Episode 23 “Like a Boatsman Adrift” takes us to the epilogue of this third season of Chihayafuru.
After the end of the arc dedicated to the competition for the title of Queen and Meijin, we return to follow the protagonists struggling with their normal student lives, as they are close to the beginning of their last year of high school.
Surprisingly for the audience (at least for those who have not read the manga yet) what seemed destined to be a light-hearted episode, a simple transition to the future Karuta competitions of the series, has instead touched the most dramatic and emotional point of the entire story.
Episode 23, with Taichi confessing his love to Chihaya, seems to mark an irreversible breakdown of interpersonal balance and a brutal push towards a new evolution of the characters.
In the previous episode, we saw Chihaya realize the inner conflict experienced by Taichi and, while unable to understand neither his sentimental nor his human drama, she tries in every way to make him smile again.
This unprecedented attention shown by Chihaya (who is endowed with a heart of gold but usually too naive) towards his friend, surprised us a lot.
We saw the girl for the first time think and try to understand Taichi, with an interest and devotion that is not commonly reserved to a simple teammate. So much so that we thought that something was really changing in the main character’s feelings and that Chihaya herself would soon have to deal with it.
Episode 23 opens with comedy tones and with the surprise party for the boy’s 18th birthday: the “Taichi Cup” organized by Chihaya. Taichi himself seems moved when noticing what effort and care she puts into making him happy.
Keeping faith to the decision taken in the previous episode, Taichi, who no longer wants to run away from his feelings, takes the opportunity to talk to Chihaya and confesses, in the Karuta club room, flooded with cherry blossom petals, to love her.
The courage to make himself vulnerable by exposing his feelings, with the almost absolute certainty that the answer he wishes won’t come, makes his beautiful confession more than just romantic.
Taichi knows that his attempt is desperate and seems to have already accepted the consequences of rejection when he decides to finally give voice to his love.
“I have always known, deep down, that I could devote my entire youth to karuta without ever become better than Arata” Taichi said to Harada sensei before founding the Karuta club of Mizusawa with Chihaya.
“You can only say that after you’ve really tried” the old man replied, the same man who has just shown to the world that he is still able to put all of himself into his dream of becoming Meijin.
Harada sensei lost the match against Suo but fought without being intimidated, without sparing himself and came out as a true hero.
In the same way, Taichi doesn’t want any regrets and it seems that the time has come for him to decide where to direct his future and his talent.
“I have already devoted my youth (to Chihaya and Karuta) that is why I am scared. What if, at the end, there’s nothing? What if I’m left with nothing but regrets?”
“I’ve always, always wanted to be someone who isn’t a coward”.
To the unexpected love confession, Chihaya replies something that we can’t hear. A foreseen and expected refusal. Taichi, with his usual composure, leaves the room while the audience end up feeling the same burden the boy bears on his heart.
Taichi knows that he has to turn over a new leaf and that his future must now go far away from Chihaya, Arata, the club and Karuta.
Despite the overwhelming blossoming of spring outside the window, there is a feeling of gloomy despair, just as “pitch black” as the 100 sweet poems imprinted on the cards are now, for Taichi.
Taichi‘s many talents can now be effectively put into something more “important”, as his mother always wanted for him. But it doesn’t make the separation any less painful for him, nor for the audience, nor for Chihaya.
After Taichi announces his retirement from the Karuta club, the girl, in tears, chases him and beg him to reconsider it.
When he instinctively holds her close to kiss her, she remains paralyzed and stiff. Taichi understands that Chihaya, although genuinely desperate to lose him, is not in love.
He cannot bear being on Chihaya’s side when his feelings aren’t reciprocated. And, without Chihaya, Karuta itself has lost any meaning for the boy.
It seems like everything will change for the main characters, now. Arata is about to move and reach Chihaya and he has confessed his feelings to her as well, although the girl has not given any answer yet.
Arata‘s confession “if you want, let’s play Karuta together” sounds, for both him and Chiahaya, like “if you want, let’s live our lives together”.
If it’is true that the absolute protagonist of this anime is the game of Karuta, I wonder, however, if it’s really in the author’s intentions to show that Chihaya herself begins and ends with this sport.
Arata and Chihaya undoubtedly share the same burning passion for Karuta, but, as many fans have often pointed out, Arata had been away from the girl’s side for years. And I’m not fully persueded that the mere fact of being two passionate champions, make the two of them meant to be a couple in life.
I don’t want to reduce the discussion to the trite “Taichi vs. Arata” debate, because it is evident that in Chihayafuru there is much more than a love triangle. However, like most fans, I can’t help wonder what the author’s real intentions are.
I never ever found it so difficult to make predictions about the epilogue of an anime (Who will win the Meijin title? And who will win Chihaya’s heart?)
