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Chihayafuru – 08

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「たえてひさしくなりぬれど」 (Taete Hisashi Kunari Nuredo)
“Taete Hisashi Kunari Nuredo”

Romance takes a back seat this week, as it’s all about the club and the sport itself.

The last piece of the puzzle is finally in place with the arrival of Nishida Yuusei (Nara Tooru) on the scene. As I’ve said a hundred times there are no coincidences in anime, and it’s certainly timely when, desperate for the fifth club member they need to survive, Chihaya runs into Nishida in the lunch line at school. Yes, it’s the boy from the Prefectural Tournament who lost to Arata, now sporting a blonde buzz-cut – so not only do we have a Karuta player, but the second-ranked junior in Japan as a grade-schooler. Chihaya must have a magnetic personality, because she’s certainly drawing former Karuta players to her school at an alarming rate. Can Arata be far behind?

Only problem is, Nishida – who Chihaya insists on calling “Nikuman” (Pork Bun) – was apparently so traumatized by the experience of being unexpectedly humiliated by Arata that’s he’s quit the game, convinced he can never be #1 no matter how hard he tries. He’s taken up tennis instead, though he reads the hundred poems to himself to time his strokes. I’m struck again by just how determinedly inconsiderate Chihaya’s behavior is, as she literally tackles Nishida to the ground and virtually demands he join the club, even stalking him as he goes to tennis practice after school. She almost always seems to get what she’s after in the end, but the thing is, I’m not at all sure she should. Let’s start with the “Pork Bun” thing. OK, seriously – that’s inconsiderate at best, mean at worst (she’s still calling Tsutomu Desktomu as well). Frankly, it’s borderline bullying, and I’m glad Nishida finally popped off on her at the end about it, because I was for pretty much the entire episode. She doesn’t really mean to be mean – she’s just incredibly inept at social niceties – but even Chihaya should know enough to know that the constant repeating of a humiliating nickname is crossing the line.

Fortunately for Chihaya and the Karuta Club, Nishida secretly misses Karuta and he’s only been using tennis as a substitute. A rousing match with Chihaya fires up his competitive spirit in him, and after that the soft drugs like tennis just won’t do anymore – he needs the good stuff, hard-core poetry to get his fix. And with two players of the caliber of he and Chihaya (with Taichi a very strong third board) I can easily see this team being among the elite high school teams (and I’m just assuming for now that high schools compete in Karuta in Japan – I’m not sure we have a show otherwise). I’m not sure how Nishida will take it when he finds out Arata has quit the game, but I suspect that’s going to be a moot point soon enough.

The other interesting development of the episode was the emergence of a new skill that may well define Taichi’s role in the club – teacher. With his analytical understanding of the game and strong verbal skills, Taichi is the natural person to teach Kana-chan and Tsutomu the game from the ground up, in a way Chihaya – who plays almost entirely on instinct and athleticism – never could. In the process of course, Taichi is also teaching us about the game – about stuff like “camping” (focusing on a specific card, thinking it’s going to be called next) and “like cards” – two cards that begin with the same syllables. As this episode was mostly anime-original material I suspect Madhouse threw some of that in as an intentional audience tutoring lesson, a wise idea that I wish Hikaru no Go had done a little more of in the early episodes of its run.

What remains to be seen is where Nishida will fit into the dynamic of the club. Everyone brings their own style to the game – Chihaya is the natural, all speed and instinct. Taichi is the thinker, relying on his memory and the ability to see patterns in the way the game is played. Kanade is the heart, who sees Karuta as art for art’s sake, and Tsutomu reminds me a bit of Eiichirou from the manga Baby Steps – known as “Notebook-kun” for his maniacal devotion to precise note-taking, which he uses to try and master the sport of tennis. So what niche does that leave Nishida, I wonder? At first glance he seems fairly cocky, or at the least confident in spite of his Arata fixation. Perhaps he’s the type of player who triumphs by force of will, psyching himself up and plowing through matches on determination and martial spirit.

November 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm
35 comments »
  • November 22, 2011 at 10:21 pmJen

    I miss arata :/

  • November 22, 2011 at 10:46 pmThe Moondoggie

  • November 22, 2011 at 11:09 pmliz

    I agree on chihaya attutide throughout the entire episode I didnt like how pushy she was to get everyone to join the karuta club. She definitely has her own motives but I can see that even though chihaya is a phyically a grown up high school student mentally she is still a kid and by being oblivious to her surroundings can cause her to be insensitive to peoples feelings. I hope that changes as the series continues.
    I know your pushing for taichi but I cant wait until arata comes back. I love his attutide throughout the show in the beginning no one expected much from him (except chihaya) but he surprises everyone by showing how completely confident he is in playing karuta and the way he can deal with others looking down on him. To me he came off as a strong person from the very beginning and the kind that will tell his friends like it is for their own good. Manga readers I beg you to spoil me do we see more of arata in the future?

