Please note, these musings shall contain spoilers for Season 1. Read at your own discretion.
In these two episodes, we follow Chihaya as she successfully becomes a Class A player of Karuta. She calls Arata to give him the news but is confronted with an icy demeanour. Determined to discover the reason behind Arata’s negative disposition, she shanghaies Taichi into accompanying her on a visit to Fukui so she can meet Arata. Once they arrive, Taichi and Chihaya learn some devastating news about their chum and are left with mixed feelings as they head back home.
While watching these segments, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. When my brother passed away in 2010, I stopped playing the piano. Actually, I stopped playing all instruments. It simply hurt too damn much to pick them up again. It was worse with the piano because that was essentially the musical instrument that fuelled his soul. Since he was such a naturally gifted pianist, and it represented a lot of the time we spent together, just looking at one would make me feel an assortment of negative things from grief to rage to this unbearable ache of sadness. So, when we learn about the tragedy in Arata’s life and how that ultimately made him stop playing Karuta, it was way too familiar. I essentially cried for the entirety of these two episodes.
What I adored about this journey is the exhibition of passion. When we are passionate about something, it’s almost never only about the thing that this passion revolves around. There’s something sentimental and powerful beneath the layers of excitement and wonder that it conjures up. For many of us, passions can be attributed to people whom we admired greatly, or they can be chocked up to life-altering events (such as death or birth, for example), or anything in between and far and wide. When the roots of those passions disappear, what are we left with?
For Arata, it was an agonising sense of guilt and loneliness. If he didn’t go to the tournament, maybe he could’ve prevented what happened to his grandfather from being fatal. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant when someone is in a position like that. For Chihaya, it was an incredible feeling of helplessness. She was watching this person whom she cares so deeply for suffering in a manner that she couldn’t possibly comprehend. All she wants to do is offer him comfort and allay that ache, yet there’s really nothing that she could offer him. For Taichi, well, it’s a complex brew of helplessness, indescribable anger, and even reprieve for his jealousy to an extent. All these things are tied to their individual passions.
At the end of episode six, when Arata gives the train a chase, I felt a mixture of joy and also mild disappointment. I was happy because these episodes didn’t end on a brutally melancholy note. Yet, I was disappointed because him [Arata] deciding that he’s been wallowing for long enough felt abrupt and convenient. It’s also quite a standard reaction and I was hoping for something that was a tad bit different from the norm.
Either way, though, I loved the whole sequence of events. This journey that Taichi and Chihaya went on, one of realising that there is more to life than just those things that set our souls on fire, was beautiful. It illustrates that there’s a whole world outside of it that is just as vital and fierce, if not more, than the passions themselves.
I’m looking forward to what’s coming next for Chihaya and Taichi, which is putting together an actual Karuta club. Also, I’m eager for Arata’s return because I know how much that’s going to affect Taichi, which may be sadistic to say, but watching that kid squirm gives me life. He’s my favourite of the two boys, and I feel like him being shoved into uncomfortable places will be the only way that he’s going to human (non-gendered, yay) the hell up about his feelings.