Long story short, I think the possible upcoming epilogues are the following:
Hypothesis A) Arata wins the title by defeating Suo and fulfilling is grandfather’s desire. Also Arata has Chihaya by his side while Taichi lives a successful life (certainly having no problem in finding a girl who really loves him –Sumire or anyone else-.
Hypothesis B) Arata becomes Meijin. Taichi cannot beat his rival but Chihaya understands that Love and Karuta are not the same and choose to be Taichi‘s girlfriend.
Hypothesis C) Taichi defeats his inner demons and come back to play Karuta, eventually managing to win the title of champion. Arata must accept the defeat but consoles himself with Chihaya‘s love which makes him appreciate the beauty of life, even outside Karuta.
Hypothesis D) Regardless who becomes Master, Chihaya will take her time to find her way in life and does not accept the love of any of her two best friends.
Each fan seems to have his own prediction but I believe each of these assumptions is equally plausible.
For my part, lately I wouldn’t mind seeing C): Taichi as Meijin and Arata with Chiahaya. This ending would seem to coherently complete the inner growth of both male characters: Taichi finds the strength to overcome his limits just where he seemed to have no hopes while Arata opens his heart to the outside world.
However, among these 4 hypotheses, the only one which would finally foresee a personal evolution of Chihaya (the real protagonist) is B).
If imagine an epilogue where Karuta ceases to be “a final goal”, to Chihaya, and becomes “a means” (not the only one) to achieve happiness, then I tend to think that Chihaya will eventually understand the importance of Taichi‘s presence at her side. Whether he is a Karuta god or not.
Of course Arata was the one who promoted Chihaya‘s passion for Karuta (he’s the spark that started the fire of the the whole story) and he is just the kind of shy guy, deep and modest who, in anime, often have the upper hand over the most distinguished rivals.
Taichi, on the other hand, by Yuki Suetsugu‘s own admission, was born as a supporting character who just “get out of hand” to the author, growing up in the story almost of his own will.
He starts, in fact, as the rich and spoiled guy who is accustomed to excelling.
However it is undeniable that, so far, he has been at the center of the stage (counting his presence in the story alongside Chihaya and considering his personal evolution that has basically overturned the stereotype in which he seemed imprisoned) much more than the designated hero, Arata.
Fans appreciated the awkward sweetness of Arata‘s confession to Chihaya, yet, I wonder: how can one deny the narrative and emotional power of Taichi‘s own love confession? Why do the pains of a simple supporting character end up marking the emotional climax of the whole story?
The author loves Taichi, there is no doubt about that. Just think of how many times we have listened to his inner thoughts and how we all know Taichi‘s deep feelings and doubts much better than those of Arata or even Chihaya.
Will Suetsugu really have the courage not to give this character, on whom she spent so much, the love story with her lead character?
If you feel like it, let me know in the comments what you think.
I only ask you to please avoid spoilers for those who, like me, have not read the manga and only follow the anime.
Thanks for reading, bye!
17 Comments on “Chihayafuru 3×23 – Taichi confesses his love to Chihaya Finally Taichi confess to Chiahaya. Who will Chihaya choose at the end of the story, Taichi or Arata?”
great review!!! I think you have touched on the essence of Chihaya’s coming of age story. Her growing up will make it possible to truly understand the Hyakunin Isshu in heart and soul, and not only playing karuta.
Yes, I think your B prediction is what Sensei is going for.
Feels like I was watching a totally different anime…..
I don’t think there are negative characters in it, those who start with flaws work hard all along the narration to become better persons, to overcome their limits, their fears.
There’s a good competition between Arata and Taichi, but you consider it in a negative way and I think you decided a priori that something is totally good and something is totally wrong.
In this perspective, why don’t you also see Chihaya following another’s dream (Arata’s) while you doom Taichi for it? Why you consider Taichi dishonest and his attitude towards karuta impure and don’t pay attention to the way they all play to win taking unfair advantage from other’s weakness (Suo’s limited eyesight for example). Why you see Taichi’s attempt to protect Chihaya from unwanted attentions as sabotage? Why you talk about forcing a kiss, when the author was so delicate to drew only a slight touch between Taichi’s and Chihaya’s lips? There are so many things that I got in a different way, that I wonder what could actually create this difference of perception… Finally, the fact that the author had thought of Taichi as a side character at the beginning, doesn’t mean that she couldn’t change idea during the writing… or not? Does life start in a way and remains steadily the same? Cannot things evolve? Change? Grow? You all agree that the anime is about karuta, but I didn’t read anywhere in your comments any reference to cards and poems and their content and their connection with the story and the feelings of characters… Well, the only common thing we all sense is the impatience to watch the next season!!
Actually, I didn’t doom Taichi, I meant everything as indicators to show the intended pairing. I do not mean Taichi is abnormally evil in real life (if it was real life). I mean the traits and tendencies shown are enough to show he isn’t the intended protagonist (male) of the show/story.
