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Old 2011-11-09, 09:45   Link #441
Haak
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She drives Taichi crazy after a couple of minutes, though.
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Old 2011-11-09, 14:32   Link #442
Kaoru Chujo
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Another of those episodes that just flew by for me. As the ending theme came up, I was thinking we were only halfway through. Loved the crisp, economical writing/storyboard/direction. The writer of this episode, Kawashima Sumino, has written episodes of a few anime, including Kurenai and Aoi Bungaku, but has written for 22 different TV dramas.
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Originally Posted by Pellissier View Post
...I knew beforehand that Kana was voiced by Kayano Ai, but I still had troubles in recognizing her in the actual interpretation, both for voice and pronunciation. At any rate, she reaffirms her status as best newcomer seiyuu of this year imho....
No question. Kayanon is officially amazing: range, meaning, clarity, vividness, variety, personality. I didn't recognize her voice, either.

I feel that if there is any romance to be had, it's Chihaya and Arata. Not that Chihaya has those feelings yet, but the staff is giving us hints. First, the sakura around Arata as he lay there on the ground above Chihaya. And in this episode, the fact that as Chihaya's voiceover talks about the chihaya furu card being about love, we are shown Arata practicing karuta again.

What was said about Kanade maybe being more suitable for Arata may be true, but opposites attract. The mere fact that Chihaya would drive him crazy doesn't make romance any less likely. Unfortunately, the only person here with romance on his mind is poor Taichi. I didn't like what he said about his girl friend, nor the fact that she seems to have silently disappeared, but I still feel for him, in his desire, powerlessness, and confusion.
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Last edited by Kaoru Chujo; 2011-11-09 at 14:46.
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Old 2011-11-09, 14:58   Link #443
hyperborealis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Okay, to understand Taichi, I think, you need to understand his social anxiety. The most terrible thing that can happen to him in is to "fail in public".
These are two different things. To fail is to disappoint his parents. That anxiety is specific to Taichi. Not wanting to stand out in public is the conventional attitude of most of the students. Taichi is hardly different from the onlookers who dismiss Chihaya as "beauty in vain" and the karuta club as "club in vain."

Hardly, but still different: however self-conscious he may be, Taichi does involve himself publicly with the "club in vain." He complains, but also puts himself out there. Taichi's actions prove that he is more than his social anxiety. Perhaps even more than his parents' expectations. In elementary school, his mother had wanted him to discontinue karuta if he couldn't be the best; his continuing to play karuta may be an act of defiance.

Rather than see Taichi in the sway of his social anxiety, you ought to give him credit and see how he is overcoming that same limitation.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
And Taichi does have a point when he's saying Chihaya is only emulating Arata in her desire to win. Remember episode one? Arata said:

- You have to have a dream of your own,
- because having dreams of someone else is not fair to them.

Chihaya picked up the former aspect, but ironically she did so in Arata's competitive terms (seeing Karuta as a sport when joining the club...). In other words, she borrowed Arata's dream for herself. Now, she's in the process of borrowing Kana's. She's a sponge, really, soaking up all the enthusiasm around her.
Oh, come now. Everyone comes to karuta from a different place, for reasons that in their origin must of necessity lie outside of karuta. No one ever chooses karuta solely for its own sake. And if Chihaya takes Arata's example as her inspiration, that hardly means as Taichi says that she is merely "following Arata's lead." She is discovering herself through karuta, not imitating others or "borrowing" or "soaking up" their passions.

Kana, at least, understands that Chihaya's passion is real: it is Kana's memory of the passion on Chihaya's face, while she listens to Kana's explication of the hyakunin isshu, that convinces her to join the club.

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Originally Posted by LKK View Post
I don't think Chihaya has learned the meaning behind all 100 cards yet. When they showed the metaphoric images rising from the cards, I only counted about a half-dozen or so. My interpretation was that that's about how many back-stories she's learned so far.
Kana probably does cover all 100 poems: it takes her less than a minute to do the first one, and at two minutes a poem, that would be two hours, which fits with the animation that shows the time passing as afternoon darkens into evening.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
The way I saw it, Taichi was just asking the same question Kanade echoed later on: you don't need teammates/friends for Karuta, so why is Chihaya trying to make a club? Appreciation/ambition for the game itself was not why Chihaya picked up the game.
Good catch--it is the same question, but the second time Chihaya does answer it, if not aloud: "I want to play karuta with Arata again. / I want him to know that karuta is fun.../ That it's fun when you're with friends."

