「をのへのさくらさきにけり」 (Onoe no Sakura Saki ni keri)
“Nobody Wishes to See the Beautiful Cherry Blossoms”

As I’m sure someone will try and blame me for not mentioning Arata more in this post, let me get it out of the way – he appeared for about 10 seconds and had no lines. It isn’t my fault – I call it like I see it.

Chihayafuru is my favorite series of the last two seasons, and in the larger sense I think it’s been basically flawless in terms of consistency – every episode has been in a range between very good and spectacular (including I might add, that most contradictory of things, an excellent recap ep). So it’s no surprise that I marveled this week at the way the series continues to find new ways to entertain and amaze, making us care about characters we barely know and like ones we initially disliked, and teaching us new facets of the Karuta world. I know I’m biased, but there have been no missteps in my eyes, only degrees of brilliance – and this week was no exception.

With that said, it looks as if the suspicion I’ve been mentioning for the last couple of posts is proving accurate, and the focus of the finale is going to be on what for me are relatively trivial matters by Chihayafuru standards. I do care about Shinobu, and it’s certainly interesting to see (if not hear from – yet) the Master, Suo Hisashi. Yet in the end, watching minor characters play for titles – and with the mains watching on TV, not live – isn’t what I wanted to see in the penultimate episode. There were hints of something more in the first act, as Chihaya visited Taichi’s home to watch the matches (his is bigger than the other guys. His TV, that is.) and brought the tension with her that you might expect. Even Chihaya wasn’t too dense to note the magnitude of the moment, visiting Taichi’s room again at last – but most of the tension came from Mrs. Pressure, who’s still vying for the title of creepiest parent in anime (and still wants her son to quit Karuta). Eventually though, the rest of the gang shows up too and the focus turns to what’s on the screen, not in front of it.

Among other things that were on the screen was a whole lot more of Shinobu than last we saw her (“Her neck is gone!”), as she gained 10kg by eating ice creams to win the “Snowmaru pouch and handkerchief”. She’s also playing in a million-yen kimono that’s all Kana sees, but Taichi notices immediately that the added weight has thrown off Shinobu’s timing. There’s a very well-done flashback sequence to Shinobu’s childhood, where we learn where her love of Karuta came from. There’s also the matter of Yumin, the challenger – as usual trying to rely on clever tactics and strategy to overcome the physical advantage the younger Queen still has. The outcome of this match is pretty easy to see from the beginning though, even with Shinobu’s lack of match fitness – there’s not much suspense in it. Yumin’s end comes pretty ingloriously, though she does get a nice moment with her coach and society colleagues in the dressing room after the match.

Of the Master, Suo Hisashi, we at last learn a few bits and pieces – just table scraps though, really. He’s in college, probably close to graduating, and is going for his fourth straight title. As in professional tennis’ grand slams the women’s final is best-of-three while the men’s is best-of-five, so after winning the first two matches by identical scores to the Queen (5 and 13 card margins) we’ll get to see Suo polish off his title defense next week. He seems to be a bit of a cold, assassin type – faster than even Shinobu, apparently, and she seems to dislike him generally. Nishida is quite insistent that not just the boys but Chihaya watch him too, as he says her style is a better match for his than for Shinobu’s. For Taichi, the dilemma at the moment is trying to concentrate on what watching these matches can do for his own development and not obsessing solely over what Chihaya is feeling.

It’s all very well-done, but a bit too emotionally distant for me – after bonding with this show for six months, I really want a finale next week that focuses on Chihaya, Taichi, and Arata (and preferably includes Harada and the Chibis) and touches the heart in the way only this show has been able to do lately. In that light I hope the Master final is over in the first act and there’s lots of time for… well, whatever. To be honest I really have no idea how Asaka and Takayama-sensei intend to finish this – with the story right in the middle, just about anything could happen. In my own mind I’m operating under the assumption that this is it as far as the anime is concerned, and whatever closure I get is going to have to come from the manga. That’s fine (well, not really, but what can you do), and I’ll certainly follow that to the end, but I still want the anime – which lives and breathes for me as its own distinct and wonderful story – to have the powerful and moving ending it so richly deserves.


  1. Shinobu putting on all that weight kinda felt like it came out of nowhere; especially if she ends up losing it again. I personally think it was done simply to slow down her movements enough to give Chihaya the opportunity to analyze them.

    As for the ending next week, I only actually started this series over the weekend (was a wonderful marathon) and I’m happy that they don’t seem to be going for an original ending. It always leaves us with the hope that there will be a second season of this wonderful show sometime in the future. I feel like it would be a travesty to never see Chihayafuru animated again for any reason other than lack of manga content.

