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「かくとだに」 (Kaku to dani)
“How Can I Tell Her”

Enter the dragon. Or should I say, dragons.

Without any question, this has been the Karuta season on Chihayafuru – as a percentage of screen time, competitive matches are about 4-5X more prominent this season than they were in the first. So it’s hardly surprising that the season should close out that way, or that it should do so by focusing on the biggest match of the year in terms of talent (though I haven’t given up hope we’ll see one or two seconds of T2 and T3 playing their hearts out next week).

While it’s not as egregious as the Class B final, I think a case can be made that the battle of the titans was over too quickly. Again, I harken back to entire episodes focused on – let’s be honest – relatively unimportant and uninteresting (by Chihayafuru standards) opponents and matches, while the two most important matches of the season (neither of which involve Chihaya, interestingly) are over in less than an episode. Unlike Taichi’s apotheosis moment, though, at least the Class A final was in-focus for most of the episode – and while it was arguably too brief, in terms of dramatics it felt perfectly paced.

While Taichi’s match was fascinating in terms of seeing him carve out an identity as a true Class A threat, it was even more interesting because of the ever-present internal battle going on in his head, and what the match meant to him. There were certainly personal dynamics exploding in the Arata-Shinobu match – not least the obvious white-hot sexual tension between them – but it was the Karuta itself that was most compelling. Especially, it seems, because compared to the other major (and some minor) characters in this series we’ve seen relatively little of Arata in action. And he is, in a word, scary.

Arata is a very odd character in minor ways. He’s the undisputed third corner of the main triangle at the heart of this series, but in screen-time he’s probably not even in the top 10. He’s the very face of Karuta for Chihayafuru – and Chihaya, to whom he still seems to represent the God of Karuta – yet we’ve seen very little of how he actually plays the game. As I’ve said before he’s the dark matter of the Chihayaverse – even if you can’t see him, his influence can be seen in every nook and cranny. I’ve noticed a curious effect over the two seasons of this series, which is that readers and viewers who like Taichi tend to also like Arata, but those who prefer Arata tend to loathe Taichi. And I think that’s because Taichi’s fans love him because of his faults, and how human he seems as a result. Arata’s presence is, yes, almost God-like – and those as imperfect as Taichi can only be met with disdain by those who love him.

In truth, of course, Arata isn’t perfect – no one is – but the irony is that while there seems to be an instinctive lashing out against pointing out any of Arata’s imperfections, it’s those very imperfections that make him more endearing as a character. Arata’s role in the series itself still seems very much the same as his role in Chihaya’s life – as an ideal rather than as a reality. He’s the ever-shifting goal posts, the impossible standard, the tower of perfection – and it’s only in bits and pieces that Suetsugu-sensei has allowed us to see the cracks in the facade. Only when Arata is removed from Mount Olympus and placed among the mortals can Chihayafuru really go the next level as a series, and Arata as a character. That’s why his request of his parents to move to Tokyo is crucial on so many levels. In practical terms it offers the promise of actual interaction with Chihaya and Tiachi, which has been virtually non-existent since the time skip. But it also reflects the very human acknowledgement on Arata’s part that he’s lonely. He realizes the connections he had with Chihaya and Taichi were stronger than any he’s had since, and that he needs to become a more connected person if he’s going to achieve real growth. It’s that self-awareness that shows Arata to be in a healthier place than Shinobu, who’s still reluctant to allow herself to feel anything for a fellow human as strongly as the bond she feels with the cards.

In a way I wish Suetsugu hadn’t given Shinobu an out by giving her an anime cold, because I think the results of the Class A final shouldn’t have to be taken with an asterisk. Arata won, plain and simple – and I don’t think a fever was the reason. I think the momentum was clear last week, and while part of me certainly thinks it would have been more interesting for Arata’s development to see him lose rather than see the legend build, I found myself rooting for him. Every major player in this series has established an identity on the tatami, and Arata in many ways seems to be the most balanced of all. He has no weaknesses: while his hearing may not be as superhuman as Suo or Chihaya, it’s superb. He doesn’t have the raw speed or accuracy of Shinobu, but his acceleration largely makes up for it. He can’t memorize cards like Taichi, but he’s able to consistently stay one step ahead of Shinobu by perpetually shifting his cards in sadistic fashion (indeed, Arata is certainly an "S" in the game of Karuta).

