Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 122

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Where will this encounter lead?

** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **

Chihaya realises that Suou does two very unusual things for a karuta player. First, he sometimes leaves cards that he is able to take, letting his opponents take them instead. Second, he draws them into making faults.

As for Taichi, Sudo realises that he has become more calm and collected as a player. Taichi himself feels that this is an environment that only positive, forward-looking people can survive in. He thinks about how he wants to become like Harada-sensei and Arata, but seems to recognise that this isn’t possible for him; rather, he has to think about what he can do, about what he has to try to do in his current match. Having come to this realisation, Taichi thinks back to Chihaya’s comment about Arata coming to Tokyo for uni/college, which draws his attention to her match.

Chihaya, however, is losing: 27 to 13 cards. She realises that she’s become afraid of making faults; that both her attack and defense is now neither here nor there. Standing up, she thinks about about why Suou does the things he does…

When I tried to become Suou-san, what did I sense?
His quiet voice, was so that he could get his opponents (NB: and/or the people he speaks with) to come closer; so that he could live with small sounds; the playing style that demonstrates his mastery over that accurate placement(?)…in order to become a person of ears and ears alone.

“Yuusareba” is read…but Suou touches the wrong card, allowing Chihaya to take the right one. It’s a strange miss – the cards on Suou’s lower left are, from the edge, “me” “yura” “yuu” and “oto,” but instead of “yura,” which is the error we’d expect, he places his hand on “me.” Chihaya puzzles over that for a second, before turning her attention back to herself. She realises that if she is able to focus just on the sounds, she is able to ignore Suou’s feints. Despite getting crushed in the match, she isn’t being crushed mentally, and has not come to hate karuta. The end result: a 14 card loss, meaning that she’d kept up with Suou in the second half.

After the match, surprisingly, Suou takes a deep breath very loudly/lets out a huge laugh, and apologises to everyone for disturbing them. Then, to Chihaya:

You’re an interesting one, huh? You’re cute, forward looking, and you don’t freeze. Surrounded by friends and a boyfriend, and you want to become queen? You won’t be able to.

Leaving Chihaya in shock, Suou starts to move on, but Taichi grabs his elbow and requests a match (he lost to Sudo by two cards in what seems to have been a tight match). Suou doesn’t want to:

No thanks. I don’t have any obligation to do that. Or rather, I just hate you.

Taichi pulls out some Japanese snacks for Suou, which has the desired effect, leading some observers to comment that Taichi is someone who’s going to be successful in the world. Chihaya has blanked out over Suou’s last words to her (Sudo asks one of the B-level players to play against her next), and Taichi asks Suou why he said such things to her (“You won’t be able to (become Queen)”).

Those who head straight for their goals…I want to drive them off course.

Taichi tells Suou off for this:

If you can’t drive someone off course in a match, don’t do it with words!

It’s loud enough for everyone to hear.

Chihaya and Taichi both lose their matches, Taichi by 14 cards – Suou is being nasty as usual, controlling the match completely (to match the difference in his match against Chihaya). However, Taichi did not commit a single fault; for the first time in ages, Suou was forced to take 25 cards. They thank the club leaders for allowing them to join in for the session…then, Suou tells them to give Harada his regards and not come back.

Both Taichi and Chihaya are silent on the way back to the train, before Taichi says that he’s forgotten something and heads back, telling her not to wait for him. Catching Suou just as the club members are heading home, Taichi asks for a reflective session on their match (something that isn’t really done in competitive karuta). Suou refuses, stating again that he hates him. After a pause, Taichi speaks again

The truth is that she’s not my girlfriend. I’m sorry for bluffing you.

Suou grabs Taichi’s shoulders; the information has clearly influenced his view of Taichi. The observers once again reflect on how Taichi is going to be successful in the world.

In a crowded train, Chihaya reflects on the effect that excessive noise might have on her ears, and then on what Suou said to her, pausing on the question of “Boyfriend? Who?” before tearing up at the finality of

You won’t be able to.

Genius

Genius

She comes to the realisation that the Meijin is a true karuta genius. However, she recovers shortly after and shows up at Harada’s house, saying

Harada-sensei, I think I understand what Suou-san’s weakness is.

Commentary

The interesting characters this week are, of course, Suou and Taichi. With regards to the former, I’m actually finding him as distasteful as most of the in-universe karuta world seems to. It’s not about the tactics he uses to win; he’s got the hearing ability to do it, so I see no problem with feinting to draw his opponents into faults, especially since Taichi showed him that not everyone will fall for it. However, what he said to Chihaya after their match showed that, for some reason, he’s mainly interested in crushing the spirits of those that might be able to match him.

Why do I say that? After all Suou could really believe what he told Chihaya, that players who don’t isolate themselves are weak. But whether he believes it or not is irrelevant; the question is what he intended to achieve in telling her that. And he certainly doesn’t appear to have intended it as advice… In short, Suou’s actions are somewhat contradictory: although he appears to care for his underclassmen at the Tokyo U Karuta society, in terms of the game itself, he seems to view it as a source of amusement, a way to see turn as many strong players off karuta as possible. And this goes completely against Chihaya’s own engagement with the game. Might there be something more behind his behaviour? Probably…but this dark Meijin is really difficult for me to like at present.

Moving on to Taichi, I’m not quite sure what to think of some of his recent actions and words yet. His behaviour in this chapter – bringing Suou some Japanese snacks, seeking a match with Suou and making sure that he didn’t commit any faults, and finally, apologising to Suou for bluffing that he was Chihaya’s boyfriend – is more about his own karuta than it is about Chihaya. The question remains: what exactly was his intention when he told Suou that he was Chihaya’s boyfriend? Should it be taken at face value, as Taichi staking his territory, so-to-speak? Simply something motivational that he did not expect would become such a big deal? Or was it something else altogether, such as a design to have Suou take him seriously as a karuta player? At this point, I personally think it was the second one; although he was forward-thinking enough to use it to get what he wanted from Suou when the opportunity came up (with Suou’s match invitation to Chihaya).

