Chihayafuru – 19

[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.46_[2012.02.14_19.53.54] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.15_[2012.02.14_19.57.03] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.11_[2012.02.14_20.06.19]

So I’m thinking if you didn’t love this episode of Chihayafuru, this is definitely not the series for you…

Whatever genre you want to lump this series in with – and I’m past worrying about it – my personal view is that it does an amazing number of things well. That’s been obvious for a while, but it’s pretty remarkable how much the show was able to accomplish this week. This is how you do a sports episode, that’s for sure – it was edge-of-the-seat tension from start to finish, and the emotional peaks were incredibly intense (especially at the end of the Class B match). Not only that, though, but it really involved me in the mechanics of a sport I still don’t understand very well – and even made those mechanical aspects understandable by the end. For the first time and in my own small way, this episode made me feel like I get Karuta.

Both of these final matches were tough to watch, because they involved characters I’ve come to love competing against each other. The results ended up being exactly what I thought they’d be, because that’s what made sense from a dramatic standpoint. They were never tipped off though, and I remained in doubt until the very end of both matches. Of the two, the Class D match was really closer to a “no lose” situation – both players would be advancing, and neither of them probably expected to win the Saitama Tournament. And they both did themselves proud, sticking to their style of game and overcoming their bad habits. Kana relaxed and kept her form fundamentally strong, and Tsutomu never gave up right until the very end, even devising the very clever strategy of grouping all his remaining cards together late in the game, facing an eight-card deficit. The fact that the two of them are as well-matched as any pairing I’ve seen in anime lately softens the blow too, and the affection between them was clear after the match ended.

Though Chihaya wasn’t even paying attention (which broke Taichi’s heart a little) the Class B match was more intense – and ultimately heartbreaking. The stakes were higher, the pressure harsher, and it was as close as possible. The entire match went down to the last card, making it effectively a contest of pure luck – defend the one card you have left and you have a 50-50% chance depending on whose card is read first. Except Taichi didn’t play it that way – he remembered every single dead card that was left, and used that to get inside of Nishida’s head, attacking as dead card after dead card was read the and suspense ratcheted up to unbearable levels. In the end it was Nishida who was, as Sakura would say, “Lucky!” – it was his card that was read, and he who moved up to Class A.

I fully understand the dramatics of the situation, but my heart was shattered for Taichi yet again. I don’t think it’s possible to work harder or want it more than he did, and the worst thing is that he really deserved the win. He was the aggressor at the end, his memory was superior (so was Tsutomu’s, interestingly), and it was his grasp of the remaining cards that would have given him the win if only he’d had a tiny amount of luck. It really feels as if Taichi is destined to be a tragic character start to finish in this story – always to smile, to support the others, to be the gracious loser and get back to work. In Karuta and life, it’s my great fear that Taichi is simply never going to be rewarded for all the hard work he does and the endless time he spends being a supportive friend – both to Chihaya and the team. What’s really sad is that he deserves better – he deserves to be in Class A, and he deserves not to have Arata swoop in out of nowhere and take Chihaya away from him. Yet in the manga if not the anime, I suspect that’s exactly what’s going to happen – because that seems to be Taichi’s lot in life, the good guy who’s always there when you need him. Good on Nishida for fighting his way back to Class A, and for finally calling Chihaya out on the insensitive “Meatbun” and “Desk-kun” nonsense – and for accepting that it’s just how she is. He’s a good guy and a great character – but the way that match ended still gutted me.