As Nishida says, though, what seems to be Arata’s greatest strength is his demeanor. He’s perpetually unruffled, even smiling at the height of the tension – and nothing unsettles and pisses off competitors more than seeing the opponent calmer and less stressed than they are. This clearly had an effect on Shinobu, who still managed to ride her wave of anger into closing the gap in the endgame. Yes, tactics become less important and speed and hearing more so as the cards disappear, but this is the magic of Arata – there’s no phase of the game where he’s less than excellent, even if he isn’t the best. He can compete in any situation, the consummate all-rounder with nerves of steel. In this sense he has a commonality with Taichi – the essence of the strategy is "get to 25 cards". And he gets there ahead of Shinobu not because she’s sick, or because he’s synched with the reader, or because of the luck of the draw – he’s simply better, start-to-finish. On this day, anyway. And losing this match will likely be the best thing for Shinobu, who desperately needed something to rekindle her competitive fires.

It’s interesting to speculate on potential matchups in light of what we’ve seen in the last few weeks. I confess to a good deal of frustration at not seeing Suo in action at all this season, when it seemed as if he was being set up as a significant character for the series’ future. Instead he’s been held out there as a sort of abstract villan (the "I’m the bad guy??" graphic was quite on-point) when it’d be much more interesting to get to know him. It was certainly clear from the Class A final that both Chihaya and Taichi have a long way to go to catch up with either Arata or Shinobu, but it seems to me that if – and it’s a huge if – Taichi could keep his emotions in check, he could be a very challenging matchup for Arata. Stylistically at least his game seems well-suited to face Arata, whereas Chihaya’s strengths seem to play into Arata’s hands more. As for the still-distant but seemingly inevitable matchup between Arata and Suo, I’d argue we simply haven’t seen enough of Suo to know whether Arata would have a chance – but it’s fair to say we’ve never seen anyone give Suo even the slightest hint of worry. He even matched his scores in the Meijin final to Shinobu’s, just to annoy her (and it certainly did).

On the personal side of the equation, while that can never be separated from the Karuta in this series, it remained solidly in the background for one more week. There are crucial moments, the first of which is when Chihaya breathlessly declares Taichi a rival. It’s easy to see in his reaction just how important that is for him, and easy to see why if you’ve been watching the series. I honestly don’t feel all that much at Sumire’s heartbroken reaction at seeing Chihaya and Taichi run off hand-in-hand, because there’s not enough invested in her character to carve into the core drama of the big three, but I did love her comment that Kana-ch"dispenses poems like candy or remedies. We have the usual three-way angst between our heroes – which really hasn’t changed in terms of substance for a very long time. Chihaya still sees Arata as the perfectly serene spinning top, moving so fast that it appears motionless. Taichi still tortures himself when he sees the way she stares at Arata, while he should be taking comfort in the fact that he’s always the one standing right next to her. The moment when Arata whacked a card (naturally) right at Chihaya’s face and Taichi blocked it was especially fascinating, and (as always) infuriatingly inscrutable and subject to interpretation.

What can we hope for and expect from the finale? Chihayafuru remains a compelling story, but it infuriates as much as it rewards. What I really want, more than anything, is an actual conversation between Chihaya, Taichi and Arata – without gimmicks or interruptions or distractions. After 50 episodes I think Chihayafuru owes us something that’s more that inference and symbolism on this front. The funny thing in the dynamic is that Chihaya has viewed Taichi primarily as the guy who’s always by her side, while her view of Arata is always tinted by Karuta. Now Taichi is Class A and if Arata moves to Tokyo, those distinctions can start to blur – which I think is what’s needed to push their hopelessly stagnated three-way dynamic forward. And yes, as much as I want a reflective finale I really would like to see Tsutomu and Tsukuba get some due next week. I don’t find it especially funny that only The Empress noticed Tsukuba had made (and was one card from winning) the Class D final – I think it’s damn sad for him that despite all the talk of team and the fact that he’s worked his ass off, not only is no one watching him but no one even cared that he was playing. At least Tsutomu – who’s been an unsung hero since he was introduced – has his match acknowledged by the others. Chihayafuru isn’t a democracy, certainly, and all characters aren’t created equal. But if we can get 22 minutes on condescendingly portrayed gaijin and two full episodes on Megumu, those two certainly deserve better.

June 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm
75 comments »
  • June 21, 2013 at 9:37 pmJ-Luke

    “I think a case can be made that the battle of the titans was over too quickly”
    In this weeks case, we got into the match at the final stage (Taichis final was at around the same time period), so it’s only natural it wouldn’t take long for this one to reach a conclusion.

