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Old 2013-03-02, 04:47   Link #581
Yume Hanabi
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Re-thinking about the episode after a good night's sleep, I'm starting to think the author was subtly making a statement.

The bit about them speaking in English was extremely clever. We (and the Japanese audience) are so used to bad Engrish in anime that we totally fell for it... and then suddenly there's Taichi who's like "excuse me, but your accent is pretty bad (yours is the worst btw, Taichi xD); isn't Japanese your mother tongue?". That was like, wow. They're actually acknowledging that this isn't real English. And questioning the viewers' perception from the beginning.

Then all-along the episode, the narration is showing us that despite their appearance, they're no different than anyone else:
- they speak Japanese without any kind of weird accent (how many foreigner-looking anime character can claim that?)
- like a lot of characters in this show, they're looking for something more than a simple game in karuta
- parallelism is drawn between some of them and the Mizusawa team: Chihaya remarking that Anthony is placing his cards the same way she did when she was younger, Rachel's love for the poems which is like Kana's approach to karuta, etc.
- Anthony's backstory is yet another story of alienation, like so many other characters in this show; this brings them closer together, shows that they're no different than any other karuta player we know

It's not their looking like foreigners that really makes them different than the Mizusawa team, it's them being beginners at competitive karuta - as evidenced by the puzzling over their card placement and Nishida's thoughts about their play style. And look how the Mizusawa team suddenly started playing seriously when they both realized that and started seeing their similarity; like Arata to Chihaya so long ago, and Chihaya with Kana and Tsutomu, they're conveying their love of competitive karuta to beginners with an all-out, no mercy match (see the contrast with the guy Sumire played against in the Regionals).

Each team learned something from the other: the freedom that the amateur world provides, and the beauty of competition.

Then at the same time we have everyone react weirdly to them, even offensively (Tsukuba in particular), and missing the point (still saying "foreigners" when they've explained that they're second-generation Japanese; a stupid mindset that is persistent in any culture, even non-homogeneous ones, I might add), and it's done very, very realistically.

But the contrast with the narration makes it clear that the joke is on them, and that the show is criticizing the Japanese society's ignorance when dealing with foreigners or foreign-looking people. It's especially telling with Tsukuba: it's the typical knee-jerk "big black people are scary" reaction, but I don't think we're meant to agree with him (as ~BC~ said, the guy doesn't look threatening at all, so it's all in his mind).

I think the author is aware of the insidious xenophobia in Japanese society toward foreigners and, in this case in particular, second-generation Japanese, and is showing the viewer that no, really, they're no different than other Japanese, and your irrational fear is silly.

As for their message in English at the end, I think it was a way to show their respect. Like, "you went out of your way to do something typically Japanese when it might not have been easy from your background, now it's our turn to make the effort to cross cultures and language". Small gesture to show their support to other atypical players (it reminded me how Chihaya interrupted the people who were talking bad about Ririka by yelling "chocolate!!"). It's also a big contrast to the way Anthony's classmates reacted to his getting into karuta.

And in the end, really, it's all about welcoming beginners to the world of competition.

I don't know how long this story'll last, but if they do another year, I'm pretty hyped for the eventual rematch x)
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Old 2013-03-02, 06:41   Link #582
eduard3
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Well that was a fun episode.

To those saying there was racism in this episode. Do you know what "Racism" is?
Racism is when one person(A) believes he is above another (B) and acts on that belief to harm person B in any form.
Ex.
If A believes he is above B and makes jokes about his race, that's racism.
If A Believe he is above B and abuses him mentally or physically, that's racism.

1st.
In this episode, what we have is the group being surprised that they are fighting foreigners. There is no malice there, they are KIDS in HIGH SCHOOL who are SURPRISED to COMPETE with FOREIGN people in a game that PRIMARILY revolves around LOCAL CULTURE. Not to mention they are in the championships.

