Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 141

Chihayafuru_141-3
Let’s play karuta!!

Well, with this and the next chapter (which I’ve seen spoilers for online), it looks like the story is finally moving again…

** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **

The moon and sun have disappeared from the Mizusawa Karuta Club…

Although both Taichi and Chihaya are gone, Kana remains determined that they will not lose face as the reigning team champions. The club takes up Tamura’s suggestion that their win-loss record over the following month would be used as a reference to help determine the team for the Tokyo regionals, and each of the second and third years reflects in their own way on the situation. Nishida is determined to put Tamura in her place, whilst Tsukuba, as always, aims to become the team’s Ace. Sumire wonders how the regionals will turn out, and Komano decides to put off his confession to Kana until they’ve overcome this crisis. (Though he may also be doing it because he’s afraid of confessing…).

However, the atmosphere in the club has turned heavy, reflecting the strained ties within. As Miyauchi-sensei worries over how their minds simply aren’t turned towards the same goal, Nishida’s sister rejoices that this disharmony will enable Hokuo, where Hyoro (Retro) now leads, to take the Tokyo and National karuta crown…

Chihayafuru_141-1
Go and learn. Anything at all, just go and learn.

Back in the classroom, Chihaya continues to study hard with Michiru. Her popularity soars as her male classmates appreciate the studious figure she now cuts…until they realise that she’s burying herself in study just as she once did with karuta. But even then, her fellow club members—especially Taichi—are never far from her mind.

I’ve stopped playing karuta. Who could ever have imagined that such a day would come?

Taichi and Suou

At the cram school, Suou’s voice doesn’t carry even when he uses a mic (as one student suggested later, perhaps that’s why he’s popular, because everyone has to concentrate in order to learn from him). But something he says strikes a chord in Taichi:

I’m good at everything I do, so I got into Tokyo Uni without even going to cram school. But on the flip side, I can’t say that ‘the days of youth’ ever came my way. Well…let me throw that “Hah-!” right back at you. (Students: WHAT!?) But one day, I realised that in the kanji for “youth” (青春), the kanji for “time” (月日) can be found. A sudden regret about “the days of youth” arose in my heart, and I started looking for them within myself. In this class, I’ll be teaching you how best to gather marks in the short essay section of your exams. But on top of that, I want you to remember this one thing: that words hold great power.

As Taichi eats alone (telling his mother that he won’t return home for dinner), Harada’s challenge again runs through his head:

“You won’t get stronger (than Arata) even if you throw all of your youth into karuta? Eyebrows-kun, say that again when you’ve actually done that.”

Words certainly have power… the power…of a curse.

One of the girls from the cram school finds him and offers to give him some new headphones she’s just bought, so that he’d be able to study in the noisy fast food restaurant. But Suou appears and returns them to her, leaving the girl in confusion as he heads out to eat his own dinner. And Taichi can’t help but follow him, and sees how he protects his ears from even unavoidable noises such as the roadworks they pass: “this person…isn’t a cram school teacher. He’s…”

After Taichi confirms that he has quit karuta, Suou observes that he had always been impressed with his dedication. For Taichi had tried so hard to remain amongst people who loved karuta from the bottom of their hearts, even though he didn’t love karuta himself. These words pierce Taichi’s heart, and he acknowledges something that has plagued his involvement in the game:

Chihayafuru_141-2
I don’t love karuta… But if I acknowledge that, I can’t be by their side.

But Suou continues…

You must really have loved those people, if you managed to stay there even though you don’t love karuta itself. But what’s wrong with that? After all, I don’t love karuta either.

So speaks the man who stands, peerless, at the top of the karuta world. And Taichi realises that he doesn’t want to throw away those days that have always kept him going. Going on with things as they are, having turned those words that have always supported him into a curse, is something he simply cannot do…

** COMMENTARY **

It’s still unclear how the Mizusawa Karuta Club will fair in the upcoming Tokyo regional. Though Nishida and Kana are fired up, it seems like several members largely playing for their own glory rather than for the team… There are vibes of what happened in their first regional tournament, but is the team going to be able to come together this time? Pardon me for skimming over this part though: I’ll have a lot more to say about this when I’m able to read chapter 142 for myself.

