This is my first time writing a review, so bear with me as I try to sort out my thoughts on this wonderful anime.
I almost didn't watch Chihayafuru, and I hadn't even heard of it until it was already a few weeks into the show. As time went on, more and more people were raving about how great it was, how it was going to be the sleeper hit this season, so I finally decided to give it a shot and see if a show about a card game really was THAT exciting. And let me tell you, it is. I am writing this review
because I really, really, really want you to watch Chihayafuru and love it as much as I do.
This show is so much more than a card game. To Chihaya, the protagonist of the series, karuta is also about creating a dream for herself, and the bonds she formed with her classmates Arata and Taichi back when she was twelve. Before graduating into middle school and going their separate ways, the three agreed to meet again when they all became Class A players. Arata moved back to Fukui, and even though he was fantastic at karuta (and the one who taught Chihaya!), he eventually quit playing after some unfortunate events. Taichi ends up at the same high school as Chihaya and helps her to form a karuta club, through which we are introduced to more wonderful characters.
I remember someone saying that "Chihayafuru loves its characters." This is certainly true. All of the main characters have grown since the start of the series and seem much more three-dimensional than those of many other shows out there today. Even supporting characters are fleshed out enough to be likable. In fact, there isn't a single character that I dislike. And if you know me, that's really saying something. I love hating on characters.
The animation for Chihayafuru is absolutely stunning. From the characters to the backgrounds, everything is breathtaking. The OST for the series is gorgeous as well, one of the best I've heard in a long time. They all complement each other to create a unique and wonderful tone for the series.
Maybe this still isn't enough to convince you to watch Chihayafuru yet. Even though it doesn't sound like a memory card game can be entertaining, it really is. The karuta matches are some of the most intense scenes throughout, and you'll probably find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat when it's finally over. Karuta isn't simply memorization either. It's about reflexes, and mental stamina, and Chihaya even has extraordinary hearing which sometimes helps her to quickly win cards over from her opponent.
Honestly, I don't know how else to put it. The cinematography of this show is amazing. The characters are developed and lovable. The story, while often predictable, is still exciting and endearing. There wasn't a single episode that I didn't enjoy. I breezed through the seventeen currently-aired episodes in just under three days, which I haven't been able to do even for some of the most exciting anime I've seen. I just couldn't wait to see what happened next! (Also, this show will give you a LOT of feelings. Just wait). I can't believe I waited so long to watch this series. And if you decide to watch it too, believe me, you'll be saying the same thing.
"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.
To review Chihayafuru is a hard task, to describe how brilliant this little-known anime is, to explain why I like it so much, to tell you why it's such a great anime to watch is very hard, because Chihayafuru is unique, the only word I can describe it is unique. It may seem like your ordinary sports-romance-drama series at first glance, though there is absolutely no series of my knowledge to compare it to properly.
The way the story is presented, the way the characters interact with each other, the way the atmosphere feels, It's very real and very unique.
= Story (10) =
is one of the most interesting parts of the anime. I won't describe too much or really anything because if I did it would probably spoil a lot of things. What I will say is that the first couple of episodes, Chihayafuru sets it self in the present and the past, interchanging in various lengths, this unique way of starting off the story is incredibly good at letting the viewer get to know the three main characters, Chihaya, Taichi and Arata, It also allows you to see the way they change over time.
= Character (10) =
What really makes Chihayafuru special are the characters, they're all very likeable and you can at least relate to one. The way you see them develop from little kids into somewhat mature teenagers makes you grow attached to them. The dialogue and the way the characters interact with each other is incredible, just like how people interact in real life.
= Art (9) =
The art is very nice. The character designs are great, especially the one's for Chihaya, Taichi, Arata and Nishida since you can see the resemblance between the child and teenage versions of themselves. A great part of Chihayafuru is the art direction, the scenes where they're playing Karuta look amazing.
= Sound (9) =
For a 25 episode series, Chihayafuru uncommonly uses only one opening theme and one ending theme, which is okay since both songs are really great to listen to. The OST can be repetitive at times, though that doesn't really matter.
The voice acting is fantastic, each seiyuu (voice actor) really suits their part. Especially Yoshimasa Hosoya who voices older Arata.
= Enjoyment (10) =
When I first started Chihayafuru, I didn't know what to expect and I was amazed by how much I enjoyed every minute of it, It's amazing how watching two people playing a card game can be so thrilling, the way you can't wait to see what happens next. Not many anime series can do that week in and week out.
= Overall (10) =
Overall, Chihayafuru is a masterpiece in it's own right, a series which actually has heart, as corny as that may sound. The characters all have had struggles which are very realistic and relatable, the story is original, something hard to come by in recent anime, the art and sound match the series near-perfectly and the enjoyability of this series is unexpectedly great.
Chihayafuru is a must-watch and in my opinion the best anime of Fall 2011.
Chihayafuru is an under the radar type anime that I'm pretty sure a lot of people simply passed over. After all, it's about a group of high school students playing a card game called Karuta. What is that you ask? Well, to put simply it is a game where you memorize poems on each card try to swipe them up before your opponent as each card is read. I'm sure you really want to watch this right now
Okay, in case that riveting introduction didn't get you pumped for this show you should know that karuta is simply the gateway for everything else. Everything in Chihayafuru
just screams passion. You can tell that every character really wants whatever they are aiming for.
The cast is incredible. While it arguably does not have a huge stand out, all of them seem very real and well thought out. You can feel each characters dreams, hopes, and passion in everything they do. Especially Chihaya's and Taichi's. Each character experiences significant growth, and it's especially great how it seems like you're always in their heads it helps you relate to each character.
Because of the connection you'll get with the characters you'll find your emotions going all over the place during episodes. Karuta matches, something that might be incredibly boring under normal circumstances, suddenly become prime time entertainment. If clannad pulled on your heart, and Penquindrum messed with your mind... then Chihayafuru will capture your soul.
Now, as I'm sure a lot of you are aware the anime ended in an incomplete state (the manga is still ongoing after all). So if you want a sense of complete closure at the end you'll be disappointed. However, if you can look past this, you'll more likely than not really enjoy this show.
This is my very first review, and I'm glad to give my first time to this anime...wait what?
I first started watching this because I was bored. I just thought the art was okay (looking at the poster) and so started this five whole days ago. Pretty long time ago huh.
Well then, all jokes aside, let's start the review.
Overall-10: I haven't had such a beautiful anime for as long as I had started watching anime. The mix of the beauty of karuta, enjoyment of life, perfect sound, smart character selection...this anime was a new experience on my part. At first I was worried on whether I
was going to enjoy this anime, but I decided to watch it, since I had nothing else to do--as a time killer. Who'd have thought that an anime I selected at random was a time mass murderer, and not a simple enjoyment!
Well, then, let's go part by part.
