「ふじのたかねにゆきはふりつつ」 (Fuji no Takane ni Yuki wa Furi Tsutsu)
“On Mt. Fuji’s Lofty Peak, by the Drift of Falling Snow”

Oh my – where in the world can I possibly begin?

First things first. Kanade, you sweet, wonderful, kind, perceptive girl – I adore you. You have a heart as big as all outdoors and a soul that’s always reaching for the Heavens. What a shame we didn’t see more of you this season.

In fact, that thought leads me to a couple of other observations about this last episode. First, my favorite term for Chihayafuru 2 – "exquisite torture". This finale was all about exquisite torture. Exquisite torture for Taichi, and for fans who love the character. And for every fan of Chihayafuru who was presented with this emotional blockbuster, and now has to wait the better part of three years for more anime, if we get more at all (with one small but potentially important exception, which I’ll touch on shortly).

And second – this finale is a stark reminder of what this season could have been, if it hadn’t spent most of its time on one three-day Karuta tournament, and why the first season was on the whole the better. Chihayafuru is almost unmatched when it comes to really emotionally compelling character dynamics, and they’ve been few and far between this season. I love the way it portrays Karuta too, but I don’t love it as much. I understand that this is mostly a result of Madhouse and Morio-sensei following Suetsugu-sensei’s script faithfully, but the annals of anime contain many examples of directors who’ve made changes in adapting manga that made the anime better. Well over half the season on the High School tournament was not the best scenario for Chihayafuru, in my opinion.

Be that as it may, the finale was indeed a whopper – a WMD of emotions that cut right to the heart of what makes Chihayafuru such a wonderful (and agonizing) viewing experience. We started out with the afterword of the tournament, though it was surprisingly brief (I think a good decision, in hindsight). We’re reminded that Arata is 4-0 lifetime against Shinobu. Sakurazawa-san asks of herself whether anyone noticed who the only undefeated players at the tournament were, to which I answer – "Yes!" I most certainly did notice, Sensei. Taichi leaves Arata hanging on a high-five. Sadly, there’s no cut-in on the finale of Tsutomu and Tsukuba’s matches – only a quick notification that they’ve in fact won.

The impression that T2 and T3 have really been shafted is hard to escape, because in addition to their matches being completely ignored, in point of fact their victories are only really important because they set up the narrative needs to move the story to the next level – that Chihaya is the reason the team wasn’t able to fulfil her outlandish promise that Mizusawa would sweep every category. Mind you, what they’ve accomplished is still incredible, in winning every class but one and the team event, and the truth is that even uninjured it’s clear Chihaya would have defeated neither Shinobu or Arata. But still, this serves to further deepen the sense of frustration for Chihaya. She sees Arata and Shinobu on a level far above her. She sees her teammates winning their events, while she falters. She sees the "impassionate" serenity of Arata, and curses her own restless impatience.

This is a crisis of confidence of sorts for Chihaya, and it isn’t helped when her fourth (!) medical opinion tells her she has Enchondromatosis (I’m guessing that Wikipedia page has never been busier) a softening of the bone in the injured finger of her hand. For most people it’s no big deal, but for Chihaya as a Karuta player it’s a problem – and it necessitates surgery to implant firm material inside the bone for support. I’ve never heard of a week’s hospitalization for a finger operation (I suspect the existence of nationalizaed health insurance has something to do with that) but it’s clear the operation is not completely routine. And obviously, this also means Chihaya is cut off from playing Karuta at just the time she’d most like to be obsessively practicing (though this requires the full vigilance of her put-upon nurses).

Sakurazawa-san has proved to be quite an important character in these last few weeks, and it’s she who gives Chihaya a copy of the video of the Class A final, which provides something else for the restless heroine to obsess over in the hospital. The first of the big blockbuster moments comes as Chihaya makes a phone call to Arata after her operation (interestingly, it seems she doesn’t tell him about it). It’s a revealing conversation in so many ways, starting with Arata (who happens to be ogling a photo of Chihaya’s sister at the time – I like anything that shows off his human side). Arata confirms what’s been the dominant theme of his personal journey this season – he’s never felt as connected and at peace as he did during his time in Tokyo. Most especially, of course, the time he spent with Chihaya playing Karuta in his humble apartment. "No matter the match, I always flash back to that room."

This is a conversation that’s going to be analyzed to death, though there are parts of it that certainly speak for themselves. To me, it seems clear that it awakens a kind of self-awareness in Chihaya that’s been absent up until that point. She realizes that it was those moments that were the pivot-point in her life, and that started her on the journey she’s obsessively (yes, I’m using that word with her a lot, and it’s no coincidence) followed ever since. Once again, we see Crunchyroll make a curious translation choice, which has been a theme with Chihayafuru. They translate Chihaya’s thought as "I’ll always love Karuta, and I’ll always love Arata." In fact, Chihaya uses the word "suki" – which translates more correctly as "like" – but can also mean "love" in certain contexts.

