Yes, it has been quite a while and honestly, you shouldn’t even be expecting any posts from me until about the end of November but here I am. I’m here and I’m ready to do this. For those that are just a tad bit curious about the whole situation. I’m well into my last year of high school now (Much like the third years in Chihayafuru- sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’ll just try to restrain myself a little more from now on.) which means there are exams and stress and all of that incredibly joyous stuff. Really, I’m actually having fun right now. However, isn’t that what school’s all about? Trying not to get too caught up in the nitty gritty? Just go with it. So I’ve just finished my mid year exams, there’ll be another one in the next 5 weeks or so and then 2-3 weeks after that, I’ll have my final WACE exams. Despite all of that, I’ve decided to take the time out to write about Chihayafuru because I really think that doing ‘my thing’ is important too. I always say that I love writing, which is true, but sometimes I really don’t give myself enough time to just write.
Moving on, let’s dig into Chihayafuru!
As always, I have a little history with this whole series and whether you like it or not, you’ll be staying around and listening to me talk about it because honestly, it’s all part of the reviewing experience. Cue in my history with Chihayafuru.
This anime came out in late 2011 but I only discovered it at the very beginning of 2012. Nonetheless. I watched the entire series. (GOSH that was 4 years ago. When I was a first year in High School. Time really flies.) It was absolutely incredible! This series combines Josei with Sports and this combination is so incredibly unique! Which is amazing because even though I was only 13 (?) back then, I really thoroughly enjoyed the Josei genre and of course I loved the sports genre because who could forget the days when I would watch Kuroko no Basket and scream so passionately at the television?
Of course, inevitably, I ended up screaming at the television when it came to Chihayafuru as well. Really! I can’t help it!
I’m not even kidding, I just re-watched Chihayafuru (I’m now up to episode 23 of the second season) for the first time, and I still ended up screaming at the television, like it was the very first time that I was watching this. It’s THAT good.
Chihayafuru might actually be one of the perfect animes out there. I know that I always claim that I don’t have a ‘favourite’ anime (because honestly, I’m just too goddamn indecisive and I absolutely hate commitment) but heck, I’mma commit to this any day seriously! (With that being said, I still don’t have a favourite anime) To be honest, there is absolutely no bad points about this anime; it’s absolutely flawless. It’s interesting, investing, hilarious, warm and there’s just the right amount of love-romance included so that it’s not completely lacking it but it’s not completely centered around it. It’s just there to give you that little buzz of adrenaline by gently tugging at your heart strings. (Not that you’d need the extra adrenaline what with all the suspense going on.)
While we’re on the subject of ‘love’, Yuki Suetsugu (the mangaka) makes it incredibly hard for her readers to pick a team and stick with it. If you have not yet read or watched Chihayafuru, there are two main male characters – Taichi and Arata. I can safely tell you that the readers have been equally divided into two teams because both of them are great. There is no clear cut winner when it comes to who will end up with Chihaya, there really isn’t!
However, I’m really betting on Taichi now. I say ‘now’ because 4 years ago, when I finished watching the series, I really could not decide. It’s still incredibly difficult now but I’m determined to stay with Taichi and I’ll explain why later. Just so you know I love both of them and it’s very easy to suddenly see Arata again and just completely jump onto his boat because just look at this!
And there’s Arata. Arata is an innocent 17-year-old boy that has a crush on Chihaya (I’m not even kidding, he’s willing to move to Tokyo just to be closer to her) and being the Meijin is goal that he has had since he was a toddler plus he’s incredibly good on the eyes. (I don’t know of any other discrete way to say that he’s definitely attractive. ) I really do want to talk more about him however, I think that it would be rather unfair if we skipped the synopsis and Chihaya so I’ll touch bases on both of them and we can get back to all of this later.
