Chihaya Ayase, a strong-willed and tomboyish girl, grows up under the shadow of her older sister. With no dreams of her own, she is contented with her share in life till she meets Arata Wataya. The quiet transfer student in her elementary class introduces her to competitive karuta, a physically and mentally demanding card game inspired by the classic Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets. Captivated by Arata's passion for the game and inspired by the possibility of becoming the best in Japan, Chihaya quickly falls in love with the world of karuta. Along with the prodigy Arata and her haughty but hard-working friend Taichi Mashima, she joins the local Shiranami Society. The trio spends their idyllic childhood days playing together, until circumstances split them up.
Now in high school, Chihaya has grown into a karuta freak. She aims to establish the Municipal Mizusawa High Competitive Karuta Club, setting her sights on the national championship at Omi Jingu. Reunited with the now indifferent Taichi, Chihaya's dream of establishing a karuta team is only one step away from becoming true: she must bring together members with a passion for the game that matches her own.
Chihayafuru is the anime adaptation of the manga with the same name written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu and serialised in the magazine Be Love. Animax Asia released the anime with English subtitles in 2013. The anime will get two live action film adaptations, both scheduled to be released in 2016. The manga won the second Manga Taishou award, and the 35th Kodansha Manga Award in the shoujo category. Chihayafuru has become so popular that it boosted interest in competitive karuta. The manga has sold over 4.5 million copies and has been praised for combining elements of sports and literature.
"What the hell is Katura?"
Of course, that was my first reaction.
At first, this anime really didn't catch my interest. It was plain and dry, like trying to shape out the dry clay; but as it went on, I found myself immersed in it. Like a sea of colors vibrantly expanding across an infinite of sky. Yes, even now, fifteen minutes after I finally saw the last episode, I am still numbed by its excellence.
In the beginning, the story seemed boring. Predictable. Like a boat streaming across still water. It was lifeless, and simple. I expected it to be like any other Anime
with a swindle of a romance eclipsed by the ever flamboyant facade of a sport or activity.
But somewhere, as the series progressed, it seemed to evolve. It seamlessly grew to something more, something beyond the natural limits of a story. It wasn't plagued with typical conflicts or unrequited desires, it was like a light that slowly lit itself brighter and brighter, unblocked by the trends of literature and expectation. Barriers that innately shackled a series' potential seemed to fade away, and every climactic moment that the characters felt was somehow shared with the viewer. As if a crescendo of realization would slay you alongside them.
All in all, it was about the sport, Katura. And, you'd think: "Well, if its just about a sport its not like anything interesting can happen." But somehow, it was different. The sport was a sort of catalyst that helped the characters not only develop towards one another, but it opened the door for an entire world that we all seem to forget, as if blinded by the mundane trudge of life.
The competitive aspect of the game, which yearned for such a demand of stamina seemed to be later eclipsed by the "true" virtue hidden within the sport. Yes, what the beginner sees, and the masters forget: The poetry. Such an attribute slowly became the mortar that gave new meaning to each simple issue that arose during the characters' failures.
It was seamless as we learned with them, through their desperation and hardship; their envy and willpower. The goals kept increasing, and aspirations began to soar, capping only at what the characters truly wanted.
Romance. Friendship. Deeper revelations. Aspiration oriented. Perseverance through strength. No text box storytelling. Failure.
The art in this show was interesting. It had primarily bold lines, and definitely took some getting used to. But now that I finished it, I really couldn't imagine this anime any other way.
The thing is, since this show is so off on a tangent in the first place, it seemed necessary to break the norm.
However, I will say that there were moments when I wished that they wouldn't have. The fact of the matter is, the art does well for its purpose, but it seems like it was aimed at a particular niche. I guess it just comes down to personal preference, really.
Nonetheless, the art was still phenomenal. Everything down to lighting was near perfect, and facial expressions were particularly pronounced so as to invoke the true feelings of the characters. Bloom, Sparkles, Glitter, Comical Backdrops, and Chibi Moments; everything seemed in good shape.
Overall, it had a realistic feel. Which held tremors to the viewer considering the entire theme could be realistically translated into anything the viewer truly desired.
The art was different, but really you shouldn't have any complaints.
This soundtrack is simply awe inspiring. Even now, as I write this review, I have OST 7 "Main Theme" on loop.
The music in this show was EXTREMELY good. It did very well to convey the emotions that were felt by the characters, and worked seamlessly with the art and choreography to invoke what the moments wished you to feel. To be honest, the music had a voice of its own. As if it was an entire character separate of the cast, watching the show with you, helping you along through the tears.