At any rate, one thing’s for certain: Taichi is probably the most complex and thus interesting character in this manga.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

19 Responses to Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 122

  1. Guest says:

    “Taichi is probably the most complex and thus interesting character in this manga.” What is “interesting” is, of course, ultimately subjective, but “jerk with a heart of gold” characters like Taichi probably get credited with more depth and complexity than they may actually have, solely because it is not clear if they are in “jerk” mode or “heart of gold” mode, as is the case in this chapter and the two preceding chapters. (The reduction of Taichi’s once frequent monologues does not help).
    Straightforward and generally kind characters such as Arata and Chihaya, on the other hand, are often dismissed as flat and boring, and their development underexplored; from the spoilers of Ch. 123 released by Be Love, it looks like what Chihaya has discovered about Suo is going to be equally important. (Also, Sumire is going to be on the cover of Vol. 23, with the Tsukuba siblings as smaller figures surrounding her). It might well be equally interesting to figure out what makes these straightforward and kind characters tick, and how they develop over time.
    Suo seems to have a grudge towards straightforward characters, wanting them to “bend”; his friendliness at the end seems to be partly because he sees another “sneaky” character, like himself, in Taichi. Taichi seems to have recognized that he has done something wrong in lying to Suo; he still hesitates in revealing his true self to Chihaya, however….

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    • karice says:

      I don’t actually see Taichi as a “jerk with a heart of gold” character…because he doesn’t really act like a jerk anymore (I won’t deny that he was a jerk as a kid though). I also don’t like reducing characters to tropes such as this because I find that it often leads to analyses that are based on what people expect to see rather than on what’s actually depicted in a story. But I will leave this here.

      —–

      It’s not that I don’t find Arata and Chihaya interesting; rather, Taichi is more interesting to me as a subject of analysis. As you’ve pointed out, Arata and Chihaya are very straightforward; Taichi is a point of contrast to them. Recall my comment in the other post about distinguishing between the literal meaning of what a character says and the intent behind it: for me, it’s very easy to figure out what Arata and Chihaya intend by the words they say (i.e. to figure out what makes them tick), but Taichi remains a challenge. And going by many of the comments about the last few chapters, it seems to me that most people don’t get him. Contrast, for example, the reactions to Arata’s confession and Taichi’s declaration that he was Chihaya’s boyfriend. I think most people would agree that the confession was made spontaneously the moment Arata realised that he liked Chihaya; however, there are still several different views of what Taichi intended with his declaration, and I don’t think anyone would be willing to bet that theirs is definitely the right one. The fact that I have to work to understand Taichi is what makes him an interesting character to analyse.

      —–

      Taichi seems to have recognized that he has done something wrong in lying to Suo; he still hesitates in revealing his true self to Chihaya, however….

      I don’t think Taichi told Suou the truth because he recognized that he had done something wrong; he did it for another reason. And the only thing that I feel Taichi has to tell Chihaya is the fact that he’s in love with her. Oh, and whilst I agree that Suou recognised himself in Taichi, that’s not what Suou’s excited reaction was about.

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  2. ravenanne says:

    True that Taichi’s internal monologues have been reduced recently as stated by the above commenter but just basing on that alone does not necessarily reflect the act they do or what they really wanna accomplished. I’m referring to chapter 120 where Taichi thought of Harada sensei’s words before declaring he is Chihaya’s boyfriend to Suo.

    *agreed -karice*

    “Suo seems to have a grudge towards straightforward characters, wanting them to “bend”; his friendliness at the end seems to be partly because he sees another “sneaky” character, like himself, in Taichi.”

    -It was Taichi’s “manipulative skills” or pre-emptive actions that made Suo change his views about him. And I don’t think he’ll be friendly to Taichi just because he found out he’s as sneaky as him.

    *I personally think that reaction was just one of excitement; he’s not friendly to Taichi as a result, he just doesn’t absolutely hate him anymore -karice*

    —————————————————————————————————————–

    But of course, as much as I’m puzzled of Taichi’s current actions, I also find Suo’s contrasting persona towards fellow karuta players quite intriguing. The way he supports them by giving/ cooking food or the way he wants to break someone’s spirit who are earnest towards their goal, like Chihaya, seems like he just wanted to measure their “capacity as a karuta player”… and since Chihaya is so passionate, he probably felt threatened by her. Even in chapter 123 (spoiler) where he had a conversation with Taichi, he stated that he did not feel good that he was not able to draw Taichi into committing faults. This tells something about his play style like someone mentioned at mangafox forum…. his ability to make his opponent commit a lot of fault that made him win without picking up “25” cards.

    *It’s not that Suou “did not feel good”; what he’s saying is that Taichi has a nasty karuta style. -karice*

    ” His behaviour in this chapter – bringing Suou some Japanese snacks, seeking a match with Suou and making sure that he didn’t commit any faults, and finally, apologising to Suou for bluffing that he was Chihaya’s boyfriend – is more about his own karuta than it is about Chihaya”

    And this kind of actions is what I’ll be looking forward more of him in the coming chapters. Hopefully, he won’t take a step backward if ever he’ll find out about Arata’s confession.

    *With the new developments, I doubt he will. -karice*

    “Taichi is probably the most complex and thus interesting character in this manga.”

    -Truly subjective but most readers/ watchers will agree, me included. 😉

    Once again, thanks for sharing each chapters summaries Karice chan!! >.<

    *You’re welcome. And apologies for the format of my reply: I just felt that this would be easier to read compared to quoting each point in a new comment! -karice*

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  3. ravenanne says:

    @Karice chan- It’s okay! I’m glad you have that type of feature in you’re own blog. And thanks for the translation clear up… sometimes or most of the times, using google translate is misleading. 😉 (goes off to read your chapter 123 spoilers! >///<)

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  4. Pingback: Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 126 | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  5. Guest says:

    Sorry for the belated and partial reply, and thanks for your answer. A few comments

    “it seems to me that most people don’t get (Taichi).”