So now the drama turns to the upcoming Meiji qualifiers, which we know Arata has decided to attend after seeing Nishida and Taichi’s names atop the results from Saitama. I think both names mean something to him – Nishida because he was his rival as a child, and Taichi because- well, you know. I’m not sure if there are other chances for Taichi to advance in rank before the Meiji, and that’s certainly an important element in the plot – Taichi vs. Arata at Karuta would be quite a dramatic highlight. But to be honest I care more about the personal side of things, and what will happen when Arata comes back into Chihaya and Taichi’s life. It was a bittersweet moment (and one that brought this writer precipitously close to a tear or two) when Chihaya took the sleeping Taichi’s head and rested it on her shoulder on the way home, a gesture that contrasts strongly with the prior episode’s scene on the train where Taichi couldn’t bring himself to take the sleeping Chihaya’s hand. He always thinks too much, and she is, as Nishida says, an “airhead”. But in each case those are strengths as well as weaknesses, and it makes me feel as if Chihaya and Taichi are as perfectly matched as Tsutomu and Kana-chan. I don’t care whose card was read first in the match, and I don’t care who wins Chihaya’s heart when the manga ends – as long as Chihayafuru is around, Tuesdays will always be Taichi Tuesdays to me…

[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.32_[2012.02.14_19.52.17] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.48_[2012.02.14_19.52.33] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.23_[2012.02.14_19.53.31]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.36_[2012.02.14_19.53.44] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.40_[2012.02.14_19.53.48] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.10_[2012.02.14_19.54.19]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.33_[2012.02.14_19.54.41] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.59_[2012.02.14_19.55.08] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.43_[2012.02.14_19.56.32]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.31_[2012.02.14_19.57.19] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.19_[2012.02.14_19.58.08] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.33_[2012.02.14_19.59.22]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.09_[2012.02.14_20.01.18] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.05_[2012.02.14_20.03.14] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.34_[2012.02.14_20.03.43]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.52_[2012.02.14_20.04.01] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.14_[2012.02.14_20.05.23] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.01_[2012.02.14_20.06.09]
[HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.40_[2012.02.14_20.06.48] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.18_[2012.02.14_20.07.47] [HorribleSubs] Chihayafuru - 19 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.25_[2012.02.14_20.07.34]


  1. A

    I would love to see Taichi beat Arata at the end and become the King of Karuta. Then see Chihaya become the new Queen and see both of them rule together.

  2. K

    Originally when the series started I thought Arata and Chihaya were going to be the pairing and Taichi was gonna be the 3rd wheel, but seeing as this series progresses and how much effort Taichi puts in to his relationship with her I'm hoping that he wins her heart and not Arata (similar situation in Naruto with Naruto liking Sakura while Hinata loves him but he only has eyes for Sakura).

  3. A

    Seriously!!! Hinata kicks ass while Sakura is crying whining all the time!! well I don't hate her as much as I did in the 1st series 😛
    Back to Chihayafuru: I always liked Arata even though I was always on taichi''s side but after this episode… TAICHI"S GOT TO WIN CHIHAYA'S HEART!!! he totally deserves it more then Arata!!

  4. A

    "Tuesdays will always be Taichi Tuesdays to me…" Q.F.T

    Woke up today and one of the first thing that came to mind was that today was Taichi Tuesday. I really feel for Taichi, as you've stated, Taichi is the classic "nice guy". We all know the saying nice guy finishes last, but I hope it doesn't come to be. Taichi really deserves better and I believe most of us that reads your blog feels same way.

  5. d

    It is Wednesday where I am.

  6. A

    "He deserves not to have Arata swoop in out of nowhere and take Chihaya away from him." Chihaya is not a prize or reward for Taichi's good behavior, for his transformation into a "nice guy," and Arata cannot "take Chihaya away from him" as if she were a karuta prize. In the end, the manga and anime are called "Chihayafuru," not "Taichifuru;" even if it were "Taichifuru," Chihaya has the right to choose who she wants.

  7. Your righteous indignation is misplaced here, I'm afraid.

  8. At this point I'd settle for an ambiguous ending, because I don't think there's any way Taichi wins if they go anime-original.

  9. d

    Ya, Taichi will never beat Arata in Kurata. He probably would never beat Chihaya on a normal day.
    But Taichi might have won the match, but he lost motivation points when he realized chihaya aint looking his way.

    Major Stupid Airhead ftw.

