Catching up on Chihayafuru: Poems 154-157
May 8, 2016 7 Comments
|The live-action films are out! And doing well, by all accounts!!|
I’m going to be honest. I decided to stop at four chapters instead of five because I didn’t want to get into the meaty rounds of the national team tournament yet…mostly because I don’t have the time to look up all those cards at present. But there are still a few interesting things to be had in these four chapters, so here we go.
A changing Chihaya?
Chihaya is no longer the out-of-control truck careening down the highway. As the team prepares for the national tournament, Nishida and Komano realise that Chihaya’s taken over the roles that were once Taichi’s, taking responsibility for supporting and boosting the skills of her underclassmen. She’s become someone who looks out for others on her team, even as she works to ensure that the club will continue even after she leaves. She’s still leading from the front, but something is a little different this time, as some of the other players notice…
|She noticed that Tamura was down, and did something about it!|
At the same time, a few things haven’t changed much, as a shocking revelation will later prove…
Love is in the air~
The last time, we had students lamenting that they should have confessed during the national tournament. This time, it’s brought to the fore. First, on the morning of the tournament, Nishida asks Komano straight up if he’s going to ask Kana out! At the same time, Arata’s underclassman—first year Yamamoto Risa—confesses to him…and he replies straightaway with an “I’m sorry, I have someone I like…”!! Sorry, Arata, I know that you probably can’t help blurting out what’s on your mind straightaway, but I’m with the twins on this: you need to learn to think a little more before you speak!
However, there is an even bigger rumour messing with the Fujisaki students’ heads. Sakurazawa-sensei hasn’t been herself…it seems that if they don’t win, she’s going to quit as their advisor and get married! But as rumours go, they were only half right—and thank goodness that Chihaya is still ready to say things that no one else will, for we might not have found out otherwise! Stll, the bigger shock was probably to the reader, I think, for we found out that Sakurazawa is close to 40 years of age! But it was wonderful seeing her feeling deep in her heart how much the people around her loved her—from her students who didn’t want to see her go, to Haruka who named her new baby daughter after her, and through to the namesake that has followed her into karuta. Although she is indeed getting married, she is already blessed with a family that will always support her.
The cheerleaders and the players
Mothers, girlfriends, and fellow students all feature in this group. But I was most impressed by two in particular. First, we had Sudō and the other OBs who traveled all the way to Ōmi Jingu to support their underclassmen in their endeavours, even though they have already moved on to the next stage in their lives. He reminds me of some of my old students, who did exactly the same thing. But the other person who sticks in my mind is Miyauchi-sensei. It’s amusing that she’s still the ‘advisor’ of the Karuta Club even though she has never been able to memorise all hundred poems. But in her own way, she has always supported the club, and I’m glad to see them gladly don the name headbands that she has made for them.
On the players’ side, we remember again all their little quirks. Kana and her obsession with wearing kimono and hakama, Hyoro and his hyoro-cards that always allow him to pick the right order, Yoroshiko and his curls and Rion and her rice balls, Arata and his love for karuta and his struggles to master the team format. These few chapters speed through the preliminary block matches, setting us up for showdowns between old friends and rivals.
But let’s turn now to the other interesting thing happening on this day…
“I want to know EVERYTHING about today!”
Suou has dragged Taichi to Kyoto to film an episode of a variety program. A team of researchers has invited both Suou and Shinobu along in order to try and reveal the secrets of their success. Until now, Shinobu has never accepted such an invitation…but we find out now that she has skipped Lake Biwa’s Birdman Contest in order to do so. It turns out that her grandmother is behind this: if Shinobu can only be a Karuta Queen, then she has to make sure that it is a career that will pay. Whilst I have mixed feelings about this kind of political plotting, she does have a point: Shinobu (and Suou) are the ones best poised to bring karuta to the attention of the masses, thus generating the kind of interest necessary to make it a pro sport like igo and shōgi are. The game is gaining popularity in Japan—largely thanks to Chihayafuru, no doubt—and it’ll be interesting to see if karuta can achieve a similar status in future.
Why did Taichi agree to come along with Suou? Well, he “had a feeling that it would have meaning (for him).” As it turns out, the researchers are trying to investigate why they are able to take cards so quickly. In Suou’s case, he is able to hear really small sounds that few others can catch—intakes of breadth and the like. I suspect that Suetsugu-sensei may have been influenced by what happened in real life for this, for I remember seeing videos a few years about that reveal this very characteristic about the real life Meijin at the time. On the other hand, Shinobu doesn’t have super-hearing, her prowess is due to wing speed and precision honed over many hours of practice. But now, Taichi has learned that it is indeed possible to catch up with genius through sheer hard work—what will this do for his karuta?
|Don’t worry, Taichi, I’m sure it’ll be worth it!|
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to find out!