    From recent postings that I’ve seen on mangafox, there are definitely people who struggle to understand both Chihaya and Arata, as well, calling Arata’s meltdown after his grandfather’s death “cowardice” and puzzling over Chihaya’s obsession with karuta, because they cannot sympathize with the characters’ reactions

    “And the only thing that I feel Taichi has to tell Chihaya is the fact that he’s in love with her.”

    If all he wants to do is confess to her to let her know how he feels/felt, yes. If he wants an actual relationship with her, he has to be able to feel comfortable showing his true self to her, including his dark/”jerky” side, which does exist (as both Arata and Suo have noted).

    The main thing is that it’s tiring to see Taichi’s fans try and turn him into the main character, as “hyperborealis” recently put it: “I think that readers who ship this manga are making their preferred boy rather than Chihaya the main character of the series. They turn the narrative into the story of the boy’s character development, with its end in the boy’s achievement of his much-deserved resolution, Chihaya’s love.” (S/he accuses both sides, but it was Taichi fans who took most offense, and the mention of “deserve” echoes Taichi fans’ oft-made declaration that Taichi “deserves” Chihaya more because “he’s always by her side”).

    “Ravenanne’s” veiled reference to popularity is another common argument; since Taichi is slightly more popular than Arata, he must be the one to “win” (as if Chihaya were a prize, which she isn’t). Recent polls have shown that Arata is a popular character as well; but ultimately, the romantic resolution shouldn’t be determined by polls.

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    • karice says:

      From recent postings that I’ve seen on mangafox, there are definitely people who struggle to understand both Chihaya and Arata, as well, calling Arata’s meltdown after his grandfather’s death “cowardice” and puzzling over Chihaya’s obsession with karuta, because they cannot sympathize with the characters’ reactions

      True…but their arguments are easier to address. The Taichi ones are difficult because both his fans AND his detractors seem to interpret him in the same way: through the romance. I simply cannot agree with that approach.

      The main thing is that it’s tiring to see Taichi’s fans try and turn him into the main character *snip*

      *shrugs* my solution is just to ignore the shipping discussions where possible (e.g. the “who will Chihaya end up with thread”)… but I will keep asking people to support their arguments with regards to other aspects of the main characters’ characterisation.

      E.g.

      If all he wants to do is confess to her to let her know how he feels/felt, yes. If he wants an actual relationship with her, he has to be able to feel comfortable showing his true self to her, including his dark/”jerky” side, which does exist (as both Arata and Suo have noted).

      Before I reply properly, may I ask: just what dark “jerky” side are you referring to? What has Taichi done recently that you think is “dark” and/or “jerky”?

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  6. Guest says:

    “Before I reply properly, may I ask: just what dark “jerky” side are you referring to? What has Taichi done recently that you think is “dark” and/or “jerky”?”
    To be frank, it would be an exercise in futility for me to elaborate on what I see as Taichi’s dark side, including his possessiveness. You would most likely disagree wholesale with any conclusions that I tried to make, and dismiss any evidence I presented as cherry-picked and influenced by my biases (which I have never hidden–my priority is the protagonists, Chihaya and Arata), as you did with a poster on MF who tried to argue the same thing (s/he missed some relevant scenes, it should be noted) while refusing to consider whether your own views on Taichi’s arc and character are blinding you to evidence that might contradict said views.

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    • karice says:

      To expand on what I said in another reply to you, I ask for evidence because the longer I’ve been in the fandom, the more I’ve noticed that a lot of the evidence that people use to support extremely negative opinions about Taichi are based on incorrect translations. For an example of a highly incorrect translation (though not directly related to Taichi) have you read the reply I wrote to you here? Hyperborealis has just used another one as evidence on the MF forums, and I’m going to have to reiterate my point there as well. If you want to challenge my translations, that’s fine, just please ask a fluent Japanese speaker and not just any of the translators you find in the community, unless you know that they can watch and understand anime and dramas without subtitles.

      I’m really not trying to brag, and I generally try to avoid criticising other translators, because I know just how difficult it is to learn this language. But I’ve seen a lot of good and bad translations over the years, and Chihayafuru is unfortunately one of the poorest served series I’ve seen in recent years in this respect. So whilst the main reason I ask for evidence is so that I can decide for myself whether people make a good argument or not, a strong second reason is that it helps me find some of the translation errors floating around. As a translator, I want more than anything to try to bring them to light, because I feel that these errors do a great disservice to how Suetsugu has composed her story. If people still dislike a particular character – be it Taichi, Arata or any other character – after these errors have been cleared up, that’s fine. That is why I don’t keep trying to push certain posters about their negative perceptions of Arata’s actions. But if people insist on keeping an incorrect translation just because it fits with how they want to interpret a scene, then I have to question whether they really want to appreciate this manga.

      This doesn’t mean that every piece of evidence that Taichi detractors use is an error in translation, or that I will disagree with everything you say. I have stated my agreement with several arguments re: the dark sides of Taichi and some of the evidence used to support them, several times. But I will continue to disagree when I can think of counterarguments to something and the different interpretations of character that arise from them. You can call it bias if you want, but unless you can provide evidence that directly contradicts mine, then all we’re doing is arguing over an opinion, and in that case, it’s better if we just agree to disagree, and I will stop pushing you on your negative perception of Taichi.

      So if you think that I have used incorrect evidence, or am ignoring something else, then please point it out. I will try not to avoid discussion unless someone ends with attacking me specifically instead of contesting my argument and evidence. But as I wrote in the other post, if you decline to provide evidence for your argument, then I’m only ever going to be able to treat it as an opinion. And we can just continue to agree to disagree.