It sympathized with you when necessary, and laughed alongside you, guided you along the adventurous moments... It really couldn't have been any better.
Even if this show had 5 frames a second and 1980's art, I would still choke for air at how many times this musical score seems to steal your breath away.
If anything, I'll still be listening to this music many decades later. Thank you, Kousuke Yamashita.
If only I could rate this 20.
Symphony. Commonly repeating motif. Varied orchestration. Light sounds mixed with heavy ensembles. Stellar composition.
While romance is an aspect of the story, it is merely a development feature. Note that the story is more so directed toward the love of friendship and the game itself than it is towards any romantic moments.
To start with, each character occupies a niche.
Ayase is a beauty, yet it is in vain. The moment she speaks, it is broken by her tomboyish image and personal drive. But its those very traits that reel you in. She is the joyous energy that keeps the group together, and despite her clear superiority in the game, genuinely cares for her friends, and helps aid them in their journey to pursue Karuta.
Taichi, Ayase's childhood friend, remains her loyal companion throughout the years. His mental forte is unmatched to most every player the game has ever known; even once reciting every card at random in the entire deck of 100, just because he could. His family is privileged, and he is pressured by his parents to keep at the highest tier in terms of sports and exams. His brains keep him on par with the purists that achieve their status merely due to athletic prowess. He acts as the groups motivator and leader, often amping everyone out of their slumps with "Just the right words" to turn them around.
Arata represents the reverse side to Taichi, being the poorer, lesser appreciated, segment to the story. As the story progresses, his darker past becomes realized, and he continues to become a shining beacon for Ayase.
There is a triangle romance between the three of them, but remember, the show does not articulate this enough for this show to be branded as a romance.
Of course, there are a great many other supporting characters that help aid Ayase on her journey to realize herself through Katura, each having a realistic and effective back story that warps the plot in one way or another.
The characters were diverse, which allowed for the story to be seen through a wide spectrum. Realistic. Believable. Nothing was over exaggerated.
I was stunned by the hype of this show that I nearly skipped over it. And let me tell you, I ALMOST did.
And simply for the thought once existing, I regret it.
If I had passed up this show, I really would have missed out on such a masterpiece. I am shamed of myself.
I honestly cant wait to jump into Chihayafuru Season 2.
It was beautiful to the core. Every aspect was heartwrenchingly flawless. If you have any last minute questions before watching this series, feel free to PM me.
I really don't think the world can afford to have people so many that haven't seen Chihayafuru.
Man, Chihayafuru is freaking good. I wasn’t going to watch this show. You look at the promo. It’s a shoujo/josei type joint about some chick who plays Japanese cards or some nonsense. How can that be good?
I know a lot of people mess with those mah jong anime that keep coming out. I can’t hate but I never know or care about what’s going on in any of that stuff.
Lucky things happened though. Winter 2012 anime were failing hard so I had to start review crawling. MAL gave this thing an 8+ so figured I’d give
it a shot. Normally that’s a bad idea because girl anime tends to have inflated ratings on this site.
Expectations exceeded. This show right here filled me with some serious glee. I still have no idea what the rules of Karuta are and I still loved the show. All I managed to discern is that somebody reads a poem in a creepy voice and then you have to snatch up a card real quick. Apparently that was all that I needed to know.
Characters? Mostly win. I like that every character is unique. There hardly any typical characters, except some minor side dudes from that red shirt karuta club. Actually I’ll contradict myself and say that Chihaya herself is a pretty typical ditzy but hard working female lead character but everyone else is fresh. My favourite guy of all is Desktomu-kun. I’m comfortable enough to say that he is actually cute as a grown male character. Welcome to 2012. Speaking of Desktomu-kun, how come all the side characters in the club were small and funny looking where as the main three characters are all tall and handsome? It’s like there’s a class system through character design. I save further analysis of this for the Marxist anime review page.
While I said the characters are good that’s not saying the chracters are deep or anything. It seems like they all have one personality type, typically only express a couple moods and are all motivated by a single factor. For example, the adorable Kana-chan, can be summed up completely as the girl who likes poetry or a history buff. Not every anime has to be an exercise in psychoanalysis though.
The worst parts of the show are some of the flashbacks and plot devices used to motivate characters are pretty bad though. Arata’s motivation for quitting karuta is so contrived. Pisses me off right now just thinking about how little imagination went into that.
