There's something I wanted to ask you. Way back in 2011, I made a Madoka World Order music video to sort of celebrate Madoka's domination of J-SaiMoe 2011. I recall you liking that AMV a lot. I don't suppose you downloaded it did you? Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the video.
well, there isn't much to discuss beyond what we already knows anyway. Manga is pretty slow in this that sometimes even I doubt this manga fit the romance tag and the mangaka even joke about it in the extra corner in some of the volumes.
Personally, I think the series would have done even better sales-wise (it already doing pretty damn good at about 200K but not at Kimi Ni Todoke, Nodame level (850k-1mil) which I hope it would) if it focuses a bit more on the romantic side.
But like you said even with all the facts being shown, there are still some weird gap in time line.
Spoiler for Gap Theory::
The manga and real life rules would suggest that elementary nationals counts. And would explain the ranks Shinobu and Nishida get, but won't explain why they don't count for Arata.
Similarly, while Arata potentially missed 2 national in 8th and 9th grade, (assuming his grandfather passed before the 8th grade nationl) it still doesn't explain why he didn't make it in 7th grade.
Only theory I can come up is that he wasn't in a club until 6th grade thus illegible for advancement and the manga hinted that it might be economic reason as in 1st volume when Harada sensei asked the three whether they would join, Arata asked about the membership fee before agreeing. (elementary schoolkids are free)
That lead me to believe that it was for economic reason, though consider the influence his grandpa had, it's hard to think they won't waive the fee for him back in Fukai.
Anyway that is the only thing I can come up with that make sense, and as for 7th grade, he might simply missed the tournament due to his grandpa's illness as it's being implied that he missed some tournaments before his grandpa's death and after the death he ceased all activity until now.
Curiosity got the best of me, so I checked out the (oddly pretty dead) Chihayafuru manga thread.
Spoiler for Chihayafuru manga spoilers:
Heh. Looks like some people misread the current anime situation pretty badly. Even with manga knowledge there's some questions and odd gaps still remaining, but there's no question that for pure raw talent, Arata is at least on par with Shinobu. In fact, he is possibly even more talented than she is, as that would explain his consistent dominance over her in Elementary school match-ups.
I'm looking forward to the first Chihayafuru anime scene that Arata and Shinobu share together. Could be a lot of fun!
By the way, I avoided all spoilers dealing with relationship/romance issues, so please don't discuss those with me in any replies to this VM.
ChouYun or Zhao Yun (depend on your spelling). She's from Koihime Musou, an eroge based on three kingdom and was adapted into anime for 3 1-cour series, though sadly the adaption is strip down to more of a yuri/moe comedy....