Chihayafuru – 148/149

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Is the the calm before the storm?

Perhaps more accurately, the mild storm before the hurricane, because things were pretty lively in these two chapters of Chihayafuru.  But it still felt very preliminary, and there’s a real sense that Suetsugu-sensei is setting up something bigger on the horizon.

The most immediate order of business if, of course, surviving the Tokyo qualifier.  And Mizusawa has lost their match to Tsuboguchi and Houmei High, 3-2.  I was surprised to see that it was Oe who sat out this match, with Tsukuba playing – though they swap for the next one.  Thankfully for Mizusawa this is a round robin, which means that their fate has not been sealed by this loss.

The other interesting result in the first round is Retro-kun losing to his Tomihara West opponent by a whopping 20 cards.  Retro plays a major role in these chapters – in addition to his shocking results, he’s also texting Taichi after every round, informing him of the results and urging him to get his ass to the tournament.  Retro seems quite lost of late, and he really seemed to measure himself against Taichi more than anyone else did.  I think he wants Taichi there more for his own psyche than for Mizusawa.

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Fortunately for Retro, his team is one of Houkou’s strongest despite their captain’s struggles.  They dominate both their first two matches 4-1, and coast into the final match with their advancement to nationals guaranteed, allowing them to start three first-years in that match.  Mizusawa, meanwhile, struggles to a 3-2 win over Tomihara – eliminating that school, and giving themselves a fighting chance to survive – but needing to beat Houkou to have any chance, banking on a better overall individual record than Houmei if they beat Tomihara in their final match.

Mizusawa is still a mess.  Tamaru’s confidence is shot, seemingly as a result of Komano-kun’s cutting comment about praise easily given.  It certainly seemed at the time to be something that needed to be said, but the result – like the impact of Chihaya’s shutout win – was unpredictably negative.  Nishida has lost his second match, and right now only Komano seems to be fully confident in his own ability to build on Chihaya’s dominance.  She, for her part, actually sandbags in her second match – toying with her opponent so as not to win too quickly and to allow her to stay in the trenches with her teammates.  She’s sure Taichi has done the same and maybe he has, but is it respectful to the opponent?

Probably the most interesting element of these chapters for me is the presence of the moms.  Oe-san laments Taichi’s absence (cougar), but fascinatingly Mrs. Pressure herself is here.  Why?  She suspects Taichi is still playing Karuta, and she’s surprised he actually quit the team seemingly in response to her threats over his grade.  Her offhand remark about seeking Oe-san’s advice should Taichi need a Hakama may or may not be foreshadowing, but the implication is that something is brewing here.  Has Mrs. Pressure finally realized that her smothering parental practices have helped produce a deeply troubled and unhappy son?

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  1. l

    Thanks for your review. The mothers were the best part of these chapters. We see Oe-san (cougar) who has an unhealthy interest in dressing Taichi. She even has pictures of Taichi in his hakama and bought a camera just to take more pictures of him. Loved her wealthy customer premonition when Mrs Pressure suggested she might be interested in buying a hakama for Taichi
    it was nice to see another side of Mrs Pressure The mother who actually cares for her son instead of the woman who only cares for the trophies she can show off to his father.
    Ayase-san has been just as neglectful of Chihaya with no real understanding of what her daughter has been going through. It would be fun if the three of them went on a road trip to Omi Jingu.
    As for Chihaya she learned a painful lesson in the first round by thinking only of herself. She has taken over the leadership mantel by asking herself What Would Taichi Do? (WWTD) Learning on the job is painful, but Chihaya realizes that she must do whatever she has to do win for the team. which has to beat Hokuo to advance
    The future. 150 is usually an important chapter Taichi has been basically absent since Chapter 141 The mothers all wanted to know where he was.and why he was not playing. Retro has been desperately reaching out to him. Hopefully Suetsugu provides him with a grand entrance where he watches his former team and former best friend win without him

  2. f

    Mrs. Pressure has always kinda confused me. I didn't watch season 2, but was there ever indication that she gave a shit over karuta other than the fact that she didn't want taichi playing it?

    I wonder if there's been a drastic change in taichi's attitude (offscreen) that prompted her to watch a karuta match? I know the chihaya rejection thing, but to me, it seems like he's done a reasonably good job with moving on with his life, so i wonder why his mom cares now all of the sudden….

  3. I would imagine your confusion is exactly what Suetsugu intended here.

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