Chihyafuru – 155/156

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There’s some deep symbolism in here, I think…

It’s time for the Nationals again, but with a difference.  That, of course, is the fact that Taichi isn’t there.  And where is our wayward jack of all trades?  At a TV studio with Suou, where a special about Karuta is being filmed.  Unbeknownst to Taichi, his role here is to be a punching bag – to be humiliated not just by Suou but by surprise guest Shinobu on camera so their genius can be analyzed.

I can’t read that paragraph without wondering if we’ve gotten to the point where Suetsugu-sensei is winking at the audience now.  But you know, I’ve tried to stick to my hope that there is an endgame in all this, a point – and as always, it’s Harada-sensei’s words to Taichi on that train platform that keep me slogging ahead despite all the pain this series has caused me.  Suetsugu has admitted that Taichi was not intended to be a main character in Chihayafuru, that he more or less demanded it as she wrote the series – and I’m not sure even she knows what she plans to do with his character.  But it better be worth all this in the end or it’s going to be one of the great anti-climaxes in manga history.

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I do find it interesting that Suetsugu seems to be placing more and more emphasis on the game of Karuta itself, and its place in Japanese culture, and this TV special is definitely consistent with that trend.  And Taichi notes that on some level maybe this is more important than being at Nationals – though I think the inference is that it’s more important for him specifically, because of what he’ll learn (especially from the Queen).  It’s certainly important for Shinobu, who’s taking her grandmother’s advice and trying to whatever she can to become famous – the “face of Karuta” – so she can make a life based on the game.

I’ll stipulate all that for the record, but honestly compels me to admit that I’m less invested in Chihayafuru than ever before.  Maybe it’s just emotional exhaustion, but I just don’t care that much about Karuta’s popularity or the endless string of minor-character spotlights we’ve seen in the past year – folks like the first-years on Mizusawa’s team and Sakurazawa-sensei (who’s in focus here as she seems to be battling a midlife crisis and examining the role of Karuta in her life).  I jut don’t have the stamina to wade through all this as the big questions in the series are perpetually on hold.

One thing we can say for sure is that none of this is going to change anytime soon.  The Nationals will be playing out for quite some time, with Fujisaki struggling some in part thanks to Sakurazawa’s detachment, and Arata’s Fujioka East rounding into form and winning their block.  On paper (literally) this is milestone stuff – I won’t be remotely surprised if we even get a Chihaya-Arata match – but it just feels preliminary to me.  I’m worn out – I don’t like it, but it is what it is.  I’ve been through far too much with Chihayafuru not to stay with it to the finish line, but I’m definitely starting to hit the wall.

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  1. f

    I think the disconnectedness of it all has worn thin on me. At this point in the story, I would say the trio has spent about 90% of the time apart. Now with the emotional fulcrum taichi on the sideline, they are really stretching it thin. I've noticed some readers were happy to be rid of the emotional melodrama hanging over the story and getting back to actually playing karuta, but I'm not THAT of a fan of the game itself to just suck in match after match, tournament after tournament. It was one of the reasons why 2nd season of chihayafuru didn't quite match the effect the 1st season had on me.

    one of Chihayafuru's greatest attributes is the ability to make the reader connect and empathize with side characters. It worked wonderfully with harada,kana,tsutomu etc. They all spotlight that made them FEEL like main characters, even though they weren't. But I can't help but feel I'm getting a bit lost with introduction of the new batch of characters.

  2. M

    I never like Tamaru, even now I still get annoyed at her.

    I feel like Taichi will not end up with Chihaya, maybe he will become the Meiji? 🙁 I ship Taichi and Chihaya so bad so it's kinda making me feel sad. lol

    What do you think? how many percent does Taichi have?

  3. l

    Thank you for sticking to the end even though I think Suetsugu will try to drag it out another two years to reach Chihayafuru's tenth anniversary on December 28,2017. She has said she sees the end

    One of the most important themes in Chihayafuru is friendship. We see how precious Inokuma and Sakurauzawa are to each other. One time rivals have found friendship in their 30's and 40's. I wonder if Suetsugu is setting them up as examples for Shinobu and Chihaya.One of the covers shows Chihaya and Shinobu back to back in kimonos with matching hair ornaments. The caption was "Because you were there, I became stronger.

  4. R

    I think it's still great. A big theme in Chihayafuru is the conflict between walking your own path and walking the path together. The recent arcs are important to the synthesis that a fulfilling life probably needs both modes.

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