I don’t want to make too much of this, but I think it’s a fascinating illustration of why Japanese doesn’t always translate well into English – and also a crucial one in the context of the moment. In Japanese, many times translation boils down to context – the same word can mean different things in different situations, and even then it isn’t always clear (as witness Taichi’s use of "teki" earlier, which could mean "enemy" but probably meant "rival" as he intended it). In terms of "suki", it generally means like – the only time it would normally be used to express love would be in directly addressing someone. In referring to someone in the third person "daisuki" or "ai" would usually be used to express love. Of course, it’s clear Chihaya loves Karuta, and she’s certainly expressing her love for Arata here. It’s also clear in this moment that she has romantic feelings for him. But I think the reason Suetsugu used "suki" here is to express the fact that Chihaya still cannot separate her feelings for Arata and her feelings for Karuta – which I think is a vital theme going forward. It isn’t so much that the CR translation was wrong, but that it – like the later line translated as “receive Arata’s passion” which is far more naturally translated as “respond to that kind of passion” – seems intended to convey something definitive when the author probably intended to be ambiguous.

Any way you slice it, this amounts to the biggest lurch forward in the romantic side of the story so far. While Chihaya saying she’s been working hard to get strong enough to "receive Arata’s passion" is another inexact translation that doesn’t tell the whole story, it has very broad implications, and reinforces the notion that Arata and Karuta are inseparable in her mind. During one of their visits to the hospital Taichi and Kana see some poems that Chihaya has been writing (having received scary instruction from Kana-chan) for a school assignment. Kanade, however, keeps reading after Taichi has tilted at how lame the first two were – and sees two poems that express Chihaya’s feelings for Arata in clear and surprisingly articulate terms. It’s a beautiful notion, that Chihaya, still so clumsy when speaking and clueless about her own feelings, finds her voice when using poetry.

Poetry, of course, speaks directly to Kana’s soul – and it’s in this scene and the ones that follow that she has her finest moments of the season. It’s been clear for a long time that Kana knew everything about Taichi’s feelings for Chihaya, and desperately wanted the two of them to be together. I lost it when she lost it – when she stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and pounded Taichi’s back, over and over, before exhorting him "You have to try harder – Chihaya won’t be clueless forever!" What a sweet, sensitive and beautiful person she is, and this is the conversation Taichi has needed to have for two seasons. Yes he does know, as he tells her – and this is the ultimate test of his continuing quest to be a person who doesn’t run away.

There’s an almost staggering brilliance in the way Suetsugu connects the big moments in the series the way Shinobu connects herself to the cards – there’s a red string of fate from Taichi’s moment on the train platform with Harada-sensei in episode 20 of season one that leads right to this moment with Kana-chan. This is the most visible and dynamic journey in Chihayafuru, and it hasn’t been a smooth one – there have been fits and starts and self-inflicted detours. But Taichi is progressing – he is moving forward both as a person and as a Karuta player. Now he faces the highest hurdle yet – to declare his love to Chihaya, knowing full-well he might be rejected. "Forward. We can only go forward." he says, and he’s correct – this is the only direction his journey can go, and this step can be delayed no longer. He’s finally reached Class A, and Chihaya has finally acknowledged him as a rival in Karuta. Now he has to step up and declare his love for her no matter how terrifying that is.

It says something about how incredible this three-way dynamic is that despite being largely ignored all season, it remains the most compelling romantic triangle in recent anime. Arata and Taichi could hardly be more different, physically and otherwise. Taichi is all turbulence and self-doubt and struggle, and Arata is forever the spinning top, moving so swiftly and smoothly that there appears to be no effort at all. In a sense Taichi is right to consider the moment Chihaya acknowledges him as a rival a crucial one, because it’s clear that the path to her heart is through Karuta. If Arata is indeed moving ever closer to being an object of her romantic love (as he surely is) it’s partly because he’s still the God of Karuta in her eyes. Arata’s move to Tokyo (Grandpa’s insurance policy seems to guarantee it will happen – sorry, Dad) is so crucial in every respect because at last, Chihaya will come to know the person and not the God – the reality and not the fantasy. And so, at the same time, will we – for Arata has remained for most of the series a distant presence, only rarely showing us his vulnerabilities. Nothing will ever be the same once that move happens.

This is a cruel time indeed to cut off the series, on the eve of a Karuta training camp Fujisaki is holding, and that Sakurazawa-sensei has invited Mizusawa to. It’s crucial because Kana has engineered it as a two-person trip for Taichi and Chihaya – a chance for Taichi to at last share his feelings, if he can summon the courage. The reality, as I’ve mentioned before, is that there simply won’t be enough manga material for a third season for a very long time – probably the better part of three years. By any measure Chihayafuru is more successful than ever – the manga remains a powerhouse (over 300K in the first two weeks for Vol. 21) and despite a shift to a more expensive format Blu-ray Vol. 1 outsold the first volume of the first season. But will the impetus to move ahead with a S3 still be there in 2016? We’ll see. The wild-card here is an OVA due in September. Normally OVAs don’t deal with heavy canon storylines, but the tea leaves seem to indicate that this one will – that training camp will likely be the subject of the episode, and with it a crucial moment in Chihaya and Taichi’s development.