Story-10: Karuta--I have not seen any anime with such a traditional theme before. Even more, this kind of theme is something anime writers avoid because of the lacking interests in people. However, despite that, this anime was able to draw the viewers into it via tackle of current issues. The blend-in of the issues and the main genre, moreover, was unbelievably coherent that I wasn't caring if Karuta was an inexplicably old game. The author did an amazing job of drawing people into the art of karuta. However, the author did not only focus on other "more immediate issues" either. The story's pace was steadily growing on the main theme of karuta and by the end of the episode, I was very absorbed into the game of karuta that I had my eyes stuck on the monitor, waiting for the next move. The author's unbelievably clean and beautiful job made chihayafuru not your everyday "filler anime" but a masterpiece.
Art-10: As I said before the start of the review, the art is what really drew me into this anime. At a glance of the poster, I couldn't tell the beauty of it, but when I actually saw the anime, I was surprised at the delicacy of the anime. Unlike other anime where "moeness" is a great factor, this anime had a very decent body curve and a very "traditional" style of art. It did have some points where the face appeared more simplified than usual, intending the moe factor to be a part of the art, but that was really intended for comedy rather than "cuteness overload". If, for example, sword art online is cute, chihayafuru is beautiful. It was as if the artist has spent few hours per every 1080 pages.
Sound-10: The music was kicked in at an appropriate time and was stopped at appropriate time, building tension and relieving them continuously. The opening and the endings were not just a fun-themed song but also a river-like, flowing type of music. These added to the traditional theme of karuta, adding up to the beauty of the 100 Japanese poems.
However, the most notable sound in this anime was the sound of the readers.
Reading a poem is very different from reading a poem in 100 poems. They need to be pitched right, stopped right and started right. The poem must not end in a loud pitch--it must fade out like the sun during sunset. The poem must not tremble too much, but it mustn't be in unison either.
In other words, reading in karuta is harder than playing karuta.
Despite the constant banging of the straw mat, despite the interesting turn of event, despite the heat, the coldness, the itchy feeling, flowing sweat, readers must keep their composure and read the poems the right way. These are very hard to achieve. It's a natural thing that there're not much readers. However, this anime was able to deliver that right pitch through vibrations of ear buds. It was able to connect to the audience few thousand kilometers away. The sound is undoubtedly a masterpiece's.
Character-10: Chihaya is a very boyish girl. Her pace is very straightforward yet she's a lovely girl towards her family, especially her sister. She grows as a person as the story goes by, from your average tomboy to a determined adult. The development and the selection of the character was a very smart one, and for that I give 10.
Enjoyment-10: Besides the slapstick comedies in between, the anime made me smile in those heart-throbbing moments. If comedy-genre anime is just a pure fun, chihayafuru is a fun in life. We all have downs and ups, but the downs are what makes ups more fun and enjoyable. The ability to deliver such an enjoyment--not a pure comedy, but a natural fun--is an ability the authors spend their entire life for. I give my bow to the wonderful writers of this anime.
Chihayafuru is a show that I kind of regret picking up. No, not because it wasn't good or was a pain to watch. On the contrary, it was a very fun 50 episodes (This review includes S2 btw) - filled with many memorable and exciting moments. Unfortunately, it cuts off in the middle of the story, and really, really leaves me wanting for that season 3. That said, it is still a show that I will wholeheartedly recommend due to how special it is, and the fact that it seems somewhat likely that the anime will continue in a couple of years, once there is
enough content to adapt.
Chihayafuru is a show that revolves around two things. The first of these is Karuta, the traditional Japanese card game which is the focus of the show. Upon hearing 'card game', the first thing that pops up will probably be something along the lines of Yugioh or Magic the Gathering, or perhaps something very different like Bridge or Poker. Karuta is a very different beast from what you will expect, being a sport (yes, a sport) that requires excellent memorization, reflexes, stamina, strategy, speed, and above all, hard work and effort to excel in. It is definitely not a simple game that is meant for relaxed play, requiring both physical and mental strength, and each match is intense as hell.
What I love about this show is that it manages to make such a foreign game so compelling. We don't typically associate cards with physical activity, and most will find traditional things from our own cultures boring, let alone something played in an entirely foreign language. Yet, the show succeeds at making it interesting. Despite seeming simplistic at a first glance, the show slowly reveals the true depth of the game. We slowly learn more about the game, learning about the many different approaches to the game, the many interesting quirks it has, and the depth of the strategy involved in every move. Furthermore, the show is always careful to not overload us with information, slowly feeding us with all the little details, allowing us to slowly appreciate the intricacies of the sport without flooding us with too much exposition on the inner workings of the game.
However, like any truly great sports series, the game itself is often only a vessel to tell a greater story. And this is the second thing that this show revolves around - the characters. It is rare to see a cast more well-developed and more lovable than Chihayafuru's - each of the main characters undergo a tremendous amount of growth throughout this series' run time. At its heart, the show focuses on the triangle of Chihaya, Taichi and Arata, three friends that met at a young age, and became connected by Karuta. The show takes on an interesting choice of spending its first few episodes on how the three met, giving us a view on what they were like as children, before being forced to separate due to various circumstances. This allows us to know plenty about the characters when they were kids, and how their behavior has changed upon growing up.
Taichi, in particular, is one of the most well-written characters in anime to date, and his personal journey throughout the series is a highly emotional one that was great to watch. It would be a mistake to simply classify this show as just another sports show that is full of young energy and passion - and Taichi's arc is a stellar example why. Sure, it has plenty of passion, but what truly makes this show special is how much it makes us care for these characters that we are watching, how much we want them to succeed. Chihayafuru is a very special show that is a blend of many different genres - being a hot-blooded sports shounen at times, and a highly emotional character drama at others. Watching these characters press forward for what they love is a truly heartening experience - and something that I haven't really seen in most other sports shows.
This does not mean that the rest of the cast is neglected. Beyond the main triangle, the care put into developing the other characters is evident as well, with major and minor characters all given plenty of room to develop. Due to the nature of Karuta as a niche hobby which not many people play, there are many recurring characters, and it is great seeing how they relate to the main cast. Some are friends and others are rivals, but each and every character in this show is never neglected, and each one of them has their own story to tell. It is difficult to dislike any character in this show - and that's definitely a great thing.
The production values of this show are amazing as well - it is difficult to find a show that is more beautiful than Chihayafuru. The animation is top-notch, and several shots of cards flying look amazing. The soundtrack is truly a stand-out though - both OPs and EDs are perfect fits for the show, and the OST is wonderfully composed, helping to elevate the work to another level.
That is not to say the show is outright perfect - it does suffer from some little things at times. The pacing in the second season is a little slow for one, and there are certain annoying aspects (some photographers mainly...). But the biggest flaw is undoubtedly the fact that this show is not complete - and is nowhere close to being finished. The manga itself hasn't been completed yet, and even then there is no guarantee of a third season, though it seems pretty likely considering how well the manga has been selling over in Japan. This is definitely not a short story that will end anytime soon - but rather, a lengthy series that painstakingly details the journey of our characters. Whether this is a flaw or not is up to you - though do stay away (but please do come back in a few years) if you really cannot stand an incomplete story.
