Idolm@ster – Shipping Haruka X Chihaya
Note: Major spoilers in this post. Episode 4, 11 and 20 will be heavily referenced.
Idolmaster is an anime I desperately needed a rewatch of. I watched it at a time when I’m still not as opened up to the idol genre as I had now, and because of that, I wasn’t able to invest much in the drama, story, characters or even music. Finally done myself a favor of rewatching it recently however, I discovered a great ship – Haruka X Chihaya.
Let’s have a look at the characters within the ship. We are shown Haruka has a supportive demeanor, but in contrast, Chihaya has a serious, reserved, even gloomy personality, a far cry from all the brightness and brilliance of idols we’re accustomed too. Because of that, Chihaya is one in the group who probably needed that support the most, and this dynamic was shown as early as episode 4 in the Gero-Gero Kitchen scene.
Haruka herself is quite a good character. She’s generally optimistic, and her optimism has been a saving grace for the 765 Pros on several occasions. But while she supports them with her optimism, she isn’t exactly the best herself either. Her skills in both dancing and singing are just subpar at best, which was evidenced in episode 11 just two episodes prior to their first, major live. After all, it may be easy to feel optimistic when you have talent, but it’s another thing to be optimistic while being aware you’re not all that good. Haruka has to continually practice to polish her skills, and more importantly, to fuel her optimism; which is a facade Chihaya noticed, and stayed behind to help Haruka with her practice, unbeknownst of the rest of the 756 idols.
Another interesting dynamic they have is their motives to be idols. Haruka’s is expected-it has been her dream since childhood, to shine on the grandest stage of them all surrounded by thunderous claps and roaring cheers. Haruka’s aspiration to be an idol is pretty much a standard bearer. In comparison, Chihaya’s motive was a little different. Undergoing an accident which caused the death of her little brother, singing becomes her escapism, solace and also obligation.
Escape is temporary however, and this is why when her past was brought up again in a scandal, the psychological trauma caused her sudden inability to sing. Unsurprisingly, Haruka was the one whose the most supportive during this period of time, frequently visiting her home and she was the one who even pitched the idea of writing an original song just for her. Again unsurprisingly, Haruka was the first one to rush to the stage to support her first live since the scandal, ultimately leading to my favorite performance of my favorite song in idolmaster ever-“Yakusoku”.
After that ordeal, Chihaya truly opened up, not just to Haruka but to the rest of the 765 Pro too. Remembering the feelings she once had before her brother’s accident, she sang, finally not just for anyone but for herself – because she loves to sing, and she doesn’t need to feel obligated to sing.
On that note, Haruka and Chihaya have great chemistry. Their dynamics gave off an impression of genuine friendship-of friends who always look out for each other. Every little mannerism, subtlety and interaction just seems to spur this particular supportive dynamic of theirs.
Haruka is optimistic, Chihaya is pessimistic, but Haruka needed to build up her confidence and as a result her optimism to hide her weak, clumsy self, just like Chihaya’s in actual fact, positive aspirations beneath her somber, negative facade; Haruka and Chihaya are pretty much two sides of the same coin. The best thing about this-not just us viewers, but both of them are also aware of each others’ dualities.
Rarely do I see two characters whose story and personality intertwine with each other so seamlessly. They didn’t need (blatant) subtext or tropes, this is one of the very few ships I came across which feel so natural, but also probably due to the fact that Haruka X Chihaya isn’t necessarily romantic, but platonic-and it makes their friendship comes off the screen that much more genuine.
To that end, I have now become a proud shipper of Haruka X Chihaya, because this ship is just so damn good. All hail me.