This explains why when Taichi asks her this question, charging her with just following Arata's lead, Chihaya does not flash back to the moment Arata told her about his ambition to become a master, or even to the moment she originally said she wanted become queen, but rather to Arata on the bike, chasing the train, with tears in his eyes.

Probably Chihaya is following a gender role, of creating a domestic space where people can relate to each other with the private intimacy of family members. She will heal Arata of the loss of his grandfather, Kana of the isolation from classmates who don't appreciate her traditionalism, and Taichi of--well, I'm not sure about Taichi yet. But this gender role I think is what the anime means by a "queen:" not a companion to a "king" of karuta, but a maternal figure who is at once ace at the cards and also ace at the traditional feminine roles.
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Old 2011-11-09, 15:52   Link #444
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Okay, to understand Taichi, I think, you need to understand his social anxiety. The most terrible thing that can happen to him in is to "fail in public". The opening scene has Chihaya and Taichi carry the mats through lots and lots of students, some of whom whisper about them. Chihaya's reputation is mixed up with the club, and Taichi is now also associated with the club. Taichi is hyper-aware of this constellation, and he simply doesn't want to draw the "wrong sort of attention". Pressuring other people into joining, the way only socially oblivious Chihaya can, is a threat to his situation. He's not saying: let's only stay the two of us; rather he's saying: if people don't ask to join, what can we do? (With the implication that agressive marketing attracts the wrong sort of attention and makes them both "weird" for not getting that "nobody cares about that funny old game".
That's a good point. He worked very hard, since an early age, for his reputation. And just by being with Chihaya and helping her, he's destroying it. I'd like to say "little by little", but it really isn't that slow.
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Old 2011-11-09, 16:21   Link #445
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
And Taichi does have a point when he's saying Chihaya is only emulating Arata in her desire to win. Remember episode one? Arata said:

- You have to have a dream of your own,
- because having dreams of someone else is not fair to them.

Chihaya picked up the former aspect, but ironically she did so in Arata's competitive terms (seeing Karuta as a sport when joining the club...). In other words, she borrowed Arata's dream for herself. Now, she's in the process of borrowing Kana's. She's a sponge, really, soaking up all the enthusiasm around her.
Now that I think about it, can we really level this criticism at Chihaya but not Arata? After all, Arata didn't spontaneously generate his love for Karuta. It was given to him by his grandfather, and Arata's dream is basically to take the same position his grandfather had.

And now we see Chihaya convincing Arata to play again and dragging others along (Taichi, Kanade, presumably the rest of the new recruits) with her enthusiasm. Even if she was a sponge when she was a child, she's been stuck in this enthusiasm so long that she's become a source of it as well.

What Arata meant by "have a dream of your own" was not to come up with your dream independent of any outside inspiration, but rather to have your dream be about your own successes rather than someone else's. He was trying to tell her that her dream of watching her sister become famous wasn't actually a dream of her own (and wasn't fair to her sister).

tl;dr I don't think Arata's advice in any way supports Taichi's criticism of Chihaya.
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Old 2011-11-09, 16:34   Link #446
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Originally Posted by Pellissier View Post
I knew beforehand that Kana was voiced by Kayano Ai, but I still had troubles in recognizing her in the actual interpretation, both for voice and pronunciation. At any rate, she reaffirms her status as best newcomer seiyuu of this year imho.
She's the one seiyuu I can never recognize. I had no idea she was the one voicing Kana before reading your post. She definitely has an amazing range, but as I've said before, this is both a strength and a weakness. Having a voice that stands out is a strong asset. That said, at least this way people won't complain she's in too much anime if they can never pick her out. It'll be interesting to see how popular she will get. I wonder if she'll be able to compete with the popular seiyuus who have "unique" voices.
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Old 2011-11-09, 16:35   Link #447
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i was pretty bored by the episode...the poetry/symbolism behind karuta went in one ear..and out the other

i am simply more interested in the competition of the game and the intricacies/complexities of the relationships between the three main characters.

eagerly awaiting the next one..
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Old 2011-11-09, 17:34   Link #448
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
These are two different things. To fail is to disappoint his parents. That anxiety is specific to Taichi. Not wanting to stand out in public is the conventional attitude of most of the students. Taichi is hardly different from the onlookers who dismiss Chihaya as "beauty in vain" and the karuta club as "club in vain."