Still, despite the fact that this isn't finished, it is still a show that you really should watch. Chihayafuru is in my opinion a highly refreshing and unique experience, and also one which I think that most can enjoy. It might seem boring at first, but do give it a shot - it will all click once the first card flies.
As the two seasons present themselves much as a continuous series, with little to set them apart, this review is made and posted for both seasons of the series.
If there is one word that describes Chihayafuru, it is "passion" - indeed, "Chihaya furu" means passionate. On the surface there is little that separates it from typical sports anime, from the focus on the team and team spirit to rivalries to tournament story arcs where you're typically served the main characters' opponents' motivations and reasons for participating in this sport. Through tears and joy we follow the main characters' journey through the world of this sport,
and Chihayafuru very much follows this trend. As for the sport in question, the series focuses on a rather obscure (at least to a Western audience) card game known as karuta, where one has 25 cards with the first verse of poems on either side of the field, and as a reader reads the second verse of one of those poems, you have to remove the corresponding first-verse card from the playing field. The first to empty their side (25 cards) wins the game. A very coarse explanation but that's the gist of it.
While it follows many of the traditional recipes for the sports genre, they are pulled off quite well in Chihayafuru, alleviating many of the issues doing so can present. It does in no way lift it off the ground and up to stardom, and if you are not a fan of sports anime to begin with, chances are you won't find Chihayafuru that very interesting. For the sports anime fan however, Chihayafuru offers a loveable and passionate experience, with some twists and differences. I already mentioned "passion" as a way to describe the series, and this is one of the aspects that sets it apart. From the at times striking visual and auditory imagery used - it is poetry after all - to the many ways of love for the sport that are presented, Chihayafuru delves deep into a world of passion, and while at times it seems a little too alien or cheesy how much of it the characters have for a single thing, it can also draw the viewer in and afflict them with a desire to do something they love, which is, at heart, what the sports anime genre is all about: Communicating passion and love for something.
Another thing that sets Chihayafuru apart is that unlike most sports anime, which are made to appeal more to a shonen audience, it leans more towards the shojo genre, evident in its at times flowery animation and colour palette, and more significantly, in its larger focus on emotion and romance. It forgoes some of the most intense focus other sports series has on the game itself and rather focuses on the inner world of the characters and their emotions - the full spectrum of it, not just the "I want to win"/"This is my motivation!" portions that you are often limited to. Often you see characters cry significantly, in joy or sadness, in defeat and victory. The series also builds up a solid love triangle between the main characters, without really forcing its and in its treatment, as well as adding these feelings and moments of love to the secondary characters. Of course, with a large cast it's a near-inescapable fact that some side characters are more bland than others, relying mostly on a singular trait or two to provide comic relief or interaction, but for the characters that matter there are for the most part many layers and aspects presented - and developed - in an intriguing manner.
Aesthetically Chihayafuru is stunning. The soundtrack builds up around the atmosphere very well, from the heart-warming to the bittersweet, from the passionate to the suspenseful. It applies a rich orchestral instrumentation that fits very well with the oft-poetic art and animation. Meticulous attention has been paid to the quality of the card reading, and listening to the voice actors' performance in this regard is absolutely fantastic, especially for the most skilled readers in the series. Visually it frequently applies imagery as befitting of a series focusing on a game of poetry: The voice of a reader like sakura petals, the flow of a match like that of water, the flowery feeling of romance; such feelings are expressed visually and beautifully, though, as can be expected, some come across as more cheesy than others, but for the most part it is a boon rather than a detraction.
When all comes to all, Chihayafuru definitely isn't a series for everyone. Karuta can come across as boring, the emotional layer as sappy or over the top to many sports anime fans, and for those who do not have a taste for sports anime in the first place, the story and the series' focus can seem unappealing. To me, personally, the series is a heart-warming and moving story that spreads a lovely feeling of passion, filled with lovely aesthetic value and likeable characters. It very often brings a smile to my face, not necessarily because it is outright funny and makes me laugh, but because it warms me up on the inside. At times cheesy, yes, but far from such a degree it spoils the series. It presents a lovely and different sports anime that quickly has earned a spot as one of my favourite series.
When I think about Madhouse, I think about high-quality realizations of foolproof story concepts involving a somewhat guaranteed economic success. Chihayafuru, a series about a bunch of high-schoolers trying to achieve their dreams in becoming the best of the best in a sports called Karuta, represents a fitting example of this project selection pattern. Chihayafuru is a charming, highly likable and somewhat mind-opening anime providing for a high level of entertainment, in which I found myself immersed very rapidly.
As you maybe already know, when producing a sports-related series, it often doesn't really matter what kind of sports is chosen as long as the atmosphere works
out well in making you like the sports. Competitive Karuta, as a rather unknown but highly demanding sports, carries this to extremes. By choosing a card game with motoric elements, thus combining mind-related and physical areas of personal development, the foundation was laid for a highly engaging experience to which almost any sportsman can relate in some way.
And that is why Chihayafuru is successful. The new sports that most of the viewers don't know anything about represents a highly mysterious component in the series, compensating for the actually not only highly predictable, but also monotonous story that lacks in innovativeness. I could name several other sports-related series, which are plot-wise structured almost exactly the same as Chihayafuru, but all of them were well received. For a successful sports series, there is no need to incorporate sudden plot-twists and ingeniously convoluted plotlines. All you need is an intense atmosphere, a goal, and some likable and highly ambitious characters going all-out. This is what you find in Chihayafuru as well.
The characters are not only likable, but also unique with only minor overlaps in their personalities. The five main characters are supposed to appeal to the audience, which leads to them turning out somewhat stereotypical. In general, there are two major flaws that cannot be overlooked. First, to enhance the aspect of perceived ambition, the main characters lack authenticity and personality consistency. They regard the same issue very differently from time to time and act highly unnatural, only to promote the story and preventing it from losing focus. Second, they lack depth. Although you find the main characters musing about how to becoming stronger with a high degree of reflection, they seem to not have anything in their minds besides Karuta and their mutual bonds, and that fact makes them appear more as story-driving tools than vivid, holistically conceptualized characters. But this is also the reason why they can be said to fit very well to the simple and straightforward story.
In terms of audio-visual execution, the production quality should have been higher if it was intended to overcome current standards (as of 2012). Ultimately, it turned out to be a well-produced show, and that's it. The opening manages to set the energetic and positive mood extremely well and provides for an outstanding audio-visual fit, whereas the fit of the rather melancholic ending is debatable. The seiyuu were appropriately chosen and don't stand out in a negative way. Remarkable are some of the sound effects used in Chihayafuru, which add to the immersive experience that is created especially during tournaments. The visuals fit the standard but don't give much of an outstanding impression. A positive factor is the high consistency in visual execution and its underlying arts style.
