Chihayafuru – anime review

posted in: Anime Review, Featured | 16

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I recently watched a very nice anime called Chiayafuru, in which I got interested in after I’ve seen a screencap of it. Without further ado I took a first look at it. Chiayafuru was produced by Madhouse Studios and VAP and the anime aired from 5th October 2011 till 28th March 2012.

As you might hear it has an awesome opening “Youthful” performed by 99RadioService, not only has it a nice fresh sound, even the lyrics are lovely and captures the theme from the anime.

The story centers about Chihaya and the adventures of her high school life when she finds herself drawn to the traditional japanese game Karuta. It’s an action orientated kind of memory game for two players. A third person reads the poem out loud and then the players have to identify the poem on the cards which are placed in front of them by it’s first few words and grabs it before the opponent does. There are certain rules to it, but I won’t emberrass myself and go into detail about it, because I actually haven’t really understand it myself that well.

Karuta is a fascinating yet weird game, especially if you never seen it before, I found it rather rude how these poem cards were thrown around, but you should see it for yourself.

The Chihayafuru anime pays attention to present the karuta game as accurate as possible.

Chihaya is the charming heroine of this show, she is a cheerful, straight forward girl. She is not exceptional good at anything. In the anime it is often said that she is an airhead, but that actually isn’t the case, she’s just a bit different overall. As kid Chihaya dreamed that her sister who works as a model becomes a well known international top model. But soon she realizes that pursuing another ones dreams is wrong and she starts to find her own. Her whole family seems to be focused on her big sisters carreer and forgetting about the second daughter, throughout the show I felt sorry for Chihaya that no one in her family seems to care about her.

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After a a few impressions from her present life, the story takes the viewer back to Chihaya’s elementary school past where she met her first friends Taichi and Arata and how she found interest in playing Karuta with them. The backflash episodes were directed very well with a deep atmosphere I actually got addicted to the anime quite quick because of the great introduction.

After that first arc we are back to Chihaya’s Highschool life, where she wants to form a Karuta club. Her first member is the childhood friend Taichi who she haven’t seen for a long time. Their other friend Arata moved away and plays no bigger role for once. After acquiring a room the Karuta club is starting to recruit new members and the build up part of Chihayafuru continues.

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Getting new members for a niche thing like karuta turns out extremely difficult and so Chihaya’s way of recruiting members is not very sensitive. Ones she grabs one with a slightly interest in karuta she drags them all the way to the clubroom. She exceptional rough with the male candidates and gives them strange names. After the very well directed intro episodes intro episodes these new character introducing episodes were another great part of this anime. As new memers, Kanade, Tsotuma and Nishida join the ambitious karuta club. I might be a bit biased because of her enchanting femininity, but I liked Kanade the most out of these three

Kanade is a fan of traditional Japanese literature and clothes, she loves karuta poems for the thing they are and not to play a game. Actually most of the players don’t give a damn of this old poems. Kanade joins the karuta club after she made Chihaya accept certain conditions.

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After hard weeks of practice, the karuta club takes part in their first national matches and don’t perform that badly for their first time, they even gained a trophy for their achievements.

It’s nice to see how passionate Chihaya is pursuing her dream to become a good and popular karuta player, but after a lot of progress in her game and several wins of matches, Chihaya and her friends from the karuta club, they also get in contact with the taste of defeat, as they face superior players, it comes to light that talent and passion aren’t enough anymore.

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Since karuta is a niche sport in Japan and is also portrayed like that in this show, Chihayafuru can be partially considered as emotional sports anime, like Ookiku Furikabutte or Bamboo Blade, but on the bottom line it has more to offer like, a good balance of story, drama, comedy and character development. I enjoyed to follow Chihaya and the other characters in this show.

The animation style of Chihayafuru is very fluid and appealing, it has the look of these heavily saturated, sparkly and fluffy shoujo mangas where the characters have glossy eyes and strong blush marks on the cheeks. It strongly reminded me of the the previously mentioned Ookiku Furikabutte, Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama! and also Kimi ni Todoke.