Hardly, but still different: however self-conscious he may be, Taichi does involve himself publicly with the "club in vain." He complains, but also puts himself out there. Taichi's actions prove that he is more than his social anxiety. Perhaps even more than his parents' expectations. In elementary school, his mother had wanted him to discontinue karuta if he couldn't be the best; his continuing to play karuta may be an act of defiance.

Rather than see Taichi in the sway of his social anxiety, you ought to give him credit and see how he is overcoming that same limitation.
I agree with what you say here. I certainly don't see Taichi in the sway of his social anxiety. You're right to say that "not wanting to stand out" is standard student behaviour. This is exactly why I said "not wanting to fail in public". Taichi does want to stand out (which was quite obvious in his child-episode appearances with his pride at achievements), though - just not the "wrong" way. And, yes, he does involve himself with the club. But his social anxiety makes him risk-averse when it comes to interaction with others: he's cautious, sometimes overly so, but more often than not it's not a bad thing.

The original context of the part you quote here was a response to the idea that Taichi said "just the two of us is okay" because he wanted to be alone with Chihaya. While this is probably part of it, too, I don't see it as the predominant motive (at best a minor temptation to use for rationalisation of his anxious impulse not to push stuff onto others). He's really just playing out a worst-case scenario in his mind.

It's important to note that - if Taichi had had his way - Kana would not have joined the club. Chihaya's initiative accomplished that - but it could have backfired into a reputation for badgering people. I keep saying Chihaya and Taichi complement each other well: last episode, we saw Taichi manage the Arata situation in a way Chihaya couldn't; this episode we see Chihaya connect with Kana in a way Taichi couldn't. They compensate for each others weaknesses pretty well, making use of each others strengths, too.

If we're talking chemistry, Taichi is a moderator to Chihaya's social impulse, while Chihaya is a catalyst for Taichi's initiative.

Quote:
Oh, come now. Everyone comes to karuta from a different place, for reasons that in their origin must of necessity lie outside of karuta. No one ever chooses karuta solely for its own sake. And if Chihaya takes Arata's example as her inspiration, that hardly means as Taichi says that she is merely "following Arata's lead." She is discovering herself through karuta, not imitating others or "borrowing" or "soaking up" their passions.

Kana, at least, understands that Chihaya's passion is real: it is Kana's memory of the passion on Chihaya's face, while she listens to Kana's explication of the hyakunin isshu, that convinces her to join the club.
Again, I agree with all that. It's sort of difficult for me to express my thoughts clearly. Chihaya's energy is certainly her own. And her passion is genuine. But where other children are encouraged to persue their own interests, Chihaya's learned patterns involve around others, in particular her sister. She was also really passionate about her sister's success (sometimes more so than sister herself, it appears).

It's true that Chihaya's journey towards karuta is not that different from that of Arata (Arata:Chihaya =[karuta]= Arata's grandpa:Arata). But in contrast to Chihaya, Arata's journey towards karuta started as a child. The equivalent to that (in terms of biography, not karuta) in Chihaya is playing cheerleader for her sister. It's a strange pattern overlay: in some sense, Arata has displaced her sister; but in another sense he's become a sensei (I had "teacher" here originally, but it somehow didn't fit...). Right now she's working at having her own goals, but she has yet to learn why her ingrained cherring-for-others may "not be fair" to them. (I don't think she has realised the importance of that part yet.)

That doesn't mean that Chihaya has to modify her behaviour; just that this is something about Arata (and by extension about others) she needs to understand.

Quote:
Good catch--it is the same question, but the second time Chihaya does answer it, if not aloud: "I want to play karuta with Arata again. / I want him to know that karuta is fun.../ That it's fun when you're with friends."

This explains why when Taichi asks her this question, charging her with just following Arata's lead, Chihaya does not flash back to the moment Arata told her about his ambition to become a master, or even to the moment she originally said she wanted become queen, but rather to Arata on the bike, chasing the train, with tears in his eyes.
That's the thing, though. "Because it's fun when you're with friends" sounds consistent with Chihaya's personality. But what surprised Taichi was the "best in Japan = best of the world" line. (Or do I misremember?) That doesn't sound like Chihaya at all; it's borrowed from Arata, and used to "hold him ransom", in some way. That she uses that line is "not fair to Arata" (in Arata's words) and a fallback to her relationship with her sister. The difference is one of play-acting, but in a way that Chihaya herself does not yet understand.

