Chihayafuru 22, Railgun S 9


Chihayafuru S2 22 didn’t draw out the Chihaya/Shinobou match at all. We even had time to watch Taichi stomp Retro-Kun. I’m relieved. I was worried this one would take two or three episodes to wrap up. It was also an odd match to watch. The mood was different, resigned and bittersweet. The music was quieter and gave an introspective feel. Also, there was less thump-thumping. Shinobou is too precise for that. Instead it was swoosh-swoosh as she took card after card.

I've rarely seen Chihaya look so determined.
I’ve rarely seen Chihaya look so determined.

And there was what was going on in their heads. I thought it an odd reflection of what Nishida experienced last week, except that while he kept crying out “Why? Why?” in despair, Chihaya kept thinking “How? How can I win?” And she tries. No panic attacks this week. This is the most determined Chihaya I’ve seen yet. Figuring that her bandage and finger brace were slowing her down she took off the lot–and paid the price. She shifts cards because she sees that Shinobou is left-handed (though why that isn’t basic, no-brainer strategy I don’t know). She does everything she can, and she gets a couple moral victories, but she’s no match for Shinobou. Maybe it was her injury, but you get the feeling that the Queen really is that much better than her. That might be the reason for the odd mood the show gave off, like it was resigned to the outcome. As for Shinobou, we get another glimpse of her isolation and loneliness. The fact that Chihaya comes up to her after the match and says “Let’s play again!” has foreshadowing written all over it, both for their progress through the later tournaments and as possible friends, or friendly rivals, something Shinobou has always been deprived of. … Well, Chihaya did win the battle of dorky shirts.

Great superpower, too bad about the nickname.
Great superpower, too bad about the nickname.

Meanwhile, Misaka’s struggles in Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S continue, as other ITEM members show up, fresh and full of fight. Well, one of them is. Mugino, the Meltdowner … Honestly, I’m used to the weird names in this franchise, “Imagine Breaker” and the like, but “Meltdowner” isn’t an inspired nickname. Look at Misaka, she’s called simply “The Railgun,” and it’s cool. They don’t feel obliged to add something to the end and make it “Railgunner,” or “Railgunnerer,” do they? It just makes it sound stupid. “Accelerator” is the exception, but he’s an exception to other things as well, like being a smug, smirking bishie I actually like. Which brings me back to Mugino, another smug, smirking character who bores me to tears. Hmm, maybe I just don’t like smug, smirking characters in general.

Shinobou's got problems of her own.
Shinobou’s got problems of her own.

Anyway, Mugino fires away at the fleeing Misaka with the help of the third member, Takitsubo, who comprises the other half of ITEM’s great level 5 and 4 combo says Frenda (who thankfully can’t speak, but alas can still think out loud). Takitsubo takes drugs to make her AIM Stalker (another regrettable nickname) abilities work, so at the end it’s just exhausted Misaka and still-smirking Mugino left. Really, Misaka ought to flee, but it’s clear she’s intent on sacrificing her life to destroy the facility. Too bad it won’t be enough. Shinobou, working on espionage on her own, knows this. Too bad she’s caught by yet another AIM member, who doesn’t have a dumb nickname but has an “offense shield” or something and insists on adding “super” to every sentence, making her as annoying as the rest of them. Well, whatever, it’s looking pretty bleak for the good guys right now. I’m just wondering when Kuroko is going to show up.

3 thoughts on “Chihayafuru 22, Railgun S 9

  1. Apparently, in competitive karuta, it is actually possible to compete without use of one’s dominant hand. I’m not sure who this blogger is, but today I found quotes that correspond to his experience playing with his non-dominant hand and speculation about Chihaya’s memorization style. He was even humble enough to suggest that people get a second opinion from another player instead of taking his word for it.

    Up to the point where Chihaya had decided to use her left hand (chapter 84):

    競技かるたでは、基本がしっかりしていれば、利き手と逆であってもそこまで力を落とさずに戦うことが出来る んですよね。

    In competitive karuta, if a player works hard on the basics, then they’d be able to play with their weaker hand without losing too much of their strength.