2nd.
If you want to talk about the "hit" on the black guy, it was actually even mentioned. He had never seen anyone who is black. We already have someone who is called a "Bear" when he plays Karuta and people fear him, add the black there and you call it racist? Maybe YOU are racist. It's called culture shock, its not like nobody else from the team has been shocked into playing badly before. Oh and before you tell me that you aren't racist and are actually defending the black, the fact that you see it as offensive leads me to believe you believe they are vulnerable to these attacks, therefore you put them lower. You can't insult someone who's higher or on equal grounds without their permission after all.
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Old 2013-03-02, 07:00   Link #583
Yume Hanabi
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Culture shock doesn't excuse offensive behavior, even if it doesn't stem from bad intentions. Fear and ignorance are a part of racism, and you don't have to consciously think you are superior to display racist behavior.

I think that in this instance, too, it's exactly what the show was trying to tell us. That Tsukuba's reaction, while understandable, is ridiculous.

It also tells us that understanding is the key. Once they start realizing that the Chiba team is in fact not so different, their initial shock wears off and it becomes a normal game of karuta in which they can give their all. They all had something to learn from this experience.
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Old 2013-03-02, 07:29   Link #584
TCman
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Totally agreed that there's no racism in this episode 8 of Chihayafuru S2. I don't hear anything about "being better than you, because you are different/so inferior" remarks. Sure, Taichi and co are kinda curious and some in the team are kinda scared for team Chiba with the international students, since people in Japan do not get to see many foreigners like we do here in the west. Japan is a homogeneous society after all. In my opinion Team Taichi & Co even acknowledged them by fighting them seriously, and also actually let them see what competitive karuta really is; Team Taichi & Co even admire the Chiba students because they love karuta too and actually how well they are at the game. In the end the Chiba students (even when they didn't win) even want to become better because of Team Taichi & Co. That's totally different from what Anthony (long haired, blond guy) has experienced in the past at school, i.e. how he's alienated just because he's a foreigner (who loves Japanese culture).

Last edited by TCman; 2013-03-02 at 07:53. Reason: Sorry, confused with the school names; correcting school names.
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Old 2013-03-02, 07:51   Link #585
Yume Hanabi
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Mizusawa is Taichi & Co.'s school

The other team comes from Chiba.
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Old 2013-03-02, 07:54   Link #586
TCman
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Originally Posted by Yume Hanabi View Post
Mizusawa is Taichi & Co.'s school

The other team comes from Chiba.
Sorry, I was kinda confused with the school names. I should have known that, since I already followed Chihayafuru since the first Season. I guess I need to get some sleep now.
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Old 2013-03-02, 08:43   Link #587
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You guys keep making the scene seem like some sort of intentional jab, but I never really got that impression from it. Yes, I genuinely believe the mangaka's end point here was to hamfist some sort of contrived message about accepting each other's cultures through a love for karuta. However, there is no attempt whatsoever here to understand the "foreigners," it is the foreigners who are for some reason are in love with the Japanese game of karuta.
The "foreigners" are actually Japanese. What's there to understand?
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Old 2013-03-02, 09:35   Link #588
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Right when I was despairing at the horrible English, the show went ahead and justified it perfectly. That counts as comedy gold for me right there.

In any case, this episode struck me as a very realistic take on the pervasive xenophobia you'd find in traditional Japanese society. I probably shouldn't generalize, but the trend is definitely there in both media and legislation. Such is what you'd expect from a country that treats its long-held traditions and social hierarchy with utmost care. So yes, Japan is indeed a very racist country, but let us remember that racism can be either active or passive (note: unintentional).

On Chihaya's side, this was only brushed upon, but her match-up seemed very nostalgic. It's as if it was intentionally juxtaposed with her first match with Arata, but only now she was the one in Arata's shoes. It wasn't not just his card arrangement, but also the overwhelming skill difference. But then again, it wasn't just Chihaya; this team match was meant as a trip down memory lane for everyone to see just how far they've come since they started playing Karuta, to remember the feelings they've forgotten.
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Old 2013-03-02, 09:53   Link #589
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Right when I was despairing at the horrible English, the show went ahead and justified it perfectly. That counts as comedy gold for me right there.
Yeah that was actually my favorite moment of the episode (well that and Kana and the girl sharing their love of poems).

