Chihayafuru, Episode 13: Four Faces of God

Chihayafuru is back!  Arata is back!  The new season of Chihayafuru begins with flourish as Chihaya’s team arrives at the nationals (and she collapses under pressure, again).  But even better is that we find out more about Arata’s story, and the wee-bit-overdramatic teen we saw in an earlier episode is erased, and Arata once again becomes a character we root for.

But there interesting aspects even in the Chihaya-full parts of the episode, as a karuta tournament revealed some of the characteristics we apply to God.

Art by スロウス@ついったは住み家

God the Wish Maker

Dear God, I don’t need any miracles.  Please keep us safe from any accidents, so we’re able to play.

Chihaya approaches the shrine at the beginning of the episode and asks the kami to grant her a wish.  She says it’s no miracle and thus expects it to come to fruition.

Because of how kami function in Japan, it’s no surprise that Chihaya asks for a wish to be granted.  But her approach isn’t too far off from those of Christians who expect God to answer prayers their way – the difference is that the latter prayers are done with a bit of fake humility.  While it’s important to God that we come to Him with sincere hearts, it’s also important that we realize He is God and we are not.

God the Villain

When Chihaya hyperventilates at the match, she blames God.  Why didn’t he answer her simple prayer?  In this light, she casts the kami as a villain.  The answer to her prayer, however, isn’t clear until later in the episode (more on that below).

We, too, have a tendency to blame God when things don’t go right – but do we give Him praise when things are better than we expect?

God the Holy

Arata gets in on the God action, too, though in a more symbolic way.  When an old teacher notices him near the episode’s end, he is overjoyed because he believe he’ll see “Master Wataya” again, since the playing style of the grandfather is so close to the grandson.

Arata has quit karuta and struggles to find joy in it since his grandfather’s death.  His grandfather left a legacy that’s hard to live up to.  Similarly, a perfect God demands similar perfection from His creation; Jesus makes this abundantly clear in His teachings.  It’s enough to make one leave the faith (and in fact, many leave Jesus because of the difficulty in following His ways).  But if our love and devotion to God are strong, then perhaps we can pick up the mantle again if we’ve left and, with God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit and other means, try to live up to that holiness, understanding that God’s grace rescues us when we fail.

I’m guessing Arata will get back into the race as well, joining the tournament, with the shadow of his grandfather beside him instead of looming over.

God the Mysterious

Back to Chihaya – when she comes to, she’s surprised to find that the team has won their matches.  Unexpectedly, Desktomu-kun won his first game and then another.  It’s all very surprising to Chihaya that the team moved on without her.

It’s often that in our own lives, upon reflection, we find that certain events worked out for the best, though we prayed otherwise.  God’s “no” often brings greater blessings.  For Chihaya, she asked for health: if she had been honest, she would have asked that God help her team succeed, which is what she ultimately wanted.  But her prayer smacked of dishonesty, trickery, and a bit of arrogance.  But in the end, a mysterious God gave her the desire of her heart, despite it all, and in the most mysterious way.

And this is how the Christian God is – not a wish granter and not a villain, but holy, mysterious…and good.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

11 thoughts on “Chihayafuru, Episode 13: Four Faces of God

  1. “I’m guessing Arata will get back into the race as well, joining the tournament”

    He can’t. He didn’t apply and now it’s too late. Also, just because all these events reminded him of his grandpa and his passion for Karuta doesn’t mean he’s going to jump into it right away. That would be rush in it.

    At any rate, next time Arata and Chihaya meet will probably mark the end of the series, depending on the pacing, which is actually fast, but not fast enough to get to the second tournament (the following year). We’ll see what happens.

  2. I’m really impressed at how you relate anime to Christianity. As a Christian myself, I can relate to your points about prayer because they were things I had to learn (sometimes the hard way). But it is incredible how God will often work things in your favor, even if you don’t think that would be the best way.

    I’m actually glad that the team one without Chihaya’s help. She is undoubtedly the best player on their team, but that also means she has to watch her pride. I know that God has reminded me of his presence many times when I have become too prideful, and sometimes he lessons are painful. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that a similar could be related to Chihaya’s situation, bu thankfully, the rest of the team was able to pull through even without her.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I agree – it was easy to relate to Chihaya in this episode. One thing that draws me to her character is that she’s flawed. For the first time in the series (that I can remember), she showed some pride in her own abilities.

      As for learning things the hard way…that’s the case with me, too. I was thinking about my dad this morning, who in the midst of a difficult situation often asks us to stand back and let God take care of it. I wish I would keep that in mind more often, taking a longer sighted view and placing a situation before God, no matter how tough it seems at the time.

      1. It takes a strong person to be able to stand back and let God take care of things. Which is kind of counter intuitive when you think about it because my first impulse when something goes wrong is to try and fix it. That said, God has demonstrated his power to me on many occasions by solving my problems in ways I could no ever have predicted. So I can only pray that I will one day be able to stand back and ask God for help like your Dad.

        1. That’s true – it’s similar to the whole argument about faith being a crutch, when in reality it seems to take a measure to strength to let go and trust in God rather than to live life on one’s own terms.

          1. Hm, the faith being a crutch argument actually sounds kind of accurate. After all, aren’t we as Christians being supported by a faith in God? But that’s not something we need to be ashamed of. I don’t mean to make lite of anyone who requires crutches for a physical disability, but I don’t see it as a negative comparison to say that faith is a crutch. But maybe I’m missing something about it…

            1. No, I see what you’re saying. It’s just that the crutch analogy is used in a negative connotation – not as much for “leaning on God” rather than in an intellectual capacity, and maybe more in regards to the Bible than to God: “Christians would rather be spoon fed and have blind faith, using religion as a crutch, than think for themselves.”

  3. SO good to see Arata again! As heartbreaking as it was to see the details regarding what happened to his grandfather, at least we (the viewers) can’t blame him for leaving him to go and play in that last tourney.

    Chihaya and co. have, apart from a few bumps, have had a pretty smooth ride so far, which is lucky/ a collective blessing given how new their club is. I guess, Chihaya’s random illness can be seen as her luck temprarilly running out, or (as has been suggested) as a test from God that will only make her and the team stronger in the long run. Hope they all do well in the individual matches next time!

    Also, unless I’m missing something, are we supposed to know who that ghost(?) girl was who brushed shoulders with Chihaya in the opening? Hopefully we’ll see more of her again soon…

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