Posted by psgels on 20 March 2012 with categories: Chihayafuru

Shock! Gasp! Surprise! A major character actually put on weight!? In anime where characters always need to look perfect!?

I mean, once in a while we get overweight side characters here and there, like Nishida in this series. But the main antagonist? It’s really been a while since we had one of those, let alone characters whose physique changes so drastically. Of course it’s a bit exaggerated here, but this was nevertheless a really interesting twist.

Heck, I’m really baffled here. Ever since the show was announced, I’ve been dreading this moment: the ending, knowing that there was no way for this show to end well. And here, this show actually pulls off a stunning penultimate episode.

I don’t care about wrapping things up, but for me an ending needs to take the series, its themes, characters and push them even further. So yeah, the actual king and queen match are a great way for this show to close off. This really goes against all conventions. I really was expecting this show ending with Chihaya playing some random match, as is the norm with all other sports shows. And instead, this episode was completely different, yet completely in line with the rest of the series. It shows the level that Chihaya has yet to reach: a match between two players of actual Queen material. She played them both, but actually watching the two of them play taught her how much she still needs to grow. Shinobu blew her away in the first match, but in this episode she really became human. And again we’ve got another top player who becomes a bit weaker (yet much more intriguing) due to some imperfection or laziness.

I really admire the guts of the creators to not have this episode revolve around Chihaya (like the entire rest of the series), but instead put two side-characters into the spotlights. These kinds of creative twists are some that I can really appreciate, especially when the characters in question are so damn good. Chihaya herself also had a great place in this episode so she still is the main character here.

Now, I have a message to the next episode: end with an ACTUAL ending. I don’t want to see a sequel hook, or the feeling that there still is going to be some sort of next episode or something. It’s obvious that this show isn’t going to get a sequel, now make use of that! What I want is “here is an awesome and creative climax that pushes the characters to new levels!” not “thanks for watching and let’s hope that someday we can tell the rest of this story…” This show deserves it!
Rating: *** (Awesome)

21 Responses

  1. jzar says:

    I so totally agree. I hope it plays out just as you suggested. It was amazing how the two side characters were able to be very exciting to watch. Great job on the writing for this show…every step of production was so very well done. Let’s pray for that great finish.

  2. kero says:

    Final episode next week, ;_;.

    It’s amazing how Chihayafuru still manages to pack so much tension and excitement with only two episodes to go, I thought we were winding down here?

    I loved the background story behind Shinobu, it really adds something to her character, and that bit with Yumin and her club was touching

    “operation who gives a damn about broadcasting schedule” FTW!

    And even though all the cast was doing was watching TV together, ahh the return of the demon mother, and just the little things like a throw back to the last time Chihaya came to the house, makes it feel like a continuation rather than a random tacked on idea.

    And then.. the introduction of a NEW character. I’m already intrigued by him.

    I want to see a second season sooooo baaaadd.

  3. ronbb says:

    Great review. I enjoyed every bit of this penultimate – the twist, the writing, the pacing, the production… The weaving of scenes together – from Taichi’s bedroom to the actual tournament to the flashback – is done well. I also like the zoom in of Yumin’s face – the change of her expressions adds so much to creating the touchy moment…kinda of echoing the Hiroshi-Harada scene last week.

  4. RM says:

    “I mean, once in a while we get overweight side characters here and there, like Nishida in this series. But the main antagonist?”

    No!!!! What happened to my iron blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade?! Chihaya just couldn’t stand another character being cuter than her. Poor Shinobu.

  5. Machi says:

    Wow looks like Shinobu took the Häagen-Daz diet as prescribed by Otae from Gintama XD – kudos to those who get this reference.

  6. jreding says:

    I cried when I saw how Shinobu has changed. Her kimono was awesome, though.

  7. RABUJOI says:

    This series has been operating under the assumption that there could be a sequel. I don’t want a sequel. On that note, Bakuman’s story could have been told in a standard 26-episode series. It didn’t need a second season, and it certainly doesn’t need a third.