  • June 21, 2013 at 9:39 pminfo600

    …He[Arata] can’t memorize cards like Taichi…

    I beg to differ. He literally memorized his newspaper route in his youth…

    …and I’ll leave the rest of the antagonizing later, maybe the anime would expose all that (A Fujisaki student did record the whole match…). But damn, that was a good smackdown of an episode.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:47 pmGuardian Enzo

      Let me put it this way – we’ve seen no indication (in the anime at least) that Arata’s memorization is on par with Taichi, for whom it’s the strength of his game. And we’ve certainly seen that he doesn’t rely on it to the extent that some players do.

      • June 21, 2013 at 11:12 pmNic

        Arata’s memorization is probably just as good as Taichi though. Just because it’s Taichi’s strength doesn’t mean Arata isn’t just as good. Arata excels everywhere. Speed, technique, game strategy, memorization, all the while being completely relaxed under pressure. For Arata, it’s only one of his many weapons so there’s no need to focus on it like with Taichi, whose play style is built around his memorization.

        That being said, Arata is definitely an opponent for Taichi, not Chihaya. I can’t see Chihaya defeating Arata, he plays too intelligent a game to fall prey to her speed. You’d need equal wits to understand his game plan and take him down.

      • June 22, 2013 at 5:45 amMi-Chan

        I think they made it clear that memorization and concentration are Taichi’s strength, I don’t think Arata knows ‘how many cards are remaining’, ‘how many dead cards are there’ and ‘how many -the- or -yu- or whatever you call it cards’ are still there, only Taichi would know that much, followed by Deskman-kun, and I think that’s what Enzo might have meant.

        Something I don’t think many people mentioned, or they have and I didn’t see (if so, mind this point), but what Arata has, and what Nishida said in the episode is ‘a detailed game plan’, so, from my understanding, Taichi studies his opponents weaknesses/strengths and plays on them for his game.

      • June 22, 2013 at 5:45 amMi-Chan

        remove the word Taichi, I meant ‘Arata’ lol, sorry.

      • June 22, 2013 at 9:29 amxeith

        I think the fact that a part of Arata’s strategy revolves around shifting his cards around which means he has to re-memorize card placement mid-game, should tell something about his memorization. Sure, memorization is Taichi’s strongest suit, but just because it’s Taichi’s strength doesn’t mean others can’t have a memory as good as his. Hearing is Chihaya’s strength, but it doesn’t stop Rion from having the same strength.

        Also, the anime cut off a scene which shows off Arata’s memorization power, so, well…

  • June 21, 2013 at 9:49 pmgreenT

    this eps was quite intense and i loved it, i’ve been waitting since the start of this season to see a battle between the queen and Arata.
    Can’t wait for another season to be announced

    side note: when you said “actual interaction with Chihaya and Taichi” once Arata came to Tokyo, did you mean Atara and chihaya?

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:55 pmGuardian Enzo

      You’re going to be waiting a while. There won’t be enough material for at least 18 months and probably between 2-3 years.

      I mean all three of them, not just Arata and Chihaya. Arata and Taichi have barely interacted either, so far.

      • June 21, 2013 at 11:22 pmTred

        And even if we don´t want to wait that much,and choose to read the manga,the scans are far behind the anime,with so far, no signs that indicates a big change on the release speed. So,for now,i guess is a dead end for Chihayafuru fans.This situation reminds me when Hourou Musuko anime ended,and i really enjoyed and wanted more,so i went straigh to the manga,which is so good as the anime was.I don´t know if is Chihayafuru´s manga case though.

      • June 22, 2013 at 12:12 amhwighting

        when you mentioned it, i started looking at the volumes that are available after the current episode, and there’s only about 10 or so, which is about the equivalent of 5 episodes.

        damn, it’s going to be long wait for season 3.

      • June 22, 2013 at 12:42 amGuardian Enzo

        Actually, there’s a huge gap in the middle, but there are translated chapters starting right with where the anime is now.

        On the bright side, a huge week for Chihayafuru V. 21 – 202K in sales, #2 on the list. I don’t think commercial factors would be an issue if there was material for a S3 now – the BDs are improved over S1, the manga continues to be very big. The problem will be convincing a production committee in 2015 or 2016 that the interest is still as intense for a third season.

      • June 22, 2013 at 1:05 amTred

        I just saw the recent chapters on Manga fox!(OMG!)Now there´s a problem:Read the manga,that from a first view look good ,our wait for a Madhouse epicness adaptation?I don´t know.BTW is there any chance you blog on LA the manga sometime in the future?(Of course,if the 3 season plan dies in this years)

      • June 22, 2013 at 1:25 amGuardian Enzo

        Are you a mind reader, by any chance?

