Chihayafuru – Episode 8

We’re back with more Chihayafuru! The last episode was very likely the strongest episode of the show to date, merging an excellent character introduction with some desperately needed Taichi development. Taichi had really gotten the short straw up until that point, being forced to act as the third tag-along pillar of a Destined Romance that had constantly presented Chihaya and Arata as fated partners. Seeing him articulate his frustration about his lack of talent, and also legitimately earn a win off Chihaya, was a very satisfying experience. And with four members in the bag, we now only need one more signee to make the karuta club real. Let’s get right to it!

Episode 8

“The Sounds of the Waterfall.” Not much sense in reading too much into these titles, considering they’re all just cribbed from the cards

And Chihaya is as enthusiastic as ever, hunting for that final club member

Aw dang, she’s got the whole club out shilling at the front gate

It’s convenient for Chihaya that narrative simplicity demands neither of her prior new members get tired of this nonsense and quit. Both of them joined the karuta club for the flimsiest of reasons, but they’re now stuck there unless some dramatic key event actually gives them a narrative reason to leave

Not that that’s a bad thing. Narratives work according to certain consistent frameworks because if they didn’t, stories would just dissolve into a mess of aimless nonsense. You can’t spend a full episode earning a character’s loyalty and then have that loyalty disappear in the next episode, or the audience will feel the show is wasting their time. Our investment must be rewarded to be maintained

“We’ll find someone perfect!” Welp, that’s definitely the topic of this episode. And given how random our two previous new additions were, I’m guessing this final addition will be the most story-critical newcomer. Based on general team dynamic logic, I’d guess it’ll be a girl with a darker personality than Chihaya, but a great deal of natural talent

Chihaya literally saved by the bell

Chihaya is so food-driven

Komano is attacking karuta studies with the same enthusiasm he brings to all his studies. I really like this kid

I also like that he’s settled so gracefully into friendship with Chihaya. He was never a strange guy, he was just lonely and quiet

Welp, looks like I was ENTIRELY WRONG. The final member is the chubby kid she fought back as a kid

Goddamnit, he was always in the OP. I am a very stupid person

Though I suppose I could have also guessed that the club proper won’t include any key characters aside from Chihaya and Taichi. Any new key players at this point are likely to be rivals

You get to “send cards” to your opponent if you take one from their side. Komano now taking the role of eager newbie, letting Taichi explain more key mechanics

“If you touch the wrong card on the correct side, it’s not a fault.” That makes sense. The movements in this game have to be so quick and instinctive that you can’t really assume players will always hit the exact one they were aiming for – but you can punish them when it was clear they weren’t even aiming in the right direction, and were simply trying to make a move. Thus simply dashing all over the board is discouraged without having speedy play also be discouraged

Looks like the new kid is on the tennis team

“I asked him to join the karuta club and he ran away.” You are pretty intimidating, Chihaya

Aaand she just leaps on him

Chihaya keeps calling him “porky,” and his memory of Taichi is being called fat. I don’t know why he’d want to join these assholes

Nishida is his name

“There’s no reason to play karuta. Plus, I’d just go to the association if I wanted to play.” Nishida is being incredibly reasonable to these people

Like with Chihaya’s “wasted beauty,” I was immediately worried that their treatment of Nishida would be a reflection of anime’s general eagerness to make fun of people for being overweight. But once again, my fears are subverted by the show underlining that Nishida is actually very athletic and comfortable with his own body image. I really appreciate this show subverting all those shitty cliches

Friggin’ Chihaya keeps calling him Porky, though. She’s saying “niku,” which is “meat,” but I assume the connotation is the same in Japanese

Oh my god, Nishida was so traumatized by Arata’s power and icy stare that he stopped playing right then. Arata is too strong

But he runs according to the pacing of multi-syllable karuta cards, lol

The lighting in these woodland shots is really nice. Also a decent sense of multilayered depth

“The Empress,” one of the tennis instructors, watches Chihaya try to recruit Nishida. I wonder if she’ll become their faculty adviser

Just like how characters can’t suddenly drop out of clubs for no dramatic reason, faculty advisers can’t sign on with no foreshadowing. Stories are like melodies, new elements need to be woven in and dissipate gracefully

Nishida can’t get his head in the game now

Man, Chihaya really is so pretty

More interesting strategy tidbits. If two cards start the same, you have to wait until they define themselves to shoot for them if they’re on opposite sides, but you can start swinging with no consequences if they’re on the same side. Whether or not you actually want to have that option will likely dictate which cards you want to send to your opponent

“It’s pointless if I’m the only one who’s any good.” As with last episode, they’ve quickly managed to corral Nishida’s membership into some kind of conflict that can only be resolved with a karuta match

It’s kind of interesting. In many shows, having all conflicts resolve in the same way would be a bit of a disappointment – but in sports shows, it’s precisely because the audience enjoys seeing this sport executed that they’re watching

Right, he was number two in the country back in grade school

“Karuta is about talent. It doesn’t matter how much we practice, we can never beat Arata.” A familiar refrain, directly echoed last week in Taichi’s frustration with Chihaya’s talent

It’s not an uplifting message, but man, they’re right. Sports rely incredibly heavily on natural talent. That’s why goals like being the absolute best are kind of questionable – unless you’re blessed with remarkable natural ability, it’s probably healthier to enjoy the sport because you enjoy the sport, not because you want to prove your dominance

Taichi lays a competitive trap for him. If he just exchanged karuta for tennis, he won’t be able to resist

Chihaya’s ponytail is excellent

Taichi’s actually doing the poem reading himself

Nishida is very good

“I was worried that I’d lost my touch, but my body feels so light.” You’ve fallen into the trap, Nishida. You’re having a good time

It looks like the Empress was proctoring this match in his past

Once he started playing to win, losing to Arata became intolerable

Hah. Very clever match cut with the cards into the tennis net

Also an interesting shot panning across his board. Subtle use of CG to create a 3D effect here

A new element of strategy: reading your opponent’s plays to see what they’d prefer you to send

Chihaya making sure Nishida’s having a good time. Going all Midoriya on this match

Looks like she was sandbagging to make sure he had a good time, lol

“There are cards where Chihaya can hear the next syllable.” This actually doesn’t sound that supernatural. Chihaya being able to hear how someone is constructing a sentence, and thus where the emphasis of the next syllable will land, sounds impressive but plausible

Nishida’s actually better than Taichi, which is a nice surprise

Nishida joins! And yes, please stop calling him Porky, Chihaya

And Done

Welp, that was a pretty middle-of-the-road episode. The storytelling this time definitely wasn’t as strong as last episode’s stunner, and there wasn’t really any emotional weight to Nishida’s entrance to the club, but Nishida himself seems like a fine addition to the cast. Among all my extremely wrong predictions, I was at least right that the club needed and gained another power player. Though I really do hope the first and second additions don’t end up being relegated to color commentary – they’re both charming characters, and deserve some competitive wins. Either way, our club is formed. It’s time to battle!

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One thought on “Chihayafuru – Episode 8

  1. Chihaya is calling him “Nikuman”, which are the meat bun things he talked about going to eat when they met as kids. Still a shitty thing to call him, but not quite so obviously mean spirited as “Porky”. Tough thing to localize.

    Actually after checking that, I’m not sure that Taichi was calling him fat there either. It sounds like he said “teme” which is an extremely rude pronoun, so the translation may have been have been trying to capture that rudeness by using “fatty” instead. (Though I can’t even parse the rest of the sentence so I could be very wrong).

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