And with the end of the season comes another dilemma for me. When S1 ended there was no decision about reading the manga, because there were (and are) no translations of the bulk of the chapters that make up S2, and a second season seemed like a better-than-even bet. Now, we’re looking at a long wait if we get another season at all – and the continuation of the storyline in manga form is very much available in English. Do I cave and finally read the manga, spoiling myself for a potential third season? Or do I remain a pure-pure boy, saving myself for a season that may never come? Agony, I tell you – I suppose I’ll take a few days to decide one way or the other.

In the meantime, I can look back on an astonishing year’s worth of anime from Madhouse. What an emotional roller-coaster Chihayafuru is, combining the most stressful elements of shounen, shoujo and josei into an impossibly compelling and frustrating package. I adore this show, even if I don’t love the second season as much as the first. I’e already been quite clear on why – the balance and pacing of the season simply haven’t been as spot-on as they were in S1. Too much Karuta, too much time spent on marginally interesting moments and preliminary matches, not enough focus on the core cast like Taichi, Arata, Kanade and Tsutomu. I would have been fine with Morio-sensei speeding up the tournament some and devoting the last few episodes to the chapters that follow – as I said, I don’t take it as holy writ that directors have to be letter-faithful when adapting manga (look at the wonders Watanabe-sensei achieved with Nazo no Kanojo X by making major changes in pacing and chapter order). But of course if he had, he would have been delaying any possible third season even further – so let’s be optimistic and hope he didn’t because Madhouse fully expects that season to become a reality.

Remembering just how great this show is, even with its inconsistencies, is probably a good way to finish. Watching a well-written show about fascinating and endearing kids you come to care about deeply is one of anime’s greatest pleasures, and moments like that scene between Taichi and Kana-chan can only come with the deep emotional buy-in Chihayafuru has. Thank you sincerely to Suetsugu-sensei, Mori-sensei and Madhouse for bringing us one of the greatest character arcs – and characters – in amime with Taichi. And for Arata’s nobility and class, for Chihaya’s shounen male-lead intensity and emotional vulnerability, Kanade’s beautiful soul and Tsutomu’s self-effacing courage and determination and Nishida’s everyman struggles. For supporting players and opponents and the wonderful coaches and adults like Harada-sensei and The Empress, and for bringing my attention to the strange and utterly fascinating ancient sport of Karuta. Chihayafuru is very, very special, and whether the OVA is the end of the anime or not, I’ll never forget the experience of watching it.


ED2 Sequence

ED2: 「YOUTHFUL」 by (99RadioService)


  1. It finally happened Enzo. It’s over. D:

    After watching this episode I told myself that I have to be ‘okay’ with this…closing. I don’t expect a proper out of this world ending, but .. something. I’m not quite certain what type of ending any of us really want, we all want different things, but we certainly didn’t wanted to see it end. While I enjoyed it very much, and any ArataxChihaya shippers out there, I honestly was conflicted about the whole thing. I like the pair as well, and while I was very much smiling each time Chihaya made any subtle comments that can be contrive into romantic notations for her feelings of Arata border-lining BF material, I was also a tad upset because I have Taichi in my subconscious. It also felt.. sudden and rush. Very forceful from my point of view.

    Chihayafuru has that ability to torture the viewers with small hints here and there, and evenly spread out throughout the series. It has made it’s a habit of showing small things to sample on and leaving the audience wanting more and trying to debate it’s interpretations; with that in mind it was a lot to take in to see so many ‘subtle hints’ exploding on my face in just one episode of 22 mins. After the 3rd ‘subtle’ hint, I said to myself ’Okay.. this has got to stop. Now it’s just ridiculous and I can’t even take it serious when they’re just trying to jam everything in the final episode to try to redeem itself for Arata’s late debut in the series.’ Cause in all honesty.. that’s what it really was. This has nothing to do with favoritism or which pairing you may like, but if we’re taking into considering the the game rule of ‘fairness’, I honestly don’t see it.

    We’re presented with a character who is struggling emotionally about a girl he likes who just can’t seem to get there regardless of how physically present he is and we can all appreciate his efforts. Said character is up against a person who is forever present in the thoughts of the person he likes much like an ominous presence but physically isn’t, plays a major part in the series even if he doesn’t get enough screen time have the last episode play in his favor in a romantic notion. Whatever fairness there was, was quickly annulled in this episode. Many have stated that since Arata is now coming to Tokyo, the ground will be ‘even’. No such thing. This episode did the very opposite of what a fair game is, and gave the latter character a very much upper hand. This episode to me was a whiplash of unexpected statements from Chihaya all wrapped up in one episode that I can’t help but feel bad for Taichi .

    As enjoyable those moments where I couldn’t fully enjoyed them to their full potential due to the forceful nature of it all. In the end, it was distasteful to me, and I felt utterly cheated by it all. There was no hard work, there was not much of an effort, there wasn’t any angst, there no episodes in-between each subtle hint, there was no journey to get to that point. And I’m not referring to the journey of them being kids to now, I’m referring to the route that any character takes in the efforts to get the person they like like them back. I would have actually enjoyed to see Arata go through some of things Taichi has throughout the series, not because I would enjoy being torture, but because it says a lot about his character. If Chihaya’s statements were in fact romantic it basically annulled Arata the trouble of doing any of those things because it’s already establish.