This is why you're absolutely right in saying that Chihaya is discovering herself through karuta.

(Btw, I'm talking about what Chihaya has to learn, here. That does not mean that I think that Arata is right with that "unfair" statement. I merely get the impression that Chihaya doesn't appreciate that part enough (not noticed? ignrored? forgotten? misunderstood?), because it's something very difficult to deal with. Arata is a bit of a loner, and probably needs to learn to rely on others more (though he's not yet had enough development for me to say anything with confidence.).

Quote:
Probably Chihaya is following a gender role, of creating a domestic space where people can relate to each other with the private intimacy of family members. She will heal Arata of the loss of his grandfather, Kana of the isolation from classmates who don't appreciate her traditionalism, and Taichi of--well, I'm not sure about Taichi yet. But this gender role I think is what the anime means by a "queen:" not a companion to a "king" of karuta, but a maternal figure who is at once ace at the cards and also ace at the traditional feminine roles.
Sounds about right.

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Originally Posted by Kagayaki View Post
Now that I think about it, can we really level this criticism at Chihaya but not Arata? After all, Arata didn't spontaneously generate his love for Karuta. It was given to him by his grandfather, and Arata's dream is basically to take the same position his grandfather had.

And now we see Chihaya convincing Arata to play again and dragging others along (Taichi, Kanade, presumably the rest of the new recruits) with her enthusiasm. Even if she was a sponge when she was a child, she's been stuck in this enthusiasm so long that she's become a source of it as well.

What Arata meant by "have a dream of your own" was not to come up with your dream independent of any outside inspiration, but rather to have your dream be about your own successes rather than someone else's. He was trying to tell her that her dream of watching her sister become famous wasn't actually a dream of her own (and wasn't fair to her sister).

tl;dr I don't think Arata's advice in any way supports Taichi's criticism of Chihaya.
ETA: Your post wasn't there when I typed this up. You have a point. I think I addressed some of it above: IMO, the difference is age: as achild, you create your basic behavioural patterns. Chihaya learned to be a cheerleader, as a child, thus she has an underdeveloped find-your-own-interest drive, and the way she approaches finding her own interest is - again - through that cheerleader mentality. It's difficult to express, and I may well be wrong. I do agree with hyperborealis that nobody finds their dreams independant of any outside influence. It's impossible. How do you even do that? Nothing would make sense.
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Old 2011-11-09, 19:01   Link #449
Kirarakim
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Somehow Kana's love for Karuta I can personally identify with more so than the other characters and their sportslike passion.

Although I know very little about Karuta and the 100 poems, what Kana said about understanding the context of the poems to appreciate them reminds me of what I feel about old classic films. I think to fully appreciate older films you also need to understand the context of them. That is why watching old films is so fascinating to me.

I know random thought but that is what I got out of this episode. And really I think passion for Karuta can really be applied to passion for anything. I wish I had found something to be so passionate about in High School.

Anyways another excellent episode Chihayafuru and I already like the new character. I definitely like Kayano Ai's character here more than the one she is playing in Guilty Crown, but I am also impressed with her voice range. She was great as Menma too.
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Old 2011-11-09, 19:07   Link #450
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"You're an idiot"
"You lost to an idiot!"
Reminds me of when i play games.

Never talk about Karuta near Chihaya, or she'll kidnap you. >.>

Chihaya has lightning speed, and apparently good stalking skills, as she can pop out of nowhere to ask you about Karuta. I thought the part where she hit the door to be pretty hillarious.

Kana seems to be a very "cool story bro" kinda person and Chihaya was unable to give a shit, but once interest was developed, she ate it all up, and developed a even greater appreciation for the game, causing her to level up. Well, this should be a interesting lead to the tournament when it comes up... 8/10 and this is definitely the most consistently good show of the season for me
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Old 2011-11-09, 19:13   Link #451
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Must admit that I loved the scene when the card hits the window in slow-mo just as Kana looks into the clubroom.

I am definitely enjoying the series and continue to. It is good and solid material; for me it is not quite at the top of the mountain (like Tamayura Hitotose and The iDOLM@STER are atm, for example), but it is a steady, "reliable" series that always delivers for me without being "extreme" in any way but which feels "just right".

That being said, I like the new character - especially how well she "harmonizes" with Chihaya. Kana is definitely more "my style" in terms of her love and passion for the Japanese arts of ages past.

7.5 vote for ep 6 from me....

