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「みちこそなけれ」 (Michi Koso Nakere)
“World Offers No Escape”

Taichi Tuesdays might just be my favorite day of the week.

If you stop by the Twitterverse from time to time, you may have noticed the term “Taichi Tuesdays” has gone a little viral. About time, I say, because I’d really like to see Chihayafuru get a little more love (and yen) from the mainstream fan community than it seems to be getting. In terms of pure viewing enjoyment, this series is hard to beat. It hits the sweet spot when it comes to intensity and complexity, easy to watch but always involving and developing. There are other shows I love, but this one is probably the most fun to watch – and the most fun to write about. I wish each episode could last an hour.

This week’s ep is a perfect example of how a show can have a “breather” episode that’s still intense and moves the plot forward. The headline moment was probably Taichi’s ultra-casual breakup with his girlfriend, “Girlfriend”. I’m sure the haters will hate that he didn’t take it more seriously, but it’s been pretty obvious from the beginning that Chihaya is the only girl on Taichi’s mind. He should have done it sooner, but at least it’s done – and one theoretical obstacle removed for the development I’ve been pulling for since day one. Indeed, it seemed for a while as if we might see some real movement on that front, because there were a couple of moments where it looked as if Taichi were ready to reveal the truth to his beloved. But still, for all his character growth (the most of any in the cast, I’d argue) Taichi is a guy who holds a little of himself in reserve. He’s still inclined to play it safe when under pressure, and so it happens again, even when Chihaya is asleep virtually in his arms on the train.

I’m also inclined to believe that Taichi feels he has to prove he’s Arata’s equal at Karuta before he can confess to Chihaya – which seems a little silly to me, but clearly not to him. Thus, he’s putting himself on the line – but at Karuta, not love. He’s finally committing – to win a qualifying tournament and make Class A, to join Chihaya and Arata at the Master/Queen tournament. Ironically we find ourselves in the position now where Taichi is the one chasing Arata, and Chihaya is chasing Shinobu. To this end Taichi goes to a qualifying tournament in Kanazawa, only to find Nishida has sneaked off to the same tournament – and both of them get their lunches handed to them, presumably in the first round. They’ve got a long way to go.

The great thing about this show is that everyone is always in transition, and none of their journeys are neglected. Of Nishida we’ve probably learned the least, and he remains the biggest puzzle – he wants to get to Class A too, but his deeper motivations remain hidden. His moment in the sun came at the beginning of the episode, where he used his Tennis Club skills to anchor the Karuta Club to a surprising win in the sports festival track meet (though it was Taichi and Kana that attracted most of the attention), proving looks are deceiving. But despite wearing “Recruiting New Members” T-shirts, they get nothing more than a few curious onlookers easily scared off by the intensity of their practices.

Some of the most wonderful moments of the episode featured Kana and Tsutomu, who continue to grow closer together as they make their Karuta journeys. As always, Chihayafuru takes great pains to show respect for the different ways each kid approaches Karuta. For Tsutomu it’s a matter of diligence and study, carefully charting every match. For Kana it’s a deep and abiding love of the poetry itself, which makes her see Karuta as an “art, not a sport”. Each of them faces the same challenge in terms of physical strength, sport or no – smaller and weaker than the others, they have no choice but to keep working to try and grow stronger, and to try and compensate by nurturing their own strengths. I wish Tsutomu would confess already, because a more compatible pairing I haven’t seen in anime this season.

Where all of these threads come together is in Chihaya’s story, and she is the name in the title after all. Each team member is bumping against the ceiling that relying on their own strength alone imposes on them, and though Chihaya is the strongest player, she’s no exception. As noted here and elsewhere, she’s always relied on her athleticism and instincts, and disdained strategy – but it takes her crush Harada-sensei to make her realize the limits this places on her. “Stop relying on your speed” – simple advice, but vital – and it’s only through seeing herself and game through the chibis eyes that she understands what it means. Tsutomu shows her the power of observation and analysis, revealing the patterns that opponents can exploit – and Kana shows her how an understanding (and love) of the songs themselves can help her see the “colors” in difficult three-syllable cards, and be able to rely on her memory and not just her reflexes. It’s clearly not a natural thing for Chihaya, this studying and thinking – when The Empress sees her in the library her reaction is to ask “Do they have manga in here?” But it’s some of the most self-aware insight we’ve seen from Chihaya, and a real step forward for her character.