    Another strong notion that makes me think all of this was ‘forceful’ is the fact that Chihayafuru isn’t a romcom. It does have subtle romantic themes, but it certainly doesn’t focus on it like it does Karuta, and the main goal isn’t who gets the girl, but the journey they all go through together as a team. So why the many out of the blue romantic notices all jam in one episode when it was never really the goal to begin with? Instead of being ridiculously joyous to see a strong potential pair have the spotlight (which I was and wasn’t) for once, it certainly felt rush, and forceful. -SIGHS- Fuck. I was cheated.

    Now I’ll just reside in the BG as I’d hear fangirls scream my ear out about the ArataxChihaya ship like it makes sense all of a sudden. Because apparently this episode justify it and did it justice. Seriously, I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way..

    1. To be honest Solara, there are things I agree with you on and things I don’t agree. If it was heartbreaking to watch Taichi struggle, Arata being present when abscent and Chihaya’s confession, yes, it was agonizing. To be honest, I love Arata, but my love for Taichi is something else. But I love Chihaya as well, so I’ll wait.

      This season, if watched back to back with the previous one, it was amazing. Though they put the only episode I really wanted to watch in the end, there were many advancing, many great moments:
      1) Taichi’s win against Eromo-san. That episode, that speech was so wonderful “please god, just this one time, I don’t care if my card is ever read ever again” was probably one of the best lines this season.
      2) When Arata looks at the moon and tells Taichi how his only team has been with him and Chihaya, and Taichi calls him his enemy, was so wonderful.
      3) Rion was introduced, amazingly, I find her immensely likeable. I also like that blonde guy that blows at his bangs, forgot his name. Taichi’s eyelash rival.
      4) The moment Chihaya talks to Arata on phone.
      5) moments she puts her head on Taichi’s back
      6) Kana-chan’s slapping of Taichi’s back is way too great a moment.
      7) Sumire’s confession to Chihaya and Kana-chan that she’s after Mashima-senpai.
      8) the last moment of the series with Arata going like ‘te ba’ in the end was so adorably a nice moment. (when he says he’s not quitting right away.)
      9) Houko. Retro-kun is such an amazing member of the cast. The Houko final in the regional was amazingly put.
      10) the queen’s back story made us shed tears.

      There is much more, but I’m saving myself from going through it all. Sure, I may not like the 2-3 day anime time to be 3 months my time, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed every bit of it. In the long run, I would still enjoy it. I would like to enjoy Chihayafuru with every little bit, not many animes are capable of throwing you of balance by really subtle things.

      Oh gosh I wrote a lot, I am stuck on a desk for 9 hours so mind me. Cheers, M.

      1. Agreed in almost all the best moments of season 2. But one of the best part that I really like was when the moment Arata ask Shinobu why she insist to play even though she had a fever and Shinobu answered “of course i’ll play, after all, I’m the Queen”. Her pride and ego is just awesome, well just sharing. =)

        Faint Smile
      2. there is sooooo many moments! I agree on that one, how could I have forgotten! If I had to list I’d never stop 🙂 this season has shed many lights on Shinobu xD I also liked when she takes off her shirt nd that that guy from Fukui screams, and then she talks off the pants xD nd he screams again, and when Retro-kun enters! xD

      3. It is a torture waiting for the next season (I really do hope there is!), and watching those epic moments in season 1 and season 2 just want us to ask for more! I hate this feeling! Hahaha xp

        Faint Smile
    2. Blame the anime, I suppose? The manga make it clear this is a story about Chihaya’s passion and that passion she received from Arata since the first chapter. Anime changed the introduction a lot and completely butchered this. The story is about the meaning of the card chihayafuru and passion which has been associated with Chihaya… and Arata. I’m not saying it’ll have a romantic end, but the manga begins with Chihaya in the future (Queen’s finals), having a flashback of how she met Arata that before that she hadn’t known passion.

      Taichi is an important character but he was introduced later.

  2. Two thumbs up!.. Surely i’m gonna miss Chihayafuru!.. Maybe i’l watch season 1 and season 2 again sometime this year.. ^_^

    “The red that is the Tatsuta river”

    “Inside a room isolated from the summer heat, I feel bliss upon hearing your words.
    Will I ever turn the corner and find you? I can only wait for a dream or a miracle.”

    Those Poems!.. ^_^

    The Humanoid Typhoon
  3. That scene with Kana and Taichi was indeed wonderful. I usually don’t notice the music but the BGM choice which starts from the time Kana reads the 3rd and 4th Chihaya poems and continues to the part where she pushes Taichi on was perfect. And it even ends amusingly with Chihaya practising her swings to the ire of the nurse and Arata’s gomen… Though I wonder how the Fujisaki camerawoman managed to get that shot 😀

      1. Could be more than 1 track, but the chorus part from where Kana hits Taichi and tells him to work harder sounds like it’s from Season 1 OST2 Track 23 “Karuta no Tomo ni”

  4. Anyone else get the feeling that Sakurazawa-sensei is really more interested in coaching Taichi than Chihaya? Chihaya is more a naturally talented person so there is only so much that Midori can teach her. Taichi on the other hand looks like the type of karuta player that she can mold and build

  5. I feel you Enzo. I want to read the manga because, again, I am tortured. I wanna know what happens next but at the same time, I believe the anime makes Chihayafuru sooooooo beautiful that it would be a better experience BUT to wait years? Tough.