    • November 23, 2011 at 12:04 amGuardian Enzo

      I’m not a manga reader so this isn’t a spoiler (if you do answer and you are, please use spoiler tags) but I would be stunned if Arata isn’t involved in the series again. He’s all over the OP and ED and he hoists flags pretty much every episode. He’ll be back – just a question of when.

    • November 23, 2011 at 12:12 aminfo600

      funny, I thought Chihaya’s attitude was well drawn (ie. 6th grade), not just her manners.

      Still, she might a reality check soon by the rest of the club (now that it can be a reality)

    • November 23, 2011 at 12:46 amGod

      Do you really want to know???

      Show Spoiler ▼

      • November 23, 2011 at 12:58 amThe Moondoggie

        Hey God! We were talking about you last time XD.

        Anyways as long as Chihaya remains “LOL! Love? What’s that?” anything romantic that happens until that side of her is cured is just Red Herring.

    • November 23, 2011 at 3:16 amlilu

      Through the the whole 8 episodes so far I can tell that Arata is here used as a goal, motivation if you saw Kuragehime Arata’s role reminds of Shu.

  • November 23, 2011 at 12:37 amSlushiZ

    I think you accidentally got the wrong guy here>>”“Notebook-kun” for his maniacal devotion to precise note-taking, which he uses to try and master the sport of tennis.”

    • November 23, 2011 at 9:07 amGuardian Enzo

      How so? Ei-chan is Notebook-kun – I just referenced a shot of Tsutomu taking notes furiously to illustrate the similarity.

  • November 23, 2011 at 12:54 amsarcastic_weasel

    As a manga reader, a few corrections, because the subtitles are annoying as hell. It’s Nikuman-kun. Nikuman is a steamed pork bun. So basically, she’s calling him Pork Bun.

    Tsukue-kun, the other new player from last week, is really “Desk-kun.” Not really sure why they called him “Desktomu” in the subs, unless it’s because the people translating it into English just don’t listen or have never read anything about the series. Desktomu doesn’t even make any sense. Desk-boy might work slightly better… but I digress. (Yes, his name is Tsutomu, but they called him Tsukue because he *never* left the desk.)

    As for Arata, Chihaya, and romance, etc… I can spoil you from what I remember reading all 14 volumes… read at your peril.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    • November 24, 2011 at 2:19 pmMinnako

      Re: the spoilers, I actually think it’s more refreshing that way.

      Show Spoiler ▼

  • November 23, 2011 at 1:42 amewok40k

    lol @ Chihaya’s flying tackle…

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:01 amHrmmmm

    I was really glad that Chihaya didn’t get all embarrassed after she tackled Porky in this scene.

    I’ve been brain washed by all those years of high school RomComs =\

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:13 amDragonite88

    Brings back good memories of Double bonds, lol. God I miss those science years.
    http://randomc.net/image/Chihayafuru/Chihayafuru%20-%2008%20-%20Large%2002.jpg

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:23 amMockman

    I think Chihaya is an awesome character. I’d have to say that she’s probably the best character of the season. But I also like the quarrelsome and manipulative duo from Boku wa and the axe murderer from Mirai Nikki so maybe it’s just me. (There are a couple of other neat characters this season but they don’t get many lines in their respective shows.)

    But I do take issue with characterizing her as a bully. While she’s pushy, determined and insistent (and nigh on relentless) she isn’t bullying anyone. She’s pursuing them, challenging them and inspiring them. And they’re responding. All of them. And FWIW, she challenged and inspired Arata as well when they were kids and he was developing until he left her. And the proof is in the pudding. None of them are crying or running away and there is no air of defeat around any of them.

    Of note, after her initial ask, she didn’t actually interfere with Nikuman-kun while she was stalking him until she heard him reciting poetry. At that moment, she gained a clear insight into how he viewed the world and then she took action. And once their match was over, she put her challenge away. He was free to go with no strings attached. (And by the way, it was Taichi who asked him if he was afraid of losing.)