 

January 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm
35 comments »
  • January 31, 2012 at 9:31 pmShinmarizu

    I’m glad I’m following this series. Taichi Tuesdays indeed.

    Also, thanks to you for continuing to blog it.

  • January 31, 2012 at 9:52 pmIntricateRadiance

    This show seriously brings forth so many emotions in me. It’s simply beautiful and I look forward to it ever week. Heh, Taichi Tuesdays. I like it. ;3
    Now excuse me while I go fangirl over how amazing Taichi is as a character.

  • January 31, 2012 at 10:00 pmJoojoobees

    This episode was a title bit of everything, but somehow they managed to show forward motion for all club members. They even had a little cameo of Retro-kun!

  • January 31, 2012 at 10:16 pmDecember’s Landing

    I don’t have twitter so I never knew Taichi Tuesdays was getting viral, nor about the phrase “Taichi Tuesdays” in the first place, but I’m glad Chihayafuru is getting some loving from famous sites.

  • January 31, 2012 at 10:38 pmXin

    So many glorious reaction faces! Man, that train scene was great…totally busted out laughing. I’ve been enjoying the series since the beginning, but the second half is really making me realize how special it is to me and how much I’m going to miss it when it ends.

  • January 31, 2012 at 10:45 pmmarinelzen

    An ideal baton, the karuta card. The lightest in the race, optimal to hold while running, and easy on the hand off.

    • February 1, 2012 at 8:46 amRezzir

      Not true, remember that Karuta cards, are just … cards, which are made of paper, they could be torned easily under the quick transitions of the Karuta Team Members!

      But looking at how professional this Karuta Team Members are, they probably won’t tear something so precious to them!

      Just my 2 cents.

  • January 31, 2012 at 11:38 pmTSouL

    Developments like these is why I love this series. It is able to balance other activities besides karuta, as well as attach us to the characters.

    I am still rooting for Chihaya + Taichi, but I can settle if their relation stays close. Just do NOT make Chihaya + Arata happen, he doesn’t deserve her imo. (Will not read manga until series is over so I do know know who/if Chihaya goes steady.)

    • February 4, 2012 at 12:07 amnagi

      That’s just so unfair to Arata. :(

  • February 1, 2012 at 12:09 aminfo600

    gonna love the extra guy imposing himself within this week’s episode….

    more to way when I finish the episode…

    • February 1, 2012 at 12:30 aminfo600

      loved how they all wanting to take peer-analysis from each other (specifically from Tsutomu’s match analysis)

      another thing, Taichi’s currently playing karuta like he does in life, playing it safe, analyze the situation, and not taking any chances…
      …all the while we have open character developments from Kanade and Tsutomu together…
      …so can we have an episode dedicated to Nishida instead of slipping hints into every episode?

      caption time: the nightly barbershop quartet…(thx ThereminVox from Animesuki, you made me laugh like an idiot)

      • February 1, 2012 at 1:20 amdokidoki

        Barbershop quartet… It’s Chihaya’s eyes.
        Oh dear. I’m never going to get that image out of my head now. <giggle>

      • February 1, 2012 at 5:03 amEnmire

        What is wrong with her eyes?!

