Chihayafuru – 137/138

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Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

Well, I wanted “progress” – and I guess I got it.  And in pretty much exactly the form I speculated on in my post on Chapter 136, too – a disastrous confession with disastrous results.  It was definitely “movement”, anyway, and at this stage in Chihayafuru I guess that’s a good thing.

These are two separate chapters, of course, but it’s the nature of reading translated manga that sometimes (usually) we read it on a very different schedule than it was published under.  Reading these in one sitting was a real emotional roller-coaster even by Chihayafuru’s whiplash standards, because they’re about as Yin and Yang as two chapters could possibly be.

Starting with 137, it was notable in that for the first time in quite a while, I found a Chihayafuru chapter really fun.  There was serious stuff going on, absolutely, but the pall that’s been hanging over the series since the last few chapters of the Meijin match was lifted and for the first time in ages I sensed the same energy and whimsy that was once a hallmark of the series.  This was Karuta as we haven’t seen it lately – full of abandon and youthful energy (even from Harada-sensei).

I loved the rules Chihaya devised for the Taichi Cup – 12 teams of three (what a turnout!), with the prize going to the individual who takes the most cards.  There is a 5-point bonus for the winning team, but the dynamic is fascinating – too-strong teammates are a liability, as they steal cards you might otherwise take.  And there are no dead cards – all 100 are used, but many are out of reach.  It’s Karuta quite unlike any these players have experienced, and that was really fun to see.

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There’s serious business here, though – the prize, which (because Chihaya ran out of money) is a kiss from Taichi.  It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Harada or one of Tsukuba’s little brothers had won, but I figured all along it would be Chihaya – and in fact, Chihaya and Taichi end up tied for the lead.  The prize is glossed over in the immediate aftermath of the tournament, but it’s certainly an important seed planted (and it will sprout in Chapter 138).

As bright and breezy as 137 was, 138 was a complete and total heartbreaker.  As soul-crushing as Taichi’s confession to Chihaya was, there was actually some part of me (and Taichi too, I’m certain) that was relieved he’d finally gotten it out.  It was doubly heartbreaking because leading into that moment Taichi has been thinking about those early days in sixth-grade – the good moments and the bad.  It’s a stark reminder of how much less simple life becomes when a few short years take us from 12 to 18, and the sort of bonds that once were possible are now a mere memory.

It was very fitting that Taichi prefaced his confession to Chihaya by finally coming clean about the glasses incident – both because it was self-defeating and Taichi is the master of self-defeat, and because for him this is all about not running away.  Stealing those glasses was a great moment of cowardice, and never admitting the truth another – but not as much as hiding his feelings from Chihaya for all these years.  The burden of all this on Taichi is so great that it literally knocks him over – he can only bring himself to reveal the truth while lying down, his face covered with his hand.

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Chihaya reacts about how you’d expect her to react – stunned more than anything, but clearly not receptive.  I think some part of Taichi is just glad it’s finally over, and some part of me is as well.  But the future is a scary place in the aftermath of that bombshell – where can Taichi – never mind Taichi and Chihaya – possibly go from here?  The first casualty comes when Empress delivers a bit of shocking news to the club just before their recruiting presentation – Taichi has resigned from the club, citing college exams as the reason.  But the truth is that he can’t play Karuta any longer because all of the cards are black before his eyes now.  I suspect he’ll get over that in time (or else he’s pretty much done as a character) but playing it and playing it at Chihaya’s side are two very different things.

There’s one last bit of drama here, another watershed moment that doesn’t pack much joy.  When Chihaya flees the assembly in tears and chases Taichi down, practically tackling him as she begs him to reconsider, he does something very natural – he kisses her.  “Chihaya – are you under the impression I’m made of stone?”  It’s a question I’ve wanted to ask Chihaya many times myself where Taichi was concerned.  In truth, this was the act of a guy who feels like he has nothing left to lose – and at the very least he can say he’s managed to do one thing before Arata beats him to it.  There’s not much hope in this moment, but there is at least a sort of freedom – and at this point that may be about the best that Taichi can hope for.

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  1. K

    It's not so much I mind that it didn't go Taichi's way (that was expected) just I actually did read 137 first 2 weeks before 138 came out.