    Kanade is a very adorable character. I started crying when she read the Chihaya’s poems then seriously cried when she patted Taichi. ;_;

  6. Oh, almost forgot. This episode made me like Chitose a lot more. She’s still a bit mean to Chihaya in her tone but from lending her the laptop and buying her a Daddy Bear, Chitose does seem to love her sister

  7. When the Season 1 OP played, I just know I have to rewatch Chihayafuru. I don’t actually like rewatching stuff (the last anime I rewatched is CardCaptor Sakura), but Chihayafuru is so special that I know I just have to do this, perhaps until season 3 starts. *crosses fingers that there would even be a season 3*

    And when I get enough money, I will definitely buy the Chihayafuru BDs, soundtracks, artbooks, mangas and every official merchandise out there to support Suetsugu-sensei and her wonderful series. I’m also dying to go to Omi Jingu someday. Maybe I could also overcome my shyness and cosplay Chihaya in her hakama on a convention. Wow, nothing else has ever done this to me.

    Lastly, I just wanted to leave these two beautiful tankas:
    (Inside a room isolated
    from the summer heat,
    I feel bliss
    upon hearing your words)

    (Will I ever turn the
    corner and find you?
    I can only wait for
    a dream or a miracle)

    – – 綾瀬千早

    1. I like how they managed to get both S1’s OP and ED into the show. The only question is when there is Season 3, whose name will they put in the OP lyrics? S1 had Chihaya and S2 had Shinobu…

  8. For one thing, I was rather close on my guess with the progression of the season in relation to the manga…(too bad I did not write my guess down during the first few weeks), for another thing, we (as 3rd party viewers) shall never see Chihaya the same way ever again, not after all those faces she managed to pull this episode…

    btw, no one shall ever mention the argument I started last week. EVER.

    ps. who finds this Shinobu-chan cuter than the last episode(s)?

    1. Yeah, lots of funny faces, especially the one during the MRI and when she’s lectured on poetry by Kana. But it all pales to the truly beautiful one when Arata tells her on the phone that he is always thinking of the times when they played karuta together as kids.

      Now I’m feeling conflicted on who my most favourite Chihaya in anime should be… Idolmaster’s Kisaragi Chihaya has a special place too. Maybe they can be jointly first. Odd that they’re both voiced by Asamis who can sing 🙂

    1. How is the split of the 17 volumes animated so far between the first season and the second? S1 covered Chihaya from childhood through the entire 1st year of high school. S2 on the other hand covers just half of her 2nd year at Mizusawa. Is the pace of the story slowing down in the manga as well?

  9. Oh god, why the 3 at the back look so mad?

    I didn’t realize that the part in manga that they covered in this episode went this fast in the anime cause it felt so much longer when I read it.

    I definitely agree that this is the most compelling love triangle in recent anime! 🙂

    This episode definitely wrapped up so much and is possibly a good place to stop. Wrapping up the competition, resolving Chihaya’s finger problem (man she was lucky that that happened sooner rather than later), Chihaya finding out the reason for Arata’s calmness and also Kanade’s push of Taichi x Chihaya, Chitose buying Chihaya’s favorite Daddy Bear, the poems (Summer homework for not scoring 70 in Classic Literature). So MUCH TO DIGEST!!

    I really hope that a 3rd season comes along, no matter how long it takes to make the source material, because this is a good show which has a good writer and director and is beautiful. I mean, not many shows can make people shed manly tears….

    A good season overall, maybe a bit too slow but then again with all the rollercoaster ride of emotion and success for the team, i can definitely forgive the weak parts of this season.

    Definitely happy to hear season 1’s OP again! 🙂

    1. lmao! I didn’t even notice it is season 1’s OP, I will go watch that later when I’m home. I’ve watched season 1 completly before I watched episode 25, must have messed up with my sense.

  10. What am i supposed to do with my life now without chihayafuru? T_T
    I felt like so much was revealed in this episode. I wonder if Taichi can win her over? I hope season 3 comes soon.

  11. Every second passed of this episode with my heart pumping like it was on fire, because I knew this was the finale, and when a subtle confession from Chihaya came, I felt a lump form in my throat but I felt a little tender feeling for her love for Arata, when Kana-chan slapped
    Taichi’s back like that, my heart broke even more, I needed that as a viewer. ‘I don’t know where my love for Chihayafuru will take me (verse from episode 19.)

    It hurts, it does. I cannot say anymore than I said in all my comments to Chihayafuru,
    except that I enjoyed it, I really did. I won’t compare the two diffrent seasons,
    which is better, which is not, for one reason, if you watch season 1 and 2 back to back,
    you will realize that season 2 is meant to continue season 1, straightforwardly and you’d enjoy each episode more. I don’t want to wait more years for Chihayafuru, I just can’t, what if I get married and have 40 kids by then 🙁 (jk.) But I am very well undecided, just like Enzo on this one.

    One of the main character introductions that I think are vital this season, is Coach Sakurazawa, not because of anything, but the fact that she noticed Taichi’s Karuta and Arata’s in one line, no one has done that before. I felt like you did Enzo and silently screamed ‘I NOTICED!’

