[April 2019 OWLS Tour] Of Arata and Taichi in Chihayafuru

It’s been two months since I did an OWLS post, but I’m back with Chihayafuru. That’s all you guys needed to know for now. Welcome to another OWLS post by me where I try to break some expectations. Especially after an all Mecha themed month, let’s break down some walls.

About OWLS

For those of you who haven’t heard of what OWLS is may be asking me and other people what that is. Well, that’s an easy question to answer. OWLS, also known as Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, is a group of otaku bloggers who promote the acceptance of all individuals. There will be no judgement of people based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or disability here. All of this is about humanity for humanities sake and hopeful betterment. Each month, our members are given a topic to write about and each of us approaches that topic in our own way. If you want to know more, please click here to go to our OWLS Blog Page. Find us here and maybe you can join us! We are always looking for more people.

Our Month’s Topic

This month’s topic brought to you by our chief creative officer LynLyn is Masculinity. In a more manner, it’s:

Last month, we explored the meanings behind the terms, “feminine” and “feminism.” This month the OWLS bloggers will explore the concept of masculinity. We each have our own definition of what it means to be masculine and we will explore our definitions using “masculine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “masculine” or show signs of a masculine persona. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing men that supported us in our lives as well as sharing some of our experiences growing up as a man or knowing men who struggled with the masculine identity.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures
My Love Story

Chihayafuru’s Battle of Gender Norms

One of the many things that Chihayafuru does to make itself interesting to me is it’s playing around with gender roles. Usually the unfocused and “I only focus on this thing and nothing else” dumb protagonist model is a role that goes to younger boys in shonen battle anime. Think about Dragon Ball, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, etc. Chihayafuru is as far from a shonen battle series as you can get, but it still has that sense of fighting spirit. In this show’s case, our protagonist in that role is the tomboy Chihaya. What a wonderful character she is. She is all about playing Karuta, figuring out who are her future Karuta opponents, and not much else.

At the same time, Chihaya is arguably the most beautiful female character in the series, but she never cares her physical appearance. A trait that causes some characters to jokingly not call her a female anymore for some reason. (I’m sorry Kana, but I have to call you out here.) Who knew that being singularly being focused on one goal alone was masculine? Is it because she doesn’t care about her looks as much as the others? That’s incredibly insulting, jeez. Chihaya should just live her life the way she wants to because that is when she is at her best. I mean, she attracted two guys by just being herself which means their attraction isn’t superficial, but true and pure. The two characters that are find themselves infatuated with Chihaya are just as interesting as she is.

Arata’s and Taichi’s First Appearances (Elementary School)

Younger Arata, Chihaya, and Taichi

If there was something that caught me when these two characters appeared in kid form, it’s that Arata and Taichi being two sides of the same coin. Arata is soft and sentimental boy who is only good at one thing, Karuta. The reason why? Partially because of his own natural talent and partially because Arata’s grand father is a grand master at Karuta. Something that is a major motivating factor for him. Besides that, his family not in the best financial condition, though his mom loves him dearly, and Arata often wears the same clothes to cool for multiple days at a time. The result is that he is made fun of at school by the next person I am about to talk about. Man, I am glad that Chihaya became his friend but he seriously needed one.

On the other hand, I can’t help but admit that I hated Taichi when he first appeared. He’s the kind of kid that I hated at school because they had everything without trying. Money, talent, athleticism, brains, and I can keep going. The worse part is that he knows it. He was an infinitely popular kid that had an ego to match. Because of that, Taichi easily fits into the role of the peak, ideal alpha male stereotype. Well, it does come with a cost. Two things that he didn’t have was a good family life, because his mom pushed him to only do things he can win and is definitive sports mom, and a mastery at Karuta. So there you go, the two are different sides of the same coin. I’m glad that Chihaya forced the two to play Karuta with her even if it resulted in a very forced and strenuous relationship between the two when they were kids. I mean, Chihaya was the karuta kid in the center to separate the two.

