Chihayafuru Manga: Poems 119 & 120

Since we’re not likely to get another anime for at least another year, and since the manga seems to have started taking up most of my fandom time outside of the series I watch each week, writing about each chapter as it comes out seems to be the logical thing to do. I’m probably not going to be translating any chapters in their entirety; what I aim to do is to highlight the significance I see in each chapter, especially in terms of character development and the symbolism of the poems that appear. Hence, there will be summaries, and whilst I will not be linking them, scans are available for those who know where to look. And without further ado, here are some spoilers and comments about the most recent chapters that have yet to be translated.

Ai mite no nochi no kokoro ni kurabureba  Mukashi wa mono wo omowazari keri

Poem 43: Ai mite no nochi no kokoro ni kurabureba / Mukashi wa mono wo omowazari keri

** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **

Please do not go any further if you want to keep yourself unspoiled, either for the inevitable third season of the anime, or for the chapters that will soon be out in English.

======== 119 ========

With 118, Suetsugu left us hanging with the end of the match still unknown. It turns out that the read card was an empty card; whilst Harada had skillfully avoided it, Arata was not so lucky. The two cards left on Arata’s lower right are “fu” and “chiha.” The Shiranami Society erupts in tearful celebration, as the Nagumo Society quietly watch on. Harada reflects on how players are not quite alone on the floor – the reader is there with them – as Makino Midori offers to help him up. Taichi realises that Chihaya now has a scarf that she didn’t have before, and heads off to return it.

Pondering his loss, Arata wonders why he had been so particular about claiming the “fu” and “chiha” cards in this match, even though he’d never really focused on them before. Chihaya reaches out to him, commenting on how interesting the match had been, and he asks her what she would have done at the end. Chihaya replies that, because of her attacking style, she would have sent both cards to her opponent:

The more I want something, the more I part with it, for I will definitely head out to fight for it.

A few scenes from their childhood float to Arata’s mind; Chihaya standing up for him in class, Chihaya saying his name, Chihaya in the snow, inviting him to play karuta together forever. And Arata responds…

I like you, Chihaya.

Kana and Sumire look on in surprise, and Chihaya freezes, her mouth forming a perfect ‘o’. Arata shuffles backwards and bows…

Taichi may have already told you, but I’m thinking of coming here for uni.* If you feel up for it, let’s play karuta together.

* sorry. I live in Australia – that’s ‘college’ for anyone from the US.

Chihaya’s face colours; Arata realises what he’s just said, blushes a deep red, and flees the room. As Chihaya collapses, Sumire’s astonishment can be heard throughout the area.

Outside, Taichi catches up with Suou, and returns the scarf to him. Suou asks, piercingly

What are you to that girl?

Taichi recalls Harada’s words from long ago, telling him to bet his youth before he gives up on getting stronger than Arata, and reflects on how Harada himself has bet more than his youth…

I’m her boyfriend. I’d appreciate you not hitting on her.

Inokuma, who’s there with her family, pats him on the shoulder, reflecting on how “cool” that was. Taichi pensively turns his gaze skywards.

At the presentation ceremony, Murao asks whether Arata has found what he was missing.

Meanness, experience, passion, and love. Love. Love.

As Harada laughs, Murao slaps Arata’s back and tells him not to lose the next time. Chihaya, for her part, remains frozen outside.

The shock really was too great for Chihaya...

The shock really was too great for Chihaya…

======== 120 ========

Shortly after, Chihaya’s eyes sparkle as she remembers the match and Arata’s confession. Shinobu hangs up on Suou three times before letting him tell her that Arata lost, like a fresh apple defeated by a dried persimmon, and that she’s in danger too. Shinobu reflects on a comment by one of the officials after the high school tournament, about the gap between Arata and herself, a person who plays alone.

In the clubroom, the Mizusawa karuta club is studying for the end of term tests, but Chihaya is still spacing out with sparkles in her eyes. When Taichi asks her why she continuously wears a look of surprise, Kana starts to speak…but Sumire pulls her aside and argues that they should leave the delicate situation be, for many reasons:

Ayase-sempai is still thinking about it; telling Mashima-sempai would put enormous pressure on him; and because Wataya-san was so easily able to cross the hurdle Mashima-sempai has stumbled at, don’t you think those two suit each other?

Kana is unable to argue with that; but she reflects on how terrifying Arata is:

To people who play karuta that seriously, “Let’s play karuta together” can only mean…

Back in the clubroom, Taichi has realised that something is up with Chihaya, and he brings Arata’s name up. Seeing Chihaya’s overreaction, and hearing her question as to whether Taichi knew of Arata coming to Tokyo for uni, Taichi’s face changes.