As for the possibility of the author changing her mind, I already said (somewhere) that it is entirely possible (due to the fact that the author showed she is susceptible to losing control).
However, if nothing goes awry, Taichi’s negative tendencies (pertaining to the story) in addition to the poems (romantic ones) being about Arata and Chihaya, in addition to the author admitting the original role of Taichi, then there is little to suggest that the pairing will change.
All the traits I pointed out regarding Taichi is to indicate the result that typically accompanies a character with such traits in a story. In real life, I know that normal people like Taichi are everywhere.
However, I do have to reiterate that the things he did are actually despicable when done in shows typically, but the difference here is that he is portrayed as a hot guy in shoujo manga fashion. Normally, characters that exhibit his behavior, but are drawn/portrayed less attractively, do get perceived much more negatively (as a sort of antagonist). This is because in shows, all subtleties are impactful to viewers, as opposed to in rea life, where subtleties go unnoticed, or are too insignificant to matter. In shows, subtleties are key hints so every subtle thing a character does in a show that relies on subtle acts define the fate of the character.
This is why I focused so much on all the subtle traits of Taichi, even though in real life, it is not uncommon for such jealous actions.
Personally I can’t fully agree on this specific point. I don’t recall despicable things done by Taichi similar to the ones typically enacted by antagonists.
Basically I can’t remeber him actually sabotaging Arata&Chihaya or putting in place strategies not to let them meet or not to let them “know” things that could be crucial.
He surely shows his jealousy by keeping away suitors who could never ever have any chance with Chihaya and who clearly don’t have serious feelings towards her.
Even then, he doesn’t get real (for e.g. confessing Suo he’s not Chihaya’ boyfriend right after having lied about that).
Your arguments can be correct as a whole, but on this specific point I can’t be persuaded.
Maybe I don’t remember everything from the anime, so please feel free to bring more specific examples to prove I misunderstood ?♀️
People who like Taichi are likely to think that the author’s meaning of Taichi being originally a side character that grew out of her control means that she is biased towards the character. However, from my observations, Japanese authors are into unrequited love and they love doing various forms of them, including alternatives such as long distance relationships, not being able to meet, excessive longing, and confusing their love for another, etc. They love making the main characters helpless, or taking them down the wrong path. Taichi was a plot device for that, and him outgrowing her expectations was due to, rather than her favoring him over Arata, her overusing him as a plot device.
I believe the biggest answer is that she said Taichi was a side character from the start. What this tells me is that she simply loved the idea of putting distance between the 2 main leads, creating obstructions to their love, etc. so much that she overused Taichi. (KNOWING THAT TAICHI WAS A SIDE CHARACTER FROM THE START ALSO TELLS US THAT 90% THE ROMANTIC POEMS THEY WERE READING WERE DESIGNED FOR CHIHAYA-ARATA. It would just butcher the entire story knowing that the whole time, 90% of those romantic poems were talking about Chihaya-Arata.)
The second big hint is that she said she didn’t control it. Taichi was obviously just conveniently always by Chihaya to use as a plot device. She couldn’t make a love hexagon and turn Chihaya into a tramp. This is shoujo ai, and the MC needed to remain pure. Thus, 90% of the time the author would use Taichi. It’s shoujo ai 101 to make the female lead appear to fall for the 3rd male lead. THE BIGGEST CONFIRMATION HERE IS THAT SHE IS ON RECORD SAYING TAICHI IS A SIDE CHARACTER. What she means by him growing by himself is simply that she noticed he was way more developed than she intended him to be (as a result of overuse).
Why did Taichi grow more than she expected? Because she put Arata in another setting, since this was the type of long distance, longing romance she desired. Personally, the overuse of Taichi was a weakness of this series.
IMPORTANT: How do we know the author didn’t overuse Taichi, and decided to replace Arata with Taichi? This is because by the time Chihaya finally clearly had her internal dialogue of “I like Arata,” it was after excessive Taichi overload/overuse. When the author decided to make Chihaya’s love for Arata bloom, Taichi had already been growing out of control. This means that the author never lost her original intention of Chihaya/Arata’s romance, and Taichi was simply overused. The romance was still the same.
Therefore, everything Taichi did was purely for plot device. All those things he did to make Chihaya show ambiguous signs, like blushing, were just supposed to be a part of the typical love triangle. it is so commonly done in shoujo ai that it’s obvious as day Taichi was designed to be used for that purpose.
If the author did not say that Taichi was the side character, i would have thought if the author just had a sick hobby. but because she made it clear Taichi was a side character from the start, it is clearly just a mistake of overuse of the character for her love triangle romance.
IF SHE SAID BOTH ARATA AND TAICHI WERE THE MAIN MALE LEADS, I WOULD NOT BE SO SURE. But based on what she said, she was just too extreme in keeping the main male lead at a distance and out of reach, and on top of that, overused Taichi too much.