        Stay tuned for my series review post next week. I expect I’ll be thinking out loud on this very topic.

      • June 22, 2013 at 12:24 pmTred

        You got it,i will be expecting news!

    • June 22, 2013 at 12:34 pmmianghuei

      There is an ova bundled with the 22nd volume of the manga coming on September 13.

  • June 21, 2013 at 9:53 pmmistress_kisara

    Now that Arata won I feel bad for his parents ^^;

    • June 21, 2013 at 11:30 pmKarutaku

      Yeah. I laughed when the showed the crowd watching the match and you can see the both of them praying that Arata would lose :)

      I think he’d get a scholarship from a college though if only to bring an end to Suo’s reign as Meijin. I would imagine it be a big advertisement for any school that one of their students is aiming for the world title

  • June 21, 2013 at 10:06 pmVor

    Only one more ep?!!?

    NEED SEASON THREE NOWWWWWWW!!

  • June 21, 2013 at 10:09 pmMi-Chan

    I have thought about this, the Ohmi Jingu tournament only takes 2 to 3 days, yet….. we spent 2 months on 2-3 days tournament, is kind of annoying to me. there’s matches I didn’t care to see or even find as important, I rewatched few episodes of season 1, where every loss Taichi made was so dramatized that his win in season 2 seemed cheap and rushed, that could have been done better at least.

    I can see next week’s awards given to 3x Misuzawa and Arata, and I hope it will be a normal episode for a change, at least, they should give us an episode that would make us calm enough to wait another year or two for another season.

    On Arata – man, Arata can be very special when he’s on the screen, it makes you wanna cry when you see him play, because I think we’ve missed him so much.

    I hope just like he joined them in their 3rd year of elementary school that he would join them in 3rd year of highschool. I can imagine the 3 trio in a game match! So cool!

    Though I agree on Tsubaka and Tsumoto, it’s not fair but I believe, that watching Season 1 and 2 back to back will make season 2 more fitting. Did Deskman-kun only play those 2 matches on screen this season only? That’s very sad, since he is still part of the main cast.

    Anyway, thanks for your review! Cheers, M.

  • June 21, 2013 at 10:42 pmLeena

    Arata killed me with that gomen

    • June 28, 2013 at 10:04 pmkotobuki

      My thoughts exactly.
      I bet Madhouse intentionally made that scene well cause they know it’ll be eye candy.

  • June 21, 2013 at 11:22 pmewok40k

    Oh well, while I am despairing the lack of attention to Tsutomu (total offscreen) and Tsukuba (winning class D and nobody cares), I was delighted to see the clash of the karuta titans. From truly impassionate Arata who seems to be unfazed by anything during play, to Shinobu’s “save them all” relationship with the cards – if any of you can remember the classic computer game Lemmings, you will know the feeling of trying to save every one of them, and despair when you have to sacrifice some – the battle was a delight to watch. While I dont believe the cold was real factor in the result of the match, the margin of victory – 2 cards – was so narrow that we can say that Arata and Shinobu are almost perfectly matched in skill. BTW, I am shipping Shinobu X Arata from now on, the – to quote Enzo – “obvious white-hot sexual tension between them” was something almost as electrifying as the game itself.
    Finally, the dynamic between Chihaya and Taichi was even more obvious, from Taichi goading Chihaya into watching A-class finals, through him stopping card that was just about to hit Chihaya between the eyes, to him stopping Chihaya from reflexively starting to swing her hand… He is there to protect her, from both outside world and her own destructive behavior…

  • June 21, 2013 at 11:32 pmKarutaku

    Lots of funny little moments in the episode despite the tension of the Class A finals. I lol’ed when Chihaya declared Taichi as a rival. And that official was really biased. There was no room for Taichi and Chihaya to watch the match but when Midori asked… :D Which brought me to the 2nd lol moment when Chihaya preempted Emoru by placing her hands on Midori’s back

  • June 22, 2013 at 12:29 ammianghuei

    The flashback towards why Arata is smiling even though Shinobu is taking the cards is an important one. Grandpa Wataya: “Are you playing Karuta with that scary look on your face? There’s more to vizualization than you realize. When do you find it easiest to move around freely? When did you have the most fun playing Karuta?

    Would that card that flew towards Chihaya cut her forehead had Taichi not stop it?

    Dat Spinning Top referencing Episode 7 just blew me away.