    At the beginning of Chihayafuru, there was a sense that something was going to come full circle; that one way or another Chihaya was going to achieve her goal of becoming queen. There was no indication she would choose Arata or Taichi – and there still isn’t. But even if there was no romantic resolution, we were expecting her to rise to the top.

    Instead, she failed, and in this episode, all she can do is watch from the sidelines as two other girls face off for the crown we thought would end up being hers. We don’t begrudge this direction one bit, but there is something a little anticlimactic and inherently unsatisfying in leaving the main trio of characters hanging in the end, and instead focusing on two characters outside of the core cast (albeit good ones).

    I too hope the ending wraps something, anything up, and doesn’t tease a sequel that may or may not happen (but in any case shouldn’t be necessary). But realistically, we still have the last Master game to watch, and even if that’s resolved in the first minutes, it will be hard to pull of an ending that doesn’t feel rushed.

    • Kim says:

      Chihayafuru is based on an ongoing manga. Damn right I want a sequel.

      The reason why the story doesn’t feel conclusive and why Chihaya has not reached her goal yet is because there is more story to tell.

      Keep in mind that this series was made for a Japanese audience. This same audience can buy the manga and see how the story finishes (which I am sure is the hope of the manga publishers). It certainly sucks for us but we are not the target audience here. We can only hope for the manga to be licensed or for more anime to be produced so we can see how things end for Chihaya and co.

      • hikaru says:

        Kodansha is releasing bilingual versions of Chihayafuru =) I bought the first volume, it’s great! The second one is out already as well. So if we buy it then they (hopefully) will continue publishing and eventually the bilingual editions will catch up to the end of the anime ^__^

  8. Pascal says:

    There’s also Area no Kishi this season, where one of the main characters gains a ton of weight, loses it, and gains it again- all in the course of a few months, I think.

  9. Armpit says:

    Araki from Area no Kishi lost like a 100 pounds, but it wasn’t over a few months , it happened in like a week. Area no Kishi is a shonen though thus its not going to be realistic at all. Chiha should be more realistic than a shonen.

    And good luck if you are waiting on a second season for this. Just don’t hold your breath too long.

  10. Left says:

    This is the limitations of adaptations. We get so much more about the Queen and the Meijin in the manga, especially her hostility towards him and (spoiler) her implied connection to Arata. But I guess including those parts would have squeezed in too much. I really don’t understand what these companies are thinking when they renew shows for another season.

  11. Armpit says:

    It’s all about money left. Being a shoujo already puts it at a disadvantage to begin with. Either the anime needs to drastically increase sales of the manga , or they need to sell a boatload of dvd’s. Ratings don’t matter too much in the case of shoujos since they 10th most popular shonen will still get better tv ratings.

    And it blows. Because 15 and under japanese boys will have little interest in this , we most likely will never get another season , even though they did a brilliant job with the anime , and it also has good source material.

    And that’s the problem with niche shojo like this. If it were a magical girl shojo or something like that then it would also appeal to a bunch of the young japanese males.

  12. JR says:

    “I mean, once in a while we get overweight side characters here and there, like Nishida in this series. But the main antagonist?”

    Um, isn’t that one of the oldest tricks in the book for female antagonists? Oh look she got all ugly and fat ha ha ha the protag is now so much prettier than her! Validation!

    Shinobu putting on weight seems pretty cheap to me, not praiseworthy.

    • kero says:

      It doesn’t come across as being like that. She got fat, but she’s still got skills! It’s not like she got fat and failed?

      Couple with the fact that we get her background story at the same time, which made her seem more of a well rounded character, I don’t feel like it was done as a way to contrast her looks with Chihaya, to make Chihaya seem better.

      I love that Shinobu doesn’t give a damn about her looks. Her comment about ‘oh it’s not the kimono that got heavy, it made you see how *little* she cared for her own appearance.

