamenting his situation, but at least the rest of the cast was able to move on and get closer to their dreams.

      • SQA
        Posted April 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t the basis of Shoujo/Josei series the fact you assume they’ll eventually get to the right answer about 2 years after anyone else would have figured it out? Kind of how like Shounen battle animes will have random powerups mid-battle?

    • Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, while I enjoyed Taichi’s development as a complex character, you’re right; it just didn’t really go anywhere, did it… Guess it probably will do in the next season… I hope…

      What you say about Chihaya as a strong lead is interesting, I’m now trying to think of some faults, aside from her habitual denseness, but even that was glossed over so smoothly that I can’t really complain, haha. And yes, Kana-chan was just awesome, loved how strong she was too as a character in her own right, and now with her own dream. ^ ^ And thanks for all of your pertinent and thoughtful comments along the way, Dein!

  6. Jay
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    It’s been such a great series! I’m so sorry to see it end. The characters, the direction, the plot…it was all good, and it never got tedious. Chihayafuru had something that most series can’t get near. A second series may be unlikely, but if one gets made I’ll be thrilled. If not, I can only hope the manga gets picked up by official english-language publishers or patient scanlators.

    • Crusader
      Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      That would be more likely than another season. Still the economics of bringing it over are still affected by profit.

  7. fleurdelys1763
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    How I would love for this anime to go on and animate this scene: http://mangafox.me/manga/chihayafuru/v17/c091/11.html (the highlight of a hypothetical 3rd season)
    Arata and Shinobu’s(slim again) Match

  8. MaCTep
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Will there be a review of Season Two?

    The main reason I watched this show were the reviews here XD

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