In fact, Taichi outgrew her expectations, but by no means was Taichi well-developed imo. This is because of the issue Taichi had from the start. Taichi was a very bad character, clearly intended to be more villainous than he ended up becoming. The author had intended for Taichi to be bad, but imo, she didn’t want to go too extreme, and unconsciously toned him down, probably to make it more believable to the viewers that he was an alternative love interest (if he was clearly bad, audience would never think he is an alternative).
Thus, toning it down made Taichi appear to develop, but in reality, it was just a side effect (proof is that she didn’t intend it). But this was inconsistent writing imo, and not real character development. I recall Taichi was supposed to be thieving, scheming, jealous, possessive, and cowardly, while at the same time, he feels guilty because he knew what morality was. He did maintain those aspects, but they were toned down by a lot, making him almost appear to have overcome those sins simply by aging.
But as we saw, that was only an illusion as a result of the author making him care for Chihaya as a believable love interest. Whenever Arata was mentioned, Taichi still maintains the same behavior. He still becomes immediately jealous, he immediately acts cowardly and tries to silence his name, change the subject, etc. He only does the minimum necessary thing (e.g., when he is told to tell Chihaya something, he tells her as shortly as possible to satisfy his own moral struggles, for peace of mind/conscience).
We can also see the author making Arata considerate that they might be going out, and the author making Taichi tell him they are friends and they are a team, then Taichi immediately thinking Arata is his enemy and he doesn’t want Arata to come. Taichi is still the small-minded, jealous coward he was.
Therefore, the author was only surprised that Taichi appeared to grow much more than she intended, but the author never removed his negative traits, meaning the author never changed her intentions for the character, despite the character outgrowing her expectations. This is another indicator that it was just overuse.
And of course, Taichi is always doing things that can be interpreted as stealing. All those scenes of him suddenly making bodily contact with her, like grabbing her wrist (which was depicted as hand-holding in the other character’s perspective), forcing a kiss, etc. He keeps doing things suddenly, without consent, and away from Arata. The author never really removed his initial bad traits. It’s just that the love triangle (designed to make viewers believe he was viable) accidentally made him appeal to certain viewers who thought he was romantic.
Of course, he was also the only lead (if we can still call him that) to have an impure motive. The anime is about Karuta, and both the leads love karuta (and each other), but Taichi is the only one with an impure love for the game. He did it for Chihaya only.
The only reason that I would even think Taichi was a love interest was the fact that he was used so much. But with the author clearly stating that he was a side character during all that time, everything becomes clear and everything makes sense. He was just overused.
Of course, I did not need to know the author said that to realize this flaw in the writing. as i was watching, i already realized the author was not good at splitting up the time between 2 characters in different places. i could tell she wanted to give the viewer teases of Arata, but she tried too hard to keep it minimal. it was hurting the story and even i noticed it without knowing Taichi was a side character at the time. But knowing it now, it’s clear that she just wasn’t good at splitting her writing to focus on 2 characters in 2 places.
Also to add, the author loves ambiguous scenes. She had a bit of fun with Arata smiling at Shinobu, but she kept the reactions to a minimum, and made sure no internal or external dialogue ever hinted at jealousy (from Chihaya), but she wanted it as a tease. This is her type of romance. She purposely wants to make everything ambiguous to the viewer, with the smallest hint. This is why viewers split into 2 factions and actually thought Taichi was viable. Whenever it comes to the 2 main leads’ real emotions, the author makes it more ambiguous. But when it comes to Taichi, the author makes it obvious because Taichi is not the lead.
Rather than looking at the characters, it’s easy to tell who the real pair is by looking at the author’s tendencies.