    That said, I would like to comment one one thing that’s been bothering me, Taichi’s reaction to Arata’s going to Tokyo, while Taichi did mention the notion of “rival” or “enemy” with regard to Arata, please refer back to episode 5 of season 1, “if Arata’s coming back, we’ll need to make the best karuta club in Japan”, was what Taichi said. I don’t agree with the notion of ‘Taichi is poseessive’ of Chihaya that I read in previous comments, I think Taichi would try his best to be acknowledged by Chihaya, he never contained her, after all, he gave her his number, etc.

    Thank you Enzo! I wouldn’t have any other blogger commenting on Chihayafuru, knowing my love for this anime can be shared with other viewers. You’ve been faithful on every angle, and I loved it. The torture that remains in this anime will always remain, because it is something we will find out at the end of Chihayafuru, most likely, and the one that is linked to Taichi.

    I will miss Kana-chan, Deskman-kun, Nishida, Arata, Taichi, Chihaya, and now adding, The Empress, Sumire-chan and Tsubaka-kun.

    Thanks for your review, M.

  12. As for ‘suki’… sure, it can mean ‘like’ as well as ‘love’ and when Arata’s co-worker used it previously, it was translated to ‘are you a fan of that girl?’ without taking away much of the meaning. BUT. If Chihaya uses it to describe her feelings toward karuta and places Arata in one line with karuta, I’m taking it as ‘love’. Anyway, I was surprised she’s capable of epiphany like that and yes, I’d take it as sort of closing, even if just for now. Of course, TaichixChihaya shippers wouldn’t like it and so wouldn’t Kana-chan, so with little help of her effort the ending stabilized at suggesting that both of the boys’ romance plots with Chihaya are now going to take off. I dont’ expect season three any time soon, so I guess I wll start reading the manga.

    1. Actually, I don’t think you have to make it out so clear whether it’s “like” or “love” since they rarely use the work “ai”. “Suki” is much more used by youngsters and other people and I wonder if Chihaya is deep enough to use the word “ai” ever LOL. Also Japanese is so ambiguous in many ways, it’s especially true with this series.

      Chihaya said that “Karuta ga suki de, Arata suki”. It could be translated as “I like Karuta and Arata” or “Since I like Karuta, I like Arata”. Sorry I went ahead and read the manga and it was translated much better I think, but I still rewatch the last ep more than 5 times, such wonderful moment. I don’t think Chihaya realize she loves Arata (if she ever does) without shock of blushing face or something else and The S Suetsugu-sensei would never make it so clear like that -.-“. But I like it remain that way, giving us doubts and uncertainty, I’m really turning to an M thanks to Chihayafuru.

      Chihayafuru is the only series I’m dying to see every Saturday mornings these past 2 ss T.T, definately gonna miss it. Oh and I only know about Chihayafuru in a magazine recently so the first ss1 has already finished when I started watching, and when I finish the whole thing the first ep of ss2 started airing, I could’t be more blessed. And I don’t think there’s any comparison between ss1 and ss2. Maybe because I watch it that way, everything feels connected to me but it’s true that ss2 matches are such cliffhangers and lasted so many ep but I enjoy all the same, I do like the developments in ss2, so much to talk about. I actually don’t like Taichi and more of a ArataxChihaya shipper but after all this time, it doesn’t matter that much anymore who she ends up with, Shinobu-chan is my fav now LOL.

      I’d like to see more of Arata in the future and I don’t think he shouldn’t get on easy because he doesn’t struggle enough like Taichi. We don’t actually know if he doesn’t if you compare the whole aspect, family status, properties, look,etc…and not only in Karuta, I don’t think it’s fair for either one to say it like that. And what’s the point in comparing so, trying to make things fair and the 2 char on the same level ??? I like the quote from HnC sorry if I quoted here “You’re not allowed to brag about how unfortunate you are, Rokutarou. You’re not the only one with misfortune. We all hold that in ourselves and work hard. When we start competing about things like that, there’s just no end. What’s the point in that?”

      Thanks to it, I come to know RC and I do love the reviews and commenters here. I love it for its compelling Karuta match and chemistry between the chars, best love triangle so far. I really need that kind of unclear, not knowing anywhing, leaving the viewers to agony guessing romance.

  13. I think we all know that TaichixChihaya is never meant to be possible, I think it will forever be ArataxChihaya, she said what i said to myself all along, ‘ever since Arata came’, ye, ever since arata came, taichi and chihaya’s world changed, taichi chased after the chihaya that loves arata, and chihaya chased after arata. even though im saying this my heart wants her to choose Taichi, but i know, most of the animes I watch, the ones i would like to have a happy ending, either die, become blind, or in this case, never get chosen, that’s how it goes. Taichi’s charecter is so realstic, so it’ll lose. hurts, i must say, but oh well. good show good rview ty

    1. I’m an Arata fan, but somehow I think it’s gonna be Taichi and Chihaya (I don’t mind) since there’s more build up between them, but of course I would be glad if it’s gonna be Arata and Chihaya.

      Faint Smile
      1. One Arata solution fan, but convinced TaichixChihaya is fate, one Taichi supporter who thinks Arata will win… Ahaha, I don’t know whom to thumb-up. ^^ Why is everyone such a pessimist? Let’s have a more positive mindset. I say team Arata and I say victory!

