Chihayafuru – 146

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No Taichi, No Arata, no problem?  I wouldn’t go that far.

Change is definitely the theme in Chihayafuru these days.  There’s still no sign of Taichi, Chihaya isn’t playing, and the Empress is thinking about the future as much as the present.  Maybe it’s a test of how big a Chihayafuru fan you are to see how pumped up you get to watch a tournament with these five players constituting the team.

For me, the last couple of chapters have had a bit of a treading water feel to them.  It’s fine to say we have to move on, but it would be nice to do so with some sense of closure.  Pretty much every major storyline Suetsugu-sensei developed in the first 140 chapters is unresolved, if not in shambles.  I think it’s asking a lot to expect readers to buy in completely when things they’ve become so passionate about over a long time are hanging over everything, unfinished.

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The chapter itself is fine, as such.  It’s nice to see Nishida in the spotlight as he is here, because it sure doesn’t happen very often – even when the main trio are sidelined it tends to be Kana-chan and Tsutomu-kun on center stage.  The absence of the Moon and Sun has kind of placed Nishida in a do-or-die situation as a high school Karuta player – he’s the guy who really should be the leader of the team.  He’s the most experienced player, by far the longest-tenured Class A player – on the tatami, it’s Nishida who ought to be the ace, not Komano or Ooe (and certainly not a first-year like Tamaru).

If there’s an upside to Tamaru’s annoying presence, it’s that it’s revealed for Nishida exactly where his weaknesses are, because they’re her strengths.  Sadly it’s poor Retro-kun who’s in the firing line (much to Nishida Onee-san’s dismay) when Nishida puts this to good use – he always seems to be cannon fodder for someone else’s progress (happily for him, Hokuo is still more than good enough to win the qualifier).  As for Mizusawa they do advance – in 4th place, the last qualifier – and Chihaya begs forgiveness and pledges to earn her way back onto the team (bad news for Tsukuba).  And I hope that next round gets rid of these absurd “speed up the game” rules – I hate them.

My favorite moment of the chapter, though, comes when Nishida finally notices that Tsutomu is in love with Kana (and that it might just be reciprocal), because Tsutomu has noticed that Kana grew an extra eyelash (4!).  The world indeed doesn’t stand still, especially in adolescence – and I like both Tsumotu having picked up on this detail and the “seize the moment” lesson Nishida draws from it.  Second-place probably goes to Tsutomu’s shockingly blunt advice to Tamaru after her match win – “People tend to get easily manipulated by those who say what they want to hear.  Don’t be one of those simpletons who fall for it”.  He could hardly have nailed her character better than that, and harsh as it was, that was definitely something Tamaru needed to hear. Not that I expect her behavior to change much as a result…

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  1. i

    As much as my heart aches without Chihaya and Taichi in these chapters, the sheer weight of the lessons Nishida, Tsutomu, and Kana have been learning about change (and, heck, even Chihaya is seeing it to a degree) continues to make this series resonate deeply with me. It's easy for me to forget how much affection I have for Nishida, Tsutomu, and Kana with the deep love I have for Chihaya and Taichi, but chapters like this remind me that there are really no weak characters in Chihayafuru if Suetsugu has decided to make them so.

  2. I was too scared to keep reading that, but it sure looked like a bunch of raw manga spoilers. Am I wrong?

  3. Here's the first paragraph, anyway. I deleted the rest for safety's sake.

    thanks for pointing out that change is the theme here. We now have Mr and Mrs Desk. who inspire Nishida to copy Tameru's style. When they are able to win without Chihaya or Taichi they create a club which will endure over the next two years.Loved Chihaya;s apology which acknowledged all the work the club did while she was running away from karuta.

  4. c

    I agree with you that these last chapters have seemed a bit sluggish, in the way things can be when you are struggling in real life to find new ways to go on after a big let down: this is why i really appreciated these chapters. They reflect so well on what could happen in real life. I think the team is handling things pretty well. Suetsugu san put her finger on so many realities of life that it was almost a relief to see them written down: the inevitable changes of life(status quo is sometimes very comfy, but i guess it's not constructive at all, Oregairu is handling this pretty well at the moment, wonderful), the way Komano pointed out that you shouldn't be a fool and be manipulated so easily(i think Tamaru truely need to hear these kind of things)Komano actually took me by surprise being the one to tell her this…….Chihaya learning about how to apoligize to her teammates, especially because they had a legimate reason for not letting her play: it wasn't like i first thought to "punish' her but for total strategic reasons: learning that you need to trust your friends in some critical situations! Yes, even though i'm jumping to see what Taichi is up to with our King of Karuta, i truely liked these chapters. And thank you for keeping up these reviews!

  5. l

    There were no spoilers in my posting. I was just saying that I expected the manga to exceed 200 chapters because I expect Suetsugu to include Chihaya's 3rd year Tokyo regionals, High School Nationals Meijin and Queen Qualifiers and the Meijin and Queen Match because she has done so every year. For those who think that Suetsugu is treading water in 143-146 Chihaya finds hope in Arata email because she believes that Tacichi willl come back. Chihaya istops running away in study, returns to play karuta even though it is painful. In 144 she admits she ran away from karuta and comes to a realization of who she is. In 145 she faces the memories of Taichi without feeling pain only an emptiness that he is not there. She tolerates Retro and Tameru who yell and glare at her. The team is no longer hers and she feels like a stranger. In 146 she learns to encourage others, to cheer for others that she loves karuta to apologize to others for running when the team was working hard and to be willing to do anything to play karuta with a team that is not hers.

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