Beyond Elementary School

The gang of three broke apart after Elementary school. While Chihaya still worked as hard as possible to master Karuta, Taichi didn’t have any motivation or reason to play it anymore when he went to another school. Arata moved far away and stopped playing Karuta after his grandfather died because he’s a sensitive soul. Chihaya was the major influence for the others to return to the game and improve in high shool, but I never felt like Arata and Taichi ever met eye to eye on any level during highschool competitions either. Part of that is distance, part of that is because of the competition itself, and the third part is probably because they both want to be in a relationship in Chihaya? Either way, I do like how both who Taichi and Arata develop.

I can’t help but think that Taichi calmed down and became so much more interesting to me during the show’s main timeline. His journey through Karuta completely softened him. What started out as something Taichi could add to his list of accomplishments because something more. Seeking to master Karuta was a spring board for a massive arc for him. Taichi had the worst luck at every turn and because he had to put his all into something for what seems like the first time in his life, he found an activity he actually loves. Rich person finding out how the common people live isn’t the best arc in existence, but Chihayafuru does it in a way that Taichi turns into such an amazing character for me. Especially since he stepped down from what can be considered the masculine ideal himself to be something else entirely. Good job, Taichi.

Arata didn’t get as much focus until the end of the first season, but Arata finding himself again after a great loss is still very powerful. He is still the emotional person that he was, because he finds himself playing by focusing on the moment when he and Chihaya first played Karuta. From that point on, he dropped all sense of pointless anger he had and become more open and accepting then he ever was before. What can I say other then he grew up through the power of Karuta. I’m older then he was in this series and I wish I was as well put together as Arata is or as Taichi is. I still have a long way to go with myself.

If there is something to be learned here, it’s that being male doesn’t mean that you can’t be sensitive or emotional. While Arata always had that capability, Taichi learned what that means through his emotional journey in this show. Empathy and understanding are such powerful things, and yet that is frowned upon in society which Chihayafuru shows too. Dare to dream and be different.

Masculinity and Me

So, I did take another break from writing an OWL’s post last  month. I wasn’t completely solid on the subject matter of feminity and felt like not doing it was a much better idea then writing something that was a complete disaster. Sometimes not doing something is better then doing something and failing at it. But this month’s topic of masculinity is something that I have a few things to say about. Being born a male and having expectations about being tough, rigid, emotionless are pretty stringent in this society. It came from everywhere for me including my grandpa who used to be a soldier in world war two, my dad who is still the strong, silent type who refuses to open up about anything and do everything himself without asking for help, and a lot of my surroundings. How am I supposed to shed a tear or just be myself without being judged by other people around me?

So what does being masculine mean to me? What can I say other then the traditional concepts of never showing emotions or weakness to other people, being strong emotionally and physically, and having all the confidence in the world to do anything. It’s not the traditional dictionary term, but that’s the way I’ve come to know it from what I’ve known all my life. What can I say other then I never felt like I fit any of these descriptions and still don’t. I am not strong in any capacity and the amount of times I’ve cried in my life or asked for help have been more then numerous. The traditional definition is just something that I’m not destined to be, even if I am a male.

Even if I come from a liberal state that has a more progressive point of view, the older ideal of masculinity usually is is still very present here and I never felt like I fit the mold for that at all. From Junior High onward, I was always the quiet outsider who would rather spend his time in the corner of a room reading a book than getting involved in whatever shenanigans other male teenagers involved themselves in with all of their stupid actions and games I don’t care about. I’ve found some other like minded people to hang out with eventually, but it took a while. I like being a male, but I don’t like some of the baggage that is attached to being male. Societal pressures are changing, but they are facing some strong resistance against people who hold traditional values

Thank you for reading everyone. It looks like everyone put in a lot of work into this month and I hope to match what other people have turned out.

If you watch to read those, Fred posted before me about masculinity and it’s many definitions earlier this week and Jack has a post coming tomorrow. And if you want to read even more, here is a link to our whole OWL blog tour!


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