The difficult journey of becoming the best team in Japan~
And you thought, we are done for? Nuuuu. Sure, I was on hiatus for a month but Kara no Kyokai tag is back with the glorious karuta love and shiny bonds of Mizusawa karutabu to catch you up to speed with current happenings and how they became the best in Japan. The old followers fangirl squeed and whopped on this moment but there are more. Still, wasn’t it glorious, Kara?
I was mildly annoyed by a large portion of Chihayafuru due to one frustrating match (you know the one. …And if you don’t I’ll be complaining about it later), but overall, Chihayafuru has been much the same. Or in other words, yes Kyo, it was glorious! Chihayafuru still manages to hit hard in the feels and the matches are always a thousand times more complicated than they look.
// Prelim Matches //
~ Against Yamaguchi Mioka - It was another odd match up, but in the end, this worked out okay for Mizusawa. Chihaya had a hard time again, but luckily she snapped out of it before the match and episode ended. At least she was working towards her own solution when Shinobu showed up, instead of Shinobu being her whole inspiration. As for her opponent, I would have liked to see him face off against Taichi actually since they were both the memorization types. However, Taichi did great with his own opponent and Chihaya did manage to pull off a great win in the end. It’s easy to beat a guy who played based on assumptions and what he heard if you can move before he gets the chance to hear the whole poem. So maybe it wasn’t quite a bad match up as it first appeared to be. Now Nishida did well as always (and who even knows how the kouhai play), but Kana had a nice little section there too despite her loss. I feel like they don’t show her thought process a whole lot, but that part of the episode where it showed her moving based on her mind’s poem database was interesting. Now as for Shinobu and Arata… well, hopefully this lets him play. The authorities don’t seem hell bent on banning him so much as making things fair, so maybe there’s hope for him after all.
~ Against Shoyo - A team with a nice pun of SHOW YOU, turned out to be quiz geniuses who used Karuta to better their learning capabilities… Here, I have to agree with Taichi, they sure get matched up against some REALLY WEIRD opponents. Rather than dwelling on match mechanics too much, we finally gleaned on all the hard work Komano’s been putting in observing other teams play. I’ll take Harada-sensei’s words as a fact that observing others play is more tiring that playing but then again, playing has its own course of adrenaline and motivation to win. You are under the spotlight and there is no option of losing at least in theory. Like the previous trend, Komano’s data worked like a charm and Nishida finally understood its proper worth. His aggressive challenge became a plea of bonding, “You’ll play with us, right?” It was a very touchy moment after the win, when the entire team came together in their usual huddle. On the other hand, the tremulous fate of Arata playing the individual match was decided on affirmative with an essay of apology and mild punishment of not cheering for the team he rooted for. It was a pain to see him struggle against his will to shut himself in a side-room but at least there was Shinobu entertainment and their history foreshadowing.
// Semi-final with Akashi Girls //
~ Aka battling the second best in Japan - It is said to never underestimate your enemy. According to Akashi Girls’ placement, they were definitely looking down on Mizusawa and Megumu had the gall to comment, “They should let us play the finals already; Teehee.” MUKATSUKU doesn’t even cut it for my feelings towards her. Yes, all those teehees, Oh-I-forgot-where-we-were-supposed-to-sit, damn it! to sudden, I AM SRS BSNS YO… This is one opponent of Chihaya that I couldn’t get in touch with rather hated her guts till the end. Yuube had more determination that this shallow person and don’t even get me started on the three fanboys. We have seen multiple matches in Chihayafuru, which remain undecided until the end so Chihaya losing to her was just painful. In most team games, ace sets the pace of the game and I was glad for Kana-chan’s resilience, Taichi’s memorization and Komano’s debut, which saved Mizusawa. It frustrates me to say it but this game should have been in the bag for Chihaya; she has trained enough for this. Why she couldn’t go on is something that really bothered me and this is her without any injury. Oh well, still three cheers for Komano for developing his own set of superstitions and enough database to go for the 50/50 chance of his card being read. He’s literally a walking-talking database program and a big strength of why Mizusawa knocked on the finals.
