Welcome back to my episodic mutterings for season one of Chihayafuru. In the second and third episodes, Chihaya continues to reminisce about the time she met a young boy, named Arata Wataya, who would change her entire life by introducing her to the game of Karuta.
Chihayafuru has a marvellous way of expressing the stories behind the characters while still pursuing an overarching plotline, and that is one of the main qualities of the series that has made it such a long-time favourite of mine. For example, in the second episode as we watch how Chihaya and Arata formulate a friendship, mostly by her standing up for him when he’s being bullied and mistreated by classmates, which then causes Taichi to feel threatened by the presence of this new and seemingly unremarkable boy. A challenge of karuta between the two boys eventually ensues, and when Taichi realises that he can’t win in a fair match, he makes some poor choices to tip the odds into his favour. Later in the episode, we see the impact that the results of the karuta match has on Taichi while he interacts with his mum, who is less than thrilled.
The examination of how bullying is usually an underlying sign of severe unhappiness or abuse in the bully’s personal life is subtle yet easily to infer, as illustrated by Taichi’s exchange with his mother, and I can’t wait to see how it shall contribute to Taichi’s character development (and potential growth) moving forward.
Another example that we see of a character’s personal narrative playing a big part in the main focus can be extracted from Chihaya herself. Her sister is a beautiful young woman that is pursing a professional career in the entertainment industry, specifically as a model. The Ayase family is fixated on the sister’s aspirations and accomplishments, to the point where Chihaya is treated like an annoying, secondary figure. Chihaya’s newfound passions and even her very first achievement in that passion’s pursuit go disrespectfully unacknowledged. The heartache it causes the young girl is apparent on her facial expression, but so is her quick-to-compartmentalise manner. I’m curious to see how this shall impact her later in the series as she continues to play karuta in a professional manner while continuously receiving the shoe-end from her family for it.
Some other aspects that I found endearing about episodes two and three is the spontaneity of youth and how impulsive children can be, as well as how those impulses can create life-long dreams. I remember as a child, I went through a new idyllic career for myself by the week, until I finally found one that called out to me, and it didn’t involve anything significant either. Very much like Chihaya’s tendency of being a sore loser, my passions grew out of a whim of pleasure. It’s such a humanistic and lovely part of living and growing up.
Lastly, the series lays down some emotional roots, indicating that there will be evocative elements moving forward. In the third episode, due to certain circumstances, the trio end up parting ways. What makes it so moving is that they overcame some small differences to formulate a friendship that brought them all a sense of comfort and joy to varying degrees; it gave them reprieve from heartache in their individually personal lives. The essence of most, if not all, friendships is comfort. It can be incredible what morsels of comfort can do for the spirit, which is another theme to keep on eye on as we progress forward.
The next couple of episodes should bring us back to the present time as Chihaya settles into her new high school and tries to hunt down what happened to the boy who gave her a dream.