      /end tl;dr
      To very briefly summarise the point I have tried to make over the last few months to you: you have decided to comment at the blog of a person who defines herself as a Chihayafuru fan first and foremost. That means that I try to evaluate Chihayafuru mostly based on evidence, whether there are other possible arguments that can be made with that evidence, and which of the arguments I find most convincing. So if you express what I think is an opinion that I disagree with or that I don’t understand, I will often ask for the argument and evidence that you use to support it. If you don’t want to provide that evidence, just let me know, and we can end the discussion.

      Either way, thank you for taking so much time to read and comment until now.

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      • Guest says:

        Thanks for your reply. It’s just that I’ve seen the same thing too many times, and in other fandoms, and it always occurs with characters like Taichi, Suo and Snape: for some fans “jerk with a heart of gold” character(s) cross a line and for some they don’t, and arguments tend to hinge on that one point. If the character doesn’t cross that line for a person, anything but the mildest criticism tends to seem like “bashing”; if the character does cross that line, anything but the harshest criticism tends to seem like “making excuses” for the character. That is why such characters tend to get so much attention; not because they’re so much more “interesting” and so much “deeper” than the other characters, but because they tend to polarize the fanbase in that way/.
        As for Taichi being possessive: how else would you interpret the events of the beginning of Chapter 44? Watanabe wasn’t a threat to anyone, yet Taichi declares their relationship “impossible” with no proof (with Kana-chan chiming in–neither of them know whether Watanabe will embrace her karuta baka side) grabs her phone(something he’s in the habit of doing–he also does it in Ch. 112 and Ch. 120), deletes his phone number, and declares that he is going to accompany her on the train to school from then on. Kana-chan also notes that Chihaya’s lack of popularity at school is most likely due to the fact that Taichi is always by her side.
        It puts a new light on Taichi’s declaration that Chihaya “belongs” to both him and Arata; rather than being proof of Taichi’s lack of possessiveness, it could be that Arata is the sole exception to his usual policy of possessiveness–until Suo comes along. And even then, he reacts first with his usual possessiveness (the lie of Chihaya being his girlfriend).
        And even if you wanted to interpret it as “protectiveness”, is Taichi’s protectiveness always helpful to Chihaya? Does it enable her to grow, or does it hinder her growth, at least sometimes? I’m thinking specifically of Ch. 96, in which Taichi takes on Chihaya’s bet for her against Sudo. Not only is it in vain (because Chihaya wins), but Taichi’s lack of faith in her abilities (for why would he take over the bet if he had faith in her abilities?) is contrasted with Arata’s faith in the previous scene.

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      • karice says:

        Thanks for your reply. It’s just that I’ve seen the same thing too many times, and in other fandoms, and it always occurs with characters like Taichi, Suo and Snape: for some fans “jerk with a heart of gold” character(s) cross a line and for some they don’t, and arguments tend to hinge on that one point. If the character doesn’t cross that line for a person, anything but the mildest criticism tends to seem like “bashing”; if the character does cross that line, anything but the harshest criticism tends to seem like “making excuses” for the character. That is why such characters tend to get so much attention; not because they’re so much more “interesting” and so much “deeper” than the other characters, but because they tend to polarize the fanbase in that way/.

        Hm…although it may be related, I think that the polarisation of a series’s fan base is a different issue to the question of whether a particular character in that series is complex/interesting or not. I also wouldn’t characterise the discussion just by the one line I’ve highlighted above, because many of the blow-ups I’ve personally seen have had more to do with what posters say or imply about each other than with what was said about the characters before the discussions descended into personal attacks. I don’t want to go into details here, but I will say that I’m not only basing this on my experience in the Chihayafuru fandom, but also on my experiences in the Macross F and No. 6 fandoms (amongst others, probably). Oh, and whilst I don’t like Snape, I think he’s a fascinating character.

        Let me summarise my own position on this issue through three pieces of advice. First, please do not assume that everyone takes one or the other extreme — this is the point I am more concerned about, because I really dislike it when people apply it to me. Second, I would suggest avoiding cliched character tropes such as ‘jerk with a heart of gold’, because it tends to lead to simplification of how characters develop by restricting the context that people use to analyse them. (It also seems to lead to people making the assumption that I referred to in my previous point.) This doesn’t just occur in fandom: cliches, theories, even ideas about what a particular word means tend to shape what people pay attention to, whether in fiction or in real life. A good example is the infamous ‘NTR face’, which everyone now associates with the ‘romantic relationship’ part of stories/character development even when that is not necessarily the case. I can give another good example from the anime/light novel series, Mahouka, which I am currently watching. I could go on about this for quite a while; however, let me stop here. And finally, I think it’s best if we just learn to accept that people like different characters for different reasons, and that you’re never going to be able to convince someone who likes a character to hate them. The best you can do is justify your own position, and hope that others can understand it.

        As for Taichi being possessive: how else would you interpret the events of the beginning of Chapter 44? Watanabe wasn’t a threat to anyone, yet Taichi declares their relationship “impossible” with no proof (with Kana-chan chiming in–neither of them know whether Watanabe will embrace her karuta baka side) grabs her phone (something he’s in the habit of doing–he also does it in Ch. 112 and Ch. 120) deletes his phone number, and declares that he is going to accompany her on the train to school from then on. Kana-chan also notes that Chihaya’s lack of popularity at school is most likely due to the fact that Taichi is always by her side.

        I reacted like Kana, actually. Maybe it’s different where you come from, but in the countries I’ve lived in (incl. Japan), girls don’t just give their phone numbers/email addresses to people who say they like them on the street. Chihaya barely knows the guy, he barely knows her; at most, she should have said she would think about it, and given him a reply the next day at the train station, given that that’s where they encounter each other. She did not have to give him her contact details just for that, so whatever Watanabe may have turned out to be like, Chihaya was behaving in a way that was dangerous for her.