Tsutomu thinks about confessing to Kana if he comes first in the tests…but realizes that setting such a condition might mean that he’ll never ever confess. To Sumire’s shock and horror, Nishida proposes that the club spend Christmas (eve?) together, and Tsukuba cries that his brothers are no longer able to dream, for they have started to doubt the existence of Santa Claus (and other imaginary beings)…

Kana finds Chihaya, who’d gone to get water, outside, gazing at a white dove that she sees sparkling in the sunlight, wondering if its brilliance comes from the happiness of having a child inside it. Poem 43 flashes to Kana’s mind:

When compared to
the feelings in my heart
after we’d met and loved,
I realize that in the past
I had no cares at all.

-Professor Mostow

…and she recalls asking about whether it refers to the feelings of someone who’s just spent the night with his lover (see this commentary on the poem). Her mother confirmed it, but also that she’d felt just like that when she’d found out that she was pregnant with Kana, that “the road home from the hospital was filled with a beautiful light. I was no longer who I was, something new had begun.” Chihaya takes Kana’s hand, and muses…

Kana-chan, I also want to play in a match just like the challenger finals.

Kana looks at Chihaya in shock; rather than Harada’s never-say-die dedication, isn’t the confession supposed to be foremost in her mind?!

On the way home later that day, Sumire thinks about how beautiful the autumn leaves are, such that she doesn’t want to step on them. Gazing at Taichi’s back, she reflects on how wishing that he be left brokenhearted by the recent developments means dismissing all of his efforts to become who he wants to be.

I don’t want to tread on it, but I end up doing just that. Treading all over this beautiful, flaming red.
What are you going to do, Mashima-sempai? Wataya-san has put his feelings into words, it’s started, it might all be over soon…

Chihaya’s phone begins to ring; it’s Sudo, who is contacting her on behalf of someone in his uni karuta club. Suou Hisashi takes the phone, and asks if Chihaya would be willing to play a match with him. But it’s Taichi who answers:

"Definitely."

“Definitely.”

Commentary

To say that the confession came as a shock would be an understatement. So focused was I on the match itself, that I never even dreamed of what might happen in the aftermath. This element of surprise, along with the reaction in the Japanese community, had me reeling just over two weeks ago… Part of my shock was that I’d thought that Arata would be the last to realise anything. Turns out that he was – Chihaya’s epiphany was in 92 – I just didn’t expect that he’d put it into words immediately. In hindsight, it fits perfectly with what we’ve been shown of his character; you could see the realisation dawn on Arata’s face as he recalled some of the most precious memories of his childhood, and his reaction was also perfectly natural on his part. I also laughed at the follow up; rather than “please go out with me,” he asked Chihaya to play karuta with him!

But it’s not just Arata that had me laughing; Chihaya’s reaction shows just how similar they are. Arata’s confession is ringing in her head, but it’s the scenes of the match that flash through her mind. Rather than dates and other typical couple things, it’s a match of that caliber that she wants to play.

Kana accords this reaction to Chihaya being moved by Harada’s dedication during the match, lamenting Chihaya’s obliviousness to romance. However, I think we should be questioning that interpretation of life and love. Looking back at Chihaya’s own epiphany might give readers some guidelines towards understanding her and where she is headed in this story. Back in chapter 92, Chihaya’s realisation is that she will always love karuta, and Arata too. If her love for Arata is of the romantic sort, than what this points to is that all the important things in her life are bound up in karuta. Everything she did, does and wants to do – joining the track & field club; the closest relationships she has; her crush on Harada; her desire to be a teacher so that she can supervise a school karuta club – all of it is related to her love for the game. Rather than Chihaya eventually choosing to dedicate herself to karuta at the expense of love, marriage and having a family, it seems increasingly likely that all of these milestones can only take place with and through the game. As Taichi himself has realised, the way through to Chihaya’s heart is through karuta.