// Final with Fujisaki //
~ The Final Battle – Well, this match started out as what looked like a hopeless case, but it really pulled itself together as the episodes went on!!! Pretty much all of the characters had awesome parts during all of this. …Minus maybe Desk-kun and Tsukuba (but hey, they really did try and Desktomu was awesome in the last match, so I’ll let this slide). The direction of the match twisted and turned perfectly and it was something that had you hanging on to every action. Chihaya’s match didn’t seem as intense as the last one with Megumu, since Rion seems to have lost her momentum after Chihaya injured herself. Not that it wasn’t interesting, but once Chihaya found her rhythm, the concern shifted to whether Taichi could pull through or not. It was still great to watch her match though since Chihaya was an absolute badass out there even with her injury, and it’s nice to see that her struggle wasn’t the main one for once (since she always seems to have problems during her matches). As for Taichi, I… I’m so proud of him! You have no idea. He really did try his damn best out there and he addressed his problems so well. It was iffy at first because of the whole Arata thing (though I shudder to think of how Arata would be if he was Erota or however you would work that ‘ero‘ into his name), but it was a great struggle. The ending was up to luck and all, which kind of takes away from Taichi’s achievements this arc, but in the end, that luck is pretty important as well since Taichi is notoriously unlucky. Well, now he’s beat an A Class player, so let’s see him actually make A Class this time! Finally, there’s Nishida. His match didn’t really get that much coverage, but he actually won a match in this tournament this time~. I kind of wish we had seen more of his play since him losing seemed to be a big thing this season, but I’m glad he pushed himself through and out of his rut.
Ah, teamwork! Nishida actually won a match, and he and Taichi synced up at the end really, really nicely! Their loss against Hokuo even meant something too since they used the same strategy against Fujisaki that they lost to before. That was a nice callback to tie this whole season together so far. …Though I kind of have to wonder about the psychic connection Kana and Chihaya seem to share (should… should I start shipping them now?). Really, Kana definitely gives good advice, but how and why can Chihaya randomly pick up on that? Well, whatever. This whole arc seems to have pointed to the lesson “teamwork is awesome” and even the loner Shinobu seems to have learned something here. I’d love to see Arata join Mizusawa at some point, but even if he doesn’t, this was a great win for Mizusawa overall. They may have missed the mark last year, but DAMN their triumphs this year were great.
// Individual Matches //
~ When the Going Gets Tough - Tough gets going. Big YAY on reaching the best team in Japan but this is not the end guys. After the Award ceremony, the next day arrives with a siren for all A to D class players, when they have to fend off for themselves rather than depending on their teammates to pick up their slack. Though, all Mizusawa members are highly motivated with exception to Sumire, to fight out their individual demons. We have a technical difficulty on the way though, Chihaya has injured a finger and she shouldn’t have even thought of participating but lo and behold, she goes and commits to it just because she can. Of course, Arata and Shinobu’s presence fuels her motivation too. But are we watching a shounen anime where the MC comes out a winner even with a disadvantage? I hope not… Chihayafuru if nothing has been really good with reality checks till now (even if we don’t like some of them)… Though, this is one of those times that I am rooting for Chihaya to do SOMETHING. She has been training for so long, it would be last season all over again that she fell too sick to play! At least her coping mechanics have improved from shutting herself to actually standing up and trying her best (we’ll see how that goes though). Also, I’m cheering on Taichi to make Class A; his win against Fujisaki’s groper proves that he has everything to make an amazing A-class player.
