Well, it just wouldn’t have felt like Utakoi with a happy ending.
This episode, like so many in this series, is a story of doomed love – two people in love who will never have the chance to be together thanks to the rigid social structure of the Heian era. In this case it’s Teika and Princess Noriko (Ohara Sayaka) known to posterity as Shokushi Naishinno. Teika is introduced as a 19 year-old – a rather immature and selfish brat making the life of his renowned poet father Shunzei (Ogawa Shinji) a living hell. Teika disdains poetry altogether until crossing paths with “outlaw poet” Saigyou (Ogawa Shinji), a kind of late-Heian Jack Kerouac who’s led many young men astray with his rogue poet/monk lifestyle, which at least turns Teika’s head on the subject of poetry itself – if not his father’s.
We’ve seen this story play out many times over the course of the series – Teika and Noriko are introduced (at her behest, as a favor to Shunzei), and fall in love under the guise of “pretending” to be lovers exchanging poems. Each of the pair has an entry in the Ogura which is interpreted as lament about this doomed romance (hardly surprising, as Teika was the one picking the poems). From the Princess:
Like a string of gems
Grown weak, my life will break now;
For if I live on,All I do to hide my love
May at last grow weak and fail.
And from Teika-san:
Fujiwara no Sadaie, Fujiwara no Teika
Konu hito o
Matsuho no ura no
Yunagi niYaku ya moshio no
Mi mo kogare tsutsu
Like the salt sea-weed,
Burning in the evening calm.
On Matsuo's shore,All my being is aflame,
Awaiting her who does not come
the poems themselves, so much the better. Now – stay tuned for Chihayafuru Season 2 in January, and more of Kana-chan’s interpretations of the works in question.