    As an aside, watching this show reminds me of reading Le Mort d’Arthur. A common characteristic of the knights was they enjoyed a good fight. It was both uplifting and redeeming. Battle was entered into joyfully. Chihaya has that mentality and she doesn’t lose that even if she loses the match. And it didn’t take long for Nishida to get a rush out of playing. Finally, in addition to the joy of playing and winning and expressing his talent, he sees redemption in that clubroom.

    I found it interesting how the tennis coach looked at her twice while talking to Nishida.

    So… now that Chihaya has broken down at least one of everyone’s walls, what about her own? What’s next for her?

    • November 23, 2011 at 4:41 amn0216332

      im with you on chihaya :D dont think shes bullying them. as long as the “victim” sense no malicious intent behind the words, very often they wont feel bullied. and chihaya’s “porky” was far from malicious, more like a childhood memoto of the time when nishida was eating a pork bun, so thats how she remembered him…. he just happens to be fat, sucks that “porky” translate both way…for him.

    • November 23, 2011 at 9:11 amGuardian Enzo

      Sorry, but I call BS on the “Pork Bun” thing. You call an overweight kid that, it’s insulting and borderline bullying. Plus, he made it very clear that he wanted her to stop and she kept right on doing it. Subs did say “porky” FWIW, but I changed it in the post.

      I’m not saying she’s intentionally being mean here, but she’s being incredibly thoughtless. Just because you like a character doesn’t mean they’re immune from criticism, and just because you criticize a character doesn’t mean you don’t like them. I like Chihaya a lot – but she was being a tool with the “Pork Bun” stuff.

      • November 23, 2011 at 11:19 pmSnowolf

        I’m half and half on this; on one side Chihaya’s naivety is exaggerated to extremes in the series, to the point where she’s not aware of her actions or what effect they may have (a theme I hope is explored in this show) and thus I don’t think she means to hurt anyone’s feelings. Bullying is the act of emotional, verbal or physical abuse with meaning; Chihaya lacks this, so I wouldn’t call it bullying. But does that excuse her name-calling as okay? No. But it’s not bullying, it’s name-calling. And her insistence on calling him “Porky” at the end (while I think is rooted in his love for pork buns rather than his obesity) is that, but not bullying.

      • November 24, 2011 at 2:06 pmMinnako

        I thought the main reason she called him Pork Bun was because, way back when they were about to compete with him, and Chihaya was late, he was bragging about having time to go out and eat a pork bun, and she walked in just as he said that.

        I’m definitely not denying it’s insensitive (and frankly rude) of her to continue after he asked her to stop. IRL I’d consider her quite an a** for doing so, and I certainly hope her character learns how not to constantly insult others like that. She’s not the first character to do so, and perhaps it’s right we start pointing out unsavoury characteristics. But then again, many things anime characters regularly do in anime (comedy violence, the dramatic ‘pull yourself together’ slap, girls groping each other ‘platonically’, and including such tackling, name-calling etc) gets a lot more acceptance in anime (where it’s played for laughs, or being perfectly acceptable) than in real life. What that says about anime, and indeed, us fans, is as interesting as what it says about the characters…

    • November 23, 2011 at 9:57 amshin

      It is more like the creators trying to make it funny, but I didn’t find it funny at all. (I think we can safely distance this from Chihaya being a bully.) I am sure everyone understands the meatbun reference, but it is not a nice nickname and he asked her to knock it off a dozen times. Surely even if you are dense you will realize they don’t like the nickname and stop right?

      Remember when Chihaya got upset when people thought it was funny how Arata spoke different? They weren’t really trying to bully Arata either but it was insensitive and alienating. It is just kind of sad how they are doing this for the fat kid joke. I know in the end, he will probably accept his nickname and learn to like it, but that isn’t the point. I guess we will need to wait another episode to see how Chihaya will interact with her club members beyond the shallow nikuman routine.

      • November 23, 2011 at 7:57 pmMockman

        I thought they were cruel. They ridiculed Arata, gossiping that he ate bugs for lunch. They kept a dictionary of his dialect differences to laugh at. They said out loud that they didn’t need him in their classroom. They mocked his clothing and apparent poorness. And their behaviour affected Arata as he had given up. He no longer spoke to anyone. He was pro-actively isolating himself in order to avoid their tactics.

        Don’t forget either that Taichi knocked him down in the rain, hoping to ruin his pants. And when Chihaya stood up for Arata, he knocked her down too. The following day, not only was he shunning her, but the rest of the class was too. And at the match, he faked being conciliatory and gave Arata a shaken can of pop. And then stole his glasses.

