I am someone who enjoys a subdued romance. I like a relationship that builds over time, with both characters in said relationship growing as individuals. Compared to a whirlwind romance that feels like it sweeps the characters into a monolith of their love and nothing more, the former makes for much better storytelling. This is why it is that despite being extremely impatient when it comes to love triangles, I adore the route Chihayafuru is taking with Chihaya in its main trio.
Of course, we still don’t know for sure who Chihaya Ayase is going to end up with, since the manga is not complete yet. But it certainly is easier to predict than finding the ace in a shuffled deck of cards. So far, we know two main people have shown interest in our main protagonist, Chihaya. And had that affection returned to some extent. So, we know that there will be some cute romance along the way. We just don’t know between who and when.
But the thing is, this manga isn’t primarily a love story. It’s a Josei manga that is aimed more at adult women, contrasting something like a Shojo manga which is much more teen-love focused. The main point of Chihayafuru isn’t the romance between the characters, but the story of one Kurata player’s journey into the field and all the bonds she made impacting how she grew as a professional player. The love is on the backburner for all those participating in the tournaments but that doesn’t mean sparks aren’t there.
Welcome to Lore Analysis – a segment on this website where we explore the setting of various manga and anime and try to explain all the subtext that might be hard to pick up on the first read. I am not the most observant weeb, tending to forget information or secrets being revealed pretty easily. So, a simmering romance would be the exact kind of thing that slips under the cracks when the action of the competitive card playing takes center stage. But that doesn’t mean we’ll let it go that easily! Let’s meet the love interests that impacted our lead’s life and see who has the better chance!
Arata Wataya: The One Who Lit the Spark
Now, normally that heading would be just something frivolous but in the case of Arata Wataya and Chihaya, it’s literal. In Kurata, the players have an aura when they start playing the game which coincides with the elements. In Ayata’s case, he has the ‘Water’ aura to supplement his hard work and serious demeanor, invoking an ocean before the storm.
When he first transferred to Chihaya’s elementary school, he had a lot of difficulties adjusting due to his family’s meager standing and his own quiet nature. But that’s exactly what makes Chihaya notice Arata, and that’s when he introduces her to Kurata. His grandfather had been a Meijen, a master of the cards so it’s only natural Arata excelled in it too.
He notes how competitive Chihaya is and remarks that she’d be good if she picks up it regularly. And then, later on, she goes on to embody the ‘Fire’ aura, following Arata who she considers a Kurata God.
So, in a way, he did spark that fire in her by showing her what would later become a big part of her life. But in a way, Chihaya helped Arata too. She stood up for him when no one else did and became his first friend. So, it was no surprise that he ended up confessing to her.
Their bond is one between equals, where Chihaya deeply cherishes the time, they’ve spent together and how they complement each other. Despite not having answered, it’s clear how much the confession affected her. But is he The One™?
Taichi Mashima: A Reliable Friend That Blossoms Into More?
If Arata is the Water, serious like the depths of the ocean, and Chihaya is the Fire, burning bright during competition, then Taichi Mashima is the Wind. He is adaptable, going from a playful breeze to a serious typhoon during matches. He met Chihaya in their childhood, and he has been the wind beneath her wings since.
Taichi wasn’t the greatest kid. He bullied Arata in the beginning and only stopped thanks to Chihaya’s interference. But the trio grows close, and their feelings change. Suddenly, Arata is a friend and Chihaya is more. However, it’s when Arata leaves after the death of his grandfather, that Taichi grows to realize his feelings for Chihaya.
Chihaya is oblivious to those feelings, but despite it, the two share one of the deepest friendships in the story.
Who Will Chihaya End Up With?
So, everything is pretty iffy but, if we go by how Chihaya has started to react to Taichi in recent chapters, it’s pretty clear that his love isn’t probably as one-sided as he believed. Sure, she’s still hesitant but the fact that she now openly blushes at his remarks?
I’m betting my money on Taichi x Chihaya!