With Chihayafuru, you get to see an anime that adheres to the norm in sports-related series, but not surprisingly delivers a highly engaging ride through the world of competitive Karuta with a set of ambitious and likable characters. It features a positive and energetic atmosphere and does very well in generating excitement despite the predictability and monotonous nature of its story. Chihayafuru can be recommended for everyone who likes shounen and seinen, shoujo and josei, as well as sports in general.
(A quantified evaluation can be found on my page.)
A while back when a popular movie about a certain popular social media network was released one of the best critics it received was related to the scene where there is a code war... the comment was "the movie is so well direceted that a scene that is basically 2 guys in front of a pc feels exciting".
Well chihayafuru is so well tought that a whole series that is "basically" about people playing a memory game, is exciting, and comepeling (sorry ran out of adjetives there).
The premise is simple, but the characters make up for it, the art is clen and consistent and the
sound does an amazing work at matching the atmosfere.
One anime that is best experienced one episode at a time, it thrives from the long exposure, as oposed to the more generic counterparts that you want to sit and get over with.
Chihayafuru is good, astoundingly and courageously good. There is crying almost every episode and yet it still remains utterly utterly good. It has an abundance of Shoujo romanticism yet it is good. The characters are good. The moments are good. The fights are good. The battles fought are good. The entirety of the show I cherish in my heart. Every episode I cherish. Every single interaction I cherish. The jokes, even though not necessarily of highest standard, I cherish. This show I cherish and cherish again. When it comes to this show I have no choice but to be giddy with love and to
fight for its reputation. I shall have to fight for Chihayafuru to be placed not just among the best sports animes but as the best sports anime. I shall fight because it is my utter love that drives me, as a writer and an aesthete, to edify what my love consists of; perhaps in the process to teach others how words heavy with love can weigh with significance and how expressing love is the pinnacle of all and every language. Even though my tongue is tied and tangled up in a million knots by love and already I feel the schoolgirl giddiness that comes with trying to describe why exactly I love I must still fight for my love. ‘Fight’ is appropriate because in the end Chihayafuru is all about fighting; fighting and victory in the name of love. I must love like a girl and fight like a man.
But already I am at a dilemma because I cannot start merely with the standard formal descriptions of the show. I cannot just go into character or art or story; there is no love in the mere description of things. As much as I love this show I also love the medium of writing. I will fight therefore in the form of writing too. Like all writers and critics I want to win; my views need to be heard so that my love can be known. To be known is not enough. I am greedy and I must not just express my love for a single entity but in describing the love I have for this show I must express my love for a greater entity – that of life itself. I must transcend the critic who writes with mere puppy love and reach those sacred peaks that only full on master wordsmiths can conquer. This then must try to be edifying in the same way Motaigne or Orwell is edifying. Only in showing a love for life can my words bear significance and with these words I will be able to love Chihayafuru in a deeper way than before.
--The Will to Win and the Valor of Winning--
The creed of some is to claim the struggle is worth more than victory. I have much against this if this is taken to heart by those who have never tried to win. This expression can only be understood by those who have been tempered in the flames of trying to win itself; it is a sacred expression that excludes all who have not had the understanding of what victory entails. A child who, because of languor and weakness, does not take on significant burden if in sport or battle and uses this expression to deflect all guilt and doubt as to his own will and strength, that child will only know weakness. Enough of preaching though, I can leave that for the pastors.
The Japanese have deeply understood what it means to be proficient in an art; it is reflected in their manga. I have heard a friend who claimed that “The Japanese have made works on almost everything” and I am very keen to concur. For the art of cooking and food tasting we have Oishinbo and a plethora of other food mangas. Every sport is bound to have a manga of some sort. The mental sport of Go has the famous Hikaru no Go. The art of extreme mountain climbing has Kokou no Hito. Bartender shows us what cocktailcrafting is all about. The unifying theme within all these works is proficiency, what it means to be proficient in an art one has dedicated life to. Many Sports movies I’ve seen focus on the underdog victory, the relationships between the characters and the supposed ‘tribulations’ they go through. There is a problem though when the training is lost in montage and the character relationships are given a premium over the sport itself. A sports anime then has that distinct element of being focused around the sport as well as showing the love that goes into appreciating the sport. With Chihayafuru not only is the sport still the focus but the sport dictates all character relationships. The sport and the players stand on equal ground.
I cannot adequate explain my love without going into some background information. I was no sportsman but I picked up a competitive activity – debate. As one club who wasn’t really a reader of current affairs or a thinker of political systems and ethics, also coupled with the fact that I was never a speaker, I was easily and completely and repeatedly trounced by the others in the club who had entered it with previous experience. I proceeded to fight harder than before. I would study current affairs and politics while leaving aside the rest of my studies. I would watch videos upon videos until I improved. Slowly I started to win but then again the rest of the club wasn’t slacking off either so I still lost majority of the sparring rounds. In the first competition I lost three out of four rounds. In the second competition I received the same score. There was a difference though, the first competition I was angry and dejected but for the second I was angry enough to not lose hope beyond the first round and suddenly even though I was losing it became fun. In my third and last competition I won two out of five rounds but I had the most fun of all time. Afterwards I spectated as the other club members, who themselves were tempered in the fires of battle, would go on to trounce some of the top teams in a national competition and almost achieve an underdog victory. Nothing beats the real life stuff – but Chihayafuru comes close. Afterwards we stepped down from the club in order to study for exams and the leadership was passed to the juniors.
In retrospect I was more like Oe or Komano, staying in the background but still in the action watching anxiously.
This is the section where I aim to bring down all others in my fight for love.
The first I shall bring down is Hikaru no Go. Despite being closest to the realism of Chihayafuru (besides the supernatural element) I cannot credit this much. If we consider the core components of a sports anime the unity of action (as in the tense fighting scene) with spirit (the characters in their quest for victory), Hikaru no Go is extremely balanced in these two areas. Yet I cannot credit Hikaru no Go because of the sole unfortunate reason that Go has too high barriers of understanding. In Chihayafuru the kinetic quality of the sport makes it easier to understand, you memorize then steal. Go, although a respectful and highly intellectual brilliant game requires a certain mastery of the game itself to be able to appreciate fully. Without an in depth knowledge of concepts such as thickness or joseki, the game is lost to a person who just wanders in. The anime doesn’t really flesh out concepts too deeply either but does provide some commentary. Likewise it may be fun to watch a street fighter tournament (like Daigo Umehara’s victory against Justin Wong) but without knowledge of cancels, wake-ups and cross ups, much is lost. Furthermore Hikaru no Go took more than 50 episodes to flesh out what Chihayafuru managed to achieve in 26 episodes. Hikaru no Go is good but I shall only treat it like an acquaintance rather than an infatuation.