        So it becomes a question about whether Taichi’s reaction is appropriate, and if not, how he should have reacted. First, let me just say that labelling an action that we observe three times over the space of one and a half years a habit seems a bit excessive to me. But returning to the core of the issue: whilst I personally wouldn’t be impressed if someone grabbed my phone from me, that’s because of my personality and the fact that I know that I’m pretty sensible. Chihaya isn’t, and in two of the three cases you’ve named, Taichi’s action was in response to that. The same applies for him telling her that she should catch the train with him. You may not agree with his reaction, but there was a reason for it, and it is part of how they relate to each other (Taichi trying to deal with her borderline social ineptitude). I think that, in real life, people like Taichi and Kana would also have tried to talk to Chihaya about why her actions are somewhat dangerous, but Suetsugu doesn’t show us that. Does it mean that they didn’t do that? Perhaps, perhaps not. Personally, because of my understanding of the norms of Japanese society, I tend to treat those scenes as being examples of the mangaka showing us Chihaya’s somewhat naive character.

        The comment about Taichi always being by her side was Nishida, IIRC. And why is he always by her side? Until that point, because they are in the same club together, and live in the same general direction (so why wouldn’t they head home together after club practice, which occurs every single day?). Another thing to note is that, in Japan, most kids at school do not hang out with friends of the opposite sex after school, or head home together, unless they are dating. In fact, if anyone sees a girl and guy (or woman and man) of around the same age together, they tend to assume that they are dating (NB: I have had personal experience about this part of Japanese culture). In other words, it doesn’t take much for people to assume that Taichi and Chihaya are dating (c.f. what the other girls at the Fujisaki camp conclude). In other words, that Taichi always seemed to be beside Chihaya and thus would appear to be her boyfriend was inevitable, given the circumstances. To me, it appears that, for Taichi’s behaviour to not appear possessive to you and others who don’t like it, he would have had to abandon Chihaya in her efforts to create a karuta club at their school.

        It puts a new light on Taichi’s declaration that Chihaya “belongs” to both him and Arata; rather than being proof of Taichi’s lack of possessiveness, it could be that Arata is the sole exception to his usual policy of possessiveness–until Suo comes along. And even then, he reacts first with his usual possessiveness (the lie of Chihaya being his girlfriend).

        To me, that lie wasn’t really about what you’ve called ‘his usual possessiveness’, but rather about Taichi’s own goals in karuta, as signalled by his recollection of Harada’s words and actions. We can continue to disagree about this.

        And even if you wanted to interpret it as “protectiveness”, is Taichi’s protectiveness always helpful to Chihaya? Does it enable her to grow, or does it hinder her growth, at least sometimes? I’m thinking specifically of Ch. 96, in which Taichi takes on Chihaya’s bet for her against Sudo. Not only is it in vain (because Chihaya wins), but Taichi’s lack of faith in her abilities (for why would he take over the bet if he had faith in her abilities?) is contrasted with Arata’s faith in the previous scene.

        Are you assuming that ‘making a bet’ is always going to help people grow? For some people, learning to respond calmly to provocation represents the growth that might be important to them (compare Arata’s response to Shinobu at the High School karuta tournament): in Chihaya’s case, going by what happened the last time Sudo made her take a bet, might this not be the case? And if so, then Chihaya’s flustered response before Sudo even proposed the bet suggests that she had already lost, in which case Taichi’s actions can be said to be a form of damage control.

        Please do not take the above as being what I think should be interpreted from that scene (or, to put it another way, as me saying that ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’, because that’s not what I’m trying to do). I don’t really focus on details such as this because they seem more humorous to me than anything else. But let me play the devil’s advocate: I think that you have made an assumption that the bet Sudo had proposed was the battle; it is possible to argue that the provocation itself was the battle, and that Chihaya’s initial response showed that she had already lost. So, if scenes like this matter to you, then I strongly suggest that you recognise the assumptions and beliefs that you are basing your argument on. Or, to put it differently, I suggest that you identify the counter arguments to your own, and try to address them.

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  7. Guest says:

