Chihayafuru – 131

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Tom Watson.  Turnberry.  2009.

There was quite a bit of lingering doubt in my mind going into this chapter about how I’d feel when the moment of truth came – such is the brilliance of Suetsugu-sensei’s humanization of Suou-meijin.  But when those final cards were being read, despite all that and despite the somewhat chippy behavior of Harada-sensei at points during these matches, I was desperately hoping it was his card that was going to be read.

As discussed last time, the nature of this particular luck of the draw was an especially cruel one, with each player having a “Nani” card, and a dead “Nani” card as well.  This meant is wasn’t so simple as defending your card and waiting for the coin to land your way – there was a little strategy and a lot of psychology at work here.  Harada-sensei was consistent right up to the end – putting his faith in matters strictly spiritual, believing in the importance of an “urge” of a card to be called, and the likelihood of the same card coming up twice in luck of the draws in one match.

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As Harada’s old rival (and now fan) Kitano-sensei thinks to himself, Harada was “cornered” here.  He has the 2-1 advantage, but it’s hard for anyone to imagine him winning a fifth game at his age after coming this close.  And it’s clear he’s feeling the strain – he feels the attacking aura from Suou, even as the Meijin never makes a move as two dead cards are read.  Harada-sensei knows his opponent has better hearing, and he fears he must defend his card aggressively against an attack he fears is coming.

The irony here, of course, is that Suou-meijin ends up winning this game in exactly the same fashion he always does – by forcing faults rather than taking cards.  And the grin he flashes after Harada-sensei faults to lose the fourth game has a bit of the unsavory to it, the first time during this match that I’ve felt a sense of why he makes people so uncomfortable.  Indeed, at this moment Chihaya has to flee outside in tears, raging “Why couldn’t I be a boy?”, so strong is her desire to unseat this Meijin.  But at this point she sees Shinobu and realizes she has her own mountain to climb, and it indeed seems from Shinobu’s behavior that she really has gained a kind of humility and perspective from this match with Inokuma-san.

It really is hard to see Harada-sensei coming back from this – yes, those knees will be throbbing but even more, the psychology of the moment is brutal for him.  Who knows what Suetsugu has in store for us, but both the wait and the next chapter itself could be pretty brutal.  And that’s not the only cliffhanger, either – Arata, cold and all, has made his way to Omi Jingu and naturally he stumbles in just as Taichi has made his way out of the hall to fetch Chihaya.  Any time these three are physically together the dramatic tension is thick enough to cut with a knife – will this finally be the moment where that plot lurches forward?  For the nonce, all we can do it wait…

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  1. m

    I can't wait for the day this arc will be animated.

    That said, it looks like both Meijin and Queen will defend their thrones. I wonder if the Meijin's match with Harada-sensei will make him consider deferring his retirement by one year. In which case, we'll have the stage set up for Arata and Chihaya to challenge them respectively. Though I wonder if Suetsugu-sensei will be that straightforward.

    And I honestly think Chihaya will never pick between the two and the series will end open-ended on that front.

  2. You know, if Suou wins and retires (and his eye issue will likely remove any chance he won't retire) that would theoretically set the stage for Taichi and Arata to play for the next Meijin title.

    How's this: Suou takes on Taichi as his protege, and he ends up reaching the Meijin title match against Arata?

  3. In fact I'll take that one step farther – series finale is Chihaya defeating Shinobu for the Queen title, and whoever loses the Meijin match ending up with Chihaya romantically.

  4. j

    i have also think that posibility, like the end of this awesome manga, but i really wonder if that is the right ending for this manga it feels like "you couldn't become the meijin but you can have the girl", well in the end all will depend of what the autor want to transmit to us and how (but if that happen taichixchihaya forever xD).

    But i just replay not only because of that enzo but because i want to give you a manga recomendation what for me has been inspirational and…it makes me very sad to believe what this manga will not be animated(probably), maybe you already knew it but if you didn't, i would like you to you give it a chance and if you can share it with others…well that is up to you.

    the manga is koe no katachi.
    "I wish we had never met. I wish we could meet once again. A boy who can hear, Shoya Ishida, and a transfer student who can’t, Shoko Nishimiya. One fateful day, the two meet, and Shoya leads the class in bullying Shoko. But before long, the class shifts its target from Shoko to Shoya. Years later, Shoya feels strongly that he must see Shoko once again."

    I hope you enjoy it if you give it a chance.
    by the way if my english is bad, am sorry, i talk spanish

  5. Thank you – I don't know that one, but it looks interesting. I'll add it to the queue.

  6. K

    koe no katachi is a personal favourite! i highly recommend it!

  7. r

    Hey! Try "Kono oto Tomare" too. It has similar feels with Chihayafuru. It's actually tagged as shonen but the character growth has a slice of life feel to it.

    Thanks for another wonderful review! I bet you'll get to love the next chapter too… Taichi's actio s are becoming a mystery… (No spoiler intended) πŸ˜‰

    I also have the same ending theory in mind, that whoever loses the meijin title will eventually end up with Chihaya. And I do hope it's Taichi.

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