BTW Archon - are you the one being called an idiot or the one telling others they lost to an idiot? Or maybe both?
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Old 2011-11-09, 23:09   Link #452
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Chihaya look so cute in a kimono
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Old 2011-11-10, 00:04   Link #453
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Probably Chihaya is following a gender role, of creating a domestic space where people can relate to each other with the private intimacy of family members. She will heal Arata of the loss of his grandfather, Kana of the isolation from classmates who don't appreciate her traditionalism, and Taichi of--well, I'm not sure about Taichi yet. But this gender role I think is what the anime means by a "queen:" not a companion to a "king" of karuta, but a maternal figure who is at once ace at the cards and also ace at the traditional feminine roles.

We can testify it once anime goes past 20 episodes. I think it would be sad if the story's only focus is the love triangle. I like to see more community members' story. We may find out Chihaya may not be the weirdest person in town.
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Old 2011-11-10, 17:53   Link #454
hyperborealis
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
That's the thing, though. "Because it's fun when you're with friends" sounds consistent with Chihaya's personality. But what surprised Taichi was the "best in Japan = best of the world" line. (Or do I misremember?) That doesn't sound like Chihaya at all; it's borrowed from Arata, and used to "hold him ransom", in some way. That she uses that line is "not fair to Arata" (in Arata's words) and a fallback to her relationship with her sister. The difference is one of play-acting, but in a way that Chihaya herself does not yet understand.
The logic you draw from Arata's admonishment is impeccable, but I don't think it applies to Chihaya at least in this instance.

Proof-text: in episode 2, when Chihaya takes over for Arata against Taichi in the school tournament, she says to herself she wants to win for Wataya-kun, but then amends her words, and says, "No... / I'm not doing this for him. / I'm... / I'm the one who's going to defeat Taichi!"

Chihaya wants to win for herself. She has the same degree of competitiveness and self-assertion that Arata and Taichi for that matter possess. So, although she does get her goal and her passion from Arata, in this sequence she declares this ambition to be her own. Wanting to win, wanting to be the best--that is also an aspect of Chihaya's character.

In thinking that this competitive spirit is Arata's and not Chihaya's, you are I think picking up on the gender roles I was talking about earlier. You are thinking ambition = masculine vs cheerleading = feminine. The difference is, however, that for Chihaya, gender roles are accumulative rather than differential. The anime presumes she must be the typical superwoman: she must excel in both masculine and feminine roles, rather than adhere only to the latter. She has to win at karuta, and also create the home away from home where all of them can escape the tyranny of their actual domestic situations.

I'm running out of time, so let me just sketch out some ideas for later. Your analysis raises the completely pertinent question of what "sounds like" Chihaya.

Her future is open, and not open. Open, since she can still be surprised to discover a love for classic Japanese poetry, for example. In this, karuta provides a vocabulary in which she can learn more about herself. But not open, since that vocabulary is general, and not specific to her.

You can for example understand the narrative to be a canvasing of the many reasons people involve themselves in karuta. Arata is her vehicle into the tradition of family karuta masters. Kana is her vehicle into the significance of the hyakunin isshu. I expect the future characters to be introduced will follow this same pattern.

So the question I have is where do we locate Chihaya as an individual? I am starting to have some of the same characterization issues you had with Blood-C.

Out of time. One last thing: why Taichi? As you say, complementary to Chihaya. But also: uniquely someone who likes / relates to her independently of karuta. He is the link to the whole world that is beyond / outside karuta. After all, karuta is not everything: that limitation is also part of its place in Japanese culture.

Last edited by hyperborealis; 2011-11-10 at 23:36.
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Old 2011-11-10, 19:40   Link #455
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Originally Posted by Kaoru Chujo View Post
First, the sakura around Arata as he lay there on the ground above Chihaya. And in this episode, the fact that as Chihaya's voiceover talks about the chihaya furu card being about love, we are shown Arata practicing karuta again.
Is the person being loved always indicated by a sakura halo? (Although I hope you're right. )

The part about the love card and Arata being shown together could also be interpreted as Arata's passion for karuta.

Quote:
What was said about Kanade maybe being more suitable for Arata may be true, but opposites attract. The mere fact that Chihaya would drive him crazy doesn't make romance any less likely.
Actually, I get the impression that Arata is the last person Chihaya would drive into insanity. Looking back at his demeanour around Chihaya, he had always been rather calm and tolerable towards her - if not even admirable of her fiery, straightforward personality. Between Taichi and Arata, I think Taichi is the only one Chihaya could/is driving insane.
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Old 2011-11-11, 03:09   Link #456
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Chihayafuru - Episode 6

Chihayafuru is possibly the least original and is certainly the most predictable show of the season. However, that doesn't keep it from being the best show of the season as well. Again, this show demonstrates how superior, albeit very conventional, direction and good characterization can produce a superior product.