    Your defense of Taichi seems to boil down to (a)”Taichi’s not that bad because (insert Japanese custom here)” (also a partial defense on the “teki” thread) and (b) “Taichi’s possessiveness/protectiveness is partially justified because Chihaya’s a “moron” (Taichi, Ch.96)/”not sensible” (your words).”
    As for the first part of your defense, I’ll address one point separately here. Your pointing out that Japanese people tend to assume that two people who are frequently seen together are dating would seem to bolster my argument rather than detract form it. Knowing that people will assume this, he goes home with her from school and is by her side any chance he can get (which is what’s implied by “always,” not just club activities). Subconsciously or consciously, he’s keeping other guys away. As of Ch. 44, if not earlier, it’s conscious; in response to a guy hitting on her, he issues an edict that she’s to take the morning train with him, which has nothing to do with the club.
    The Ch. 119 lie is consistent with that as well. He recalls Harada’s declaration, which is about karuta; but his lying about Chihaya immediately afterwards indicates that at that moment, he’s applying it to his romantic pursuit of Chihaya. He “tries his best” in his default way–blocking yet another non-Arata suitor. But is it his right to decide that only he or Arata can end up with Chihaya? Whether he’s realized that the answer is “no” or not, he’s decided that Suo is the 2nd excpetion (perhaps the 2nd person he “has to beat” in order to “win” Chihaya, perhaps not) to his rule of general possessiveness. It’s significant that he tells Chihaya not to wait for him so that they can go home together at the same time he makes his admission to Suo.
    As for the second part of your defense, this is part of the problem with trying to turn Taichi into the protagonist; readers become so invested in Taichi’s pov that they’re not clearly able to see when he’s wrong about a character.
    For all of his fondness for Chihaya, Taichi tends to look down on her at times. Calling her variations of “moron” and “idiot”–it may be generally portrayed comically, but the attitude it reflects isn’t comic. He tends to underestimate her, which, along with his insecurity, leads to his possessiveness/protectiveness.
    Your argument that the best scene in Ch. 96 could be about Chihaya learning to be calm under provocation would hold more weight if Chihaya were shown learning anything. But she isn’t shown learning anything; Taichi drags her away, calling her a “moron” as he does so, and explaining nothing, and the rest of the scene is primarily about his “damage control.” And later chapters emphasize that the scene is primarily about him. not her; the scene is also deliberately placed after a scene between Arata and Chihaya, as if to contrast the two boys’ attitudes towards Chihaya.
    Taichi needs to back off from the “damage control,” and needs to explain the rationales behind his edicts, at the very least, instead of telling her what to do without an explanation. How is Chihaya supposed to learn, otherwise? If she isn’t told or reminded why something’s wrong, or allowed to make her own choices, even if they lead to mistakes, she isn’t going to learn.
    She doesn’t learn anything from the Watanabe situation, and doesn’t learn anything from the bet, because Taichi (and Kana-chan, in Ch. 44) treat her like a “moron” who needs to obey for her own good, rather than a human being capable of learning, who deserves a proper explanation of why not to do something.
    Taichi’s not only hurting Chihaya by underestimating her, he’s hurting himself. He needs to realize that Chihaya does notice and appreciate him (even if it isn’t a matter of romantic love) and acknowledge that she’s matured and changed–Ch. 116’s a good example of how he’s failing to do this. Any relationship he has with Chihaya will founder if he doesn’t do this.
    A note about Japanese customs: I can think of at least one example of a guy controlling his girlfriend’s cell phone seen as a negative thing–Takumi (who’s portrayed as jealous, controlling, and possessive) controls Nana K’s phone in Nana, to the consternation of at least two other characters (in around vol. 11-12). Given that Taichi’s not even Chihaya’s boyfriend, his attempts to control Chihaya’s cell phone would probably be seen even more negatively.

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    • karice says:

      Your defense of Taichi seems to boil down to (a)”Taichi’s not that bad because (insert Japanese custom here)” (also a partial defense on the “teki” thread)

      Two points.

      First, I have never said that Taichi should get a clean slate. Much of what I have written is to provide context for his actions which people in the West don’t seem to understand. But that is separate from how I feel about his actions, and also how I feel about Japanese culture. Furthermore, both of these are a matter of degree. I think some aspects of the latter are problematic and should be changed; however, because of this context, I really cannot find as high a degree of fault with Taichi as some people in the fandom seem to want to do. I will refrain from making an assumption on exactly where you sit on the spectrum, and I ask that you stop assuming that I am completely positive about him.

      Second, I believe that culture and society have a significant influence on how people behave, and that it is important to take this into account when trying to assign ‘blame’ and assert what characters/people should do instead. If you don’t share this worldview, that’s fine with me. But it also means that there’s probably no point in us discussing things any further.


      Let me preface the bulk of my response by noting that my understanding of this discussion is that you are trying to persuade me that Taichi is ‘possessive’ with regards to Chihaya. What I am doing is letting you know what I think of your evidence. And with that…

      Knowing that people will assume this, he goes home with her from school and is by her side any chance he can get (which is what’s implied by “always,” not just club activities).

      I don’t think you understand: club activities in Japan take place just about every single day, so Taichi is always going to be around Chihaya simply because they are in the same club. They are also childhood friends, who live within walking distance of each other (as the karuta camp at Taichi’s house showed), so I think it’d be unnatural for him to consistently avoid going home with her if they leave school at the same time and don’t have anywhere else to be.

      In other words, the claim (and I was mistaken: it was Kana’s) that Taichi always appears to be around Chihaya is not good evidence that he is “by her side any chance he can get.” Taichi would actually have to go out of his way in order to not appear to be around Chihaya ‘all the time’. Hence, by insisting that Taichi should avoid hanging around her, you are implying that even being friends with her is being possessive. If you want to insist on this point, then it logically follows that the only way Taichi at this point wouldn’t appear possessive to you is if he didn’t help Chihaya set up the club on the first place, because, given all the circumstances, that’s the only way he wouldn’t have appeared to be around her all the time.

      As of Ch. 44, if not earlier, it’s conscious; in response to a guy hitting on her, he issues an edict that she’s to take the morning train with him, which has nothing to do with the club.

      This is a better piece of evidence for your “Taichi is possessive” thesis. But let me analyse the scene blow by blow.

      (1) Chihaya reports that someone who catches a train at her station asked her out.
      (2) Kana says that she should refuse, because he’s a virtual stranger from another school.
      (3) Taichi says that she might as well try going out with him, otherwise she won’t understand that she’ll only be able to date another karuta player.
      (4) Chihaya drops the bombshell: she’s already given him her contact details.
      (5) Kana: “You told him your number!?”
      (6) Taichi grabs the phone, blocks the number, and tells Chihaya to catch the morning train with him.

      Important thing to note: Taichi wasn’t reacting to the fact that someone else had asked her out, and even said that it would be beneficial to her if she did get some experience dating. Rather, he was reacting to point 4, which shows that Chihaya has no idea of how to deal with (strangers of) the opposite sex. As I wrote in my previous post, rather than giving him her contact details, Chihaya should have told Watanabe that she’d give him her answer the following day. You have a valid point in that someone should inform Chihaya about why they react in this way to her actions. However, it’s one thing if Chihaya learns by consulting her friends about things she’s unsure about, and another if she might just succumb to pressure and agree to something she shouldn’t agree to. (E.g. if a guy of working age ‘asked her out’, would she also have given him her contact details so that she could refuse him properly? And if Watanabe wanted to sleep with her ASAP, would she just say yes?).

