Today, we are finally off of the struggle bus. For now. In all honestly, Chihayafuru could be called struggle bus the series because that’s kind of what this is. People struggling at doing simple tasks constantly is the definition of this meme and that’s who Chihaya is as a person. With that, I just ruined my own joke. But anyway, we aren’t worried about all of that for now though except for one person. Today’s episode focused on Arata. A person that hasn’t had enough screen time finally gets his own episode instead of being shoved to the side or just left out completely. It’s kind of exciting in a way. How does Arata do now that he’s the star? Let’s jump into that.
Today is the day. Arata is up as in the spot light in the finals for the Western Japan master/meijin role in Karuta Combat. His opponent? Arata’s long time colleague and friend named Murao. Both from the same Karuta dojo and even wearing pretty much the same outer clothes. I don’t know about the underwear stuff, so going to avoid talking about it. Honestly, don’t want to know. With that, the problem is that Arata’s mental state is still covered in darkness from the ending of the Yoshino tournament AND his friend Yuu’s cooking that constantly irritates his stomach. Things that are thematically connected even if that doesn’t make as much sense in real life. It’s anime and used for drama and comedy, so it’s perfectly fine here. That one comment asking if the queen was here after Arata’s tummy rumbled was brilliant by the way.
Before diving further into that in true Chihayafuru fashion, there were other things and arcs going on at the same time. We don’t see the East Japan Queen and Master/Meijin qualifiers, but we know that Mr. Harada is playing Karuta against Sudo. Dang, I wanted to see what that was like. Also, there is another arc in the same room at Arata and Murao. The West Japan Queen qualifying event. That’s an arc that is merely set up and then we see the results of it later on. Same with the East Japan side too. Lastly, Murao is there with his own sort of arc. It’s never directed stated, but we get a good sense of what it is through the excellent visual direction and some small comments on the side from Arata and Murao’s coach and dojo leader. The visuals and facial expressions took over, which was fantastic. Let’s dive into this match now.
During this final match, Arata still had the Yoshino final karuta match between Taichi and Chihaya on his mind. Still drowned in his feelings and suffering from the bad food Yuu gave him to eat, this match should have been a disaster for him. He didn’t have the full fifteen minutes to memorized Murao’s cards because of his stomach issues, he was losing against Murao, and when Murao woke him up finally by the hit to his head, Arata had to go to the bathroom. The game was still going on and he was behind by 11 cards. He even lost the Chihayafuru card. Still, the combination of him finding his own center again and his thanks to Yuu, Arata found himself at his best again and won despite all of the craziness.
With that said, I think that Murao deserves the award for best boy in this episode. He could have just stayed the course and won easily against Arata, but he didn’t do that. Murao had wants and goals that he could have gotten closer to solving like defeating Master/Meijin Suo before he stops appearing in the Karuta Master/Meijin this year. With that said, he didn’t take easy way route. He helped out Arata the best way he could and then fought against Arata when he was at his best with own strength. It’s so sad that he lost because I feel like he should have gotten his chance to at least take a bite at Suo. Instead, he had a touching moment with him and Arata in the end and accepted his loss. Murao is a good guy.
I might’ve not said this before, but I just can’t find that much interesting about Arata. Something that is strange to me considering that Taichi is the pretty boy who is good at everything natural except Karuta, is wrapped around Chihaya with his Karuta game on a too strong emotional level, and is constantly against walls when playing this game. That’s what is so fascinating about all of this. Arata on the other hand is a good character. No doubt about that because I’m not going to say he isn’t. It’s just that all of his walls are mental and distance related. I mean, he’s also brilliant like Taichi and can go to Tokyo University because he won the singles tournament in his second year. I do like that Arata isn’t as stable as his outward appearance says, but his constant questioning of his self isn’t as interesting the second time around here. It’s realistic for sure, but Arata needs more things to do then moping then not. Like him building his Karuta club. That’s new and interesting for him. Let’s see him do more of that instead of getting lost in his own mind and delusions again. I know it’s harsh, but come on.
With that, we cut to the Kyoto school trip for Chihaya and others. Chihaya is seen enjoying her time with the other girls and it’s all fun. Of course, everything is ruined when Karuta is brought up yet again. All those late night and card games are ignored for Chihaya waking everything up by being loud, running out of her room to see Taichi who returned after failing, and everything else she does. Taichi lets her know that he lost and Dr. Harada won on the East side and Arata won the West. Taichi said that, walked into his class’ boys room, and completely collapsed on the ground where Desktomu and others carried him to bed. Poor guy. With that, we are hit with the cliff hanger. Who will Chihaya root for when it comes to challenging Suo? Mr. Harada or Arata? Don’t overload her brain like that ok? She’s fragile.
I really loved this episode. It’s still really hard to rank episodes when most of them in Chihayafuru are fantastic, but here is one for the top. Almost everything is on point here. Arata and Murao’s battle was far more complex then usual, the visual direction and just visuals in general were great, and I didn’t know who I wanted to root for really. That’s the best sort of episode to me. It was a singular battle with so many complex things going on that are said and not said. All of them easy to interpret anyway. This season is really nailing those solitary one on one matches. I do wish we got to see more of the queen battle in the same room then a one minute scene, but that’s ok. This episode gets the great rating of almost perfect over perfect. Damn man. Just keep them coming. Chihayafuru is no joke.
It was really fun to finally see the inner workings and thoughts of Arata who is usually seen by us, and everyone else in the show, as cool,calm, collected and utterly composed…
Turns out he gets diarrhea and doubts, and has personal issues like everyone else.
So refreshing, this was a long time coming. So far this show is shaping up to be one of my favorites of the season(maybe all time greats?)
Can’t wait for Arata VS Harada!!!!!
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“Taichi is the pretty boy who is good at everything natural except Karuta”
Can’t say I agree here… Taichi is damm good at Karuta, and we’re told that repeatedly. (He wouldn’t even have made it to Class B without significant skill.) What holds him back isn’t lack of skill or ability – but crippling self doubt and lack of self confidence. Which makes me wonder what’s really going on in his life… It it just coincidence that his mother hate karuta and how it’s stealing time and him from her chosen path for his future?
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And that’s fine. The narrative, to me, has given Taichi everything else easily which makes him persuing Karuta that more interesting to me because of that struggle. His mom just seems like one of those sports moms that wants their kid only to win instead of lose in everything. I doubt there is more then that.