Chihayafuru is a story centred around these three childhood friends – Ayase Chihaya, Mashima Taichi and Wataya Arata. Taichi and Chihaya have been friends since their early years of primary school and Chihaya befriended Arata in the middle of their 6th year of primary school. From there, Arata taught Chihaya all about Karuta and Taichi swallowed his pride and became friends with Arata as well. From there, the only thing in common with both boys was their mutual love for Chihaya. All was good however, by the end of the year, Arata had to move back to Fukui due to his Grandfather’s health worsening and Taichi went to an elite junior high school (most likely due to his mother pressuring him to do so); thus all of this left Chihaya alone to pursue her dream of claiming the Queen title.
Just to clear things up, if this is your first time hearing about Chihayafuru… this may be a little bit confusing.
Karuta is a very traditional game/ sport that originated from Japan during its very historical era. It is a game that is centred around the Hyakunnin Isshu – the specifically chosen 100 poems from many historical poets. Basically, matches are held between two people. A reader will read out the first verse of a random poem and the players have to find the card that has the second verse of the poem written on it. It’s a very mentally challenging game thus it lacks the popularity it rightfully deserves; even in Japan. Don’t worry if you still don’t understand because the series ensures that the characters explain it very thoroughly for you. Also the Queen is the title given to the best female Karuta player while Meijin is the title given to the best male karuta player.
During the first year of high school, Ayase is absolutely determined to form her very own Karuta club in school. From there, Taichi finally reunites with her after 3 long years and they make a deal. If Ayase wins the Karuta tournament and makes Class A then Taichi has to help her form a Karuta club. [Taichi gains extra points here because he even bought her expensive chocolates and covered her with his jacket. PLUS PLUS!] Now watch them as they gain new members, win tournaments and work towards being the best at Karuta.
I feel like the synopsis dragged on a tad bit too long, however this series is just too good. There’s tons of information and so you really have to concentrate every step of the way to fully appreciate everything. I did try to shorten my synopsis so that was just the very bare minimum. Moving on!
Chihaya is a very atheletic, free-spirited, ‘air-headed’, persistent and ambitious girl. She’s not particularly good in her studies but she’s completely focused on Karuta and Daddy Bear merchandise. As a little girl, her dream was to see her sister claim the title of being the best model in all of Japan however, after meeting, not to mention losing at Karuta to, Wataya Arata and beating Taichi in the school tournament, her dream has been to claim the title of being the best female Karuta player in the world. Watch her as she forms an incredibly powerful high school Karuta club and tackles the world of Karuta.
Chihaya is known to be very beautiful, however due to her rather ‘strange’ behaviour she is nicknamed – 無断美人 or ‘Beauty in Vain’. [Directly translated it would equate to ‘pointless beauty’]
Honestly, I really love Chihaya. What I love about this manga is that all of the characters are pretty lovable. Sure there are times where I do not agree with Chihaya’s actions but that’s fine. I do like her, so it’s fine. Something that I almost forgot to mention- Chihaya is very good at karuta and her strong points are her speed as well as her hearing.
Now let’s discuss the very evident love triangle here.
As I mentioned before, the entire Chihayafuru fanbase is split up into Team Arata and Team Taichi. I am definitely on Team Taichi now. However, four years ago when I finished viewing the second season I was at a complete loss because I just could not decide. Early this year, I started reading the Chihayafuru manga because even though I had been faithfully waiting for a third season to be released, none was within the last 3 years and so… I decided that if I wanted it bad enough I should just go straight to the source. As of yesterday, I am now completely up to date with the manga and I’m really hoping that more chapters are released soon. Since I am now fully informed of all of the information, I am definitely on Team Taichi.
Queue in Taichi!
Taichi may have intense eyelashes and ridiculously pink hair but despite all of that, he’s smart, hard-working and has a patience like no other. Since young, he was always pressured to be the top at everything by his very pushy mother. Being the obedient boy that he is, he did as he was told and now he holds the number one position in his entire grade. The one thing in his life that he’ll disobey his mother for is Chihaya. Despite his mother’s wishes, Taichi continues to pursue Karuta, mostly because of Chihaya. Taichi is not good at Karuta at all, therefore he works very hard on his memorisation skills and I really look up to him because he works really hard and he’s only ‘good’ at karuta because he trains and pushes himself to the limit.