      Hence, rather than this being a prime example Taichi showing how possessive he is, I read his actions in this scene as stemming primarily from his concern about Chihaya’s lack of social skills, which can conceivably get her into a situation that she won’t be able to get out of, and may only regret. Maybe it’s different where you are from, but for me, it’s a valid concern, and it’s far better to prevent such a situation than for Chihaya to have to learn from a mistake that she will never be able to rectify. Of course, spending more time with her might suit Taichi because he is in love with her, and I would agree that Taichi grabbing her phone etc and telling her to catch the train with him is arguably excessive on his part. However, for me, the determining factor is that he is concerned for her wellbeing, not that he is possessive. We can continue to disagree about this.

      As for whether Chihaya might have learned anything: I missed this before because I didn’t actually reread the scenes carefully, but Kana explained the problem at point 2: ~ “He’s a guy you don’t know from another school, right?” She also indicated that Chihaya shouldn’t have given Watanabe her number (point 5). I’m happy to disagree about whether they need to spell it out any further for Chihaya. Finally, in the end, it’s up to Chihaya whether she decides to catch the train with Taichi or not.

      Hence, we can continue to disagree on whether Taichi’s actions are understandable, or whether he should be condemned.

      The Ch. 119 lie is consistent with that as well. He recalls Harada’s declaration, which is about karuta; but his lying about Chihaya immediately afterwards indicates that at that moment, he’s applying it to his romantic pursuit of Chihaya. He “tries his best” in his default way–blocking yet another non-Arata suitor. But is it his right to decide that only he or Arata can end up with Chihaya? Whether he’s realized that the answer is “no” or not, he’s decided that Suo is the 2nd excpetion (perhaps the 2nd person he “has to beat” in order to “win” Chihaya, perhaps not) to his rule of general possessiveness. It’s significant that he tells Chihaya not to wait for him so that they can go home together at the same time he makes his admission to Suo.

      I disagree with this interpretation of all of these events, probably because I don’t read Chihayafuru just through the ‘romance lens’. Let’s just leave it at that.


      To summarise, the evidence you have provided for Taichi being possessive are:

      (1) He’s always around Chihaya.
      (2) He stopped her getting involved in what may have been a beneficial relationship.
      (3) He vetoed Suou’s initial attempt to get closer to her.

      My responses are

      (1) This is not convincing evidence because you’re saying that he should actually go out of his way to avoid her, which would be unnatural to me given the circumstances of their friendship.
      (2) Based on how I read the scene, Taichi was acting based on his realisation that Chihaya might actually get herself into a bad situation based on her naivety, which I think is a valid concern.
      (3) I don’t share your interpretation of these scenes (and I will not address them again until what Taichi is/was doing becomes clearer to me).

      To conclude, you have failed to convince me that Taichi is ‘possessive’. If these are your strongest pieces of evidence, then I don’t think you will succeed in convincing me (unless some definitive piece of evidence comes out of (3)); I probably won’t be able to convince you to see things my way, but frankly speaking, it really doesn’t bother me if you want to keep holding those views. What bothers me is that continuing any longer would be a waste of time, time that I do not have to spare. So, let’s just agree to disagree on this.

      P.s. One other thing: my original question to you was about what ‘dark and jerky’ actions Taichi has taken recently – I was specifically wondering what you thought Suou was reacting to when he told Taichi “you’re a nasty guy.” If you are implying that Suou thinks that Taichi is ‘possessive’…well, I’d have to disagree with that.


      Now, let me address the second part of your comment.

      (b) “Taichi’s possessiveness/protectiveness is partially justified because Chihaya’s a “moron” (Taichi, Ch.96)/”not sensible” (your words).”

      For all of his fondness for Chihaya, Taichi tends to look down on her at times. Calling her variations of “moron” and “idiot”–it may be generally portrayed comically, but the attitude it reflects isn’t comic. He tends to underestimate her, which, along with his insecurity, leads to his possessiveness/protectiveness.

      Given that I am not convinced of your premise that Taichi is ‘possessive’, I can only address your other argument that Taichi’s attitude towards Chihaya indicates that he looks down on her.

      Putting aside the non-sequitur at the end of the second passage I have quoted, if you want to argue that Chihaya is actually quite sensible, please go ahead. If you look at my posting record on MF, you’ll find that I have been quite measured about her – in a discussion with hyperborealis, I quite readily acknowledged her growth, though I very clearly laid out my differences with hyperborealis’s interpretation, drawing on manga evidence to show it.

      But I do not agree with you or many other shippers, or so it would seem, on the growth that is most important for her to undergo at this point. A lot of people seem to want her to date someone, anyone, so that she learns what it means to be in a relationship. I personally think it’s fine for her to date someone only when she’s actually ready for it…and I don’t think she was ready to be in a relationship with either Watanabe or Suou, for various reasons. You have also argued that Chihaya would have benefitted from the bet with Sudo, whether she wins or loses: I think that she’ll do much better if she learns to ignore such distractions. We can continue to disagree about these issues.

      Returning to your argument that Taichi looks down on Chihaya, all of Chihaya’s 2nd year friends don’t think she has social sense, and her schoolmates and teachers also constantly point this out. But you focus mostly on Taichi…and use as evidence a scene where the “Baka!!” was a sound effect… Ok… It feels a lot like you’re trying to find any means whatsoever to justify your view of Taichi. That’s fine by me, but don’t expect everyone to feel the same as you. I don’t see his behaviour as being too extreme for people with their level of friendship, possibly because I also call some of my relations and some of my close friends morons or idiots when I feel it’s warranted. I guess that means I’m looking down on them, huh?