It was pretty obvious that the meanings of the Hundred Poems was going play a role in the story at some point. That Chihaya lacked interest in this so far suggested that it was going to be sooner rather than later. The presentation of the revelation to her was very well done and Kanade is a good addition to the cast. It also conveniently sets up how Chihaya's club is going to be dressed in kimono (or just hakama) in tournaments.

Taichi's character arc is pretty obvious as well. He's never going to be able to progress anywhere until he gains his own passion for karuta. Up to now, he's just been dragged along by Chihaya's energy, and he will remain in that role until his own revelation.

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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
This explains why when Taichi asks her this question, charging her with just following Arata's lead, Chihaya does not flash back to the moment Arata told her about his ambition to become a master, or even to the moment she originally said she wanted become queen, but rather to Arata on the bike, chasing the train, with tears in his eyes.
I think the emphasis here is that one strives to achieve a real dream. Where that dream comes from, and the precise details of that dream aren't that important. That's why a game associated with children like karuta can be taken seriously by both the characters and the show.

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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Probably Chihaya is following a gender role, of creating a domestic space where people can relate to each other with the private intimacy of family members. She will heal Arata of the loss of his grandfather, Kana of the isolation from classmates who don't appreciate her traditionalism, and Taichi of--well, I'm not sure about Taichi yet. But this gender role I think is what the anime means by a "queen:" not a companion to a "king" of karuta, but a maternal figure who is at once ace at the cards and also ace at the traditional feminine roles.
I really hope that this isn't the case. There aren't all that many shoujo/josei works made, especially not it the classical mode. It'd be a real shame if one of the better ones was going to be about reinforcing gender roles. If Ikuhara found out, he'd be rolling in his grave.

However, I don't think that this is going to be the case at all. "Queen" refers to the title of the female karuta champion. One thing that's notable about the game/sport is that this is one of the very few competitions where men and women compete directly against one another. While games like Chess and Go theoretically have an even playing field, men historically dominate the upper ranks so women play in separate competitions (with a few notable exceptions). And so it's going to be more about the spirit of the sport, the passions it generates, and how the game affects the characters.

If the characters are worth anything, then they should be able to find their own answers and their own paths rather than having to rely on a mother figure.
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Old 2011-11-11, 10:23   Link #457
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
Proof-text: in episode 2, when Chihaya takes over for Arata against Taichi in the school tournament, she says to herself she wants to win for Wataya-kun, but then amends her words, and says, "No... / I'm not doing this for him. / I'm... / I'm the one who's going to defeat Taichi!"

Chihaya wants to win for herself. She has the same degree of competitiveness and self-assertion that Arata and Taichi for that matter possess. So, although she does get her goal and her passion from Arata, in this sequence she declares this ambition to be her own. Wanting to win, wanting to be the best--that is also an aspect of Chihaya's character.
One of the problems I have talking about characters is that words are always too crude. I do agree with you, here; Chihaya is a competitive person, and she does want to win for herself. But she's making her competitiveness contingent on Arata (and to a lesser extent Taichi). She doesn't show an interest in her opponents (which is probably why she didn't make friends in three years of Arata/Taichi-less karuta); and when the two of them threaten to move away, she threatens to quit. This is sort-of akin to pinning her dreams on someone else: Chihaya's dream is not merely to be good at karuta; it's a world in which she can play karuta with/against the people she has chosen. Wouldn't she, otherwise, have made friends in the club?

Her competitiveness has two family aspects: gaining attention against her sister (strategy: cheerleading); and her sister as a role-model (succesfull at her own dream). The latter is latent until Arata awakens it and transfers it onto karuta. Since she is busy finding her way within that sudden dream of hers, she has no time to also deal with her approach to relationships.

When Arata said that line about "unfairness to others" in episode one I wondered whether he had experience in that. Maybe there was a time when he wasn't sure whether karuta was his future, and he felt compelled to live his grandfather's dream? I no longer think that's very likely (though a variant might still be possible; of all the characters I find Arata the hardest to gauge), but at the time I wondered.

