Chihayafuru: the Love Game

When it comes to anime romance, it either gives you the warm fuzzies or it makes you roll your eyes and want to hit something.

If you’ve been watching Chihayafuru (or even if you haven’t; with the character set up of two male protagonists and one female protagonists you pretty much expect some sort of love triangle), you know there’s love in the air – even if the people in love aren’t quite sure of it or know what to do about it.

Let’s start with Taichi.

It’s pretty clear that Taichi likes Chihaya; in fact, I suspect he’s harboured feelings for her since elementary school. But aside from the pining expressions, childish teasing, the vague questions, and internal monologues, Taichi hasn’t actually made his feelings clear to Chihaya. I suppose reaching for her hand during their time in Fukui was supposed to be his telling gesture (even though I personally think that would’ve been a bad move). The problem with Taichi liking Chihaya is that Taichi is (as Arata duly noted) a coward. And Chihaya is completely oblivious. Without being overtly obvious, Chihaya’s never going to catch on to the fact that Taichi has feelings for her. The girl apparently hasn’t ever seriously considered a ‘romantic relationship’ (Dr Harada aside), considering her response to Taichi’s question on the train. Taichi, on the other hand, seems haunted by love.

Which makes me wonder if his relationship with his current girlfriend is an attempt to attract Chihaya’s attention – you know, stir up some jealousy by proving to her that someone finds him attractive and wants to be with him – or an attempt to break free from Chihaya’s unknowing hold on his heart. Perhaps that will be revealed later on as the series continues, but I have a feeling Taichi and his girlfriend won’t last for very long. Especially now that Taichi and Chihaya are going to be starting a competitive Karuta club together at school.

Okay: I said Chihaya was oblivious but she isn’t completely oblivious. She’s very aware of Taichi’s presence and recognizes the importance of him being a part of her life. She depends on him as a close and reliable friend, knowing that he’ll be there to support her even if he huffs and puffs about it. She knows that behind his short-tempered teasing is a person who truly cares for her, and that’s also why she gets away with the things that she does. And that, I believe, she knows. When it comes to Taichi’s girlfriend, she acts – not jealous – but slightly possessive. She isn’t opposed to Taichi having a girlfriend, but isn’t very fond of her either, and makes no attempt in getting to know her better, or even in becoming friends.

Taichi is to Chihaya that staple, pillar of a guy that many girls have in their life. The guy you would date – if only you had thought about it, or him, in that way. Unfortunately, sometimes, when the girl does realize she has these feelings for this load-bearing man in her life, his interest for her (if it ever existed) has diminished, thus creating a whole new side to the dramatic love triangle.

Arata is the last piece of this three-piece pie. He’s also the character we know the least about in the sense that not a lot of ‘relationship emotion’ has been expressed on his part. I imagine Arata as the kind of person who never even considered Chihaya as a potential love interest because, being the outsider (and now adding his bad behaviour since her phone call) he never imagined he would even have a chance, and therefore simply never thought about it.

Oddly enough, out of the three of them, Taichi is probably the only one who’s given any thought of Chihaya and Arata being a couple.

reaching for the hand that’s reaching for someone else

In Episode Five, the scene where Chihaya and Taichi are walking back toward the train station in Fukui and Arata rides by on his bicycle, is a very good representation of this little love triangle: We have Chihaya, who was running full speed toward the book store near the train station where Arata works. She isn’t really thinking as she runs; all she knows is that she has to see Arata. Chasing Chihaya is Taichi. He won’t physically stop her from running, but through his words and his attitude, he tries to slow her down, delaying the moment she and Arata meet. But Taichi isn’t just idly sitting by, trying to steer Chihaya away from Arata; he’s also doing his best to express his feelings to Chihaya, and draw her to him. And while Taichi is aware of his feelings for Chihaya, aware of Chihaya’s lack of feelings toward him, as well as her attentiveness to Arata, Arata has no idea; just like how he flew by Taichi and Chihaya on his bike without even recognizing them. And if the bike scene is telling of anything, it won’t be until Chihaya decisively reaches out and pulls him off his bike that he really takes a good look at the girl right in front of him.

I know the romance in Chihayafuru is only going to get more intense as the series progresses, and unlike many people, I don’t have and won’t be pushing for any one pairing. Generally, in a situation where there’s one girl with two great guys to choose from, I tend to resent the girl (haha) – but only because in many cases, the girl is so undeserving of the guys she has to choose from. Chihaya, however, would be a great match for either Taichi or Arata. And I feel both Taichi and Arata deserve to be with Chihaya. The favour seems to rest with Arata at the moment, but like I mentioned earlier, sometimes, when that pillar-of-a-guy-friend suddenly disappears, the girl who depended so heavily on him feels the loss – and often translates it into the loss of more than just a friend. So… we’ll see.

14 Responses to “Chihayafuru: the Love Game”

  1. 9 November 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I feel this is the kind of shoujo series where you already know which guy will end up with the female lead. LOL

    • 2 blindability
      10 November 2011 at 12:44 pm

      I still stand by “you never know”. love is a fickle thing, my friend.

    • 3 Jennifer
      29 August 2012 at 11:48 pm

      I see things a bit differently.

      I see Chihaya longing for Arata. She thinks he’s amazing. She thinks he’s like a God. He gave her – her own dream! He even gave her recognition. He’s very important. I think she wants to be Queen so she can stand at his side.