  10. i

    @ deafvader: I won't say he lost motivation, but he got side-tracked, as most Karuta players can focus away from feelings (Chihaya…not so much…)

  11. A

    It just seems like the mangaka is setting up Taichi to go through all of these hardships in the beggening only for him to finally overcome them in the end by overcoming the hardest and most meaningfull two to him in the end. Which is beating Arata and showing Chihaya how much he loves her. So I will read the manga till the end just to see if that comes true cuz I know the anime wont give us any closure on that topic.

  12. d

    Well the manga won't end any time soon. Taichi can't beat a rata so it would be probably Taichi confesses after beating Chihaya.
    Then Chihaya chooses between King Arata and the one who just beat her.

  13. A

    Why are you so sure that Taichi will never beat Arata? Is that just your opinion or do you know how this will end in the manga? Or is it that your a ArataxChihaya shipper which is fine cuz that is certainly a possibility. My point is that its to early to tell either way. For all we know she could not end up with neither of them and stay single.

  14. d

    Why that is true. But being single in Japan is not looked favorably upon.
    I don't know for sure Taichi cannot beat Arata. But I am as sure as people in the past saying man can't fly. Took them many many centuries before the Wright Brothers proved them wrong.
    So, yes it is possible, but not in a million years.

  15. A

    :) LOL. I got to say Taichi might need a million years but Im still going to hope for Taichi to beat Arata. I just think that would be so awsome. I love a good under-dog story. Taichi just might turn onto the Jeremy Lin of Karuta!!! 😉

  16. Sorry, with no way to tag that I can't let that kind of spoiler go.

  17. K

    We definitely are on the same wave length about Taichi. I love all the characters but he is definitely my favorite. I felt his frustration at losing so badly in this episode like I was there in place of him.

    I certainly hope, Taichi is eventually awarded in some way for all his hard work and support of Chihaya & the others. I mean certainly his character arc has to lead somewhere.. I would be disappointed otherwise. Of course with the anime ending soon & the manga ongoing, I'm not sure if we will get go see it. I just wish we had another 25 episodes.

    I love Chihayafuru so much that if the manga is ever licensed here I might break my rule if not starting unfinished series just so I can find out what happens.

  18. A

    I've fallen behind in my anime watching shedule, as meager as it is already (shame on me) but really, thanks to you now I am motivated again :p. Taichi – and Kana-chan – are the two characters I'm watching this josei series mostly for after all.
    Fanboysm – and fangirlism – aside (I'm a Genuinely Nice Guy supporter and always have been. Go Nice Boy, Go Underdog! XD ), I do believe that his character arc must lead somewhere and earn some kind of retribution. Life might not be often fair, but it wouldn't be good storytelling here otherwise.
    Similarly, seeing him , *truly* seeing him, is an important step for Chihaya's development and awakening as a person… or at least as a more rounded, three-dimensional character.


  19. I want to believe that character arc leads somewhere, but injustice really seems like Taichi's lot in life. Even more worrying is that since the anime is most-likely going with a non-ending, even if it does lead somewhere we may never get to see that payoff.

  20. d

    Well Taichi aint the "nice guy". He still have to pay for his sins for being a prick as a kid.
    Japan likes to run the retribution theme so he has to lose out somewhere. Arata has already lost out way too much while being the obviously nicer guy. I say obviously, but we don't really know much about it. We do know Taichi started playing Karuta again only because for Chihaya and he become more involved because of the rest.
    Arata on the other hand is a poor village kid, with a weird accent, dead grandpa master, and has a karuta trauma. He is trying to get back on his feet.

    So Arata is the underdog in life while Taichi is in the underdog in Karuta and what matters to him (Chihaya).

    P.S. Taichi is a prick for leading on his gf and then just dumping her like it is nothing.

  21. Let's just say that I'm in complete disagreement with pretty much everything you said and leave it at that.

  22. K

    Gotta admit tho he does have a point about the GF. We never met her and only caught the end of their relationship but it did "seem" kinda cold to kick her ass to the curb like that.

  23. d

    We did see her in episode 1… i think
    @Enzo: everyone has their opinions. Only reason why I am on Taichi's side and not Arata is because we see more Taichi, more Taichi development and more Taichi POV. And his attitude is improving.

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