    Dat Tsukuba winning Class D. :)

    What would the last episode bring? I don’t think that we are going to get another season that soon because of the lack of source material. But it will be back. :)

    • June 22, 2013 at 1:37 amThe Humanoid Typhoon

      The part when “When did you have the most fun playing karuta”, I think will all know the answer to that. ^_^

  • June 22, 2013 at 12:46 amIzay

    “…but it’s fair to say we’ve never seen anyone give Suo even the slightest hint of worry. He even matched his scores in the Meijin final to Shinobu’s, just to annoy her (and it certainly did).”

    Except for the fact that Shinobu explicitly mentioned that she’s better than him most of the time. He only was so amazing that one time because he got his favourite reader.

    • June 22, 2013 at 1:24 amGuardian Enzo

      And there’s no reason whatsoever to believe she wasn’t talking out of her ass. Shinobu’s grasp of reality has been shown to be a little erratic.

      • June 22, 2013 at 3:18 amIzay

        @Guardian Enzo:

        Except that while Shinobu does talk to her cards and is kind of weird, she is also an expert on karuta. She was thinking about how some readers give out additional information that some players can pick up on, and she had no reason to be lying to herself at the time about this. We know what she was thinking to be a true statement because other characters – including Suo HIMSELF – have verified it.

        Shinobu even explicitly stated that she could usually beat Suo, with Suo manging to give her a hard time when the reader was someone Suo liked. This makes sense because it is again matched by Suo’s stated appreciation of certain readers (especially the old lady, whom Suo likes so much he went to her home to record her voice), which is how Suo can claim he has so many unique-syllable cards. His edge depends on him having particular readers who could give him the additional information. If he doesn’t have a reader he likes then he doesn’t do as well, just like the Fujisaki girl.

        So yeah, what Shinobu said is supported by numerous other characters including Chihaya, the Fujisaki girl and Suo. The only thing we have to take her at her word for is her claim of having beaten him before, but there’s no reason to doubt her. No matter how weird she is, surely she wouldn’t lie to herself about something like that. Claiming that you can’t believe her over such an unambiguous statement seems close-minded, like you have already made up your mind that she’s worse than Suo and you’ll refuse to believe otherwise.

      • June 22, 2013 at 4:16 amGuardian Enzo

        Just to be clear, what Shinbou says when Yamashiro Kyouko is doing the reading in episode 17 is “I think I could beat Suo in most situations, but when she’s reading he would be a problem”. It’s her stating her opinion, not stating actual results.

    • June 22, 2013 at 12:04 pmNic

      Everyone seems to forget the match Arata was shadow playing against Suo while he was playing the challenger in the Master match. Arata was trying to play Suo watching the broadcast and lost by like 20 cards.

      Arata just won against Shinobu by 2 cards. Fever or not, shouldn’t it be dead obvious by now she’s not anywhere near Master Suo’s level and that she was claiming she could compete with him only out of a misguided sense of reality? I mean, they had people say (Megumu, Rion, etc…) they believe they could take on the Queen under certain situations and it turned out to be completely misguided. How is this any different?

  • June 22, 2013 at 2:18 amKarutaku

    One thing almost went unnoticed the first time I watched the episode. When Shinobu is thinking that she has played 5 matches and some tough opponents, we see flashbacks of her playing Chihaya and Megumu. The implication here is that despite the fact that she won by 23 cards, it wasn’t an easy match against Chihaya

  • June 22, 2013 at 2:47 amCATfuruu

    I think the writer would like us to believe that no matter how hard Taichi tries, both Arata and Chihaya are getting even better. I mean this in the way that they never show Taichi play and have everyone go ‘whoa’ to his gameplay, but people defintly go for Arata and Chihaya. I can’t see the day Taichi would beat the queen, and I don’t think they’ll ever give us that episode, or that, becuse its not a Taichi thing, it has to be the great players Chihaya and Arata. I don’tknow..

  • June 22, 2013 at 3:37 amSolara

    An amazing match that was! And a very close call. The shocker for me wasn’t that Arata won, but that Shinobu manage to get that close while having a fever. Being that dominating throughout the match, especially that catch up on closing the gap between the two, while having a handicap can determine whether or not she is the most skillful player out of the two. But that can be debated to pieces, mostly base by favoritism. To each their own. It doesn’t change the fact that both players are talented, both are amazingly skilled. I wonder if Arata’s realization that Shinobu had a fever while playing will do anything for his self esteem on winning. If I had known that my opponent was struggling with a handicap throughout the match, I wouldn’t necessarily be feeling so badass. If anything I would like a proper rematch in the future, but that’s just me. I can’t helped but be reminded of Chihaya’s injury and how she removed her bandage because she wanted to give it her all regardless of the consequences. I really think Chihaya knew inside that she didn’t stood a very good chance on winning but just wanted to give it her all. Throughout the series I’m a bit conflicted on whether Chihaya wants to win VS how much she really wants to face such opponents for the immense amount of information she can capture from them.

