Mashima Taichi is probably Chihayafuru’s most complex character. He’s good at everything but isn’t particularly great at anything. He gave his best at Karuta but he still isn’t in Chihaya’s level. He likes Chihaya but he can’t really get himself to tell her that.
For such a bishounen character, Taichi is fairly human. I’ve said this before already but Taichi has all the characteristics of a bishounen but he isn’t exactly quite like it.There are tons of defining moments that show Taichi as a character that’s frustrated with himself yet at the same time he isn’t. There’s also his inherent selfishness. Taichi has a lot of moments where he asks himself if his goals truly are his goals. Overall, Taichi is a character that thinks too much and the way Chihayafuru presented this is just glorious.
Your usual Bishounen in Anime is that perfect guy who can do everything and is popular with everyone and is impeccably handsome in an effeminate way. He’s untouchable. He doesn’t exist in real life. He’s something the fujoshi crowd have been dreaming in their bedside for years.
Now what makes Chihayafuru’s take on this trope, more specifically Taichi?
Taichi has all the same traits. He’s smart, athletic, good with everything he does, popular with the girls etc etc. . . What makes him so different? In my opinion, what makes him so different is the realistic delivery of Chihayafuru that makes him so believable. The very same traits that make him great are the very same traits which make him faulty.
The story shows him being good at everything, the way his mom wanted him to be. He has a TIGER MOM. He’s one of those Asian kids that suffer from too much expectations. At the same time though, Taichi realizes he’s just good at everything. He doesn’t have anything he can actually master or concentrate on. He’s the Jack of all trades, Master of None. The trope that he supposedly belongs in is brought down to earth, making him human.
It’s not just that. His character revolves around his inherant selfishness (something we all have) and affects how it affects his interactions in real life. Do I want to be with Chihaya or just want her for myself, making me selfish? Do I not want her to have Arata’s phone number because it might affect her performance or is it for my own selfishness? Do I want to be promoted to Class A in a jiffy or do I want to earn it myself?
There’s also the fact that he does try his best at Karuta. But even though he tries his best, why can’t he get to Class A? He finally poured investment on something, more so a trivial game, yet why isn’t he still the best?
So yeah, Taichi. . . isn’t he such a good example on how to deconstruct the bishounen genre?