      2. My cheer will always be Arata and Chihaya. =)
        I just read this from other site “Chihayafuru card (Chihayas card) is about a love that persist even after long time and distance, that matches Chihaya love for Arata when they were children.” I don’t know if it’s true especially this just a speculation from a Chihayafuru fan but I hope it does. =))

        Faint Smile
  14. One of the last years masterpieces, if you ask me, has ended, again.

    If my memory serves me right, I think they cut some of Shinobu’s backstory and the transition from the tournament to the training camp felt faster than in the manga. But what a place to end!

    Time to “break the plastic” on volume 20 and continue with the story while praying we will see a season 3 some day and waiting for the OVA.

  15. First of all, a big thank you Ezio for blogging this series – regardless of how I felt about each individual episode or the series as a whole, you made the whole thing infinitely more enjoyable with your insight and analysis.

    As for the show, I have to say I’m left feeling disappointed. Not just because the season is over, but also because of what it failed to achieve. I understand that they kept true to the source material, but it left a very hollow impression on me as opposed to season 1. Puttng aside my love for this show and the usual emotions nvolved with a story ending rather abruptly, viewing this season as a single big story (as opposed to the excitmenet of the week-by-week episode delivery), I would sa the exception of the last 2 episodes, nothing of value happened at all. There were plenty of interesting, emotional and complicated elements to season 1 that I simply can’t ignore if I think of Chihayafuru, but if look back on this season, I already don’t remember most of it and the only things that stayed with me were these last episodes, which, honestly, just kina rushed character development, as needed as it was, to reach at least some sort of progress before the curtain drops.

    I don’t know what the creator has planned for this series, and for all I know, there’ll be hundreds of vaolumes to come and this has simply been the longest stage set up, still warming up for the main story elements to kick in, but so far, putting aside the beginning of season 1, which established all the main characters and their goals, the plot hasn’t really gone anywhere from there. I felt that the only really important parts were Taichi reaching class A and Arata winning the tournament, which beacons his move to Tokyo, but both those things hold more value for a third season, having virtually no impact on the story right now. The newly introduced cast was quickly forgotten and only refsurfaced as a plot device in the very end of the tournament, and even the core characters didn’t really have any kind of light on them with the exception of Kanade and her excellent performance in the end there.

    The episode itself was really good, and as you pointed out, was a somewhat wistful reminder of what the show can be when it’s not busy breaking bones and playing karuta. While Chihaya’s surgery was a bit too soap opera-y for me, it served as a wonderful and much needed handbreak for her. With Chihaya never really thinking and always acting on impulse, and being used to convey any sort of emotion she feels into karuta terms and then throw her passion into more practice, her inability to play finally gave her room to think and find new ways to express herself. It was very refreshing for Chihaya to notice Arata in a more human sort of way and start to see him not as a karuta ideal, that she doesn’t chase just because of what he represents to her, but also of what she really feels towards him. Hopefully the OVA will shine a tleast a little bit more light on the whole triangle before the long wait for season 3 starts.

    Speaking of which, I’m experiencing a similar dilemma to yours, just as I did when season 1 ended and I can’t decide wether or not to pick up the manga and somewhat ruin the potential fun I’d get out of season 3. On one hand I really want to see more of the story and characters, and 3 years is an awful long time to wait, but on the other hand I feel that the show itself adds a bit of magic that I usually don’t see in the manga format and it wouldn’t be worth it.

  16. so Chihaya can write left handed just like that? I know she’s a righty but winning matches left handed and now writing left handed effortlessly is a little O.o
    Sure its not impossible but still a stretch to me

  17. The way love is portrayed in this show feels so nostalgic to me. It is written like an adult remembering what it was like to be in love with someone far away or remembering the pains of unrequited love. I suppose this view point is the josei influence.

  18. I had to laugh when Arata appeared in the last minute of the episode like he had been in all the earlier episodes where he was only a teaser. It is almost this season’s gag.

  19. Chihaya x Arata = So far, yet so close
    Chihaya x Taichi = So close, yet so far.

    It’s been an uphill battle for Taichi since the start, hopefully his hard work pays off in the end. I’ve read the other 2 mangas of Suetsugu Yuki, and the females lead seems to always end up with the male leads that share the same appearance as Taichi. As a Taichi fan, I hope this manga follows the trend xD

  20. Enzo — this review is so beautifully written that I can’t help but read a few times. Thanks for blogging Chihayafuru — both seasons! There is no doubt that I like season one more. It’s not just about the change of direction to more Karuta-focused — although this may attract viewers who prefer event-driven over character-focused. The pacing of season isn’t as good, and — in my view — it lacks those profound and superbly directed scenes that shake to our core, such as the one on the train platform in season one that the background, visuals, sound, BGM and dialogue all came as one to deliver the most gripping emotional punch. However, season two is still of high standards and great entertaining value — there were moments that tugged my heartstrings and kept me on the edge of my seat. Most importantly, I can never not like the show — it’s deeply planted in my heart since season one that I can’t help but care for the characters.

