Chihayafuru 15 ~ I recall how my own efforts were in vain

January 18, 2012

These Karuta cards are all I need to see.

In episode 15 of Chihayafuru the national tournament ends. Everyone has an opportunity to witness their own limitations. They may be beaten, but they are not broken.

Chihaya has activated Queen Shinobu's dark powers.

Come forth, Snow-maru, and do my dark bidding!

Wakamiya Shinobu takes a card from Chihaya Ayase. She's smiling, so you know she is having fun.

Even though Chihaya fights valiantly, she is just too far behind to do anything but lose badly (25-5). Still it is enough to make Shinobu take notice. She burns her opponent’s name into her memory and hopes for a rematch — so she can crush Chihaya even more soundly.

"White Alice" Shinobu.

I like the “White Alice/Black Alice” thing they have going for Shinobu. Most of the time she is operating in Black Alice mode. She exudes a dark aura, and doesn’t interact pleasantly with the other players unless she is subtly mocking them. But on occasion she slips into White Alice; in particular when discussing cute toy characters like Daddy Bear and Snow-maru.

Taichi Mashima faces off in the B-class final.

Inspired by Chihaya’s determination, even after suffering a serious defeat, Taichi is looking ahead to a match with Arata Wataya. He works his way up to the final round, where the rest of the team watches in horror as the cumulative matches take their toll.

Taichi's loss is a terrible blow to the whole team.

The Karuta club has done a good job by even making it to the national tournament, but they fail to take home a trophy. As dispiriting as their collective losses are. The team goes home committed to the fight. They take up jogging to improve their stamina, and clearly are eager to keep playing.

12 Responses to “Chihayafuru 15 ~ I recall how my own efforts were in vain”

  1. David A. Young Says:

    A good and interesting episode, but this one didn’t have quite the voltage to it that most of the recent ones have. But it’s definitely laying the ground work for things to come.

    I didn’t realize, though, that this series is from an on-going manga. That’s kind of a bummer, because it means we’re probably not going to get the kind of “completion” to the story that the otherwise amazing writing would lead me to expect.

    I’m not going to fret about that too much, though. As good as the writing is, I’m just going to assume they’ve got a spot in mind where they can bring this stage of the story to a satisfying close. Then hope they can come back to it when the manga ends. (Doesn’t happen very often…but it does happen.)

    • Joojoobees Says:

      For me it started with a lot of tension immediately as we got back into the Queen match, but by the end things were resolved, so it didn’t end with as much “voltage”.

      As to the ending, I just hope they do it justice. It would be a shame to mar a series that has been so good up to now. I also hope we see more of the Queen; not only do I think she is a good character, I think she does some useful things for Chihaya.

      • David A. Young Says:

        I think Chihaya may end up doing some “useful things” for the Queen, as well. Like helping her to loosen up a little.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        That’s certainly possible. The image they have created of her is that she stays in her room, frantically practicing Karuta. Chihaya is very open with other people. She could become the Queen’s first real friend.

  2. Hana Says:

    Taichi’s loss is a terrible blow to the whole team

    – as opposed to Chihaya’s, which I thought was an interesting direction. Seems like everyone’s forever trying to catch up to someone else, poor kids! T_T

    • David A. Young Says:

      Interesting observation. Thinking about it, I believe Taichi’s loss struck them harder because he was actually in the final match to win his class. And whoever his opponent was, he certainly didn’t have the invincible reputation of the Queen, so a victory was seen as more possible. And his was the last chance to win some kind of trophy, which would have lifted everyone on the team. What did Porky say? Something about second place being the most painful? I can see that.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        He certainly was their last chance to bring home a trophy. Even though one obviously competes in tournaments with the hope of winning, I think it is unrealistic to even think they could have gotten as far as they did on their first outing. I’m not saying the show sucks; I’m saying they should feel proud of what they were able to accomplish, because it is not insignificant.

        I understand wanting to win, and wanting to be the best, and all … but really, being 2nd place in a National Tournament is not a sign of failure. This is exactly the attitude that Taichi’s mom had, and she is wrong.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Japanese shows do strike me as being a bit harsh in their expectations for kids. I wonder sometimes if I grew up watching all these shows (I saw some anime as a kid, but the school life and modern shounen shows weren’t out yet), would I feel inspired to be the best? Or feel inadequate?

  3. David A. Young Says:

    Joojoobees — I agree completely. The showing they made was exceptional. But that’s the kind of perspective that doesn’t come easily to people their age, as motivated as they are. And even if their expectations were more realistic to begin with, when Taichi got so far it would have really hyped them up. They went through a real roller-coaster ride, but even that was probably an experience they needed. Actually, everyone else took his defeat harder than Taichi did himself. I think that shows what empathy they have for each other. These five people really are a TEAM.

    I wonder how Arata’s eventual return will rub up against that dynamic?

    • Joojoobees Says:

      It is good to see them acting as a team, and, yes, regardless of how reasonable their expectations might have started out, seeing Taichi get into the finals would have to pump their hopes up. We have seen that several times in this US presidential election cycle; several candidates clearly entered with hopes no higher than raising their profile for speaking tours, or perhaps a cabinet position, but as soon as they saw a good poll number they forgot their humble expectations, and convinced themselves that they could be the president. Human emotions are so fickle.

      • David A. Young Says:

        Heh! Interesting point. And what probably made it worse this time was people thinking, “Hey, if that no-experience Barack guy can get elected President…ANYBODY can!”

      • Joojoobees Says:

        It probably takes a touch of insanity to throw your hat in the ring anyway. Every candidate seems to think they are personally saving the country. Probably everybody with a normal-sized ego gets weeded out by the process, long before the public hears about which candidates are in the running.

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