Chisato as a Character (1/3)
I should say beforehand that if you don't like Chisato, you're perfectly obligated not to, but I hope that after reading this you'll (if you didn't before) be able to separate a likable character from a well written one.
The main gripes people have with Chisato are her callousness and the air she gives off (couldn't really phrase this one correctly but I'll elaborate on it later).
Chisato's ruthlessness and tendencies to borderline backstab are traits that have been developed from showbiz. From a very young age, she's been exposed to the lack of authenticity of Hollywood, and as a result, she's conditioned herself to be able to make decisions that will push foward her career. If you are compassionate, people will step over you. Morality, at least human morality, is not what lands you a singing label, or a starring role in a movie.
Chisato is not a bad person at heart. But she's also not naive, and she knows that she should be putting her time and effort into something that will garner profits. Chisato didn't put her whole into being a part of Pastel*Palettes because in her (more experienced) perspective, she understands that the members are passionate, but they also may not have what it takes to succeed, especially after their performance failure. (the failure would also damage Chisato's reputation and would result in her losing more opportunities to advance her career)
What Chisato tells Aya that makes her cry is that "hard work does not guarantee success." This phrase in particular hits Aya especially hard because Aya had been working fruitlessly for years to get into the position she is currently in, and at that plot point the band was doing terribly. Although Chisato didn't realize it at the moment, she respects people with strong work ethics (although if done pointlessly annoys her), which is why she gives Aya this piece of advice, albeit bluntly.
Did she set out to purposely antagonize Aya? No.
I would also like to bring to attention a significantly more popular character that has said something very similar, but was almost completely ignored:
The context of this quote is from Mari Ohara, after she rejects Aqours' first promotional video. This is another character who understands the mechanism behind business well, and similarly to Chisato, both of them put up a persona or a facade that hides some aspects of their personality.
One of the reasons why Mari saying this was so easily overlooked was because of the characters on the receiving end.
Chika, the leader of Aqours, is a genki-esque type of character, which means she is hardheaded and strives to stay positive. Chika is the type of person to take Mari's criticism in stead at best, or ignore it at worst.
Aya contrasts from Chika in this manner. As seen here:
Aya takes what people think about her much more personally. She will go out of her way to see what other people think of her, or the band. Aya is portrayed as a sensitive character and she tends to fall under her insecurities at times.
If Chika was more prone to needing self-validation, and if she had expressed being upset after what Mari had said to her, would people dislike Mari for giving her honest input?
My last point: the stark differences between the masks Mari and Chisato hide behind is a determining factor in the way the main audience perceives them.
Mari plays up her cheerfulness. Chisato acts polite and distant.
Mari has friends she is mostly honest with, but occasionally, they will be able to tell when her carefree facade slips, usually when she is feeling sad. Because the story does not revolve around her, no one knows exactly what goes on in Mari's head besides the other characters (meaning the viewers only get to see her likable side). A lot of Mari's development stems around her dynamic between the other third years, and she does not get any major developments and changes to her character. Overall, people warm up to her because she is portrayed 99% of the time at her best, which is why some of her comments are brushed over.
PP's story does not revolve around making friends, and Chisato is a very closed off person by nature. Arguably, PP's band story is more realistic than Aqours in terms of the corruption and competitiveness of the idol industry. As a result, people don't consider Chisato's need to distance herself from the band to protect her career, and overlook the character development she undergoes (from wanting to withdraw from the band, to opening up to her bandmates to succeed as PP, even if it means risking failure). If you delve deeper to read her card stories, you'll find that her struggle to be honest with her friends is what makes her so much more realistic and driven because of her origins.
TL;DR: Chisato is being judged too harshly for being human.
(Please take the time to read her main and memorial stories! Honestly most of the points I made are conclusions you can draw on your own.)