The second I shall bring down is Hajime no Ippo. In this case the action is what stands out. The kinesthetic fights are wholeheartedly enjoyable and the action in the ring is thoroughly explained. There is a significant spirit conveyed too in seeing Ippo constantly jumping back into the fray. Its weakness is in the victories. Ippo wins too much. The sweat and tears of victory are undermined by the interference of the author. There is only the kinesthetic but it lacks in heart. Yet there is much to be enjoyed about Hajime no Ippo so I will not condemn it anymore.
The third I shall bring down is Kuroko no Basuke, but really this falls in the same catergory as Hajime no Ippo in that it is more of the action than the spirit. The action triumphs all and nothing is left for the heart.
The fourth I shall bring down is Cross Game. This is an action which I myself find it hard to perform. I have an infatuation with Cross Game because of its vibrant spirit and beautiful characters. Like Romeo who in his despair over Rosaline finds himself overpowered by the intense aura of Juliet though I have no choice but to place Chihayafuru in its rightful place in my heart. Cross Game is a triumph of drama and action, a unity of drama and action. The dramatic flows together with the sports in a perfect blend yet then it does not conform to the spirit of the sports anime; that of overwhelming spirit in the face of adversity. The adversity is a dramatic adversity not an inner adversity. We are more keen to see what becomes of Ko and Aoba rather than seeing Ko conquer his own inadequacies. The romance is a dramatically perfect one yet because of this it cannot be placed on that sports anime pedestal. It vacillates between the two realms and becomes an entity in its own right. Let Ko and Aoba do what they wish! I will continue on to greater battles.
If there is one adversity that Chihayafuru has to overcome that is the grand opus that is Kokou no Hito. It is a triumph of spirit, a Seinen masterpiece of overwhelming heart. It is also an object d’art with its luscious backgrounds and amazingly realist style. It is entirely about a battle with the self. It is a work that could be seen as the pinnacle of human victory. It is a giant, as tall as the peaks conquered within. Why I cannot place it in the same place as Chihayafuru lies is because it is not a work in the same realm. It stands far away on another mountain, another throne in my heart. Kokou no Hito is the friend whom I shall share whiskey with when overcome with despair. Chihayafuru is my infatuation. They are two different entities yet equally as important. If I find my will I will think of Chihayafuru to push me greater, if I lose my will I will seek Kokou no Hito to regain it. If I have neither despair nor willpower and fall into the straits of melancholy, I will heal it in Eden Hall.
Balanced on the weighing scale of spirit, Chihayafuru is a perfect gem. I would wish that Chihaya be the main shining star of the show but I have to award that to Taichi. The repetitions of failure, the despair over lost time, the thrills, the spirit all belongs to him. He is the pure representation of the symbol of the will; the romantic symbol representing will. Chihaya stands strong in spirit but she is never weighed down in the same way that he is. Her obstacles, in that sense, are of lesser magnitude because she does not grapple with sorrow but single-mindedly fights on. She is an angel but she from her I do not get as much the pangs of human pain as I do from Taichi.
Why I love Chihayafuru is because it shows us that there is still a place for the highly romantic in this world. Once more a lesson on the history of Literature (like you haven’t seen this before if you’re familiar with my review style) dealing with Romanticism. In around the 19th century when faced with the growing significance of industrialization, the human spirit was greatly impoverished. With the rise of the machines progress was prioritized but there was a lack of love for nature and humanity itself. Artists reacted to that by creating a literary and artistic movement where feelings and emotions were placed as paramount to realism and the ultimate ideal was beauty. The picture Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is a key example of this; the man in it symbolized the triumph of human strength over the sea of uncertainty that was going on at the time. After a whole load of wars though disillusionment became the norm and the romantic ideal faded into the background. Anime, I see now, may be the return of the romantic in another form. Chihayafuru shows us how essential fighting with one’s own soul is in its own innocent Shounenesque way. It is perfect because it shows the will’s triumph over the very realistic obstacles of life. It is really one of the only shows to be able to do this without falling into cliché or overtly romantic tones. It does not have to be literary but it is heartfelt and resonates within those who know what fighting is. Some may call it naïve but I call it powerful. Sometimes this kind of power and wide-eyed idealism is needed these days.
I didn't have high expectations when I first read the description of the show. However, I got hooked on the first episode and the rest of the season didn't disappoint.
Story (10/10): Most series fall flat in the storyline for three reasons: 1) An uninteresting beginning discourages viewers from continuing the series. 2) The story line is inconsistent. 3) The story doesn't reveal enough, or it reveals too much.
Chihayafuru, however, does it right and in an unexpected way. The story begins with several flashback episodes that help viewers understand and connect with the main characters. The plot itself is expected; after all, the series is
about competitive karuta, so it makes sense that the plot will center around the competitions. The series is consistently good, with good writing and just enough humor to lighten the mood but not too much to make the show look goofy. The most intense scenes in the series will make your heart race, and the sweet scenes will put a smile on your face.
Art (10/10): Chihayafuru's art is beautiful and elegant. In a lot of animes, the characters all seem to have a basic face structure (ahem, *Sword Art Online*), thus making them unmemorable. But Chihayafuru's characters don't fall into this category; it's obvious to those who watch that the show's artists spent time on making characters their own persons. The scenery is also very pretty, though typical of most shoujo anime/manga.
Character (20+/10): This category is where Chihayafuru really excels. It's really enjoyable to see the main cast develop and mature over the course of the series. The writers also used the supporting characters well, and I particularly found Harada Sensei to be one of the best supporting characters in the show.
If there's a fault with the characters in the show, most people would probably point a finger at the protagonist, Chihaya. At first glance she seems like a cliche--pretty, but not too smart, oblivious to love, and often single-minded. But her interactions with the others makes her likable, and she has depth. She never fails to surprise you.
Overall: This was probably one of the most underrated shows of 2012. Or possibly ever. I couldn't find it on any list of Best Animes of 2012. So this series may be one of those where you either don't understand it, or you love it. It's worth watching to find out.
I watched chihayafuru when i was a huge weeb, and loved it. After a lots, LOTS of years, i wanted to rewatch this show.
...Well, the result is this review. Stopped watching after ep6.
The directing in this anime is awful.
The pacing is way too quick and everything is way too much dramatized.
If you take karuta away, all that is left is a bunch of characters that moves when the plot needs to move.
One of the characters has a very serious reason to have depression, but oh man, the way they handled it was just...brutal. Everything happened so quickly, he cured his depression way
I can imagine myself liking the source material of this way more, since the pacing would be way slower than how anime handled it.
The scenario itself has a lots of drama already, so it was quite brutal to see this happening.
If i will summary my biggest problem with this show; basically it doesn't care about its characters enough. It just says "karuta is the best thing ever and the people who thinks thats not the case can go away from my life." AKA not realistic enough.