      Your argument that the best scene in Ch. 96 could be about Chihaya learning to be calm under provocation would hold more weight if Chihaya were shown learning anything. But she isn’t shown learning anything *snip*

      To me, her face in the following panel suggests that she learned something there, whatever it might be. We can continue to disagree about this.

      Taichi’s not only hurting Chihaya by underestimating her, he’s hurting himself. He needs to realize that Chihaya does notice and appreciate him (even if it isn’t a matter of romantic love) and acknowledge that she’s matured and changed–Ch. 116’s a good example of how he’s failing to do this. Any relationship he has with Chihaya will founder if he doesn’t do this.

      I’d say that Taichi’s expression after that scene in ch116 suggests that he learned something.

      More importantly though, why has this come back to shipping (by which I mean talk about ‘who is good for whom’ etc) again? As I have indicated time and time again, I DO NOT CARE.

      Given that Taichi’s not even Chihaya’s boyfriend, his attempts to control Chihaya’s cell phone would probably be seen even more negatively.

      As I wrote last time, calling three times over 1.5 years (two of which were in contexts where I expect good friends to be able to do that sort of thing) a ‘habit’ is excessive to me. We can continue to disagree about this as well.


      Let me finish off with this:

      As for the second part of your defense, this is part of the problem with trying to turn Taichi into the protagonist; readers become so invested in Taichi’s pov that they’re not clearly able to see when he’s wrong about a character.

      Would you kindly stop telling me what I am supposedly doing? I hardly ever talk about just Taichi, since my interest is in the manga itself. The only reason this has continued for so long is because we disagree about how to interpret this one character. I have my reasons for interpreting the characters the way I do, largely based on me trying to understand what is shaping their actions, and I accept that others may not agree with me. Hence, I would appreciate two things. First, that you actually address my points (including any relevant outstanding replies) without resorting to blanket statements implying that I am “trying to turn Taichi into the protagonist,” because that is not what I am doing. And second, building on the first, that you allow others to have different interpretations from you without implying that they are just trying to create excuses simply because you don’t agree with their logic.

      If you can’t do either of these, then please stop commenting here. I really don’t like requesting this, but if we’re just going to keep disagreeing, I really don’t think it’s worth any more of my time, or yours.

      Like

  8. pira97 says:

    Interesting, first of all I didn’t read everything here, second I would like to throw a wood in the fire.
    It all comes down to Taichi’s NTR faces. If its meaning is what the urban dictionary says, I will have to agree with “Guest”, if it is not I do agree with Karice in parts.
    Until Suetsugu sensei explains why? We will never know.

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    • karice says:

      Going by the Urban Dictionary, Netorare very specifically refers to a ‘crappy genre’ which is built around characters getting their love interest(s) stolen from them. The definition of NTR even more specifically labels it as a genre within Eroge (i.e. hentai games).

      This is why I questioned you on MF about your definition of NTR: do you actually understand the origins of the term and how it has been applied (used and misused, to be precise) since then? I apologise for not replying there – I’m just sick of the shipping in this fandom. If you still haven’t looked it up, I recommended exploring TV tropes, even if you can’t take everything there seriously.

      But if you do understand the term, and if that’s what you want to use to describe Chihayafuru or Taichi, go ahead. Needless to say, I completely and utterly disagree.

      Like

  9. pira97 says:

    Other people and I in MF know that NTR refers to genre Eroge, but when we refer to NTR faces in Taichi, we are referring to:
    ” The subculture has extended the meaning of netorare to include situations in which the protagonist is not actually in a relationship, much less married, but has a girl he is desperately infatuated with. He doesn’t take steps to approach her, however, and watches powerlessly as some other guy seizes the opportunity.(…) Of course, nothing is “stolen” from anybody there, but that doesn’t make the protagonist’s (and correlatively, the reader’s) feeling of loss and defeat any less acute, which contribute to the fun—or spoil it, depending on your inclinations. This also cause an emotion of deep jealousy on the reader.”

    Ok, let just forget NTR, why the author drew Taichi with those faces whenever he saw Chihaya interacted with Arata? Depending on your inclinations, it can have different interpretations. I just wish someone will ask Suetsugu sensei.

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    • karice says:

      Leaving aside how convenient it is for you to change the source of your definitions…

      If you extended the definition to include ‘situations where it doesn’t even apply, such as where the protagonist is feeling jealous/envious for any other reason’, then you would cover how the subculture has decided to (mis)use NTR (e.g. here).

      And here’s the key to the problem I have with it: it is something that the subculture decided to use. Authors have been representing different emotions using that ‘face’ for years – whilst it probably does indicate jealousy/envy most of the time, there are also other emotions conveyed, included sadness, depression (although this one is more often conveyed with heavy black lines conveying ‘gloom’), the character being deep in thought etc. Furthermore, even if you want to claim that it’s jealousy/envy, the exact reason behind that isn’t necessarily from the romance aspect of the manga/anime, it might also be from other themes and facets of a particular character. Even if I can’t ask her directly, I’d personally assume that this is also true for Suetsugu and the art she draws for this manga.

      Hence, by insisting on using ‘NTR face’, people in the subculture are consciously or unconsciously reducing characters down to what is happening in the romantic subplot. It’s fine when, like the KuroBasu fan I linked above, the person is merely making fun of the whole situation. But it’s frankly annoying when people seriously try to use this as evidence to claim that the only thing that a character wants is a fruitful resolution to the romantic subplot that he/she is part of. To me, it appears that that’s what you and other Taichi detractors (and even some Taichi supporters) like to claim, ignoring all other aspects of his character development.

      In sum, if you all want to use ‘NTR face’ to make fun of Taichi and other characters, that’s fine by me. It’s not like I’m not guilty with regards to that in another series I’m watching. But if you want to use it as ‘evidence’ in a serious discussion about anything in Chihayafuru, I suggest that you find some actual evidence to support your argument.

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

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