      • Left says:

        I agree. In the manga, we get scenes of her obsessively eating ice cream to get that dumb Snowmaru prize. Rather, I commend the series for actually following up on the realistic consequences of careless overeating, in contrast to the unrealistic and wrong messages they give when Sailor Moon binge-eats, remains stick-skinny, and complains about being too fat.

  13. rufe says:

    I mean…Natsume got 4 seasons so Shoujo can get multiple seasons as well. (Other recent examples are Yumeiro Patissier, Kimi to Boku, Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile…hell even Massugu ni Ikou got two “seasons”)

    Just this one most likely will not.

    • kero says:

      I thought Kimi to Boku was okay (manga comes across better), but when I think that Kimi got a second season it feels like a travesty if Chihayafuru doesn’t!

  14. Armpit says:

    First of all you don’t even seem to know what a shojo is since you listed multiple Josei’s and a Shonen. Second nobody said shojo don’t get second seasons. Niche Shojo like Chiya don’t get second seasons unless they either drastically increase manga sales , or sell a boatload of dvd’s. Neither of those requirements have been met.

  15. rufe says:

    My point is that series targeting women and girls do get sequels (though I stand corrected on Kimi to Boku, that was a surprise. Pop it out for Kimi ni Todoke and the list is four shoujo and two josei). Your earlier post implies that only those series that appeal to young boys will get a sequel.

    Of course money is the bottom line and I don’t see how that will ever change.

  16. Armpit says:

    I never implied that a series has to appeal to young boys to get a sequel. What i said is that a niche shojo won’t get a sequel because young Japanese boys have no interest in it. Magical girl shojos for instance appeal to many young males in Japan, and other countries, thus they end up with solid sales. A niche shojo involving one of the least popular games in existence doesn’t appeal to young boys.

    Most of the people in this site aren’t in Japan. So while most of us here seem to like this series a lot , it means very little in the long run.

    If you want another season then pray that the series gets licensed , then hope it sells well overseas. Then maybe we can expect a sequel in a few years.

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 06:02 AM)
    Although given that the the Japanese film industry is steadily improving, this still would’ve worked much better as a big Hollywood flick, mainly because it’s just an over-the-top story with big action sequences, but also because pretty much all the cast (with the exception of Mikasa) have western features.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 05:55 AM)
    Well it looks like the Japanese have taken it upon themselves to make a live-action Attack on Titan movie, which sounds like a pretty bad idea:
    http://www.otakuusamagazine.com/LatestNews/News1/Liveaction-Attack-on-Titan-Visuals-Revealed-6057.aspx
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:51 AM)
    I mean I’ve watched some awful stuff like hidan no Aria to take the piss out of it and infinite stratos might as well get to continuing Ass-ange/crass-ange.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:34 AM)
    *Ange
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:34 AM)
    @Emma: and that’s why you should watch Cross Ante.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:33 AM)
    @Emma: you know what? I’ve been trying to find a good version of X for a few years now, but nobody seems to be seeding the torrent anymore =/
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:33 AM)
    Sometimes I’m pretty glad I have the ability to get guilty pleasure/so bad its good/funny enjoyment out of genuinely awful things and sometimes end up enjoying them more than actually good series.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 02:18 AM)
    One other good example of an old ova I loved was the X/1999 movie, I didn’t overly care for the manga or second anime adaptation nearly as much by comparison. Yes the voice acting is terrible, the character development was cut out but the fact is I never really cared all that much for Xs characters/drama to begin with and the voice acting makes the final scene laugh out loud hilarious. Beyond that I just enjoyed sitting back and watching the gore play out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 01:12 AM)
    I also miss the days where incest was reserved for the villains in anime.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 22. 2014 01:09 AM)
    @Bam: I remember giving John dies at the end three out of five and deciding that it was never a poor film but never an excellent one.

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