If you love sports anime and wanna see sprots but nothing else, you'll enjoy this. When they play karuta its pretty hype(in a good way).
I know I'm only on the fifth episode but I just have to say that I am loving this anime! Although it isn't labled a slice of life story, I watched it because I think it is one of those true slice of life animes where the story could actually happen. After finding nothing but supernatural type of stories labeled slice of life I was on the prowl for good ordinary slice of life anime. At first I didn't really know what to expect with the Karuta game thing. I didn't want to sit around watching some game be played in every episode although
I do love to play games.
However, what I found was more than just a show about kids playing a poem game but a story about finding your own dreams, finding inspiration in others, and possibly a love story?
Since I began watching Kimi to Boku around the same time I can't help but to compare certain aspects of the shows that are similar such as the use of flashbacks to tell parts of the story. Kimi to Boku can learn a thing or two from the writers of Chihayafuru. Kimi to Boku is saturated with flashbacks that interrupt the present and most of them are irrelevant. In Chihayafuru they used a full flashback to tell the story of how Chihaya, Arata, and Taichi got to the point they are in the present story. It gave us relevant information to the current plot and characters and helps us see who they are as people.
Speaking of the characters there isn't a single one I don't like, I like all three of them, of course at one point I didn't like Taichi. However, he grew on me because he is a character with his own flaws just like Arata and Chihaya (I don't want to spoil anything by going into detail) and I hope to see even more development from them.
Although the main focus of the show is Karuta, they do know how to make it exciting to watch, although at some point you may find yourself eye rolling over the extreme music choices they use to bring out the excitement, but even so I can't blame them for trying. I've never seen nor played the game but I'm sure it isn't nearly as exciting as the show. I remember watching Hikaru no Go and tried to pick up the game Go but dropped it cause it was boring and full of douchebags (at least on the site I played it at) but like Hikaru no Go it does make me want to check out the game even if it is just a little bit.
But aside from the game you will see a touching story here between the three main characters and maybe even a bit of a triangle forming between the two boys and the girl.
In episode five, we have the conflict between the characters who are now teenagers and at first I was a little worried about the Arata character because in the last episode they seemed like they were going the emo route with him. But in this episode, you understand why he was the way he was in the fourth episode (I won't spoil anything) I really did like the way it was handled, I totally understand how Arata feels and I cannot wait for the next episode to come out.
Updated review after episode 8: I have no choice but to bump this down from 9 to 7 because this show is so boring without Arata. After the whole ordeal with him we are now focused solely on Chihaya and Taichi recruiting members for their club with each episode focused on Chihaya trying to get each person to see how wonderful the game is, of course, even if she drags them down to play, the moment they see it they fall instantly in love with the game. Or have some sort of condition for agreeing to play. These episodes are basically Chihaya running around screaming at people, slamming into walls and doors, and dragging people desk and all into the club room. After a while it gets a bit too much to handle. She hasn't seemed to change much since she was a child, which is NOT a good thing compared to Arata and Taichi who have changed so much. Her character just comes across as stagnant. Hopefully it picks back up.
Chihayafuru is a very unique show in premise but not so much in execution. It centers around a traditional Japanese card game called karuta and the aspirations of a girl named Chihaya set to become the best player in Japan (and therefore the world) alongside her friends.
Karuta is a one-on-one card game in which players must try to touch cards inscribed with poems as the corresponding poems are read faster than their opponent. The game is explained very thoroughly early on, and while the concept may seem rather dull the show does a great job on making it interesting.
Chihayafuru opens on a few flashback episodes
to set the stage in elementary school as Chihaya learns about and grows a dedication to karuta, all while forming a love triangle with child prodigy Arata and childhood friend Taichi. This love triangle is probably the most interesting character dynamic in the show but sadly it's treated as background decoration due to Arata's overall absence and lack of screen-time. Eventually Chihaya and Taichi form their own team at Mizusawa Highschool with three others who all have some entertaining personalities on their own (the lady-like Oe is a favourite of mine).
However, despite their charm they don't really have much chemistry between each other overall. Everyone develops nicely and you can feel them grow closer as a group, but I can't describe any two characters' relationship any differently than any others'. In season two an additional two players are added to the team, but they are quickly sidelined and don't get much focus at all, which is a shame because they actually had some distinct dynamics with a few of the other characters.
As a group though, the cast does feel like a bunch friends who would genuinely spend their time together, which is something a lot of anime tend to miss. Watching them all grow to love karuta more and more as the series progresses is a spectacle alone. Chihaya herself is a very charismatic character with an unparalleled drive to better herself at the game, and her passion makes her lovable despite her clueless nature. This passion can occasionally steer the show towards melodrama, (never to the point of being overbearing however) but there are some very intriguing inner conflicts within the players. Taichi's constant second-guessing of his worth as a karuta player is as emotionally engaging as it is realistic, and it will surely resonate with many (especially athletes).
Most of the matches (it is a sports anime after-all) revolve around the players' psychology rather than strategies. Since karuta is a game centered around reaction time, if a player feels outclassed, overwhelmed, or simply out of their element, their game will be thrown off considerably. This emphasis on attitude can sometimes get a little repetitive as characters go through nearly identical trains of thought match-after-match but most of the time the individual matches are very entertaining. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the team matches. Because there are five separate games happening simultaneously there is a general lack of focus and tension, which become very tiresome when the games overstay there welcome. And trust me, they do, especially in the second season.
While they are quite engaging during the show, most games in Chihayafuru are forgettable in the long-term. This is because everyone besides the Mizusawa team is very bland and one-dimensional. There are a few fun standouts like Sudo the sadist but a strong personality can't maintain a conflict on its own. A good antagonist has to challenge the protagonist's physical and mental weakness, and sadly nobody gets the focus to do so aside from Shinobu Wakamiya. She acts as a very good foil for Chihaya to overcome, as the two have similar interests (sharing an obsession with children's merchandise and karuta) but she is much more aggressive and cold and completely outclasses her upon their first meeting.
Sadly, the two never get a chance to face off on equal ground, as a certain plot-point near the end makes it nearly impossible for Chihaya to play properly. It is a very sour note to end the series on, and while there is a possibility of a season three, Chihayafuru could become another unfinished Madhouse production.
In terms of aesthetic there isn't much to talk about. Yes the motions are always fluent but the show's art style is that of a standard josei, which isn't a bad thing but it isn't a good thing either. Some dynamic shots could've really helped make the show stand out. I'm not too keen on the colour palette either, as everything appears to glow, much like the fluorescence of pale skin. There are a few interesting visual metaphors however, much akin to Kaiji but on a less frequent basis. Arata's prowess flooding the area with water is definitely a visual highlight.