Speaking of Taichi, his actions seem to have been met with both praise and disappointment in the West, versus something more akin to ambivalence in Japan. The split amongst English-speaking fans seems pretty obvious; there are some who focus on how his declaration to Suou and the follow-up acceptance of the karuta match demonstrate how forward-looking he’s become as a result of Harada’s victory. On the other side, we have people pulling back because his lying to Suou seems to be yet another instance of interference in Chihaya’s life. Personally, I kind of understand why he claimed to be Chihaya’s boyfriend; even if she were ready to date someone, if I were amongst her karuta friends, Suou is the last kind of person I’d want her to date, and such a declaration is arguably the only way to throw off the advances of someone like that. That it represented a declaration of how he would face the challenge of letting Chihaya know how he feels is immaterial – I assume that he would have said something of similar declarative intent to Suou in any case, the only issue was the form it would end up taking.

I can understand the criticism of Taichi choosing to claim a relationship that simply isn’t true, but I think that it was still justified at the time. For example, some people might be of the opinion that Chihaya needs to get a boyfriend and learn about relationships through the experience. However, should she be going out with someone eight years older than herself for that purpose? Suou may be another ‘karuta idiot’, but going by his interaction with her in chapter 117, it’s obvious that that’s not the focus of his interest in Chihaya per se. Taichi may not have known that, but given the “my bride” that Taichi may have heard in 119, and his own previous experiences with Suou and the knowledge of what he’s like, I think that he reacted just as a friend who understands the entire situation should, even if it was a declaration as much to himself as to Suou.

And finally, I found Sumire pretty interesting to watch this chapter too. I do think that what she said is right; as outsiders, it’s not for herself or Kana to interfere. However, she also understands that whilst it’s better for her if Chihaya and Arata start going out, it would be incredibly detrimental for Taichi if he holds himself back, and the thought is enough to make her heart bleed for him. Besides the main three, I think she’ll be the one to watch.

On to 121 then, which should be out on the 15th.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

10 Responses to Chihayafuru Manga: Poems 119 & 120

  1. Guest says:

    Thanks again for all of your translation work and commentary on Chihayafuru! A couple of comments: I’d argue that Arata’s “Suki ya, Chihaya” can and probably should be translated as “I love you, Chihaya,” because the phrase was important in a major subplot of another manga, and the official translation had “suki ya” translated as “I love.”
    As for Taichi’s act, it’s not so much that
    “his lying to Suou seems to be yet another instance of interference in Chihaya’s life,” (although it is another instance of Taichi’s possessiveness as well) as that it is part of a pattern of regressing to his old, dishonest self that has popped up several times in the last few chapters–he lied to his mother, Chihaya and Arata during the meijin qualifiers, and now he’s lied to Suo, as well. For someone who has vowed to become a better person by not running away, he seems to be “running away” an awful lot through his lies.
    Yeah, Sumire is going to be the person to watch in the future; and to be blunt, her increasing prominence seems to hint that she and Taichi will be an endgame couple, since she is the type of person who ends up with the second lead in josei manga–a “carnivorous woman” who starts out chasing the second lead male (which Taichi is, technically) and ends up with him at the end after sincerely falling in love with him, like Fukushima in Kimi Wa Petto.

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    • karice says:

      You’re welcome, and thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      —–

      Hm…I personally think it depends on the context. The thing about “I love you” in English is that people seldom use it. I went into my thoughts on this in a lot more detail on the mangafox forums, so I’ll just quote that (though you may have seen it already?):

      The way I look at it is that the confession is one well-known way that Japanese people (esp. in ACG) tend to ask each other out. This is really one of the cultural things that simply does not translate into English (though it does translate into Chinese, and I believe, Korean as well). In all the English-speaking countries I’ve lived in, people mostly do not confess to a friend as a preface to asking them out – instead, it’s started in a far more roundabout way (“What do you do on weekends?” followed up with an invitation to a movie, or “what are you doing for lunch?” etc etc). Or, it’s starts in a far more direct way, when both are at a party or something similar.

      I do think that the roundabout way of asking someone out can happen in Japan too, most probably for older people (by which I mean “non-school age people”). However, I can’t even imagine the confession happening in English – it’s just not something we do. As a result, there is no satisfactory equivalent in English; hence, I think that Arata’s “suki ya” in chapter 120 is a case where it should be translated directly (“I like you” when confessing, and either “like” or “love” if it’s just a realisation and not a confession to the person in question – like Chihaya in 92), with a note for the uninitiated that this is one way in which people in Japan ask each other out.

      For a couple already in a relationship, I think it can be translated as “I love you,” but I still think that “I like you” is more appropriate for most confessions.

      —–

      As for Taichi’s act, it’s not so much that
      “his lying to Suou seems to be yet another instance of interference in Chihaya’s life,” (although it is another instance of Taichi’s possessiveness as well) as that it is part of a pattern of regressing to his old, dishonest self that has popped up several times in the last few chapters–he lied to his mother, Chihaya and Arata during the meijin qualifiers, and now he’s lied to Suo, as well. For someone who has vowed to become a better person by not running away, he seems to be “running away” an awful lot through his lies.

