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.
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.