On to the meatier part of the chapter. Taichi’s conversation with Suou reminded me of a big debate that fans on Animesuki first went into during the first season of the anime and repeated as the second season aired: why does Taichi actually play karuta? Looking quickly back over those discussions, the Taichi fans were adamant that he loves karuta in his own way, whilst Taichi detractors argued that he was only playing for Chihaya. I must admit that I didn’t expect this debate to become so explicitly relevant, but now, it’s quite amusing looking back on some of the arguments that fans were making back then.

So, who was right? Well, strictly speaking, neither group. My own argument—that there are things he loves about karuta—wasn’t quite right either. Rather, Taichi was playing karuta because it was connected him with the people he loved and cared about. So, is he going to follow in Suou’s footsteps? To be honest, I’d rather he not, for it is clear that Taichi still values his bonds with Chihaya, Arata and the karuta family that he is part of. Perhaps he could become the way for Suou to connect to the karuta community instead, just as Chihaya has done for Shinobu? I guess we’ll have to see…

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

10 Responses to Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 141

  1. pira97 says:

    “So, who was right?”
    The same thing goes to who Chihaya likes? Taichi detractors keep saying Arata, but Taichi fans were in denied. Taichi might have learn to like it a bit, but if he really like karuta, he shouldn’t leave the club because of Chihaya, like he only is there because of her.

    Some wrote this in MF
    “Umi Hotaru
    On the other hand, imo, this leaves a lesser chance for Taichi to actually become Meijin, because then there would be already two meijins who don’t like karuta and it makes no sense for the story and its moral (unless Suetsugu-san wants her readers to believe that if you want to become the best in the sport you shouldn’t like it XD) ”

    I hope Taichi does not become Meijin and does not get Chihaya in the end because he is an anti-hero. Yes I am evil, LOL

    Judgement day for Slaine next week, another anti-hero. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • karice says:

      Let’s not touch on that shipping debate… and if you’re not going to engage with the serious arguments about why Taichi left the club, then I’m not going to engage with what you say either.

      🙂

      ===

      On the other hand, imo, this leaves a lesser chance for Taichi to actually become Meijin, because then there would be already two meijins who don’t like karuta and it makes no sense for the story and its moral (unless Suetsugu-san wants her readers to believe that if you want to become the best in the sport you shouldn’t like it XD)

      There is a key difference between Taichi and Suou, which is that Taichi has always played karuta because it’s the people in it that he likes. Suou never even had that.

      And with Suou having become eternal Meijin, Suetsugu already seems to have indicated that ‘it doesn’t matter whether you actually love the game or not’, wouldn’t you say?

      Liked by 2 people

      • pira97 says:

        I know it might seem that way, but I am not starting a shipping debate, I simplify stay facts from the manga and Suetsugu sensei:
        1 – Chihaya likes Arata
        2 – Taichi doesn’t like karuta, showing in this chapter.
        And yes, the other things I wrote would make a lot of Taichi’s fans angry which will result in shipping debate. I am kind of surprise that no one came to defend him, yet. 🙂

        ” wouldn’t you say?”
        I agree with you, so there is a very good chance of Taichi to become Meijin. That is why I hope he doesn’t for the sake of morality in this world. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • karice says:

        The second thing you wrote (about no one coming to defend Taichi) kinda contradicts your statement about not trying to set off a shipping debate…so I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t try to set one off here, please.

        And I fail see how Taichi becoming Meijin would go against morality. 🙂

        Like

  2. thnks for your review again Karice! Wasn’t this a brilliant chapter!! Beautifully drawn, one of those chapters that truely stand out (like the two Taichi confession chapters that also were drawn with so much emotion and heart).