  2. I think this episode was Supernatural Karuta powers vs. Hardworkers. Chihaya is kind of a hybrid.

    Good job Taichi! Chihaya is at least a little bit more conscious of visiting to your room. At this rate, you’ll totally win her heart by the time you get Meijin. =P

    1. Well, the quickest way to confirm it is watching it, right? Just try watching it for a couple of eps and ask your surrounding if you tend to be a little more feminine.
      The truth is many characters in this series have more GAR aura than your average shoujo anime, this mean if you watch Chihayafuru, it does make you more masculine instead.

      Haha, what am I saying? Anyway, this is a good series, if you have watched Hikaru no Go, I assure you will also like Chihayafuru.

    2. Demographic is irrelevant. A little kid once asked me if listening to the band Queen makes you gay and I told him “no it just means you like the music”. If it’s a good story enjoy it, you won’t enjoy it the same as another person anyhow you’ll get out of it what you want in your own way.

    3. It’s sometimes classified as shoujo, but the relationship chart is more like josei – it reminds me most of Sand Chronicles and Bokura ga Ita in that respect. But thematically it also owes a great deal to sports shounen like Hikaru no Go, and Chihaya is very much like a shounen male lead.

      Bottom line – Chihayafuru is a show that defies genre pigeon-holing. And why the hell do we care, anyway? Why is classifying everything by genre so damn important? And why would you think watching a shoujo would make you gay, for jeebus sake?

      1. I think in Shoujo, you’re going to find a lot more of the story geared towards romance. Josei often ventures into other territories though romance may or may not be a focus.

        This isn’t to say all Shoujo is primarily romance-based though.

  3. wWll, Taichi’s mom is scoring just below Ikari Gendo on creepy parent scale…
    I completely didnt recognize Shinobu with her gained weight! it is first time I saw in anime girl actually gaining weifgt due to ice cream – nice “reality touch” after the countless parfaits that disappeared without a trace into the kawaii metabolism syndrome.
    Still, even despite her handicap Shinobu is still supernaturally gifted, and I was pretty amazed at her abilities. I also was feeling much pity for Yumin who did her best to fight Shinobu and still ended defeated pretty convincingly, but could only admire her resolve to try again, and her club members supporting spirit!
    Can’t wait to see how the series will end, because right now it feels kinda like going on a highway only to end in unfinished bridge…

  4. I don’t see what Taichi’s mom is so proud of, she apparently doesn’t have a job, that load of money brought into the household is probably by her husband and all of her activity we’ve seen so far was raising her son to be a complete dick (with pretty good result in his childhood).

    As a person who doesn’t seem to have a life of her own and does shallow remarks like ‘they look plain’ about others, she stands below anyone else in the show and really, Taichi glaring at her like at a cat poop when climbing the stairs, was easily my favorite part of this episode.

  5. I think I smell a second season, this anime is just way TOO good to end here, and they seem to be following the manga pretty close at this point, so yeah, second season incoming?

    1. Iirc this season has only covered about half of the current manga material. They were going at a pace of about 1.5-2 chapters per episode, and I believe someone had mentioned they burned through like 6 chapters around episode 21. So it would be entirely possible for them to start a second season soon.

      If that’s the case, they’re probably waiting for the manga to reach a good spot for them to finish a second season at. At least that’s what I hope.

      1. Just noticed this on MAL.

        Here are the weekly manga & light novels rankings for March 12th – 18th.

        Ranks/ This week’s sales by copies/ Cumulative sales/ Titles
        *1, 212,169 *,212,169 Chihayafuru vol.16

        Nearly doubled the sales of the weekly second place.

  6. >:) i get the feeling shinobu >:) my family also went through a month making sure at least 1 person is eating mcdonalds happy meal just for a set of 30 snoopy figures collection (in my family thats 10 mcdonalds a month)… asian marketing so good ¬_¬

  7. I was a little disapointed that they put on the brakes with this next to the last episode. I wanted to see them hopefully resolve the triangle between the 3 main characters with only 2 episodes to go.

    Yet seeing how this episode played out makes me think they put the brakes on the personal relationships because they are planning a 2nd season and instead we are seeing minor side characters getting the spotlight to finish this season.

    1. Whether or not they were planning a second season, it was always less likely they’d “resolve” the romance triangle with an anime-original ending than simply leave it open. Look at BgI, which never got a 2nd season. I’d love to see it, but I’m skeptical.

      1. Ah, now that you’ve mentioned Bokura ga Ita, I guess it’s impossible for that one to have a second season (that’s just too sad to admit!), but my hopes are still up for Chihayafuru.