    精度や筋力が優れているであろう利き手を使用する方が明らかに有利なのですが、人によっては逆の手でも同じ ような力で戦うことが出来ます。

    Although one’s dominant hand is bound to be more precise and have stronger muscles, depending on the person, it is possible that they can play at the same strength.

    (He then speculated on what would happen in the next chapter, which included comments about how Chihaya’s movements aren’t that fast – rather, her speed in taking cards is because she’s reacting to what she hears. This was followed by a discussion of what the blogger thinks are the merits and demerits of playing with one’s weaker hand, followed by: )

    僕も怪我をして、利き手と逆で半年間ほど試合をしていた時期があったのですが、悪いプレッシャーがなくなり 、スピードが落ちるのでお手つきが減っていました。ただ、一字や半音勝負の札になるとどうしてもダメでした ね……終盤がキツかったです。

    There was a period of time where I’d injured my dominant hand and had to play with my weaker one. Because there was less (bad) pressure on me, and also because I was slower, I made fewer faults. However, the final stages of the match were really rough, because I had great difficulty taking the one-syllable cards and could not contest the half-syllable* ones either.
    *I can explain this term, if need be, though I’d want to give it another couple of weeks.


    After Chihaya had won against Yuube-san:


    Chihaya is amazing…

    僕が右手を負傷して、半年間ほど左手でかるたをやっていたときに一番苦労したのは、身体をうまくコントロー ル出来ずに「相手陣が全然取れない」ということでした。しかし、千早は違う点で苦労しています 。

    When I hurt my right hand and played with my left for half a year, what I struggled with the most was taking cards from my opponent’s side, because I couldn’t control my body well enough. However, Chihaya struggled with something different:


    Even though I can go after my opponent’s side as I usually do, it’s just not happening with my own body won’t move…

    何だかんだで、相手陣だと勝手に身体が動いて取れているようです。原田先生の教えである攻めがるたが身に付 いている証拠でしょうかね。

    It seems like her body just moves to take cards from the opponent’s side. This is perhaps proof that she has become really accustomed to the attacking style that Harada-sensei teaches.



    The reason Chihaya mirrored her card placement

    自分の定位置を覚えるときに、場所で覚えている人と、身体で覚えている人に分けられると思います。場所で覚 えている人は、「この札は右中段にある!」と反応して札を取るのですが、身体で覚えている人は「この札は利 き手側の中段にある!」と反応して取るのではないかと思います。

    When remembering one’s own card placement, I think that people can be divided into two groups: those that remember their placement on the field, and those that remember their placement with their body. The former group would think along the lines of ‘this card is in the middle row on the right!’ and react according, whilst the latter would move according to ‘this card is in the middle on my dominant hand’s side’.

    千早の場合はおそらく後者で、札を取る手(有効手)が変わったことによって、うまく自陣に反応出来なかった のでしょう。…

    Chihaya is probably of the latter group, which is why she had difficulty taking cards from her own side when she had to use her weaker hand. …
    The only way to know for certain whether it would be possible would be to speak to people who actually play (or follow) competitive karuta, I would think. Anyone in Japan willing to go seek such people out?

    1. Very interesting. Thank you. I didn’t realize that some players might react with their brain and others with their body. Taichi, I suspect, is one of the former, hence his memorization skills, and as the blogger suggested, Chihaya is among the latter. It also might answer the question why she didn’t flip her cards from the start: she didn’t know she moved by instinct rather than brain-power. I know I’m simplifying.

      I wonder if there are Karuta players who are “switch-hitters,” meaning they can play with either hand and switch from one to the other if it suits their purpose.

      1. If there is such a thing as “switch-hitters’, I assume that those players are ambidextrous, as I just can’t see people who have much stronger dominant hands consistently willing themselves to use their other hands. Hesitation isn’t a good thing, and they would need to be very sure of themselves to not make easy screw-ups.

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