「くだけてものをおもふころかな / さねかづら」 (Kudakete mono o omou koro kana / Sanegazura)
“Crushed and All Alone, Thinking Over What Has Been / Trailing Vine”
I love this season because it’s given a lot of space to Arata as well as his role within the community and within the love triangle. In the previous seasons, he seemed like a distant character, always there in essence to put pressure on Taichi, but more of a thought than an actual person. This season has opened the door into his mind, his emotions, and as a result, evoked some darker themes.
But before we explore that, let’s take a look at Chihaya. She’s the girl on everyone’s mind, or at least, on Taichi’s. Chihaya is on her class trip and ever since she first found out Taichi was at the qualification tournament, she’s been glued to her phone. I did wonder whether or not she’d snap out of it. Good on Michiru for standing her ground. To be honest, if a friend of mine with whom I went on a trip with was always on their phone, I’d lose my mind off the bat. Michiru has a lot more patience. That said, Chihaya can now say she has fond memories of her high school trip and recall them whenever she needs to push her forward to becoming a high school teacher. Like Arata and Taichi who were both going after their dreams, she finally chose to do the same by being in the present moment.
Moving on to the tournament. Taichi was unable to make it to the final rounds but that only means that Harada sensei was given space to thrive, and so he did just that. He won the eastern qualifiers and will be going head to head against Arata, who on his end, is having some serious bad luck.
Was it stress or food that caused his stomach to lurch in such a way? During his final match, Arata is engulfed by feelings of jealousy, envy, and loss. The pressure to perform most likely rocked him to the core where most of his wounds and weaknesses lie. The picture he painted for us wasn’t pretty but it was real, honest, and brutal at times. He was slowly spiralling down a deep dark abyss until Murao guided him back towards the light. It’s interesting to watch Arata experience such intense emotion during a karuta match, which in the past had brought him only joy. But I guess, after suffering a loss like his, after realizing your friends have worked so hard, it doesn’t come easy to find that lightness of being again.
It’s curious to watch Arata and Taichi compare themselves time and time again. One is envious, the other is jealous, or scared, or feeling left behind. At any moment, their self-confidence is challenged and even more when it comes to Chihaya. She has such a perfect way of befriending boys she might not realize what kind of turmoil she’s been putting them through. It’s no wonder they feel like they’re always on the outside looking in. It seems many who surround Chihaya feel that way.
That said, I’m excited to see Arata and Harada go head to head. I’m rooting for Harada as he’s been in the game much longer. And right now, this is his chance! You got this sensei.