Yes, I believe the author has the courage not to have Taichi force a girl to love him simply because he wishes it so. I’m always shocked at those ‘shipping’ Taichi x Chi when Chi already made her decision the first time they stood in a triangle outside of school at like 11 years old. Taichi pushes both to the ground and tells her that he will no longer be her friend if she decides to be friends with Arata, she quickly accepts these terms, he storms off and Chi follows Arata home. Boom, lol. You see, Taichi was already in her world, constantly yapping about for attention “Look at me! Look how great I am!”, she obliged him in a friendly manner as he ‘followed her’ (Mom says I’m the best!) around. However, Chi’s head turned toward Arata without him speaking a word, for simply existing, and luckily for the anti-social dork she ‘followed him’. And he delivered in the first minute of conversation, he teaches her how to have her own dreams and introduces the entire plot for her life: Karuta. Now, Taichi’s character becoming a huge focus from this point on shouldn’t be so confusing to you, manga and anime writers frequently deviate from Western storytelling patterns, take Re:Zero where Emilia (best girl) is completely removed from the story for half of season 1 of the anime, instead we spend the entire time learning about Rem (2nd best girl) while she spends the whole time with the protagonist showing us how much she loves him and is amazing, only to be rejected at the end as he promptly goes back to the girl his heart wants, let me say it again: ‘His heart’ wants. Taichi, for all his hard work and effort will never be able to ‘make’ anyone love him, that happens by effortlessly being oneself and getting lucky, essentially. And I don’t mean one shouldn’t better themselves, of course it helps, but the real working hard comes later in a relationship, eg: A husband better put effort into his wife’s needs and wants or he may lose her, but the spark of love cannot be forced and to suggest otherwise is strange. Chi flat out refuses Taichi’s confession with an “I’m sorry”, then he doesn’t help matters any by forcing a kiss (cringe). Then look how she’s all wide eyed, confused and flustered with the right kind of emotions after Arata’s -far more suited to her- confession that she refuses to reject. The show is two beautiful stories in one: First there is Chi and Arata’s adorkably and clumsy multi-year attempt at courtship. And secondly there is Taichi’s touching coming of age story where he learns that some things in life cannot be won, earned, worked for, or forced, and that it is not healthy to follow another persons dreams (seeing a theme?). He doesn’t love Karuta, he loves Chi, but Chi and Arata are just two awkward Karuta dorks, fumbling around their feelings while geeking out over their combined love for the game. And that is why, in reality, Arata’s confession was 800 times more romantic than Tiachi explaining that he has been completely dishonest the entire time, that he’s essentially ‘endured’ all this Karuta to ‘win her’ (eww), while her future baby-daddy has been living a life of honesty, following his own passion for the game just as he will for her… Awkwardly of course. And Taichi will be fine, he was the one with the most lessons to learn, he’s damaged and incorrect about some important things, he should have butted out of their lives years ago, but hey, he’s young, he’s rich (to cover those future date rape charges in college), he’s good looking (like a 14 year old girl) and most importantly, he’s -s i n g l e-.
I mean your point of view makes sense too and I would like you to watch the Live movies of this anime if you hadn’t watched which has three parts with bit extended story. Personally I feel chi should end up with taichi even though this guy was annoying while they were kids.
I agree with most of the points you made, my thought is somewhat similar, same is the case MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY SNAFU and DOMESTIC GIRLFRIEND as well. Here are my thoughts:-
————Taichi is a nice guy but the main reason for his suffering is that he is not doing something he loves, he needs to stop chasing others and make his own way, he followed Chihaya into Karuta as a side hobby, in the two early seasons he even questioned her passion just like Taichi’s mom does for him. One can see his thought process in the very beginning of the 23rd episode at 00:52 where he says:-
How can i catch upto Arata?, How can I win?
Chihayafuru is not a Romance Anime, its a Sports, Game, Slice of Life, Josei anime and KARUTA is a very huge part of it and cannot be ignored. One can easily picture Arata and Chihaya being old and still playing and enjoying Karuta but same can’t be said about Taichi, he will probably give up after sometime and look into other aspects of life as he is a pragmatic guy. This is the main issue with him as far as i can see and its from the very beginning is that he is not passionate about Karuta but he has the competitive mindset and cannot bear to be looked down upon and that was the reason he hid the glasses of Arata just before that little competition in their childhood. He wants to be acknowledged! And this is frustrating him, cause even if one leaves asides Chihaya, Arata, Shinobu, Suou and sees other characters like Retro, Inokuma, Coach Harada, one will realize that although they have dreams as well but they are content into what they do and what they have achieved and enjoy Karuta even when they end up losing and give their best next time but this cannot be said about Taichi. Who knows how the characters will develop in the future, anyways either he needs to find love/enjoyment within Karuta, or find what he truly enjoys in doing to not end up getting frustrated and disappointed, he needs to chart his own course rather than following others.
And at the end, in case of a Love-Triangle someone is bound to gain and someone is bound to lose, and no one likes seeing someone suffer like that but not much can be done about it. ———
In my opinion i agree with the point that the article makes earlier that the main protagonist other than Chihaya is KARUTA itself and everything runs beside it. I don’t know why the viewers are too obsessed with Taichi, maybe they can co-relate with him or maybe cause he got more scree time in all the 3 seasons but i think there is a lot of story left and we didn’t get to see enough of Arata as well. He is a simple and decent guy who enjoys Karuta from his heart and that is all we know but he had to suffer a lot too especially losing his grandfather took a toll on him. We don’t know about his inner thoughts, his world view, his feelings etc. And the writer Yuki Suetsugu herself says that Taichi was born as a supporting character who just “got out of hand” growing up in the story almost of his own will. One of the reason for this to happen can be that writer spent time to develop each character but didn’t try to rush it at the same time. Lets see what happens!!
Completely agree with u1 and Max. For me, the forced kiss was a big no-no, I wish that Chi had slapped his face. And it would have been so much more romantic if Arata and Chi had exchanged letters throughout the years discussing Karuta. But then again if they did do that then it won’t be ambiguous anymore. I haven’t read the manga, but I can see that next season will talk about the rest of their 3rd year. I wonder if the future seasons will include any of their uni lives?