Taichi seemed like he was the most multifaceted guy. He’s sort of an insecure ass but more at least it’s only as far as a real person acts like an ass. You watch these josei/shoujo anime and the main guy is usually some epic dirtbag dude that could only another dirtbag could relate to. A good example is the guy in Nodame Cantabile. I want to punch the trash out of that guy. You always have these girl anime pitting Dirtbag Dans against Nice Guy Norms but here I don’t really get that. Taichi actually seems like a nice guy but he can’t help but do some dumb stuff. Arata is kind of shy but he doesn’t really seem that nice either. He is actually pretty edgy since he’s supposed to be the Lebron James of speed cards or whatever.
Then you have the action, which kicks a bunch of ass solely because of the direction and writing. Like I said before, I still have no idea how karuta works but I definitely felt the suspense in every match. I’m dying to hear them read the cards out and I don’t know what they mean. That’s good TV. The matches are made interesting by focusing on internal mental stuff going on with the players and small details that the reader can understand. For example, there is a part where a distinction is made between a player with speed and a player who uses rhythm and pacing. I don’t really need to understand karuta to be able to relate to that.
Thematically, you get a lot of the typical stuff here around being in a team and striving for a goal and all that sports anime crap. I love that sports anime crap. Makes me feel good as heck. You also get a little education about Japanese poetry. That also makes me feel good. Like I’m not just watching cartoons, I’m getting educated out here. I would have liked to have seen a little more focus on the outsider nature of the game though. The whole ordeal with the Empress teacher was supposed to present that aspect of things but that unravelled pretty predictably. I think more focus on Taichi and Chihaya’s interactions with their parents and the parents’ acceptance or ignorance of karuta would have been nice.
I give this series a 9. It delivered happiness, that sports anime suspense and some interesting knowledge about a weird sport. I’m dying for a second season. You know, I have now seen anime about karuta and kendo. When am I going to get a sumo anime?
Chihayafuru is a sports anime about Karuta. What is Karuta you ask? I had no idea either until I watched this anime. Karuta is a card game based upon Japanese poetry, with a hundred poems as cards so memorization is key. As a reader reads out the first line of the poem, the player's goal is to touch the corresponding card that has the second line of the poem before the opponent. Sounds boring? Well you could not be more wrong. The way Chihayafuru depicts the relationships between the characters and the feelings of those who dedicate their lives to something only to be trumped
by those more talented. If you have ever competed in anything seriously, you will be able to relate.
The story is similar to many other sports anime. The main character Chihaya Ayase childhood dream is to watch her sister become the number one model. This all changes when she meets a transfer student, Arata Wataya, that open her eyes to the world of competitive Karuta. Ever since this fated meeting that made her entranced in the world of karuta her dream has been to become the queen (best female karuta player). From here on out the plot is quite simple, with Chihaya going to karuta societies to improve or tournaments to compete. Finding rivals,mentors and teamates along the way, each with their own influence on Chihaya. Honestly though if you watch Chihayafuru for a riveting plot with many twists and turns, you will be disheartened. Notably due to the slow start of the anime, with a long five episode flashback. Chihayafuru is mainly a character-driven show, which in its own way can produce its own heart-wrenching entertainment equivalent to an amazing plot.
And the characters really do not disappoint, from the design to their personalities each character has a trait to love. Though Chihaya is a stereotypical tomboy airhead type character with her stereotypical childhood friend,Taichi Mashima, and stereotypical outsider transfer stuident Arata, the way they develop is what differentiates Chihayafuru from the status quo. Each and every character has their own dilemma, which they have to face. Inspiring us not only through their success but also in their own failure. Even the side characters have progress, and are explored throughout the show.
In terms of art style, some might not be too accustomed to the differences in Chihayafuru. I know at first I had a hard time looking at Taichi and Chihaya because of their oddly super long eyelashes, but I grew to appreciate the design. There are some characters that look similar to others but this is primarily with background characters. Overall most of the characters don't look very similar, something I really appreciate in anime nowadays. As for the animation, everything is pretty crisp. Their is not much action to animate but they do a good job with the Karuta scenes, I have only seen problems in one or two episodes, where the frames drop a bit. Hardly noticeable, may even be my computer playing tricks with me. Now onto backgrounds, and other non-character related animation, was pretty good. Not amazing to me (like bakemonogatari background amazing) but still good. I am all for dark colors > light but the bright colors really stand out yet is cohesive with the piece as a whole.
With the great animations it leads to the Karuta matches actually being quite interesting. One would think that just watching a couple players try to get to a card first would be boring, but they build up suspense and emotion for every match. They do not get too technical about the technique and skill, and instead focus on the character's mindset. Despite the fact that at times this show is very serious, it does have its comedic aspects. Its funny to see how Chihaya go from ditzy in other situations, to being graceful at Karuta.