      You know, he may not have actually lied to Chihaya and his mother if he did indeed have a fever… (^_^;;)

      Well, I do believe that Taichi lied to the two of them (note that he never lied to Arata – Chihaya was the one who told Arata that the qualifiers clashed with the school trip), but I personally don’t hold it against him. I don’t think that those two lies – the school trip and now this one about Suou – are meant to be characterised as him “running away.” To me, it’s quite the opposite. Taichi’s “running away” has always been about taking the easy way out by not doing something that he’s likely to lose. And karuta is the one thing that represents this issue for him. Hence, deciding to go for the qualifiers instead of the school trip actually represents Taichi confronting his inclination to run away: the easy thing to do would have been to let the school trip be the excuse for not trying. And once he’d made the decision to sign up for it, he had no choice but to lie to his mother (who doesn’t approve of karuta) and to Chihaya (who’d otherwise be made an accomplice). Whilst I don’t approve of lying in general, and find it really difficult to lie myself, I really cannot hold the meijin qualifier one against Taichi.

      The recent one with Suou is a little trickier. I’ve already written why the lie itself makes sense to me in the context of what Taichi perceived Suou to be trying to do (hit on Chihaya) and what he knows of Chihaya’s character (she was clueless about it as always). But I’m personally going to observe a bit more before I make any further comments about what that lie means for Taichi.

      Re: Sumire
      Interesting…I honestly never even thought of comparing Kimi wa Pet and Chihayafuru; they’re just too different in terms of themes to me… Iori in Parfait Tic, maybe – that said, I don’t really know whether that is a viable comparison because I never finished Parfait Tic…

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      • Guest says:

        Thanks for your reply!
        Just to clear something up: I assumed that Taichi was lying to Arata based on the flashback in Chapter 109, p. 16, where he recalls a text that he sent to Arata right before he loses to Koshikawa, telling him that he’s going to become the Western representative and that Chihaya made it past the first round.
        If, in fact, the text is the one from last year that he sent in Ch. 40 (the two translations are slightly different: he says “aiming to” in ch. 40 and “gonna” in Ch. 109) then he wasn’t lying, and the recollection is a symbol of his fixation on Arata (and, implicitly, Chihaya), which he needs to get over before he can become the player and person he wants to be. If it’s a new and different but almost identical text, then he is lying to Arata, telling him that Chihaya is participating when, in fact, she is not (Taichi doesn’t know that Chihaya told Arata that she wasn’t going to participate); it’s an uneccessary lie.
        As for lying in general, Taichi’s arc in this manga is ultimately about accepting his true self, “faults and all,” as Koshikawa puts it in 109. As long as he keeps hiding parts of his true self from his mother, Chihaya, and Arata, he is never going to become the karuta player and person he wants to be.
        Sumire as the type who ends up with the second lead (here, Taichi) is a pretty common theme in Kodansha josei (vs. Shueisha shojo like “Parfait Tic”); other examples include Tanya from Nodame and (implied) Inari from Kuragehime. The second lead usually does not end up with the heroine because a) he’s too conventional for the unconventional heroine and b) he has problems dealing with the heroine’s true self or has problems revealing his true self to the heroine. Both of these apply to Taichi in regards to Chihaya.
        As for the translation, I did see your post and understand your reasoning; I just felt that the strength of Arata’s feelings were probably better conveyed by the “I love you” translation, and wanted to point out that there was a precedent for it (the official translation of Hana Yori Dango (another Shueisha shojo!)). Either one works, however.

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      • karice says:

        If, in fact, the text is the one from last year that he sent in Ch. 40 (the two translations are slightly different: he says “aiming to” in ch. 40 and “gonna” in Ch. 109) then he wasn’t lying, and the recollection is a symbol of his fixation on Arata (and, implicitly, Chihaya), which he needs to get over before he can become the player and person he wants to be. If it’s a new and different but almost identical text, then he is lying to Arata, telling him that Chihaya is participating when, in fact, she is not (Taichi doesn’t know that Chihaya told Arata that she wasn’t going to participate); it’s an uneccessary lie.