    1. I’m with you ^^
      Shinobu has this calm and even serene feel about her. A bit more chubby or not, I just look at her eyes. There’s no denying it, she loves and breathes karuta. I liked the part where she said “I love Karuta and Karuta loves me” (well, along those lines). The flashbacks also made her even more endearing. All in all, adorable girl in my eyes.

  8. Don’t think there will be a second season, since the dvd sales didnt do too great (just intended to boost manga sales). Which makes me sad bcuz i love this show. Its not always about moe and panty shots japan…

  9. Although the finales really make the anime for me, I’ll be okay with whatever Chihayafuru pulls to be honest..I have too much love for this series. Even if it’s really anticlimatic and like you said, not about the main characters at all, nothing will replace this series and the ..six-ish months that I have spent with it :'(

  10. I think this show wins for Greatest Facial Expressions. Seriously. You guys should consider that as a category in this years Best of Anime. -is kidding- xD
    One week left. I’ll miss this show dearly.

  11. I want to think that this is a good episode (Shinobu-chan!!), but I’m just torn since we all know that the next episode is the last. I mean, why would they have this kind of progression on the last two episodes?? Well, I’m still looking at the bright side, Chihayafuru WILL have a second season.

  12. I find it hilarious that Enzo claims he calls it like he sees it in this summary, but completely neglected to mention the impact of the end of last weeks episode. And lets be honest he’s not going to keep up with the manga because things don’t pan out the way he wants them to. Stay Free Biased Monster

  13. Quite a number of people think that Chihayafuru reminds them of Bokura ga ita or Hikaru no Go. I can understand and don’t disagree. However, I enjoy – and love – Chihayafuru a lot more. It’s a rock solid series – I love its character development, series composition, script, production, score…, and most importantly, the characters. I often said to myself, “…if only Chihayafuru’s an on-going series.” I know chances are not high, but I still hope that it gets green light for a second season.

  14. I don’t know why some would link Chihayafuru to BGI or Hikaru no Go, but i like to think that this show is more like Nodame (more “Josei”). I never expected a 2nd season of Nodame to happen and yet it did. My intuition tells me that a second season is already in progress. However, don’t expect too much from the second season. Like Nodame or Sora no ottomo, there will be a lot of churning going on (random nonsense).

  15. I hope like everyone else that we will see a second season.
    On another note, manga wise, if there are not going to be any time skips I think the manga series is going to end up with lots of volumes.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Show Spoiler ▼

  16. It hurts to watch the ending, does it not? I basicly hate shows that give me an ending that makes no sense. I loved watching them play Karuta, it got me really excited but I’m kind of upset. I am so upset I decided not to watch any animes for a while just to get rid of the ending of this anime.

    I hate anime’s that give you an emotional attachment, one where you find yourself in each charecter. I sure love how Chihaya is working hard to get her goal, but I’d never want to be her friend; she is very ignorant towards otheres’ feelings. I hate how she would run to go see Taichi’s match and when she sees he’s lost she would just ignore everything the moment he says Arata’s name. It isn’t fair.

    What I saw in the final episode is this:
    – Taichi’s mum doesn’t really hate Karuta, she hates the way she sees her son drag himself on or try hard for someone like Chihaya who’s not worth the effort – she deosn’t understand it.
    – Taichi learns that he should start working hard – because no matter how you put it, Taichi never really seemed to put any effort for Karuta, so we might see a stronger side of him later on.
    – Throughout the first season, we got to know the attachments towards mearning of cards, and words, but like Arata says “it is a game of who gets the card faster, not the meaning.”
    – Charecter development in this anime is really beautiful for me, but I feel as though I’m cheating. I actually hated Arata since the start and felt really bad for Taichi, who only did what he did because he was afraid of losing his friend. He didn’t do it fair and square, he cheated and I find it admirable. He is a kind person, but why was he acting this way to Arata? It was obvious from the first episode.

    I loved this anime but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone – not yet, not until I get the perfect ending. It hurts to have so much assumptions towards the ending but it turns out to be..
    what happened? The main charecters watched a Karuta match without hardly connecting to each other and did what they do at every episode. The only diffrent milestone is Taichi’s hand practicing gesture. That was it, really, the heighlight of the episode. Oh not to mention how Chihaya looked kind of shocked that he didn’t answer her, but that also, was cut off by nishihda, unfair!

    I am more biased than you Enzo, because I honestly am taking Taichi’s side throughout the anime. My most admirable moment would be Show Spoiler ▼



    PS. I’m still upset at this ending -_-‘.


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