I was like wow that English is horrible and the episode was like Ha Ha we got you it was supposed to be.
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Old 2013-03-02, 10:24   Link #590
Yume Hanabi
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Definitely xD

This episode is also a great one in terms of showing how they're developing as a team. Taichi prioritizing their victory in the team match rather than his chance to make Class A, Komano sacrificing a chance to play for the sake of strategy (also nicely giving Tsukuba a chance to play himself, though he still seems far for acing competitions xD), and Sumire being prepared to go scouting herself even though they hadn't discussed it with her beforehand. And of course, Chihaya taking Taichi's role as moral support during the match this time.

I'm quite enjoying this season, because team matches is what I like the most about the competitions, and it's cool to see them grow as a team. Can't wait to see their next match!
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Old 2013-03-02, 10:26   Link #591
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I wouldn't go that far to call that racism. Just the typical way anime uses to depict foreign-ity. If anything, since they are actually Japaneses, it would have been more refined (fitting the show I mean) if they weren't just some amateurs, but some worth opponents. Chihaya (priceless ) reaction still would have been there as much as (the cute and so in-character for her) Kana's embarrassment for not wearing hakama , as much as Tsukuda reactions. And we didn't need another Taichi's display of smartness and understanding, I mean, we already know him. So it wouldn't count really as a miss.
But, anyways, not that bothered me that much, though I could have lived without it
Anyways I'm liking Sumire's interactions she is having with the club as much as Tsutomu's abnegation for the club. I'm surprised to hear that Tsukuda already reached his level of playing. It's a bit sad.
Speaking of Taichi NTR'd face, I wasn't expecting it this time, I mean, it would have been a bit too much. But instead the first thing I thought after the end of the episode was about Chihaya. She would have risked a heart attack by seeing two of her gods of Karuta at the same time in the same place I don't know if she would have survived to this and to the subsequent heart attack due to her connecting that they know each other.
Anyways, as always, this show first hints to arata showing up but then delay it or find a way to avoid it. I don't know, but the fact that Shinobu appeared right behind him (like a ghost), let me think that Arata will miss the tournament.
About Shinubu, letting aside her beauty, giving her introduction, it seems like she was the childhood pestering friend to Arata, back then.
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Old 2013-03-02, 10:34   Link #592
Kirarakim
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Speaking of the team match I really hope they actually do win the tournament. I want them to win so much but as we know in this series losing happens way more often. And I think two things might go against them

1) They are 2nd years so they have a chance to win at next year's tournament
2) Arata and Shinobou's appearance might mess with both Taichi & Chihaya's psyche (why couldn't they show up during the individual matches darn it).

I am happy though that Arata always mentions both Chihaya & Taichi.
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Old 2013-03-02, 10:52   Link #593
Haak
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Well that was definitely a trip into bizarro world right there. I got a good kick out of them turning out to be Japanese, some of whom never stepped a foot out of their home towns, but I'm not entirely sure what to think of them being treated as quirky just because they look foreign. It definitely wasn't ill-intentioned or anything so it's nothing close to racism but it can be a little awkward, especially when it gets to scenes where the foreign-looking club talks about being "put in their place" after their loss (I hope that was just bad translation), or when the Karuta club writes a (still well intentioned) message for them in English even when it's already been established that English is just as alien to the foreign looking players as it is to them.