Yes, the author most definitely has the courage to not allow Taichi to force another to love him simply because he wishes it so. I’m always shocked at those ‘shipping’ Taichi x Chi when Chi already made her decision the first time they stood in a triangle outside of school at like 11 years old. Taichi pushes both to the ground and tells her that he will no longer be her friend if she decides to be friends with Arata, she quickly accepts these terms, he storms off and Chi follows Arata home. You see, Taichi was already in her world, constantly yapping about for attention “Look at me, look how great I am!”, she always obliged him in a friendly manner as he ‘followed her’ around. However, Chi’s head turned toward Arata without him speaking a word, for simply existing, and luckily for the anti-social dork she forced entry into his world; she ‘followed him’. And he delivered in the first minute of conversation, he teaches her how to have her own dreams and introduces the entire plot for her life: Karuta. From there, Taichi’s character becoming a huge focus shouldn’t be so confusing to you, manga and anime writers frequently deviate from Western storytelling patterns, take Re:Zero where Emilia (best girl) is completely removed from the story for half of season 1 of the anime, instead we spend the entire time learning about Rem (2nd best girl) while she spends the whole time with the protagonist showing how much she loves him and is amazing, only to be rejected at the end as he promptly goes back to the girl his heart wants, let me say it again: ‘His heart’ wants. Taichi, for all his hard work and effort will never be able to ‘make’ anyone love him, that happens by effortlessly being oneself. Working hard comes later in a relationship, eg: A husband better put effort into his wife’s needs and wants or he may lose her, but the spark of love cannot be forced, to suggest the writer would need courage to not portray that as a possibility is strange. Chi flat out refuses Taichi’s confession with an “I’m sorry”, then he doesn’t help matters any by forcing a kiss (cringe), meanwhile she’s all wide eyed and confused with emotions after Arata’s -far more suited to her- confession. Though she is seriously shocked when Arata confesses due to her being an Eastern character trope unable to sense her own feelings, lol, she refuses to cut-off the possibility and reject him. The show is two beautiful stories in one: First there is Chi and Arata’s adorably dorky and clumsy multi-year courtship, in spite of him being taken away from her at like 11(?); And secondly there is Taichi’s touching coming of age story where he learns that some things in life cannot be won, earned, worked for, or forced, and that it is not healthy to follow another persons dreams (seeing a theme?). He doesn’t love Karuta, he loves Chi, but Chi and Arata are just two awkward Karuta dorks, fumbling around their feelings while geeking out over their combined love for the game. And that is why, in reality, Arata’s confession was 800 times more romantic than Tiachi explaining that he has been completely dishonest the entire time, that he’s essentially ‘endured’ all this Karuta to ‘win her’ (eww), while her future baby-daddy has been living a life of honesty, following his own passion and now he’ll do the same with his passion for her… Awkwardly of course. And Taichi will be fine, he was the one with the most lessons to learn, he’s damaged and incorrect about some important things, but hey, he’s young, rich, handsome and -s i n g l e-.
Thanks for the comments, they did provide me insight and an interesting point of view about what was happening. Also I appreciate the list possible outcomes; it’s the first time I have gotten so caught up in a romantic narrative and not sure what will happen or even what I would like to happen. 🙂
Refer to the Karuta game, Poem meaning and their words described. Chihaya has the romantic feeling to only Arata since the beginning. Even less screen time of Arata x Chihaya’s moment but always so intense when appearance. Both of them are connected by Karuta, the distance doesn’t matter. They’re running toward their Goal and just waiting for the right time to realize the feeling and be together. Anyway, Taichi is the most interesting character and also Chihaya’s important person in her life. That’s why she cried and missed him a lot too but as long best friend.
I hope your hypothesis B comes true. I really don’t know why but I want chihaya to end up with taichi even though at the beginning I was against it. I thought arata being her partner was meant to be but logically to be apart for 10 years plus on other hand being together for 10 years causes large difference. But I get strong feel that chihaya is soo in love with arata, as for reference the time she spends writing poem in hospital after her surgery. When kana read them, it was pretty much evident that she was in love with arata. Hopefully they release season 4 before I get old haha.
The 10 year difference is not to be thought of as detrimental because it occurred at the start of the story, where the author had full intention of Chihaya-Arata romance. It was the author’s idea of a romance.
Imo, in terms of storytelling, Hypothesis B, C, and D are all bad.
