Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 140
January 18, 2015 8 Comments
** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **
Chihaya has been spending a lot of her time in the library, and Kana has been watching her, concerned…
In Fukui, Arata and the Nagumo Society’s twins try to set up a karuta club, but are told that they need at least 5 members. Since it’d still be possible for them to participate in the team tournament, the twins suggest that they just practice at the Nagumo society as usual, especially since Arata’s main goal remains the Meijin match. However, Murao tells him to make the most of his remaining time as a student, before he finds himself involved in the running of tournaments as well. This is the only time where he can be just a karuta player. On his way home that day, Arata reflects on how much the people around him have been protecting him, and helping him, and his thoughts drift to how Chihaya inspired him to return to karuta, and how she had devoted herself to the team tournament…
The following day, Arata turns up at the first year classes during the lunch break…standing out completely in his hakama. As the students stare at him in shock, he asks for anyone interested in karuta to join him and the twins in forming a karuta club at their school, with the goal of aiming for the nationals. He works his way through the first and second years before visiting the classes of his fellow third years, and perseveres despite the pressure he feels under their gazes. As he regains his composure again, his neighbour Yuu comes across him and wonders what in the world he’s doing. After all, no third year student would want to start activities in a new club. But Arata responds:
I don’t know (how this will turn out), but right now, I get the feeling that I must form a team.
To Arata, Yuu helping him look after his grandfather meant that they’d also been a team, and he thanks her for it. Touched, she starts to say that she’ll join him if he can’t find anyone else…but right at that juncture, three students come looking for Arata, and the Fujioka East Karuta Club is born.
Back in Tokyo, Chihaya has continued losing to Tamaru, the annoying first year girl. She certainly has skills, but everyone can see that Chihaya is completely out of sorts. Here, Tamaru suggests that they use their win-loss record during practice to decide the team for the regional tournament in June; her impudence riles the senior players up, and they fear that the division within the club will have a negative effect on their performance in the prelims…
|“May I take a break from club activities?”|
And Chihaya bows and asks to take a break from the club. Nishida tries to stop her…but Kana-chan agrees because her lack of focus will only be a hindrance to everyone else on the tatami. After Chihaya packs up and leaves, Kana, tears welling in her eyes, declares:
|We are Mizusawa High, the school that took home the team championship at the national tournament last year. No matter who we’re missing, no matter who isn’t here, we will not fight in a way that shames that flag and trophy that we hold!|
Outside the door, Chihaya crouches down in tears, the task of studying, of learning what is important, still before her.
** COMMENTARY and SPECULATION **
I must confess that I hadn’t actually expected Chihaya to become this depressed over what has transpired. It makes me wonder what has been going through her head over these last few days. What Suetsugu-sensei has been doing with these last two chapters puzzles me a little, for the impression I’ve gotten over the course of the manga is that she typically lets us have a glimpse at her characters’ thoughts. I feel that she hasn’t been quite so forthcoming with Chihaya: we know that she’s realised that she’s hurt Taichi deeply, but it’s still really unclear exactly what she’s realised. Is it because she still doesn’t know what she can do about it? I’m also really surprised that she hasn’t tried to talk to anyone about it, not her mother, or sister, or Kana-chan. Whilst I’d like to see Chihaya make her own decisions about how to resolve the chasm that’s opened up between herself and Taichi, I think that talking to others about what she has done will help her understand what she should be taking from what’s happened, and perhaps also what she can do to address it.
And in stark contrast over in Fukui, Arata seems to be taking ever stronger steps to his karuta dreams. It was immensely gratifying to see Arata realise that he is surrounded by people who care for him and want him to make the most out of his opportunities in the karuta world, and to see him work up his courage to try recruiting other team members, leading to three more underclassmen joining him and the twins in their new club. Of course, the spanner in the works is that the two people he most wants to play against, the team that he wants to face, look increasingly unlikely to make the national HS karuta tournament. Since all the issues are obviously resolved by the time of the Meijin and Queen prelim tournaments in November, the real question has always been whether Chihaya and Taichi would make it to this year’s high school nationals…
What would it mean for the story if the match-up between Taichi and Chihaya’s team and Arata’s team doesn’t take place? The significance of the team in Chihayafuru has been huge ever since our three protagonists were children, and it almost feels like Suetsugu simply must bring them back together at the nationals, in two-three months time (story-wise, it should be about mid-April, and the regional prelims are typically in June). However, at the same time, is two months enough time for Taichi and Chihaya to recover and come back together? Furthermore, if this drama is resolved by June (or at latest, August, with the team tournament), then what kind of match will we see between Taichi and Arata for the Meijin challenger deciders? I feel like something has to be left unanswered for that – but if so, then what is going to be resolved at the nationals?