The audio department is pretty typical as well. The music is quite underwhelming, and there is one song that almost queues melodrama whenever it plays. On the plus side, Asami Seto did a great job accentuating Chihaya's quirkiness and disoriented personality through her stellar voice acting, and the sound effects are pleasant to the ears as well. The smacks of hands on tatami mats sound thoroughly striking, which really emphasizes how dedicated karuta players are to their craft.
Overall Chihayafuru is a fine watch and while personally I am indifferent to it, there is value to be had. I would recommend Chihayafuru if you would like something simple but unique and don't care about being on the edge of your seat ninety percent of the time. It's clear that the show's target audience is housewives longing for cultural nostalgia, so I suppose garnering the attention of other demographics is almost an achievement of its own. Will it be heralded in ten years as a masterpiece? Likely not, but Chihayafuru is a series that deserves to be completed.
Roughly 2 years back a female friend of mine urged me to watch a certain anime, but as I was busy in my own shit at the moment, I just took the recommendation, downloaded the series and that's it. Then came along it's second season, I thought - "Will start it after second season gets complete, maybe" and yes, I forgot again. 5 days ago, browsing through my collection I stumbled upon this title once again, this time I'm happy I chose to pick it up. Sometime the hype is right.
The plot is generic, in fact so generic, that this is probably the biggest reason
why I felt hesitant to pick it up two times before. But the tags "Sports", "Josei" kinda piqued my interest. It's been almost 6 days since I fell in love with this series, thinking back now I feel sorry for not picking it up earlier. In layman terms, it's a story about various people coming together and working hard to achieve their respective dreams. Let's see what are the things that makes "Chihayafuru" unique among various other titles with similar plots.
Game: - "Karuta" - A traditional Japanese card game. This game had been mentioned in some of the other anime, but I always took it as some Japanese version of playing cards, not to mention one can't really think of it as a sport of hard work, mental & physical abilities and passion, much like how we view Football, Baseball, etc. But this anime will make you think twice about that prejudice. Instead of dwelling into the details of karuta, I leave that part for the anime since it does a great job in explaining all the rules and procedures quite well over the episodes. But let's just be clear about few things, karuta is a game that can be played in many ways and each style have it's own set of rules. However, In this anime the karuta we see is "Competitive karuta". When you think of a sport, you also think about the players, here the various stages of a player learning and playing the game has been covered quite extensively, let's devise an example from anime -----
In terms of player levels (not official, but just to make the explanation easier) -
1. Noob class - Beginners who have just started playing the game. It provides a good opportunity for audience to learn the game with them and also to witness their evolution from the start. Ex - Kana.
2. Middle class - They have played and still playing the game from a long time. They are strong but are still inconsistent as players. They serve as a good measuring stick between beginners and very good players. Ex - Taichi.
3. First class - These players have refined their play over years of practice, both shining their skill and talent. Just having one of them in your team gives you mental assurance and having one against gives you the scare. Ex - Chihaya.
4. Monster Class - These players have dedicated their whole life for the game. Their mere presence is enough to intimidate their opponent. They have honed their skill and talent as close to perfection. A match between two such players is something to look out for. Ex - Arata.
5. God Class - Their level of play exists on a different plane of it's own kind. Very few people have managed to reach that level, even among monster class, not many can even dream to reach it. Ex - Queen and Master.
In this way, the viewer is able to briefly understand the players and follow their evolution over time. Also, even among the same class, the individual player's game attitude (offensive/defensive), techniques and fortitude can put one miles ahead than the other. Anime explores each aspect of it very well, as a sports anime it brings out the best of karuta.
Characters:- While story can be quoted as the bone structure, characters are the muscles and flesh, more so in series like this. It is also the part where this anime excels the most. First, we have Chihaya, a high school freshman, pretty, tall and the younger sister of a famous model, but she's also an airhead, simple-minded, dumb and weird person - often referred to as "Beauty in vain" or "karuta baka" (since all her thoughts seems to be centered around karuta only). Even though Chihaya's character comes out as a typical airhead stereotype at first, she has more to her than that. As the story progresses we bear witness of the changes and the events that leads to those changes in Chihaya's personality. Also, regardless of what idiotic things Chihaya does, one can't really help him/herself from feeling admiration towards her passion for the sport. Second, Arata, belongs to a lower middle-class family, average-looking, grandson of the man respected as the "Eternal Master" (Master, Title granted to the best male player), in the world of karuta. His love for karuta comes from his grandfather who also taught him how to play as a kid. Arata is an honest, straight-forward and kind person, though he can look extremely scary in the eyes of his opponent. He's the one who introduced Chihaya to the world of kaurta when they were kids and also the one who gave her the dream of becoming the "Queen" (Title granted to the best female karuta player in Japan) one day. He moves away shortly after befriending Chihaya and Taichi due to family reasons. Since Arata doesn't get enough screen-time in both the seasons, it's pointless to talk about his character development. Third, Taichi, high school freshman like Chihaya, handsome, first in academics, belongs to a rich family and basically a "Jack of all trades" but Taichi doesn't think of himself as privileged. He's also the third member of Chihaya and Arata's team when they played karuta as kids. "You are a good student and good athlete, so only do things where you know you can win" - Because of this constant reminder by his mom, Taichi has developed a complex towards things which he isn't good at. This is also one of the reasons why Taichi doesn't like Arata, he thinks he can't beat him no matter how much he practice and that Arata will always be better than him. Ironically, the most brilliant character development also came out in the form of Taichi. He breaks away all the stereotypes over the length of the anime and comes out as the most dynamic personality in the whole series.
The Dreams:- Arata wants to become the Master, Chihaya wants to become the Queen. Having a dream and then trying hard to achieve it is such a wonderful thing, but then what is Taichi's dream? In the beginning even he didn't knew it himself. He seemed to be playing along because it was fun and later, because he wanted to help out Chihaya in fulfilling her dream, he wanted to support her as a friend and as someone who loves her. But as Arata once said - "Your dream should be about yourself", Taichi too begins to realize the meaning of these words through various experiences and people he meets. Also, what's more interesting than watching two people working hard to realize their dreams? It's to witness the voyage of a person who is still having a hard time struggling with his emotions, self-hatred, self-loathing and limitations, in order to search for a dream first, a dream that's only about himself. I have this feeling that Taichi will come out as the dark horse.
Side - Characters:- When I said that - "It is also the part where this anime excels the most" for character department, that also included my views about side-characters. Chihayafuru has wonderful side-cast. Unique personalities, character designs and their thoughts make them stand out and prevent them from suffering the same fate as many side-characters do in most of the stories. They enjoy, suffer, evolve alongside our main cast in a way that the viewer ends up connecting and be concerned for them. We as viewers starts to feel as if their story is equally important to tell, and undoubtedly it is. For ex - There was this match between two side-characters, and it ended up hogging more limelight than the match of a MC which is taking place simultaneously.