        It’s the text message from the previous year; hence, it’s not a lie. And I disagree with your assertion that the recollection is primarily a symbol of his fixation on Arata; it’s actually more about Taichi and what karuta means to him than about Arata per se (even though Arata is a factor). I’ve been meaning to return to this scene on the mangafox forums, as my previous analysis wasn’t quite right, but simply haven’t had the time.

        I also don’t think that Taichi’s arc is “ultimately about accepting his true self, “faults and all,”” because that involves a value judgment about what is a fault and what is not. I simply don’t agree with some of the more serious criticisms that are leveled at his character, such as the alleged severity some of his so-called ‘lies’. Personally, I characterise Taichi’s arc as being one of finding out who he really is, vis-a-vis karuta (NB: I think that chapter 123 actually goes a fair way to supporting this notion).This probably has something to do with the way I’ve been reading the manga – e.g. rather than the content of what characters say, I try to look at what their intent in making a particular statement is. To go into detail about this would require a short essay about ontology (i.e. the things we can know about a particular subject) based on readings I’ve been doing for uni, and I don’t have the time for that.

        ======

        re: so-called secondary leads
        I don’t actually see the parallels between Tanya and the others. If only because Kuroki was not the second lead in Nodame, nor was he ever interested in Nodame.

        However, I don’t read enough Shueisha shoujo titles to comment any further on that.

        Which scene in HYD are you comparing Arata’s confession to? Is it really comparable? (NB: I haven’t read HYD; in fact, I’ve actively been avoiding it because I don’t like the main characters.)

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  2. Guest says:

    “I don’t actually see the parallels between Tanya and the others. If only because Kuroki was not the second lead in Nodame, nor was he ever interested in Nodame.”
    You might want to recheck that: Kuroki was definitely interested in Nodame before he realized how weird she really was. And he’s the closest that Nodame Cantabile has to a second lead, since he’s the only major character that was in both the Japan and Paris arcs.

    Which scene in HYD are you comparing Arata’s confession to? Is it really comparable?
    It’s an arc with several scenes; it was an attempt by a childhood friend of one of the F4 (Sojiro) to confess via building sign (at a certain time, the sign seemed to say “Suki ya, Jiro.” Sojiro bailed when she tried to confess, and by the time he finally sees the sign, it’s being dismantled, which leads Sojiro and his friend to realize that their time to be in a romantic relationship has passed. In short, it’s the opposite of Chihaya and Arata’s situation.

    Like

    • karice says:

      You might want to recheck that: Kuroki was definitely interested in Nodame before he realized how weird she really was. And he’s the closest that Nodame Cantabile has to a second lead, since he’s the only major character that was in both the Japan and Paris arcs.

      Ok, I’m wrong about that specific detail. But it doesn’t change how different I think these two series are, so I’ll rephrase. I never saw any other real possibility for Nodame or Chiaki to end up with anyone else, and that’s probably why I did not register Kuroki as being interested in Nodame. To me, Nodame and Chiaki were the main characters, and they remained so throughout: everyone else was a side character, and anyone else only really had what I would call a passing interest in the mains – they were never serious contenders. Putting aside who I think will end up together, I would say that Suetsugu makes it very clear that Taichi has more than a passing interest in Chihaya. This already makes Nodame Cantabile very different from Chihayafuru to me. We can continue to disagree about this too.

      It’s an arc with several scenes; it was an attempt by a childhood friend of one of the F4 (Sojiro) to confess via building sign (at a certain time, the sign seemed to say “Suki ya, Jiro.” Sojiro bailed when she tried to confess, and by the time he finally sees the sign, it’s being dismantled, which leads Sojiro and his friend to realize that their time to be in a romantic relationship has passed. In short, it’s the opposite of Chihaya and Arata’s situation.

      Care to link it?

      Like

  3. Pingback: Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 138 | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  4. Miss Cellany says:

    ” I also laughed at the follow up; rather than “please go out with me,” he asked Chihaya to play karuta with him!”

    Yes it’s funny, but you do realise that to Chihaya and Arata this is the perfect date he’s asking her on – and to Chihaya is likely the most romantic thing he could have said! XD

    It’s things like this that make me think Arata is the perfect partner for Chihaya. Taichi would get fed up with her Karuta obsession eventually, Arata is just as obsessed as her!

    Like

    • karice says:

      That’s precisely why I laughed, actually! And also why I’ve always been bemused at the people who claim that Arata didn’t mean ‘I like you’ as in ‘I like you romantically’ etc. Or that he didn’t mean it etc. (^_^;; )

      (p.s. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!)

      Like

  5. Pingback: For the record: かるたしょっさ | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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