    Imagine ending at the feeling of 137 than 138 happening. I thought that was overly cruel of the Manga-ka.

    I also find re ending very sad for both Taichi and Chihaya. Even if they don't get together romantically they had a special friendship and it would be a shame to see them lose that after this.

    I do feel something positive has to happen to Taichi and I still believe he will have a happy ending. I can't imagine that the manga-ka has spent so much time on him otherwise.

  2. "Overly cruel of the mangaka" and Taichi in the same sentence is the very definition of redundant.

    It's hard to know what Suetsugu has in mind for Taichi. It's very rare for a series to have a character be by such a wide margin the one given the best character arc, yet also so obviously not the author's "choice" – so clearly destined not to wind up winning the partner they're longing for. And indeed, be the one the author seems to take genuine delight in sadistically torturing.

  3. r

    Argh! Me too!! Same reaction with Kim.

    Chapter 137 left a very positive "good for Taichi finally being honest vibes" so even if Chihaya won't really have the same feelings as him (w/c btw, we all expect) I at least thought that both of them will be liberated, especially Taichi.

    But then chapter 138 which has the total opposite feelings from chapter 138, made me wonder why Chihaya was exaggeratedly "shocked?disgusted?" and even, I guess, unmindful of Taichi's sudden love confession with her.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention that while Taichi had confessed, Chihaya's mind drifted to Arata's confession instead.

    Anyhow, they're both my precious babies so I feel bad for both of them.

    Thanks for the reviews!!! πŸ˜‰

  4. m

    I was honestly relieved the string finally snapped. For me, this was crucial movement. Confronted by Taichi's confession, Chihaya is finally forced to accept her love for Arata. I thought it was really telling–and pretty tragic–that all she could think of at that crucial moment was Arata.

    Of course, this depends entirely on how the mangaka follows up on this. I'm honestly hoping this leads to significant development for both characters. For Chihaya, to sort out her own feelings (and stop obliviously relying on Taichi for everything). And for Taichi, to embrace karuta separate from Chihaya–and ironically, from Arata. That's really Taichi's only shot at beating Arata: by letting Chihaya go.

    Arata's nice and all, but his mini-arc of "creating a karuta club in his own school" really pales compared to what's happening to the two other mains.

  5. c

    These two chapters really have my heart aching even after i've already seen the raws. Reading the scanilated chapters got me straight back to my first impressions of total desparation and depression on Taichi's side………'s just as you said: it looks to me that Suetsugu san is not meaning to have Taichi have his chance with Chihaya. But in a way it looks like he is her favorite when it comes to his arc: she can't get enough of making him go straight down in the pits of his personal hell………….I think leaving was his only solution; maybe then only he can finally really try and find his "own style" in karuta and become strong………..stronger!! Even Arata noticed how deep he was diving when he reflected on their match.

    I have a tiny, but really tiny hope that all of this might spark a light in Chihaya's feelings, but this is just wishful thinking on my part.

    thank you for your review πŸ˜‰

  6. i

    You do think he actually kissed her? I couldn't tell if he did or not (even after going through those panels a couple times), but a huge part of me wanted/wants to believe that Taichi isn't the sort of person to do thatβ€”even when backed into a devastating corner like this. But he is, as you say, a guy with nothing left to those. And I'm pretty thankful that he was willing to come clean about the glasses after all these years. It's not like revealing that changed the final outcome, and it was probably the best for him.

    I still hope that Chihaya and Taichi is the end game here, because for everything that has happened, I still feel like Chihaya doesn't really know Arata at all. I'm still convinced that she's infatuated with the idea of him rather than actually in love with Arata as a person.

    It's pretty unfair of her to go running after him. "Do you think I'm made of stone?" isn't so much the question as "Do you have any sort of understanding of what I'm feeling right now?" Chihaya's grown a lot over the course of this series, but empthy or really any sort of emotional maturity is still far beyond her. Maybe this can be the next step in her growth as a person.

    I feel kind of lost now, though. Where are we going next? Obviously, someone is going to have to step in and give Taichi a hand upβ€”and it's surely not going to be Chihaya, definintely not Arata (I hope, unless Suetsugu just wants to kill Taichi), and probably not anyone from the Mizusawa club. Will is be the Meijin? Harada? Tsuboguchi?