    In S1, after seeing Arata’s match, Chihaya quickly wanted to know the reasons Arata played the way he did. Chihaya seems to be more fixated on the how players play their Karuta more than seeing them win. So to me Chihaya faced Shinobu with the anticipation of the remarkable knowledge she’ll get, the same factor she holds for Arata, she was fired up in that episode just by sitting across him. This episode proved no different to me and it highlighted these key points, that Chihaya was analyzing their match with awe along side the crowd. On a last note, is it just me or is the BUDGET on this episode shot to hell? The characters seem a bit off model, choppy, and not the usual production values that I’ve seen across the season. I’m highly disappointed in that, this is where the budget should had shine the brightest. Taichi finally makes Class A, and we finally get to see Arata’s match, 2 very strong points in the series, and to see it animated the way it was is ugh.. Maybe it’ll redeem itself come next final episode. =\

    • June 22, 2013 at 8:28 amJonz

      Even though Shinobu is handicapped by her fever, her play is unscathed by it. That is AMAZING!!

      • June 22, 2013 at 8:56 amSolara

        Exactly. That’s what blew me away. But her losing had to happen for story line purposes and to prove other points. Can’t say I agreed but meh. I’m content.

  • June 22, 2013 at 3:44 amSaki

    readers and viewers who like Taichi tend to also like Arata, but those who prefer Arata tend to loathe Taichi.

    LOLWUT Enzo, that’s just so biased. And “loathe” is just too strong of a word to use. I (as an Arata fan) somehow feel insulted.

    Anyway, I have to give my utmost respect to Kanade-chan. Her quick appearance was one of the best moments in the series. The way she gave out “Kaku to dani”, it almost make me feel like I want to root for Sumire. Ahh, such a beautiful soul.

    • June 22, 2013 at 4:09 amGuardian Enzo

      I’m only reporting what I’ve observed. Others can draw their own conclusions.

      • June 22, 2013 at 9:44 amMikako

        In my opinion, it’s more of an ‘Arata = ok guy, nothing to dislike; Taichi = love him or hate him’ general perception, than sympathies for one being somehow related to sympathies for the other.

    • June 22, 2013 at 5:37 amMi-Chan

      I agree with Enzo on this one, I have seen random youtube videos, random reviews, and many things if you’d call it, Arata fans seem to dislike Taichi, while Taichi fans do like both. From observations, and often reading of dramatic fights between both sides lol though I found a funny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT2sT3WUqyk, I know it’s not funny, I just find it funny for no reason xD /random post!

      • June 22, 2013 at 6:19 amShalaKairos

        The topic of Taichi VS Arata fans is an interesting one. I’m not so sure I agree with your hypothesis Enzo, but it is an interesting one (I’ve certainly seen quite a number of Taichi fans completely threatened by Arata). I’ve actually been wondering about the viewer gender split on the Taichi VS Arata. I’ve been wondering if men are more likely to prefer Taichi for they see his struggle and appreciate the idea that one can work and win the girl, whereas women tend to be more equally split on preference, basing their pick on which anime bishounen class they like (Taichi = pretty boy, possessive, caring; Arata = megane, removed, shy. Fun things to think about! ^_^

      • June 22, 2013 at 7:10 pmSaki

        @ShalaKairos

        That classic debate is definitely one of the things I’ve been keenly watching (and sometimes, participating) on different sites since I’ve been a fan, and I can say that generally the Chihayafuru fanbase is leaning towards the female demographic, due to the Shoujo-ish premise/art I guess. Though I believe that most of its female fans are the ones who go beyond the superficial level and brings up the classic genius vs hardwork debate – and note that it’s another debate on who’s the genius and who’s the hardworker.

        It’s also interesting that it’s a different debate if it’s Taichi vs Arata on the karuta, romance, or overall aspect. It’s very entertaining when people keep on shifting their thoughts once a new episode releases. That’s definitely the magic of [the "S"] Suetsugu-sensei there.

