Ah, my heart – Chihyafuru just won’t let it go…
Embrace the angst and just yank the band-aid off indeed – as soon as I finally caught up on 4 chapters, another translated Chihayafuru came out. There was really no choice but to dive back in with Spring starting tomorrow, so it’s back into the emotional grinder again.
I suppose it’s a testament to this series’ power that even as I want to divorce myself from emotional commitment to it, I just can’t. I want to to plead with it sometimes to just let me go, to give me some peace, but it never does. I’m never able to stop caring, doomed to hope against hope for things that I know are hopeless. How can one watch events like those in this chapter and not want so badly for the ending this series well and truly should be building towards?
This was a heavy-hitter, no question about it – when The Empress weeps, you know that’s the case. Even the stuff with Hyoro was pretty powerful, because he’s emerged as a kind of unsung hero of Chihayafuru (as Harada-sensei did earlier, even more powerfully) as the competitive stuff around the Mizusawa team has kind of lost its dramatic punch. I frankly would have liked more focus on Hyoro’s match and less on the Chihaya-Arata one to be honest, but it was still nice to see him have his moment in the end. And there was something quite touching in how charged up he was when he saw Taichi had entered the hall.
To me, as an outsider with a bias, it’s inescapable that there’s a very special bond between Tachi and Chihaya – not to mention between he and the other Mizusawa team members, too. Sometimes one wishes they could make others (real and fictional) have the feelings that just make sense, that would make everything so much easier. Chihaya should love Taichi in the same way he loves her – should understand what they share that no one else does, the sheer devotion he’s had for her all these years and how much he’s helped her. She should see that for her Arata is an abstract, an ideal, while Taichi is truth and depth and real love. But she doesn’t, and she never will. It is what it is, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise – but likewise, it seems no amount of effort will make it possible to truly let go of the wish that it was so.
It’s funny, but even after a profoundly moving and powerful chapter like this one, I kind of just want Chihayafuru to end. I’m exhausted, and each new bout of hopes raised and hopes dashed exhausts me more. It just feels like time, like the parameters of this story have been filled in thoroughly and it needs to find its closing act. But that’s clearly not going to happen anytime soon – the competitions continue with the individual tournament, and after that the next Meijin and Queen matches, and after that there will always be another qualifier, another tournament, another emotional crescendo that probably does little to change the dynamic. And there’ll be no escape for me. Just as surely as Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom – and Mashima Taichi – I’m a prisoner of love.