        And what did Taichi say to Arata when he returned the glasses. “Don’t tell Chihaya. I don’t want her to hate me.” He wasn’t being insensitive. He knew what he was doing.

        I’d consider Chihaya to be tactless and loud, maybe even aggressive sometimes. She wears her heart on her sleeve and she probably has a few blind spots. But intent and effect are more important than the specific words that she uses.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think that Nishida is particularly hurt by the nickname she’s using for him. He’s grumpy about it but has to keep reminding himself about it as his mind is already on other things. And Chihaya perceives this and thus continues to use it. She is oblivious to a lot that goes on around her, as a lot of the things that other people do have zero interest for her. We saw that in the first scene of the first episode with the track pants, or her comment to her sister about the winner of the beauty pageant. But I think that she’s highly sensitive to other things, more so than those around her. That’s why she stood up for Arata. And all of her other traits were there too — open-mindedness, blunt direct honesty, decency and a strong will.

        I think that bullying is more about pushing someone down and out or away. She’s trying to draw him in and lift him up. And she’s done it. He’s more alive now. But Nishida probably will have to earn a new nickname. And I bet he will. He seems like a pretty good character too. (Or at worst, win a reprieve in a contest)

      • November 24, 2011 at 2:09 pmMinnako

        I agree that this might be one of those ‘hilarious’ character traits they try to put in that REALLY don’t translate well to many of us, because, IRL it’s really not funny. And considering the amount of totally ‘not funny’ things that are regularly made light of, just goes to show a lot of comedy has its basis in ridiculing people.

    • November 24, 2011 at 2:14 pmMinnako

      I agree she’s an awesome character, it’s especially refreshing (as I commented here last week) to see a girl get the typical male-shonen-lead type of personality and setup. Being awesome doesn’t mean she doesn’t have really irritating flaws (such as being insensitive to the point of rudeness) and immature – it actually makes her a better character (presuming they develop on it hand have her ‘grow up’) than if she were perfectly mature all along. Watching characters that are supposed to represent awkward, growing teenagers grow is what it’s about. I’d rather not have characters who are basically cynical adults trapped in a kid’s body and too many characters are scripted in such a way that they really don’t read as kids. This feels more natural, even though it makes me wince…

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:49 amId

    iirc chihaya called him nikuman(meatbun) and not nikuma

  • November 23, 2011 at 4:58 amBass.EXE

    Yes! Add one more to the crew. Now they can finally set sail for the Grand Line become an official club

    • November 24, 2011 at 4:27 pmSOSAnimeBoy

      This made me LMAO!

  • November 23, 2011 at 5:17 amCarol

    I think Chihaya called fatty Nikuman which means pork bun and she does it cause when they were kids he said he’d go and buy some pork buns as she got scared and wasn’t facing him in the match.
    So…I don’t really see her as a mean character.
    She is awesome!

    • November 23, 2011 at 8:50 amKing of Heroes

      I think Chihaya called fatty Nikuman–

      So…I don’t really see her as a mean character.

      Gee, I wonder why…

  • November 23, 2011 at 10:01 amsv

    Chihaya hasn’t grown up, she’s still the same little girl full of energy, thinking about the game all day.

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:54 pmLeticia

    This show is brilliant, I’m loving it!

  • November 23, 2011 at 6:58 pmKoyuki

    Chihaya alternates in being annoying and endearing. A lot of times, she’s incredibly thoughtless, tactless and insensitive to other people’s feelings. She barges right in without much thought at all, sometimes putting people on the spot. Case to point in getting Arata back to karuta without even finding out why he’d stopped. At other times, she’s downright charming, funny and enthusiastic for the game that you can forgive her for her attitude. She just needs to get her head out of the clouds and mature to the age that she is instead of being stuck back in sixth grade.

    Calling people names like Nikuman may be teasing and playful but when the person tells you to stop many times and you don’t listen? It’s thoughtless and insensitive on Chihaya’s part.

  • November 24, 2011 at 8:08 amMatroid

    When I saw Chihaya jumped on the “meat bun” guy, I was thinking, “cute girls really can get away with a lot of things.”

  • December 9, 2011 at 3:14 amGhostalker

    I like Chihaya’s character but in this particular episode I think her being very pushy is a bit too much.

  • April 1, 2012 at 11:49 pmcshin9

    Whoa, it’s a Chekhov’s character!