  7. I believe he did kiss her, yes. And I have no problem with it – I don't see it as a violation or anything like that, just an impulsive moment between two people who've been at each other's side for a very long time, with a lot of feelings bubbling to the surface.

    Yes, I do think Chihaya is in love with the idea of Arata more than Arata himself. But since Suetsugu seems to be as well, it's a moot point. I think it's become increasingly clear that Chihaya's perspective on Arata and Suetsugu's are effectively the same.

  8. s

    I was waiting to read your review, thanks πŸ˜€
    Yes, all the terrible feelings I had when I read the raws are back again in full force now. Such a stark contrast with how chapter 137 was going and what actually went down in 138.

    I'm wondering, why do you think Chihaya ran after Taichi in the end? What could it mean?

  9. I think she ran after him because in default mode, Chihaya is still an emotionally immature and self-centered little girl. And she was thinking "I don't want Taichi not to be in my club!" I wouldn't read any more into it than that. She has shown incremental signs of growth lately (thank goodness) but at heart Chihaya is still very clueless and very inwardly-focused.

  10. R

    God….my heart was torn apart. What a roller coaster of emotions…and now I'm still left with a giant void deep within… I want to see these two chapters animated…don't know when and still don't know if they will be…

  11. C

    WOW…pretty much spent both those chapters screaming at my screen to be perfectly honest. Its astonishing how much impact the smallest things can have in Suetsugu-Sensei's hands. I actually view this as a positive development in terms of Taichi's end game though. I figure like Koshien, the hero's aren't supposed to make it the first time around. When you really think about it there's just so many plot threads that are left to potentially play out before the end. Arata's growth arc with his own karuta club along with it's future member's team building/individual arcs. The next meijin tournament providing the final chance to beat the current meijin and all the tournaments leading up to that. New members/club life without Taichi. Tachi's(naturally) long and painful road to recovery and improvement etc. Hopefully over time the arcs will include Chihaya learning how to emotion, realizes what she feels for Arata isn't love/what she wants and goes to start a relationship with Taichi as equals. OR maybe I've just gone mad with wishful thinking. I really believe Taichi has a shot though…if only we survive long enough to see the outcome πŸ˜›

  12. e

    I'm getting strong BeruBara vibes, just saying. Including the mangaka being pretty cruel to her own characters. Will i ultimately be a good thing or a bad one for our green lemon (catch that ref)? Still a though call to make. If the pattern and the spirit of this specific dynamic feels familiar – and dare I say it? reassuring – Chihaya being so immature at this nexus point is… worrisome.
    I'm sooo ready to scan upcoming clues about the if, how and how much (and how soon?) she's going to be affected by the events here. Bring the suffering and lemonade on, sensei :,D.

  13. e

    Man, indeed, reading these two chapters in one sitting makes me feel like a piece of cloth that been wrung in both directions to dry.

    Is it wrong to be thinking that Taichi still has a chance?? (Says a lot about how I handle things… </3)

  14. Personally I don't think he has much of one, but that's tempered by the belief that he's probably better off not being with Chihaya. I think she'd only make him even more miserable.

  15. m

    Taichi knows he's weak, but Chihaya really drains all his energies. I really want a happy ending for him, and when I try to imagine it, chihaya never comes to my mind.

    I want to see how she's going to react now, because she has always taken for granted that he's always going to be there to support her, but at the same time she never takes his feelings (or anyone's feelings) into account. She's nice with everyone and she truly appreciated them, but she's also selfish because in her immature mind everything can be solved just by playing karuta. It's like "you never know what you got until it's gone". I'm also scared about Taichi, because the mangaka really wants to make him suffer.

  16. c

    Coming from the chapter before this, I wonder if the 'Taichi Cup' was written by the author as a kind of send off for Taichi from karuta…. I really wonder how things will go from here, we always knew something like this would have to happen but I really wonder how she will take the story from here….

  17. I guess it's possible, but that would not be my expectation. There are strong hints at Taichi teaming up with the Meijin, and besides, if he loses out on Chihaya and stops playing Karuta, what reason does he even have to be a part of the plot?

  18. M

    With the current turn of events, do you think there is a chance for Taichi and Chihaya?

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