Lastly the Sound. The tracks do not vary too much considering the insert songs during the animation. Despite this lack of deviation, these songs were well timed and really highlighted the moments of emotion. In comparison the intro and outro differ greatly yet are just as memorable. The opening has a more upbeat tempo that makes you want to tap your feet to the rhythm. I imagine the characters drive and love for karuta during the opening. Slowing down the pace with the Outro, it drives the great emotional impact of Chihayafuru. The ending really expresses the character's relationships well. As for the voice acting, nothing really stood out, but nothing was annoying. I do not really have an ear for voice acting so do not quote me on that.
All together Chihayafuru provides a great experience for the audience, with emotional attachment to the characters and the suspense to see the results. Don't let the fact that the show is about Karuta, and you have no idea what that is (yet) stop you from enjoying it. I believe that Chihayafuru's virtues strongly outweigh any faults that it may have, and highly reccomend it to anyone.
Chihayafuru is an anime centered around the sport karuta and follows the story of a young girl named Chihaya as well as the friends and rivals she meets along the way. Before jumping into Chihayafuru you may have never heard of karuta and that really isn't an issue. The anime does a great job of creating a story around this sport that is
accessible to everyone and after only the first few episodes you will understand the sport well.
For a brief overview of what the sport karuta is about, it’s essentially a sport based around the idea of determining which card out of a set has been randomly selected and then to quickly grab it before your opponent. Each of the cards are poems and at higher levels of play the players should be able to memorize the initial position of each card to be able to take them as soon as they can be identified. Even though Chihayafuru is based on karuta, the sport mainly acts as a platform for the ideas of growing and following your dreams, which are the underlying themes for the majority of the anime.
The characters learn to realize their dreams through karuta and watching them work hard to reach them is very satisfying. Most of the characters who are introduced are dug deeper into, including the opponents making it so you usually had a bit of sympathy for each character as they faced off. Each character has their own strengths, weaknesses and goals that make the character line up quite diverse and somewhat relatable. Each of the characters end up learning a lot from each other as they travel the same road, in karuta.
The sport karuta is the driving motor of the anime and watching the passion and determination the characters present in it really helps Chihayafuru capture the charisma a sport anime needs, but the great thing about this is, while it does capture the charisma of a sport anime, it also introduces the beauty and meaning of poetry making the karuta scenes very exciting to watch. These scenes are complimented by smooth and thrilling visuals, as well as sound effects and music, that really engage the viewer. For example, the intriguing sounds of the players skimming their hands over the cards to knock them to the sides or the interesting camera angles used to build suspense as the cards glide through the air. You'll be at the edge of your seat for a lot of the anime, especially during the intense karuta matches.
Chihayafuru has a great selection of music that really help to set the mood and engage the viewer throughout the anime. The background music is of high quality as well as the opening and credits. The music during the opening I've noticed really excites and energizes the viewer before it even begins, it does a great job at setting the atmosphere at the beginning. At the end of the anime, the credits have the opposite effect relaxing the viewer after all the intensity Chihayafuru has to offer. The art style is very appealing featuring a mostly bright and warm colour pallet with a large emphasis on floral patterns. The anime also does well in giving each character very individualistic and easy to identify character designs without making it off-putting. The animation is very smooth and enjoyable for the most part, but in a few episode I did notice a slight drop in the quality. In terms of visuals, this may have been the weakest feature, but I would still consider the animation quality very good so I wouldn't worry about it having a negative or noticeable effect on how you enjoy the anime.
In my opinion, the thing Chihayafuru does best is keeping the viewer interested throughout the 25 episodes. The anime rarely had a boring moment from start to finish and really keeps the viewer wanting more the whole way through. The concept and story of the anime is quite simple but at the same time can be a bit moving and really unexpected. Chihayafuru isn't a one dimensional anime and is actually full of twists and turns while still remaining in essence, simple.
The anime does have a second season and an ongoing manga series so you shouldn't expect everything to be finalized in the last few episodes, but I can still safely say the ending of the first season was satisfying and you won’t hesitate to watch the next. Overall Chihayafuru was a very well done and exciting anime built around an unexpected sport that surprisingly works wonderfully. There really isn't much to dislike about Chihayafuru and watching it is quite refreshing while still remaining simple and very engaging. To anyone who found anything I mentioned about this anime even the least bit interesting I recommend you don't get put off by the idea of an anime based on a sport you may have ever heard of and give Chihayafuru a try.
Crunchyroll announced at Anime Expo that they will be releasing anime on Blu-Ray and DVD -- that inevitably means they'll be releasing more titles than what's been announced so far. Here's a list of some anime we think they should release!