      Taichi is a bit messed up. When they were kids, he was a bit of a bully and he was a cheat. He’s a rich kid under pressure. However he’s not changed that much. He dated a girl he basically had no feelings for and let her go very easily. (IMO, scumbag move) If I were Chihaya, I’d see him as a brother… not boyfriend material. I think he wants Chihaya because he senses that she’s the prize. I am not so sure he’d know what to do with her if he won her.

      Arata likes Chihaya but recognizes Taichi as “being there first.” He’s not geographically able to compete.He tried pushing Chihaya away because of his vow not to play anymore and he didn’t want HER to see what he had become (aka a quitter.) She matters. The game matters.

      I think it would be an injustice if Taichi wins her. He’s got all open doors. Education – will be solid because he’s very smart and can advance. His family has money. He’s got looks.

      However, Arata has had something that Taichi hasn’t. He has a drive. He has passion. He punished himself because of his grandfather… however his nature is still much more than that of Taichi. He’s a bit of an underdog when it comes to the things that advance a person in life, but I think his hardships and his endurance far exceed those of Taichi.

      Regardless of how I feel, the author likes to be non-committed to either boy. Whether or not there is a conclusion for the love-triangle is anyone’s guess. I hope it’s Arata, however if it’s left without a direction for the love aspect… .I wouldn’t mind.

      The story is good enough without Romance.

  2. 10 November 2011 at 7:47 am

    I know the love triangle part is inevitable but I don’t care. This show’s so awesome that only a macho meathead or hardcore ecchi guy would deny it. Thankfully I’m neither of these.

    • 5 blindability
      10 November 2011 at 12:46 pm

      I’d like to think that Chihayafuru has enough heart to break through the exteriors of the macho meatheads (the hardcore ecchi’s might be a lost cause though) but I’m glad you are neither. I respect a guy who can appreciate a good romance and likes K-On!

      • 6 Gooney
        10 November 2011 at 5:44 pm

        You should see the looks I get as a high school guy explaining that I like good romance films and anime…

        • 7 blindability
          12 November 2011 at 5:30 am

          you mean the girls aren’t all over you on that? I always get excited when I hear someone’s interested in anime; but then again, I suppose I’m not like most high school girls…

  3. 17 November 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I really like your characterization of Chihaya as not jealous, but possessive. She makes no attempt to acknowledge the girl, or even introduce herself. Instead she demands that he join her club and runs away.

    Several great things about this series: all the characters are very realistic, in that they are consistent, but complex. Chihaya, for example, never tries to be subtle or deceptive, but this can make her act like a bit of a jerk, depending upon what she is feeling at the moment. Also it looks great, and has great music. Finally I find the whole Karuta thing very interesting.

    • 9 blindability
      18 November 2011 at 4:51 am

      yeah. I never thought I’d get into the Karuta part, but they’ve managed to make it really exciting. and now with the flipped cards!? I would’ve never thought of that to help Chihaya improve (and give Taichi a fighting chance)! I guess that’s why it’s always good to bring a fresh face into the mix.

  4. 21 November 2011 at 2:31 am

    I think you nailed the love game when you said ”reaching for the hand that’s reaching for someone else”. That’s really dramatic and metaphoric when Taichi was about to make his move.

    To be honest between the two bishies, I’m pro Taichi despite of his jerky-ness when they were kids. The teenage Taichi seemed to be more sensitive and considerate with Chihaya. But sadly, looks like Chihaya got fixated with Arata’s Karuta skills and would always left Taichi’s feelings unnoticed unless he says so.

  5. 11 Lucy
    13 April 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I think that you explained the anime in real detail and somehow worded my thoughts for me when I was deciding what the characters would think/feel. I am personally rooting for Taichi, because when he was being jerk-like when they were elementary school kids, he was actually just trying to get her attention. And when he grew up, he realised that he was going to wrong way about winning the girl, but at risk of being pushed away again he doesn’t want to tell her his feelings. I remember from one of the first episodes he thought along the lines that love makes you sad. He only felt this because of his love for Chihaya and her being dense unknowing, there is also Arata who he feels he has to compete with. I feel that his eagerness to be master isnt just for him, but also a way of defeating Arata and impressing Chihaya.

  6. 12 Lenalee lee
    16 March 2013 at 8:51 am

    To me Taichi will always (love) Chihaya ,but she is to busy trying to meet Arata.And anyway Taichi is trying to have a relationship with Chihaya with out using tricks.He wants her to do her best as possible and cheering her on to become great at Karuta (As Queen).But also Arata inspired her to follow her own dreams to become great at Karuta and he shows that he does care for Chihaya also.Chihaya doesn’t see how Taichi feels about her,but she kinda show how she feels about Taichi but not much in a romantic way.However you have to see the episodes :3 and plus I think Taichi and Chihaya would be a couple or Arata and Chihaya or even that Chihaya would be with no one.

    • 13 blindability
      21 March 2013 at 10:53 am

      You’re right in saying that Taichi will always love Chihaya, because it’s likely he will, regardless of whether or not she returns his feelings. Taichi has not only grown beyond playing tricks to attain Chihaya’s attention and affection, but he truly understands Chihaya as a person: how she thinks, what her ambitions are, and where her passion lies. He understands that before he can truly and openly approach Chihaya romantically, they both need to reach a certain standard of excellence. He understands how Chihaya idolizes Arata, how her love of Karuta is directly linked to Arata.

      It would be interesting to see the love story fully develop into a proper relationship between Chihaya and Taichi or Arata, but I don’t know if we should hope for that in the anime series. It’ll depend on how far the second season goes, and how many more seasons we can look forward to after the second!

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