What it means to "win" is entirely different. Chihaya's competitiveness is an expression of her temperament; she thrives when challenged, comes alive. Taichi's competitiveness is a result of parental expectation; his temparament actually gets in the way. I'm entirely unsure about Arata.

This tension between expectation and temperament is very important in the show. How much can you ask from others? If you expect nothing from others, you won't forge bonds; but if you expect too much, you'll overwhelm them. Competition is a pre-fabricated type of interaction: you have a game (rules), and an outcome (a winner and a loser). As such it is pretty safe. For child-Taichi, the outcome "winner" was paramount; for child Chihaya the outcome "winner" is what gives the situation its meaning, but playing a fair game with friends is what's important. Once the three of them part, the outcome "winning" gets more important, as she hopes to meet Arata in official turnaments. This is making the continuation of their friendship contingent on karuta. Competitiveness acquired a new quality for Chihaya as they separated. (I wouldn't be surprised if Taichi hardly ever even played - of the three of them, he seemed to tie their friendship the least to karuta.)

That's the great thing about this show: you cannot just say: it's all about winning. Karuta, in its entirety, becomes the site of Chihaya's personality development: she's learning to be a better integrated person by playing karuta. It's an elaborate conceit, and it's very well played.

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In thinking that this competitive spirit is Arata's and not Chihaya's, you are I think picking up on the gender roles I was talking about earlier. You are thinking ambition = masculine vs cheerleading = feminine. The difference is, however, that for Chihaya, gender roles are accumulative rather than differential. The anime presumes she must be the typical superwoman: she must excel in both masculine and feminine roles, rather than adhere only to the latter. She has to win at karuta, and also create the home away from home where all of them can escape the tyranny of their actual domestic situations.
I'll have to think this through some more, since I wasn't thinking on that level of abstraction. When I said "cheerleader", I was thinking about her home-situation, and all the people involved there are women (mom and sister). Her cheerleading is, I think, both an expression of her bond with her sister, and an attention grab. She's very goal centred, and doesn't get enough attention. This is, I think, why she overshoots the mark at - say - school. Her home-patterns don't work in public.

When it comes to the karuta club, Chihaya is mostly recruiting and scavanging for things she has in common with others. The way she treats Kana is not so different from the way she treated her sister. I do think she's sincere. There's nothing false in her "sugois". They're, if anything, childlike in both their purity and naivety. She's learning things most of her peers have already learnt.

In some ways, we might even have a gender role reversal, with Chihaya rushing out to get new members and activities, and Taichi being stuck with the emotional fallout.

Curious how Arata will factor in. Future club member? Final boss to beat?

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You can for example understand the narrative to be a canvasing of the many reasons people involve themselves in karuta. Arata is her vehicle into the tradition of family karuta masters. Kana is her vehicle into the significance of the hyakunin isshu. I expect the future characters to be introduced will follow this same pattern.
I have pretty much the same expectation. Though, since this episode brought up modelling, I think we're going to see private life and karuta life mingling more and more, too. Taichi is sort of important as the pre-karuta childhood friend. He's the bracket without which the show would fall apart.

Arata is the karuta part, while her sister represents family life. I'm curious how much the separate areas will interact. Episode 6 suggests that there will - at the very least - be a thematic subtext.

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So the question I have is where do we locate Chihaya as an individual? I am starting to have some of the same characterization issues you had with Blood-C.
Now you've done it. You mentioned Blood-C in this thread.

This means that - unbidden - the following show popped into mind: Chihaya Furukimono. A couple of monsters carving poetry into people and racing to gobble up the one whose poem has just been read... [Oh, the joys of a magpie mind...]

Seriously, though: I tend to think of characters as social vortices: you build your identity through the reactions of others; and you carry that identy into new contexts - this involves both habits and self-image. No Blood-C spoilers in this thread; but I think you might be able to see why I have problems pin-pointing the characters in that show (given my approach), and why Chihayafuru doesn't give me any problems on that account.
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Old 2011-11-11, 10:30   Link #458
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It would be too bloody convenient to have Arata transfer now only because he suddenly rediscovered his suppressed passion. Certainly possible in anime, but last boss sounds more likely.
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Old 2011-11-11, 13:18   Link #459
Sol Falling
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Originally Posted by hyperborealis View Post
In thinking that this competitive spirit is Arata's and not Chihaya's, you are I think picking up on the gender roles I was talking about earlier. You are thinking ambition = masculine vs cheerleading = feminine. The difference is, however, that for Chihaya, gender roles are accumulative rather than differential. The anime presumes she must be the typical superwoman: she must excel in both masculine and feminine roles, rather than adhere only to the latter. She has to win at karuta, and also create the home away from home where all of them can escape the tyranny of their actual domestic situations.