        What can I say, I guess generally, people who loves Chihayafuru, loves it a little too much. ;)

    • June 22, 2013 at 7:44 amronbb

      I have also seen elsewhere that fans of Arata upbraid Taichi with comments containing profanity. I think people who frequent Random Curiosity are more civilized and can appreciate both male leads no matter whom we side with.

      Other than that, I agree — Kana-chan is a beautiful soul. I am quite drawn to her intuitive personality.

  • June 22, 2013 at 5:06 amFaint Smile

    I may get this wrong but is Chihaya got jealous when Arata held close to Shinobu. It might be because she wanted to play with them but her reaction only just changed when Arata put his hand in Shinobu’s forehead.

    • June 22, 2013 at 6:25 amShalaKairos

      I agree! She looked kinda jealous. And the screen time focused on her lips, which I’ve thought before that Suetsugu uses when Chihaya is thinking within the realm of love (see the S1 episode (20?) where Chihaya is comparing the card about a childhood friend that really sounds like a love poem to Arata).

      • June 22, 2013 at 9:34 amFaint Smile

        I kinda remember that part. It is when they finally see each other again and Arata was back in playing karuta but then again have to leave as soon as they see each other.

    • June 22, 2013 at 6:42 amMi-Chan

      I agree, I thought the same way. Not just how Chihaya looked at ARata, but how Taichi looked at Chihaya as though he knows what she’s thinking, something I realized through watching Chihayafuru, that whenever Chihaya shows feelings for Arata, we always have a scene with Taichi watching her think about Arata, I don’t know if it is a torture for the viwers, for Taichi, or Chihaya xD

      • June 22, 2013 at 9:38 amFaint Smile

        Yup! I also notice that. And whenever that happens we see Taichi (most of the time) feeling down.

    • June 22, 2013 at 9:50 amMikako

      Hah, had that thought too. I think that she clearly wanted in, but not sure if on a personal level or on the ‘great karuta experience’ level.

      • June 22, 2013 at 10:31 amFaint Smile

        I hope it’s the first one.. ^_^

    • June 22, 2013 at 7:22 pmSaki

      I agree, and in my opinion, this is one of the subtle hints the story is throwing at us about Chihaya’s feelings. One can argue that it is on a Karuta level, but the special “flowery” background, plus Chihaya and Taichi’s facial expressions (as stated by others), says otherwise. Ah, Suetsugu-sensei, you “S”!

      • June 22, 2013 at 11:46 pmFaint Smile

        And funny thing is that it’s always or most of the time like that (the flowery background) whenever theres Arata and Chihaya interaction. Well Chihaya doesnt need to get jealous because next week there’s gonna be a flowery background again (I do hope they follow exactly what’s on the manga). ^_^

      • June 24, 2013 at 9:57 amronbb

        @Faint Smile: can you please use spoiler tag? You are giving out hints, and now my expectation is set. I really don’t want that — this is unfair and frustrating, and we only have one episode left. Please…use spoiler tag!

  • June 22, 2013 at 5:34 amn0216332

    Dont know why I am still watching this when I still have very little clue as to how to play karuta. Oh yes, Arata is going Tokyo. Hopefully, more characters-centric episodes to come :D.

  • June 22, 2013 at 8:03 amAll Fiction

    Shinobu-chan is moe. Needs more Shinobu and less of the annoying card game thingy everybody is so obsessed with.

    • June 22, 2013 at 3:35 pmShalaKairos

      Shinobu’s smile after the game finished was just so adorable. <3

  • June 22, 2013 at 9:39 amMikako

    In the last episode Chihaya ditched Arata’s match to go to see Taichi’s. In this one, we have her ready to do the same for Tsutomu (Mizusawa Captain’s duties!) and we learn, that she in the first place was avoiding seeing Arata and Queen’s showdown out of fear. In the last episode Taichi, in the moment of his glory, took the ‘Chihayafuru’ card, daww, isn’t that symbolic? Well, in this episode, Arata, during his ‘knocking out the audience, breaking scouters’ moment of glory is compared to the very essence of ‘Chihayafuru”s meaning, by Chihaya herself, no less.

    Suetsugu is a sadist.

    • June 22, 2013 at 10:57 amMi-Chan

      honestly tried to not think like that, but I did, let’s just hope it wasn’t this way, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this way, but nevertheless, Suetsugo-sensei is torturing us is something I’m sure of!!

    • June 22, 2013 at 5:30 pmGuardian Enzo

      Except that Chihaya was perfectly ready to go see Arata’s match (and was even walking towards the room) before Kana ran up the stairs and reminded her of what was going on with Taichi.