I've only occasionally been in these situations, such as when a stranger thanks me in Urdu, assuming that I have a proficiency in it, but i just take them in good faith because that's the way they're intended so at the end of the day it's not a big deal (Plus it helps that i actually do have a certain degree of proficiency in it. XP).
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Old 2013-03-02, 11:13   Link #594
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It definitely wasn't ill-intentioned or anything so it's nothing close to racism but it can be a little awkward, especially when it gets to scenes where the foreign-looking club talks about being "put in their place" after their loss (I hope that was just bad translation), or when the Karuta club writes a (still well intentioned) message for them in English even when it's already been established that English is just as alien to the foreign looking players as it is to them.
rofl. Nice catch. Missed this. Also, how they wrote it english, but the International team had people on the team that stemmed from china, and one from one of the southasian countries like Laos or Thailand.

If they were actually foreigners, it wouldn't mean anything to the chinese or thai students at all either.
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Old 2013-03-02, 11:15   Link #595
Kanon
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I am happy though that Arata always mentions both Chihaya & Taichi.
Me too. Arata clearly sees Taichi as a friend, and I wish the feeling was mutual. Sadly, Taichi is so blinded by his love for Chihaya he sees Arata as a rival first and foremost (I'm so annoyed every time Taichi makes his NTR'd face...). I hope that will change once they get to interact more. I'm dying to see them getting along.

As for the tournament, obviously I want them to win but I think that won't happen until next year. It's still a bit too soon.
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Old 2013-03-02, 11:35   Link #596
Kirarakim
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Me too. Arata clearly sees Taichi as a friend, and I wish the feeling was mutual. Sadly, Taichi is so blinded by his love for Chihaya he sees Arata as a rival first and foremost (I'm so annoyed every time Taichi makes his NTR'd face...). I hope that will change once they get to interact more. I'm dying to see them getting along.

As for the tournament, obviously I want them to win but I think that won't happen until next year. It's still a bit too soon.
I do think Taichi sees Arata as a friend and cares about him but certainly his feelings for Chihaya complicate things.

Or in other words, seeing Arata does somewhat hurt Taichi but not because he doesn't care about him.

But this is more or less because Taichi lets everything he feels bottled up inside so every time Arata comes into the picture it's a mixed feeling for him.

As for the tournament another reason I'd like them to win is because we don't know if this season will be the anime's last. I want to see them winning in the anime. I am just being greedy.
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Old 2013-03-02, 12:34   Link #597
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Japan is aware of how bad their reaction to foreigners is and this episode made fun of that fact to make Japanese aware of how silly they look. If anything this episode should have opened several eyes.

Going by my own experience, we don't have black people in Latvia. Just few tourists from time to time. UK is full of them and I even went to school where most people were black. I'm not racists but I do admit that it felt weird at first. However, few days later I was completely fine with it and had several friends of different skin color.

Really, this episode simply portrayed what happens in real life. It was a pretty realistic take, I don't understand all this commotion.

Want to see racism, watch Major season 4. Now that's where guys is being a racist asshole in first few episodes.
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Old 2013-03-02, 12:47   Link #598
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Really, this episode simply portrayed what happens in real life. It was a pretty realistic take, I don't understand all this commotion.
Well it's the fact that it happens in real life that freaks people out.
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Old 2013-03-02, 13:29   Link #599
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^Then it is in no way episodes fault.
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Old 2013-03-02, 16:48   Link #600
fukarming
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Me too. Arata clearly sees Taichi as a friend, and I wish the feeling was mutual. Sadly, Taichi is so blinded by his love for Chihaya he sees Arata as a rival first and foremost (I'm so annoyed every time Taichi makes his NTR'd face...). I hope that will change once they get to interact more. I'm dying to see them getting along.

As for the tournament, obviously I want them to win but I think that won't happen until next year. It's still a bit too soon.
Taichi obviously see Arata as friends. That is why he makes the NTR face. If he sees Arata as an enemy, he would be making sinister face and do underhanded stuff to Arata (like when he is kid). Taichi had always trying to be fair with Arata regarding Chihaya, and yet he knows very well Arata weighs alot more on Chihaya's heart compare to him, thus the NTR face........feeling sad, but not much he can do.
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