-B implies that Chihaya didn’t love Karuta because of Arata, which is untrue. Chihaya was obsessed with Karuta until high school, but never even appreciated the poems or knew what they meant. Hypothesis B claiming that she understands Love and Karuta are not the same makes the false assumption that her love for Karuta is independent of her feelings for Arata. Her love for Karuta was made clear in the beginning–she looked forward to reuniting with Arata (by Karuta) all her life, only to find out he quit Karuta. Later on, it was revealed she did not know what the feeling of love was. Then later on, it was revealed that her feelings for Arata was love all along. In addition, 90% of the love poems they read throughout the story were about her love for Arata. Hypothesis B simply denies the story itself.
Viewers have only forgotten because author overused Taichi as the typical love triangle plot device. In terms of love triangle, all external things, when we try to explain why it matters to Chihaya, the final answer is Arata. All external things ever related to Taichi were done for childhood friend. After her internal struggle, it was made clear she understood what love was, and whom that love was for (Arata).
-C also makes no sense, as Taichi is the only one with impure motives for Karuta. Don’t let the “prodigy” talk confuse you to root for Taichi (he is pretty talented himself). It was made clear that both Arata and Taichi didn’t have the prodigal hearing sense that Chihaya and Suo possessed, so with Arata being the main male protagonist and the one with pure feelings towards Karuta since the beginning of the story, and with Taichi having impure motives since the beginning (until now), it makes no sense that “Arata must accept losing to Taichi”. In addition, Taichi only restarted Karuta to join Chihaya’s club, and to compete with Arata for Chihaya (as opposed to Arata who quite because he was traumatized, and restarted because Chihaya reignited his love for it). Also, the one with life outside of Karuta has been Taichi all along, so it makes no sense to say that Arata must learn to appreciate the beauty of life outside of Karuta, with Chihaya as a consolation prize, in a story that is centred around Karuta and those who love it (when did this turn into a tragedy?).
-D is also wth. This is a shoujo ai (with sports Karuta) with the author clearly stating Arata was the main male lead. Choosing neither of them would just mean the author took a turn towards depression all of a sudden and decided to change her story. This is supposed to be a straightforward shoujo ai + sports story. why would there be a bittersweet tragedy all of a sudden in this genre? Only possibility is because Taichi grew out of the authors control and made the story way too depressing (f’d up the story).
Also, it’s easy to hate on Taichi (brat) as opposed to Taichi (handsome, rich, popular, athletic, smart, top of the school high schooler). Ofc readers are going to think Taichi is such a great choice, because he would be popular in real life too. Taichi fits all the stereotypical ideal/superficial standards of society, so no surprise readers would root for Taichi. But note that all that really happened with Taichi was that he aged. He isn’t well-developed at all. Nothing changed from when he was a brat (bully). He was and is still cowardly, full of jealousy, sly, sneaky, impure, etc. In fact, the only reason he is perceived as nice is because he does things for Chihaya. Otherwise, he doesn’t look like a nice guy at all. But he doesn’t do what’s best for her, because he knew she wanted to meet Arata, but he always tried to keep her away from Arata. In fact, we see him try to take advantage of Chihaya when he has the chance. The only saving grace is that he’s a coward, plus he has an Arata complex, which tied him down/restrained his desires for so many years. The show kept Taichi from committing any further crimes worse than his childhood one, but notice the show never redeemed Taichi at all.
We see his negative traits constantly. He tries to distance Chihaya from Arata unbeknownst to both of them. When Chihaya said someone asked her out at the train station, he dishonestly told her to go out with him in hopes of eliciting some reaction out of her. When she didn’t give his desired reaction (obviously), he went and blocked the guy for her without consent (even though she was showing excitement and joy). He falsely claimed to be Chihaya’s boyfriend when Suo fell in love with Chihaya (another lie) and did it without consent once again, and behind the backs of Chihaya and Arata. As the show portrayed, this also ruined the image of Chihaya in Suo’s mind. He tainted her pureness/chastity with that lie too. Worst of all, Chihaya rejects him, and he forcefully holds her and tries to steal her first kiss (not sure if he actually stole it due to ambiguous drawing). He is only restrained by the fact that he knows society’s moral standards, so he does the minimum so that he can live with himself.
I don’t see him doing nice things for other ppl aside from Chihaya either. When he learned of Arata quitting Karuta and his trauma, he wished Arata wouldn’t return. He was unhappy with every news of Arata. When Arata started Karuta again, he was just worried about separating him and Chihaya. All good news Arata sends, Chihaya is happy for Arata, but Taichi is always worrying about himself and he goes in a mini depression and jealousy mode.
Taichi is also sly in that he hides all his sins from Chihaya, but when he exposes the one he made Arata keep for him (because he needed to confess to Chihaya), he shocks her with the news, but shocks her again with the confession. He turned the biggest sin that he worried about all his life into nothing (sly). It’s so sly that it’s illogical. How is revealing to Chihaya that her conception of him was wrong all along supposed to make her love him? Chihaya had always said Taichi is not that type of person, and he just revealed that she was wrong all along. But that point totally got overshadowed by his confession, which is just sly and illogical.