  • February 1, 2012 at 12:29 ambird

    Taichituesdays. B)

  • February 1, 2012 at 1:10 amRickyMack

    Hmm taichi chasing arata chasing chihaya chasing the queen. Guru guru mawaru! Guru guru mawauru! No better pair than kana and desktomu? What about shuu and inori!!!!!!! /s

  • February 1, 2012 at 1:12 amYin

    It’s Wataya Wednesdays for me! At least here in Australia xD

    • February 1, 2012 at 7:04 amnagi

      Here in the Philippines too! But maaan, these past few episodes I can’t help but cheer a bit for Taichi…

  • February 1, 2012 at 3:18 amewok40k

    make it Karuta tuesdays, and everybody will be happy regardless of ship they sail on…
    it is only when she masters speed, strategy and intuition aspects of the game that Chihaya will become capable of challenging the Queen…

    • February 1, 2012 at 8:39 amAnon

      I still don’t watch this show for karuta. Kind of wish there series would gives us breaks from it altogether.

      It’s all about the Taichi Tuesdays.

    • February 1, 2012 at 8:50 amGuardian Enzo

      Too late – it’s viral now.

  • February 1, 2012 at 3:31 amStereoman

    I laughed quite loudly when I saw Chihaya take a peek at the end of the book to get the correct answers. She’s such a lovable character! The same goes for the others of the team.
    Ah, I wish this show would go on for at least another season. ;_;

  • February 1, 2012 at 5:33 amSlushiZ

    CHIHAYA THINKNING FOR MORE THEN 10 SECONDS!?? :O God I love Taichi Tuesdays

  • February 1, 2012 at 7:06 amnagi

    Chihayafuru definitely deserves more love! Might be a strong contender for Most Under-appreciated Anime of 2012.

  • February 1, 2012 at 10:05 amEri

    Dear Taichi,

    I forgive you for trying to be sneaky because you’re human.

    (and just plain adorable!)

    Love,

    Eri

    P.S.
    If ever a romantic relationship between you and Chihaya won’t happen, you can always come to me!!! (But I hope it there will be!!)

  • February 1, 2012 at 12:11 pmKapwan

    I am really enjoying this show far more than I would have anticipated at the start of the season. It’s gonna be funny to see people playing or pretending to play Kurata at Anime Conventions this year.

    I also like the lesson they are giving Chihaya in this episode. It reminds of me how some Pro Athletes get really bad when they get older because they always relied on their talent to get ahead instead of solid fundamentals.

  • February 1, 2012 at 1:37 pmBoorguerTrooper

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  • February 1, 2012 at 3:58 pmKentaiyoshimi

    The best moments are still when Taichi is alone with Chihaya. You really feel for Taichi when he restrains himself when it comes to Chihaya.

  • February 1, 2012 at 6:31 pmFrog

    tbh this episode left a bad taste in the mouth. I like Taichi but… damn is he a sneak. He admits it himself. idk, I don’t know what to think of Taichi now.

  • February 1, 2012 at 7:08 pmBear

    Actually, I loved the way the writer’s set up the situation with Chihaya falling asleep on Taichi’s shoulder, the music rises, you see his hand reach and CLAP!. Perfect fakeout of the viewer. You know you all thought he was going to touch her hand. Common admit it.

    Forget Arata, Nishida and Taichi’s competition is becoming a battle as good as Chihaya and Shinobu’s should be.

  • February 1, 2012 at 7:12 pmxephx

    Taichi is awesome, and he’s the first time in a long time that a guy is my favorite character in an anime; but I was really starting to wonder if his girlfriend had fallen into a black hole and was forgotten by everyone.

  • February 1, 2012 at 8:19 pmgrey

    solid episode! great development in every character. damn can this anime get any better?

  • February 1, 2012 at 8:25 pmgrey

    heomg i also love how they wear tshirts that correspond to their personality…

  • February 2, 2012 at 5:45 amn0216332

    http://randomc.net/image/Chihayafuru/Chihayafuru%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2017.jpg

    i just knew this would be one of the pic here when i watched it >:D

  • February 2, 2012 at 11:16 pmbanzemanga

    It has been a while since i watched a perfect series being so good week after week. This series reminds me of Kanon in its perfection and background coloring. I just hope that when the second season comes it, wont screw up since the main manga story is ongoing.

    • February 4, 2012 at 12:05 amnagi

      Let’s hope first that a second season will occur. The chances are as thin as paper.