Both side cast and main cast, they may not necessarily be what people call "lovable characters", since you may or may not like some of the things they do, but you'll feel your own emotions resonating with them regardless. That's a very important aspect which all entertainment mediums aspire to attain. Emotional and intellectual involvement is directly proportional to one's enjoyment, though the level of that involvement vary from person to person.
Romance:- Though the show is mostly focused on players' hard work and passion towards the sport, and the love of friendship, romance among characters has been introduced and explored briefly, but in the background. It doesn't try to take over the story, it's been hinted upon at appropriate places, which in turn, also makes the relationships among characters to come out naturally. It wouldn't be a spoiler to say that there's a love triangle among our MC's and a love polygon (if we also include side-cast). But people who are hoping to see brief amount of romance, I must warn you before hand that it'll not happen. Anime only gives very little (yet strong) moments dedicated towards it. Some people might even find the whole triangle situation to be frustrating, more so if they watch it with only one set of mind and without putting themselves in each character's shoes. It is a josei anime, anything can happen as far as romantic relations are concerned. *coughs in* Nana, Honey and clover *coughs out*. Viewer discretion is advised.
Art & Animation:- "Chihaya is cute!", that was my first impression about the series. LOL. Art-wise the show is quite good, the beautiful patterns on hakamas, the level of details that adds up to the charm , use of vibrant colors. Madhouse has done "one fine job" with the animation, especially in the games department. The hand movements accompanied by the effect line and after-image blends quite well with the camera angles. Both Art & Animation adds up a lot to the whole passion and tension factor befitting a sports anime. I tried reading the manga till 5th chapter and stopped, it doesn't have the same "drive" that anime has because of the wonderful animation. Most likely, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for a third season to come, I don't want to read it's manga if i can help it.
Music:- It doesn't stand out but it goes well with the flow of the story. Sound Effects, on the other hand stands out, like they are supposed to, and adds up to the scene as a whole. Chihaya's seiyuu, Asami Seto, has done a good job. Even though she has mostly done supporting roles, I believe she has a nice voice for a main cast. Taichi's seiyuu on the other hand is no no-namer, Mamoru Miyano (Light Yagami, Setsuna F. Seiei, Okabe Rintarou) and undoubtedly, he has done his thing correctly. What was shocking is to learn that Arata's seiyuu is a girl (though I absolutely loved the dialect), Yuka Terasaki.
I've also watched the second season, and if you ends up liking the first season, then you'll definitely like the second one too, since it follows the same exact pattern, just more karuta matches. Chihayafuru in all it's entirety, is a bittersweet experience and I have this very strong feeling that it'll also end on a bittersweet note. Regardless of however the mangaka choose to end the story, it will remain in my memory for a very brief amount of time. Strongly recommending it to all.
Some memorable quotes:-
1. "You have to do the things you don’t want to do, before you can do the things you truly want to do." - Tsutomu Komano to Ayase Chihaya
2. "Love is when it isn't fun to be with that person. It's when nothing goes the way you want. When you're not having fun...and yet...You still want to be with her." - Mashima Taichi
3. "I can't cry, not when I haven't put in the time. But it still hurts." -Mashima Taichi
4. "Frustrations will not last forever. Nobody can keep on going without some measure of reward." -Harada-sensei
5. "As long as you have a smile on your face, karuta will always be fun. That's the truth, Captain!" - Mashima Taichi to Ayase Chihaya
5. "My grandfather always used to tell me...you don't need game sense to play karuta, you just have to take cards faster than your opponent. It's difficult to achieve a similar level of game sense, but there are many different ways to become faster" - Wataya Arata. In response, "Arata...in your world, there's no such thing as a prodigy" - Mashima Taichi
I was drawn to this anime because it reminded me so much of Hikaru no Go.The game and characters of Chihafuru is so similar to Hikaru no GO. Chihayafuru is about a game called Karuta. The rules of this game is that the players must memorize the 100 hundred poems- which are written in cards. Setting the cards face down in a certain pattern. When the match starts, the announcer reads a poem verse and the players must knock that card out. The main character Chihaya Ayase who meets Wataya Arata( Karata Master XD) and is drawn in the world of Karata and
wants to get the title of Queen so she can play Karata with Arata. Masami Taichi( friend of Chihaya) also plays Karata. Later in her high school year, she meets her close friend Masami Taichi again and they start a Karata club. Hikaru no Go fans will love this show!!!
WARNING: May contain itty-bitty spoilers. :) But it won't ruin your judgement on the anime. I'll be back in a couple more weeks to edit this review as I watch more and more episodes.
As of October 22nd, 2011, I have only watched three episodes of Chihayafuru, but so far, it has shown amazing promise. Already I am so emotionally tied to this series that I almost, ALMOST shed some tears. But boy did my eyes did get watery.
The story starts out with the protagonist, Chihaya, a beautiful girl. You quickly
learn Chiyaha isn't quite what you'd expect a beautiful girl to act like - you know, poised, graceful, & calm and collecting and all. Instead, she's clumsy, boyish, and very innocent. I think this is what makes you love her so. Chihaya stands out in both her looks and the way she acts. I know you guys - and don't deny it - we all hate those popular, mean & pretty girls who don't give you a second look. But Chihaya is different. Despite her appearance, she is honest, and does what she believes is right.
Beginning from the last half of the first episodes to the 3rd episode, we go into Chihaya's past (if I am correct, I believe back into junior high). She is friends with a boy named Taichi, who seems to have been a big influence in the class. Anyways, in the class is a quiet boy called Arata. Chihaya, seeing he is being bullied by Taichi and her classmates, stands up for Arata at the cost of her classmates ignoring her.
From Arata, she learns the passion and art of karuta. In case you don't know what karuta is, to put it simply, you must find the card when the line from a poem is being read before your opponent does. It sounds boring when I try explaining it to you, but you'll get it when you WATCH, WATCH, WATCH (!!) the anime.
I would give it a 10, but I need to see a few more episodes before I can confirm this.
In case, I haven't said this yet, the art is AMAZING. The only fault I find with it is when they're kids (in the flashback), the characters don't look as appealing as they do when they're in high school, thus shadowing on the beauty of the art. The background scenes are leaning towards average, but the character art is very easy on the eyes.
I haven't paid much attention to the music, but since nothing has stuck out to me, I'll give it a solid 7. I might come back and edit this section after a couple more episodes.
The character development is great. I think it's amazing how much I've gotten to know each of the characters already. I look forward to watching them grow in their own ways.
Truth be told, maybe 9 isn't really a fair judgement. It should be a 10. But being a shoujo and romance addict, I have to give it the lower score of 9 because there is almost no, romance so far. I can see tiny hints of it here and there though, and I'm hoping, hoping very badly that it might blossom into something else altogether as the story progresses.
This might seem like a low score with all my praise about it up above, but I'm basing all of this on merely THREE episodes. I have to keep my bar raised high since it is only the beginning and it could all spiral down from this point on as more episodes pass, so for now...