Not only that, but like how he stole Arata’s glasses when they were kids, he tried that again with the confession. He already knew Arata confessed to Chihaya (he was fishing it out of Arata earlier), and he already knew Chihaya loved Arata. Then behind Arata’s back, he comes clean with his childhood sabotage/theft and turns it into an act out of love for her, and confesses. He fails to steal her, but then later on tries to steal her again, and her first kiss too. And once again, everything without consent, and if successful, all results in stealing from Arata. He also needed the person he just rejected to push him to confess to Chihaya (again the coward) and he does so in secret.
The difference is between his and Arata’s confession is that (1) Arata does it in front of everyone present (Taichi just happened to leave to return the scarf, else Taichi would’ve been there to witness his confession along with everyone else in the room), and (2) Arata thought of them as his friends for 10 years despite believing they were going out all that time. He still treasured his time with Taichi. Arata knew that Chihaya did not belong to Taichi by now and that Taichi never confessed, so he confessed because Chihaya was untaken and he deserves to confess for not being a coward. What Taichi does is the opposite. Taichi fishes it out of Arata that he confessed, then proceeds to attempt to steal Chihaya behind his back, but was so cowardly that he needed a push from the girl he rejected.
Personally, Arata was quite poorly conceptualized by the author, and fails to shine. Rather than rooting for Arata, I simply cannot stand Taichi. Taichi was a hatable character since childhood, and he never redeemed himself. To viewers, his only redemption is that he is super handsome and popular.
Viewers mistake his obsession for Chihaya as romantic, but redraw Taichi into an ugly character and you will see there is almost no positive trait. He has impure motive for Karuta. He tries to keep Chihaya away from her love. He calls Arata an enemy when Arata called him his friend. When Arata sends good news, he interprets them as dangerous to his relationship with Chihaya. He doesn’t want to play Karuta, but also doesn’t want Arata to play Karuta (else, he wants Chihaya to quit Karuta and Arata can play all he wants). He tells lies, is dishonest, and throws tantrums to get Chihaya’s attention. He still doesn’t want to be with Chihaya and Karuta if Chihaya rejects him. If Chihaya straight out asks him if she should quit Karuta, even after the story went on for this long, my guess is that he would still tell her to quit. Seriously, draw Taichi ugly instead of handsome/popular, and he would be a selfish creep childhood friend you prayed everyday for god to keep him out of her life. The saving grace? He is handsome/smart/popular/rich/Mr. Perfect. Now that makes all his actions romantic and attractive, doesn’t it?
Redraw Arata to an ugly character, and he is still a Karuta lover. He is still the character who gave Chihaya her dream and taught her to live for herself. He is still the person who calls Taichi his friend despite having thought Taichi was going out with Chihaya. He still treasures his time with Chihaya even though he thought she went out with Taichi. He still thought of Taichi as his friend and treasured their time together while thinking he went out with Chihaya. It’s not that Arata is such a moral person, it’s that Taichi is that bad and annoying.
So, even with the author completely failing on Arata’s character, Arata is still the better person if they are both redesigned to ugly nobodies. But the worst part of all is that Taichi turned the story into a gloomy and edgy story. It’s supposed to be a shoujo ai + sports genre (very straightforward) about how their love for Karuta reunites them. But the author’s overuse of Taichi as a plot device completely made the story edgy, irritable, gloomy, and full of jealousy. The show became so uncomfortable to watch like some cheating/unfaithful development (you know that genre, cough cough) was going to take over.
Reason why people root for Taichi (including myself), is not because he is rich and handsome, but because he is relatable! Yes, he is cowardly and jealous.. like we all are in real life! I completely agree with u1 that Arata is a “better person”, and that’s the problem! There is no flaw with him and that’s just not relatable!
Another reason: we have all grown to love Chihaya, crazy, awkward, oblivious and totally adorable and as she is. We can relate to Taichi’s admiration of her! As for Arata’s love.. well.. how are we supposed to know he ever viewed her romantically before his confession?
As for Taichi’s “kissing Chihaya without consent”, come one, it wasn’t him who chased her down the street crying and begging to stay! At this point he might have had glimpse of hope she changed her mind and might return the kiss. Well she didn’t and he back off. Nothing wrong here!
Just because he is handsome and rich does not mean he is a jerk – that’s become a bit of a modern western cliche! He doesn’t take advantage of the many girls who fancy him. He could have easily taken advantage of Hanano to quench his pain – and many people would – he doesn’t! We don’t actually see him doing actual bad deeds, the ones he does (because he is a human, jealous, cowardly) he immediately regrets.
I have to agree with u1 that the likely pairing will be Chihaya+Arata as it was meant to be all along for the many reasons u1 stated. The fact that the author made alternative love interest so much more flawed and hence human and relatable is some seriously screwed up writing. Caused me a great deal of emotional turmoil… I think i’ll go back to watching Shonen )