I'm running out of time, so let me just sketch out some ideas for later. Your analysis raises the completely pertinent question of what "sounds like" Chihaya.

Her future is open, and not open. Open, since she can still be surprised to discover a love for classic Japanese poetry, for example. In this, karuta provides a vocabulary in which she can learn more about herself. But not open, since that vocabulary is general, and not specific to her.

You can for example understand the narrative to be a canvasing of the many reasons people involve themselves in karuta. Arata is her vehicle into the tradition of family karuta masters. Kana is her vehicle into the significance of the hyakunin isshu. I expect the future characters to be introduced will follow this same pattern.

So the question I have is where do we locate Chihaya as an individual? I am starting to have some of the same characterization issues you had with Blood-C.

Out of time. One last thing: why Taichi? As you say, complementary to Chihaya. But also: uniquely someone who likes / relates to her independently of karuta. He is the link to the whole world that is beyond / outside karuta. After all, karuta is not everything: that limitation is also part of its place in Japanese culture.
Hrrm. I see a parallel here between the "gender roles" you note as accumulative and the general "openness" of Chihaya's future. What we have seen of Chihaya thus far is someone who is really rather extraordinarily in love with others. Her sister; Arata; Kanade. In various ways, Taichi and Harada-sensei too. But, I agree that so far all of Chihaya's passions strike me as in some manner admirative (and so, to an extent, imitative) as opposed to things she's genuinely internalized.

Chihaya admire[s/d?] her sister as a model, yet has never considered the path of a model herself. Chihaya is taken in by Arata's "best in Japan" enthusiasm enough to emulate it, but would not have the passion to chase such a lonely existence if she were alone in it. Chihaya effusively receives all of Kanade's insight into the Hundred Poems that she can communicate, but seems unlikely to ever herself dive into a tome of analysis.

I do think that, in establishing a Karuta club, Chihaya's wish is the formation of a domestic space. But I don't think Chihaya's feelings themselves are particularly motherly. If I had to say, I'd guess that Chihaya right now is about hoping that passion and togetherness can be united. Chihaya admires other people's passions. But more than that, I think she feels alone. That is why, I think that Chihaya is looking for a way to take part in other people's passions, without (as Arata said) usurping their dream from them in the very first place. This does sort of mean that Karuta thus far isn't a real part of Chihaya's identity. Actually, wait, that's the feeling I've been having about this show thus far all along, lol. If that's the case, though, now that I've realized it, I can only think that the path of discovering how Chihaya comes to genuinely love Karuta will be truly interesting.

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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
I really hope that this isn't the case. There aren't all that many shoujo/josei works made, especially not it the classical mode. It'd be a real shame if one of the better ones was going to be about reinforcing gender roles. If Ikuhara found out, he'd be rolling in his grave.
But Ikuhara isn't quite dead yet, is he? Or do you mean his legacy in another sense?

In any case, as hyperborealis noted, gender roles can be accumulative. While the modern feminist ideal of the multi-talented "superwoman" can be somewhat impossible, in the end I don't think it should be wrong of girls to affirm their natural femininity as they come into it. While it is important to understand that gender roles should not be limiting, I do think that contrarily refusing to acknowledge feminine roles at all can be counterproductive.
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Old 2011-11-11, 15:43   Link #460
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But Ikuhara isn't quite dead yet, is he?
That's the joke.

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Originally Posted by Sol Falling View Post
In any case, as hyperborealis noted, gender roles can be accumulative. While the modern feminist ideal of the multi-talented "superwoman" can be somewhat impossible, in the end I don't think it should be wrong of girls to affirm their natural femininity as they come into it. While it is important to understand that gender roles should not be limiting, I do think that contrarily refusing to acknowledge feminine roles at all can be counterproductive.
That's true enough, but Chihaya doesn't exhibit any characteristics that would lend us to think of her as a mother figure (or really any other kind of feminity). So any such association for her would be only because of her gender. Moreover, the other characters in the show are fully functional human beings more than capable of taking care of themselves. While they may need some sort of catalyst to spur them into action, it's a big leap to conclude that they need someone to take care of them.
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