Chihayafuru 2 – 23

You know things are about to get really good, don’t you?

After a long, slightly drawn out, team arc, watching the individual tournament is a treat indeed.  Perhaps it’s because it brings back memories of why Chihayafuru‘s first season was so good or better yet, it’s focused on the main characters who, let’s face it are a big attraction of the series.

Chihaya may be out, but that didn’t stop the other main characters from getting some exciting build-up and in Taichi’s case, a long-awaited win.  A win that would have undoubtedly had Taichi fans screaming for joy everywhere and at the same time, has me wondering about his slow rise to the top.  As Retro-kun pointed out, Taichi lost his cool when Chihaya came in to watch him after destroying Retro by a large margin, further implying that his crux is the very reason he got back into karuta.  Sad news for the constant bad luck loser of Chihayafuru, though I suspect that’ll be changing now that more people have started to notice his weakness when it comes to Chihaya.

On the other, more elevated side of the karuta finals we got the beginning of an even more anticipated – for this season and for me – showdown between Arata and Shinobu.  We didn’t get to see much for the time being, but it was enough for the time being, as we anticipate the main event of the individual tournament.  An event that will probably leave us scrambling for chapters of the manga.

The individual tournament has flown by and yet it feels like the pacing in Chihayafuru is spot on.  Most likely to do with the character focus narrowing to just the main actors, who’ve taken less prominent roles for the majority of the season.  It’s sad that we won’t get much time with them, but at least there won’t be pacing issues.

Final Notes:

  • For those keeping track of the other matches; Kana lost in the semi, Komano is in the C class final and Tsukuba is in the D class final.
  • The anime has now got to the point where the manga scans start up again (chapter 89).
Chihayafuru 2 23 – Extra Screen Caps
  • Vincent

    Most of what I am about to post is not about the itself itself.

    I recall the flashback where Arata's grandfather said that Shinobu would be a future Queen and urged Arata to beat her yet again. Shinobu, upon hearing about Arata's return to karuta, remembered his calm yet intense demeanor as a child with what IMO was considerable admiration. Arata's smiling calmly at her when she attempted to banter with him resulted in her becoming silent. His insinuating that she actually does want to have friends clearly unnerved her. So I think Shinobu is going into the match at a disadvantage because Arata is in her head, and he knows what makes her tick. She started diverging from her usual playstyle when she decided that she should pick cards to go after and let others get taken.

    The rest of this post is about the format of the Meijin/Queen qualifiers.

    I remember Harada-sensei saying that Hiroshi (one of his students) beat his opponent and became the Eastern representative in the process because Harada had weakened him enough in the semifinals (the fifth round). Perhaps Hiroshi's semifinal opponent would have beaten the Western representative (was his name Takemura?) who got completely dominated by Suoh. The Eastern and Western representative face off one month after the tournament, so Wwith the Meijin/Queen title at stake, I think more measures should be taken to ensure that the strongest player makes it to the end. What I suggest doing is making fatigue less of an issue for players participating by increasing the amount of matches played (2 more matches for every player) and making the draws less random (I don't recall a seeding system ever being mentioned in Chihayafuru) in the earlier rounds so that fatigue is more evenly distributed among all players.

    I would use a round robin format for Round 1 where you play against 3 opponents. There would be 16 groups of 4 (I'm assuming that Chihayafuru accurately depicted the size of the draw in season 1). There would 2 seeded players assigned to each group (one seeded 1-16 and the other 17-32), and the seedings would determined based on one's perceived strength. Who advances in each group depends first on the number of wins and then the total card differentials. So if the #1 seed in Group A wins 3 matches, and the other three players split wins among one another, the second to advance would be the one with the largest positive card differentials across the other two matches. A player who won by 12 cards and then lost by 7 in his/her next matches would lose out to another player who lost by 4 and then won by 11 in his/her next matches. Of course, one could say that this format would be too unfair for newcomers, but I think it's well within the realm of possibility that someone could slack off because he/she expects to advance easily.

    In Round 2, I favor a seeding system that emphasizes strong performance in Round 1, which would benefit an up-and-coming player for a strong showing and help him/her advance even further. I would give R1 performance an 80% weight. This could result in those seeded in R1 becoming unseeded because of relatively weak performances while giving someone who has challenged for the Meijin/Queen title for consecutive years in a row (but lost every time) a bit of leeway for getting off to a slow start while not making it too easy for him because his seeding would be affected drastically (Maybe he'd have the lowest seed in Round 2 if a lot of people delivered strong performances). The performance aspect of the seeding would also be weighed by the number of wins and total card differentials. If a person got 3 wins and a positive card differential of 75 (25-0 for each match) and no one else even approached that score, that player would be the #1 seed in Round 2. No seeds would be set up against another in Round 2. Assuming that karuta indeed lacks a seeding system (and part of the reason might even be because of tradition. I don't know), subsequent rounds could go without seeds since all the remaining players will have proved their ability.

    The reason for my suggesting this is that Suoh completely destroyed that Takemura guy, and the show even insinuated that he mirrored Shinobu's scores against Yumi on purpose. Sure, one reason for his being able to do that could've been that Shinobu was off her game because of her extra weight, but it could also suggest that there is a lack of depth in the men's game and that the current tournament format is lacking. I think the latter played a longer role in what happened, as the tournament directors of Omi Jingu clearly don't like him and perceive him a s bad role model, which is why they so desperately want Arata to dethrone him and have placed all their hopes on him.