      • June 22, 2013 at 6:16 pmMikako

        Well, she was perfectly un-ready now, when it came down to it. And she hadn’t really had time to give it a thought (with Taichi’s match, and all, I suppose she’d been paying attention), so I’d say it had been subconscious and surfaced when she was being dragged toward the doors. Then she tried to retreat to see Tsutomu’s match. And, if I remember correctly, in the previous episode too, when Kana mentioned Taichi, Chihaya immediately had a thought of Tsutomu too. So I think that while her preference of watching her teammates’ matches instead of Arata and Shinobu’s had been caused greatly by a honest concern, a part of it was still an escape from the titans’ showdown, too. Even if she herself hadn’t been aware of that.

  • June 22, 2013 at 9:50 amDein

    Hoping there is at least a small appearance for Suo next week.

    Was good to see Shinobu get put on the edge, as opposed to her usual bored attitude. Arata really lived up to the hype that was being built up for the past 50 episodes.I wonder if he can keep his focus down the road, when eventually he gets reunited with Chihaya and Taichi in a more permanent manner, with all related consequences.

    I’m a bit bummed out with this season, both overall and compared to season 1, but I’ll save my thoughts and impressions untill after the final episode.

  • June 22, 2013 at 10:44 amBoo

    Do you know what frustrates me? Queen vs. Arata had Queen with a fever, Queen vs. Chihaya had Chihaya with her right hand injured.

    It’s like they’re torturing me. I just wanted to watch a fair match between them..

  • June 22, 2013 at 12:46 pmTred

    And for the ones who wants to read the manga after the anime ends,then go to the vol 17,ch 91 and enjoy!

    • June 22, 2013 at 1:54 pmMi-Chan

      I…. c-c-c-c-c-can’t do that, or I’ll be crying like Chihaya in episode 23 and like Arata in episode 4 season 1 :(, though the thought of having to wait few more years, hurts..

      • June 22, 2013 at 3:00 pmTred

        Sure is not an easy call.If the anime was at least confirmed,i may consider to wait so long.
        But i don´t think that´s the case though.

    • June 22, 2013 at 7:02 pmFaint Smile

      I think the ending will be chapter 92.. And if that happens, Arata fans will be happy (like me).. ^_^

      • June 23, 2013 at 2:34 amMi-Chan

        PLEASE. I CONSIDER that as a SPOILER. That is very annoying to read, I don’t want to have expectations. Should have put some tags on it. Annoying.

      • June 23, 2013 at 3:30 amFaint Smile

        Oh i’m very sorry. My bad. I’l do it next time. I apologize.

      • June 23, 2013 at 9:33 amMi-Chan

        np sorry didn’t mean to sound cranky lol ty

  • June 22, 2013 at 4:27 pmTadaima

    Now that there is only one more week to the season schedule, I am feeling wistful about its nearing end and am full of admiration for anime professionals.

    For me, this was my favorite three month crop of anime I have watched in years because the roster was deep with shows more to my liking. I have never watched so much anime in such a short period of time. With entertaining shows such as Chihayafuru, Yahari, Maou, Valvrave, Kyojin, Railgun, and the ova, Yamato 2199, this coeur reminded me why I think that the best dramatic tv in Asia is Japanese anime. If anyone can direct me to better dramatic tv in Asia or even in Japan, I would be grateful.

    And to Guardian Enzo, thank you for blogging Chihayafuru. You covered this josei cartoon with respect, maturity, and insight. You were wonderful. I am going to miss reading your weekly thoughts on Chihayafuru.

    Will you be blogging something next season?

    • June 22, 2013 at 5:32 pmGuardian Enzo

      Have I ever not blogged stuff here since I first joined RC? Of course I will. And thanks for the kind words.

      • June 22, 2013 at 10:22 pmTadaima

        Badly put question. I only returned about two months ago. You didn’t do a summer preview write-up so I didn’t know whether that meant you were stopping.

        I should have asked which show you would be blogging. I don’t think there is a show like Chihayafuru coming up.

      • June 23, 2013 at 3:03 amTadaima

        I flunk geography

        …I mean tv by eastern Asians.

  • June 24, 2013 at 3:57 amraitei_shourai

    I think you might be generalizing a little, Arata’s my favourite but I still really love Taichi? For me this is one of the love triangles where it’s impossible to not love both characters.

  • June 24, 2013 at 12:29 pmraindeth

    This last episode made me want to ship Arata and Shinobu now.

    After all Shinobu bailed out Arata when he was about to get banned from the individual tourny