// The Love Connection //
~ Love Hurts - The recent episode, made my heart literally go out to Taichi. A character that I hated in the beginning but look at how much he has developed with sheer will! I’m reminded of the boatman poem on how he doesn’t know where this love will take him but he still doesn’t give up. His real demon that he has been fighting since they were kids have always been Arata; who is not only his rival but a person he looks up to in karuta. He has already overshadowed his life even when they don’t share zip codes, now think what will happen when they do, when he transfers to a Tokyo University? Though, there is still time, which Taichi should use in preparing well not only on the tatami mat of karuta but his insistent feelings for Chihaya. Who is in no condition to make a choice right now. It’s very clear that Arata is more than important to her but damn it, she has the hots for Harada-sensei so I’m sure the importance is not of romantic kind but friendship bonding kind. Still, it just hurts to see Taichi in depression mode.
// Fun with Chi //
‘CAUSE I FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL (o*゜∇゜)o～♪♪
You have the TITAN disease! (ಥ⌣ಥ)
WE SHIP! ✿♥‿♥✿
“Let’s start another ship, Taichi. Even if I sound creepy… teehee~” (⌐꒪_꒪)
A TRUE SHIPPER! (*゜▽゜ノノ゛☆
So yeah, I didn’t mention it above, but man that match against Akashi annoyed me to no end. Or at least, Megumu’s character annoyed me since she jumped from “meh, whatever.” to “I suddenly have to win!” I mean, it’s great that Chihaya can inspire people like that, but the fact that she struggled so hard against a girl who wasn’t even trying was super annoying to watch. I normally like the backstories the opponents provide and I’ll like the opponents more after their parts are told. However, there was pretty much nothing in Megumu’s backstory that made me want to support her. Nishida was also pretty annoying with his fear of that one girl too. ….Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of that arc. However, the Fujisaki match made up for pretty much everything that had happened since a lot of the characters either learned something, or put past knowledge and teamwork into play really well. It’s just so damn heartwarming to see hard work pay off~. …I just hope that Chihaya’s injury isn’t going to be used as a plot excuse for her to sit out of the singles matches this year. Arata looks like he’ll be able to participate, but it would still suck if Chihaya couldn’t. She’s on a roll, damn it!
That was a long catch-up post but hell, Chihayafuru is going strong as ever. All characters have developed nicely, I sure as hell loved Komano stepping up his game. Though, out of all, I resonated with Taichi the most. The underdog who’s always been unlucky finally got his fair share of breaks. Every time he murmurs the remaining cards to be read, my respect for him doubles; not just because of my bad memorization but him using his strengths to get the game. Even at the current standpoint, I don’t think he’s going to overly sulk but hopefully get his gameface on quick! In contrast, finding out more about Shinobu’s past was a treat; she has really grown on me and her being a loner is a strength yet the reason behind her dysfunctional personality. However she may scoff at team-play though, it is the thing that’s keep karuta alive and Mizusawa is a bright example of it. Indeed, becoming best in Japan is more difficult than hopping over karuta play-levels.
Personally, I like Arata, his honest nature and goody-two-shoes outlook. He’s a proper gentleman but that doesn’t mean Taichi should be left behind. The scene when Chihaya came in his room and just slept beside him was pretty sweet and hope worthy but in the end the way things are going; I don’t see any resolution in the horizon for this triangle at all. For the individual matches, for sure I don’t want Chihaya to lose against Yuube! I have nothing against her but damn it, no Akashi girl has a right to diss on Mizusawa students! Same for that damn S Sudo and Retro just because that’s what they do. For the final winners, Arata HAS to win, just like Taichi HAS to make A-class. For the queen position, I wish Megumu is matched up against Shinobu and gets kicked down some notches. Seriously pissed off with this woman. I hope some shounen miracle happens around Chihaya, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, just like Kara.
Overall, I wish the staff hadn’t wasted so many episodes in semis and finals but oh well, with five episodes left, we’ll definitely be seeing a conclusion to the individual matches by the end of this season. Yep, I did it; I expect another season of this awesomeness because manga is still ongoing and just look at how many things are still up in the air for possibility. Of course, we want more!
So, tell us readers, how your journey has been with Chihayafuru till now? What are your next predictions?