Chihayafuru – 164

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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.

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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.

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  1. R

    I had just got my hopes up again in these last chapters……i’m so biased, i probably don’t want to see the inevitable………you just brought me back to reality and crushed all my hopes………i now understand your “exhausted state of mind with this manga, even so i can’t let go…..

  2. e

    Aw Enzo (again). In terms of shoujo bloodlines I can only say… welcome to the Andre Grandier’s fans feels world. But hey on the plus side Suetsugu-sensei is not nearly as sadistic as Ikeda-sensei and some of her old school colleagues when it comes to endings (and journey), believe me XD. And in terms of romance route I am still a bit more optimistic than you are. For reasons.
    Now if stated Author intent has any value Chihayafuru is still a sports manga first and foremost (yep?) and it is about hard work being rewarded (that applies to Hyoro’s reward in this chapter btw. As a minor character he has the benefits of condensed exposition and better chances of dodging his author’s sadism XD). There’s likely still a long road ahead however you slice it. Have some quality booze and revel – or drown your fandom sorrows, YMMV – in the up and downs of the loooooooonnnng wait + tireless trials of Monsieur G’s spiritual scion ^_^ . *toasts at the moonlight*

  3. Listen, I don’t disagree. I’ve always maintained that fundamentally Chihayafuru is a sports shounen, and Chihayafuru is the quintessential clueless shounen lead (whom everyone would be ripping to shreds if she were a boy). But the fact that it is all of that and still interweaves a romance subplot that’s actually the most compelling part of the story (whether you want it to be or not) is why it’s such a great work. Exhausting, irritating, repetitive, but still a great work.

  4. e

    I don’t disagree with the greatness either… I think? Did I come off as confrontational or stirring some of those ‘exhausting, irritating, repetitive’ feelings rather than supportive up there? I am sorry. My comprehension confidence is a bit shaky at the moment.
    Wheter you want it to be or not the romance subplot as compelling as it is ( and IT IS, just to be clear. To be even clearer, it is as compelling to me as it and as long as it involves Taichi because he is the one character that feels like a person to me. I don’t give a fig about Chihaya’s gender btw. I don’t feel like ripping the archetype to shreds, just not too fond of ‘clueless shonen’ either way. Both as character per se and as ‘beauty&meaning of karuta/sport appeal per se’ ambassador Kana-chan works much better for me, without even bringing romance into the equation… ) seems subordinate to both the sport aspect and the friendship aspect. Now the other two members of the friendship OT3 need to be fleshed out. Anything substantial on the romance front will probably interlace with that . But both Arata and Chihaya need to catch up with Taichi in either fleshing out and /or screentime for this to feel balanced and develope, especially if it’s true that in the beginning Taichi was not supposed to be a main player in all the three main story aspects (oh the irony, oh the parallels 🙂 ). Add to with the ‘shounen’ sport template & MC this manga and we are ready for a long, long, long journey of sport focus ahead punctuated by some character focus. We are in for the suffering with both eyes open on the nature of the beast we agree… I hope.
    That said, 75% of communication is not verbal.
    a) We’ll see how many apologies I owe you (because I do) for my spectacular misses here and elsewhere.
    b) This chapter should have you cheering with its body language bonanza. Especially when Chiahayafuru’s dialogues and symbolism are so layered and suitably open to interpretation if not a tad bit trollish even.
    Once again, cheers and peace 😀 .

  5. I agree a lot, and as you say, we’ve invested in our biases towards the relationships that we want to happen, but the story–particularly with Chihaya caught up in the constantly moving Karuta world–has made the romance beat around the bush. Sometimes it can be like that in real life, especially with teens…*cough cough*. Overall I do think the manga has all been good, we just want some sort of decisiveness on that. Damn it dealing with these emotions.

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