Chihayafuru – 168

Well, that shows how much I know.  Chihaya didn’t beat Shinobu after all – the circle of life continues.

So here we are, deep in the midst of another Karuta tournament.  My gut was telling me that we were approaching a sea change of sorts, that Chihaya had finally matured enough as a player to bear The Queen and stake her place in a rematch against Arata.  But no, we’re on very familiar ground here – the difference was smaller, but 7 cards really isn’t all that close.

If this is a signal that Suetsugu is going to stay true to form for the rest of the tournament, that means Arata will surely win, as he’s facing a zaku from Fujisaki.  Sadly Nishida is basically a zaku in Suetsugu’s scheme too, so he’s probably destined to fall – as is Retro-kun.  He, at least, had the entire Hokuo cheering section pulling for him – which is only as it should be I suppose after all he’s done for them, though hardly fair to their A-Class first year.  It’s Hiro’s match that holds the most interest for me, given how long he’s futilely struggled to reach Class A, though predictably it gets almost no focus in the chapter.

This is fairly routine stuff for Chihayafuru to be honest, though there were a couple of interesting moments.  Chihaya helping Wakamiya with her tasuki for one – it proves to be the turning point in their match, ironically.  And the interjection of team tactics in an individual event – a reminder of the gulf that separates players like Nishida and Hiro-kun from Shinobu.  Chihaya is interesting in that light, because she’s always been something of a bridge between the two worlds – an individual playing in team events rather than one of those kids “missing” something who draw their strength from others like them.  Since there are almost no others like Chihaya (or Arata) they need to draw their motivation from their own struggles, even as they go through the motions of being part of the team.

If there’s a distinguishing element in this tournament arc (which has on the whole been pretty routine, if we’re honest) it’s that reflects the last stage in Chihaya’s life cycle as a team player – now that she’s at the end of her time at Mizusawa and Taichi has left a leadership vacuum behind him, she’s finally embraced the notion of team in a fashion she never had before.  Even Arata has tried to do the same, though too late to do more than grasp at the fringes of the dream – he envies what Taichi had, and Taichi envies what Arata has.  Such is the nature of adolescence I suppose, and not just adolescence either…




  1. E

    My taichi ship will never sink! Neveeerrr!!! This is like hideo and hiro all over again

  2. s

    Hi Enzo, longtime lurker here but I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews. Thanks for sticking to Chihayafuru and giving us some insights – though I myself am becoming rather fatigued with this series (!) Indeed Chihaya is at the end of her cycle as a team player – soon enough she’ll be focusing on Queen matches entirely (are we nearing the end?!). Though in this tournament it looks like Arata will be facing Shinobu in the finals and I’m not sure what the significance of their match will be. I do hope Taichi shows up in a match soon so he can show off his new tricks – or um, whatever he learned from such an unconventional teacher as Suoh.
    Btw, do you read Sangatsu no Lion? Lots of exciting chapters just got translated and I am fervently hoping the anime adaptation will do justice to this excellent series!

  3. Hi there – thanks for commenting. I certainly do read Sangatsu and I did a post on it when the anime was (finally) announced. But the Shaft-Shinbou announcement has taken a lot of the wind out of my sails, and my expectations for the anime are pretty muted at this point.

  4. s

    Damn – I must’ve been living under a rock since I haven’t heard about Shaft-Shinbou. Now that I’ve heard it, I wanna live under a rock forever!
    At least I’m loving a lot of the summer shows right now. That, and I’m looking forward to season 2 (or is it second half?) of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

  5. Summer is good, no question about it. Maybe really good. Not historically great, but possibly in the conversation for best post-2012 season.

    In the past there have been Shinbou series have more or less worked for me – Natsu no Arashi and Soredemo Machi for example. But I don’t know if he’s capable of that kind of restraint any more – he seems to be a big fan of himself. My only hope, really, is that Umino herself seems to have asked for this so maybe she’ll have some influence over what eventually ends up on-screen. The thing is, Sangatsu is such a great manga that the anime could capture about 70% of its charm and still be very good – good enough for someone to really enjoy it. But not so much, I think, if they’ve read the manga and know what they’re missing.

  6. s

    I agree with you – people who don’t read the manga are missing out. Honey & Clover felt very gentle and “pastel” to me (in a good way) but Sangatsu is something else. It has its sweet pastel moments but it can also be very dark in an introspective way. I like the way the narrative flows along with Rei (or other characters’) thoughts and observations like a stream, the unrestrained use of black and dark panels, and the way it explores dark issues (bullying, depression, abuse) with great care. Some MAL threads have been saying that Umino did ask for Shaft so guess we’ll have to see how that turns out.

    Summer is good so far – I hope the season keeps up!

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