    The finale does feel a bit rushed — comparing to how much time it’s given to those unimportant matches. However, I like how it ended. Keep going forward is definitely the theme and goal for our beloved characters in pursuing their dreams — be it in Karuta or love…or to become stronger persons. Someone said it last week that Kana-chan is a beautiful soul, and I can’t agree more. The romantic triangle is for sure the best presented that I have seen — while I know that is a bait from Suetsugu-sensei to keep us hooked, I just can’t resist the bait and get hooked.

    As for now, I can’t help but miss Miyano’s portray of Taichi — he’s an awesome seiyuu, the deep bond shared amongst the Mizusawa Karuta Club members, other characters, and the beautiful journey of the past 50 episodes. I definitely will patiently wait for a season 3, but I think I will follow the theme of going forward and start reading the manga to prolong my love for Chihayafuru. Years after when season 3 comes, I may have a different experience of the story in anime form, and I want to check out your review again. Thanks again, Enzo.

  21. Another great season! The production has put in a great deal of effort to design the right CG to illustrate subtle points in classical Japanese literature. The show is special because it is not just about competitive sports, but also about culture and history. And players’ personalities are reflected in the games they played. I am looking forward to the third season.

  22. As always with this show, there’s very little in which I don’t agree with you Enzo. Thanks for blogging it and getting me to watch this show. But do you really think they’ll wait three years for a new anime season? I think there’s a possibility that they swith a one-cours. It’d make a lot more sense from a commercial point and given that they’re working within a long-runner manga the number of eps per season doesn’t really matter.

    It’s still interesting how Taichi, who can at any time walk away from it all and still be successful and popular, is still the emotional mess. While Arata, whose entire life can be said to be riding on karuta, has made stability and calmness his trademark.

  23. I think some people translate it to love in Chihaya’s statement for the fact the Chihaya card was flashed right the statement. And like you said context is everything.

    If you look at what Kanade says the Chihaya card is about

    “I believe that this poem is about passionate love. Did you know that Nijo no Kisaki was in love with Ariwara no Narihira before she married the emperor? This is a very famous story. This poem was displayed on a folding screen in the palace. Some accounts say that Nijo no Kisaki was the one who requested the poem. I like how Narihira concealed his passion for her in a scenic rendering since he wasn’t able to forget her. Chihayaburu is a pillow word (epithet) for gods that implies great force. Mizu kukuru can be interpreted as “water goes under red leaves” or “water looks like being tie-dyed”, but I believe that the crimson leaves represent a love that never faded even after the separation.”

    I think it can be a real strong case for Chihaya saying she loves Arata. I mean the symbolism is very heavy to flash that card at that moment.

    1. thank you for posting that, while I know Kana-chan is only an anime charecter, and isn’t real, but her words (which are the writer’s words) were so pretty in that episode. I think she’s the best suppourting charecter a clueless main charecter needs, and a strugglaing lead charecter. So kind and pure /sounds sentimentallol

  24. The most amazing one is Tsutomu. He win his 1st tournament(D-class), well not really he lose to Kana in final, but then he win the C-class the year after, which mean now he is in B class. How amazing is that

  25. to be perfectly honest, chihayafuru is about one of only shows where I cannot bear to see the love triangle resolved with one person left out of it. There is something about the way the three of them interact that makes me believe they’re all meant to be together. This is a josei, is a canon Taichihayarata threesome possible? ;_;

  26. “Chihayafuru is very, very special, and whether the OVA is the end of the anime or not, I’ll never forget the experience of watching it.”

    Your feelings speak to my soul, good sir.

    Indeed, I want to own this breathtaking series, anime and manga. The love triangle is comprised of some of my favorite characters in all fiction, and the supporting cast – especially Kana, Nishida, and Tsutomu, have a huge chunk of my heart as well. That this series packs such an emotional punch, even if it’s not always consistent and has its flaws (everything does), it far exceeds many other series I have come across.

    I know season 1 has been licensed in Australia, and this is the first time I’ve seriously considered importing a DVD.

    Be it 3 years or even longer, I will wait and I will happily rejoin the Mizusawa karuta club when they come back to us. In the meantime I will send all the positive thoughts I have that the manga gets an English release. Considering how many movies boast premiere dates going all the way to 2015-16 I don’t see this wait as something so insurmountable.

    Thank you for blogging season 3. See you later, karuta boys and girls.

  27. In the manga, Arata imagines Chihaya in the bikini, in place of her sister, blushes like mad and starts hitting the shelves embarrassed, just after we’re informed he’s not interested in any other girl and only picked up that magazine because he noticed Chitose’s resemblance to Chihaya.

  28. Marathoned the whole 2 seasons in 3 days. Taichi is such a bro. Thanks for blogging this GE (And sorry for being waaaaay late), I completely agree with your apt, on-point description watching this was exquisite torture (but I knew I was a M awhile back anyway), but couldn’t stop watching anyway. Hoping this does get a S3! (Staying away from the manga for now).

  29. Man! This is just as good as the first season!
    I like the tension and the wits of the games.
    Though I usually only grasp partially the depth of the tactics.

    Its like I’m one of those watching the match in the room as well.
    Reminded me of the feeling of watching Slam Dunk 😛

    Also its nice to hear Megumi Hayashibara again.

    Awaiting a season 3!


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