    Suetsugu san puts so much of herself into this kind of chapter!

    Suou is still a big mistery to me: is he looking for a successor? Is he stringing a trap for Taichi? Does he want a friend? I’m still not sure about what i think about him: he sure is facisinating: and Taichi is terribly drawn to him……that scene with the moon behind him is profoundly omnious. I can’t help but like the Meijin.

    and Taichi admits he doesn’t like karuta……he is enduring for those he loves most……Taichi is always a whirlpool of emotions……and he still will go for it and play karuta……..i just can’t wait to find out what will transpire between these two.

    Like

    • karice says:

      I think all the confession chapters are still the ones that have pierced my heart — both Arata’s and Taichi’s, as well as Chihaya’s realisation chapter. Though this one wasn’t bad either. ^^

      Suou is still a big mistery to me: is he looking for a successor?

      Hm…I’m not sure myself. However, considering that Suou is a tutor, and one who actually does seem to care for his students in his own way, perhaps he’s finally found someone that he knows he can mentor in karuta? There was a time when Suetsugu really got me to dislike Suou, because he was so jaded and rude. So it’s a really good thing that Harada managed to reach him, and somehow spark his interest in the other people in the karuta community.

      In any case – agreed! I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. landofthekwt says:

    Great review. And you were afraid that Suetsugu wrote herself into a corner by breaking up Taichi and Chihaya Who knew that Suou could have such a profound influence on Taichi and made him realize that while he hates karuta, he does not hate the people who play karuta.

    Chihaya has found a substitute for karuta that will help her pass the College Entrance Exams. By 142 her rapid rise in class rank will be scaring even the teachers. She still has a hard time forgetting about Taichi and Mizusawa karuta club even though it causes her pain to do do

    BTW. Chii-chan is the nickname Michiru gave Chihaya in 7th grade in the middle school light novels. Michiru is the only person who has been by Chihaya’s side for the past 6 years. Chihaya ran track partially because Michiru ran track.
    She studied hard to get into Mizusawa which is feeder school for Tokyo U because she knew that a smart person like Michiru would be going there. Chihaya has ignored Michiru for the past two years to concentrate on karuta. That is why Michiru told her off on the field trip that she shouldn’t ignore her since Michiru made a special effort to come on the trip and do what Chihaya wanted It is nice that the childhood friend is the person that Chihaya can turn to study now even if Chihaya scares even Michiru with her obsessive behavior about studying

    Liked by 1 person

    • karice says:

      Well…it was a little disconcerting seeing her post several tweets about writer’s block!

      I think it’s been obvious since chapter 123 that Taichi’s way forward in karuta was to learn from Suou.

      The entrance exams are 8 months away though! The regionals are in just one month!!

      BTW. Chii-chan is the nickname Michiru gave Chihaya in 7th grade in the middle school light novels. Michiru is the only person who has been by Chihaya’s side for the past 6 years. *snip*

      Thanks, now corrected. Was all of that in the manga? I remember Michiru scolding Chihaya for being ‘elsewhere’ during the school trip, but not some of the other stuff… I guess that’s what happens when I don’t reread Chihayafuru as much as I used to – my memory starts failing! (And it doesn’t help that I’m stuffing it with a whole lot of other things at the moment…)

      Liked by 1 person

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

  5. kaye says:

    oh i also thought at first that Taichi continued playing karuta to be with Chihaya. i also thought that it’s his way to beat Arata. i guess i just realized how he kind of forced himself to like karuta, and eventually find it interesting, especially playing with Chihaya and the rest of their team.

    well i do hope he could get sou connected to the community of caruta, just like what you mentioned that Chihaya did with Shinubo.

    oh.. just realized as well that taichi gets along with the meijin and chihaya is friends with the queen.. that’s a great turn out of events..this could be a long way to go until chihaya can fight against the queen.

    Like

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