Many fans of the series refuse to accept Taichi’s character because he bullied Wataya Arata when they were little. But honestly, what do you expect from a little boy? Sure, I’m not supporting his actions but it’s a very human thing to do especially once you know the reason for it all. At the start, Taichi never held a grudge against Arata until everyone in their class started spreading horrible rumours about him. Even then Taichi never cared, until Chihaya started showing an interest in Arata. Even at that young age, Taichi already had a crush on Chihaya and in his mind… if Arata was as bad as the rumours suggested then he should be worried if Chihaya were to get involved with a boy like him. And so Taichi only did what he did because he was trying to protect Chihaya from him. He didn’t want to lose Chihaya.
Even after those 3 years, it was as if nothing changed between Taichi and Chihaya. They could just easily go back to their former friendship. Taichi is passionate and he really loves Chihaya. He bought the tickets for both of them so that Chihaya could go to Fukui to see Arata. He was the one that supported her and helped her. He helped her form a Karuta club. He helped to recruit people. He helped to teach them all he knew. He did his best to train and make it into Class A so that he could be on the same level as Chihaya. Despite, Chihaya not recognising his feelings and only looking at Arata, he was there for her. And I’m not saying that you have to fall in love with everyone that devotes themselves to you but Chihaya secretly loves him too. You’ll see why later.
Carrying on, Taichi was the one that selflessly pushed through his tournaments so that Chihaya could stop focusing on him and just watch Arata’s match. Taichi loves her. He loves her despite the crazy ‘daddy bear’ obsession, despite the strange way she sleeps, despite every flaw…he loves her. He admitted it, nothing ever goes right when he is with her but he still wants to be with her.
And that is why, I think Taichi and Chihaya will end up with each other.
Arata is great. I have nothing against him. However, Arata is never there. Sure, it’s not his fault but what’s not right is that Chihaya can still remain fine without him there. Chihaya does not need him in her life. Arata knows nothing about Chihaya right now.
However, once Taichi distanced himself from Chihaya and left her side because he couldn’t take it anymore- he is after all human- Chihaya broke down. Chihaya cried and didn’t know how to play karuta anymore. She had to find herself again after he left her. Speaking of crying… Chihaya was only stunned when Arata confessed to her but she started crying with Taichi confessed to her.
Because secretly inside, she loved him too even though she might not be aware of it yet.
During the recent tournament, Chihaya admitted to herself that the Chihayafuru card, that was introduced to her by Arata, was no longer visible to her. She never noticed it but it stopped meaning as much to her. And with that, she finally won her first match against Arata. To me, that symbolises that she will no longer chase his figure, she will no longer need to tie herself down to the thought of him and she’ll continue chasing her dream of becoming the Queen.
Secretly, we all know that even the mangaka is rooting for Taichi because that ‘Taichi’ headband, that Chihaya wore during her match with Arata, was no coincidence.
Ultimately, I’m still waiting for that third season and I really hope that they really do produce that. However, with this new movie coming out, that third season looks like it’s fading further and further away. At first, I was completely adverse to the idea of Chihayafuru becoming a movie but I watched some of the behind the scenes footage and they’re really working hard on it. I like how Mackenyu (the actor playing the role of Wataya Arata) actually had to do the most work because on top of having to practice karuta everyday he also had to spend 3 hours everyday learning the Fukui accent. Which by the way, I love. I absolutely love the Fukui ben, I love all strange accents. If they sound funny, I love it. I could listen to it all day. And that’s one of the reasons as to why I love Arata.
So for now, I’m going to continue waiting for the new chapter, pray for a new season and look forward to watching the new movie.
Also, one thing that I almost forgot to mention. Taichi is voiced by Miyano Mamoru, who is one of my favourite seiyuus. He’s definitely a big one in my top 3. So that means he’s up there with Nakamura Yuuichi and I can recognise his voice from everywhere. Definitely, EVERYWHERE. I would say that it contributes to why I love him more that Arata but Arata has the Fukui ben thing going on so, no. They’re about dead even in that department.