Chihayafuru is a very enjoyable and interesting 25 episode long anime, when watching it I couldn’t get enough of it. It is a kind of Josei anime, which means that it is ought for older girls, but I would think it is watchable for both genders since it is not actually girly. And even when you are not the friend of sport related anime  in general, Chihayafuru could be something for you, since the anime does a very good job in portaying it’s characters and in presenting nice and detailed character interactions aside from the thrilling matches.

The second season of Chihayafuru started recently, so maybe this would be the right time to give the first season of this very nice anime a try. In case you haven’t already done that.

16 Responses

  1. Zai

    I love, love, love Chihayafuru.. I think I nearly cried when I found out there would be a second season. The music is gorgeous, the animation beautiful and I love the characters. I started out not liking Taichi much since he seemed like a little shithead, lol.. I think I might be rooting for him over Arata now though.

    • wieselhead

      I’ve fallen for it after hearing the opening of this show, the whole anime was a nice experience for me.
      Taichi is a little meanie and quite selfish, he already was like that as he was a kid.
      For some reason I can’t really dislike him nevertheless. Arata is kind of plain in season 1

  2. Nopy

    I keep hearing a lot about Chihayafuru, it sounds a lot like Hikaru no Go in terms of atmosphere and suspense. I guess I’ll have to find some time to watch it one day, maybe when the second season is over.

    • wieselhead

      I heard not much about it until Hoshiko mentioned it, hehe and I don’t know Hikaru no Go.
      Since Im only watching a few shows from this anime season I could finish Chihayafuru very quick.

  3. Fabrice

    I am still half way through this first season series and honestly, I don’t know how to put it. The cinematography of this show is just amazing! while the characters are developed and lovable. The story, while often predictable, is still exciting and endearing. There wasn’t a single episode so far that I didn’t enjoy. I hope it continues but as I mentioned this will surely turn out to be a masterpiece, also thank the lord I know there is a second season haha!

    • wieselhead

      I never really know how to put it, therefore writing anime reviews takes soo long for me 🙂
      Oh halfway already do you remember when you started it? It’s a very charming show and has everything a very good anime needs.
      Im also a big fan of the opening song. Good that the shoe continued, otherwise it would have been very sad.

  4. feal87

    *cries* I really need to complete watching the first season of this. They all talk greatly of this series, but I never found the time to complete it…:D

    • wieselhead

      Have you watched it on a weekly basis back then?
      It is a great show, definetively very charming overall.
      Hurry! … Hurry!

  5. Kai

    Chihayafuru is a pleasant surprise. At first, an anime about playing cards and reciting poems put me off. But the anime managed to pull it off in a way that even non followers of karuta would be able to thoroughly enjoy it. Ample amount of introductions to the game are made earlier in the anime, and together with it, we see how Chihaya discover it. The game itself is incredibly intense. It’s a mental “sport” in a way, One need a huge mental strength to maintain a great amount of focus in a lengthy period.

    I haven’t watch the second season too myself, probably going to wait a bit more before duking out all of them in one go ;p

    • wieselhead

      I didn’t even knew what Chihayafuru would really be about as I started it.
      I liked that there was this longer intro part about their childhood.
      Karuta looks interesting, but I found it a bit rude how they were throwing the cards around.

      Im only watching a handful of shows this season so far, maybe I will add Chihayafuru S2 very soon.

  6. hoshiko

    It’s always good to know that there’s another person out there who enjoys Chihayafuru. Nothing makes me happier than that. =)

    I like that the series started with explaining who Chihaya came to love karuta. It makes it easier for me to understand her passion towards karuta better and see from her perspective at an early stage. It’s definitely a bonus that all members are likeable. Actually, all characters are likeable although some may be annoying but still acceptable.

    I still have not started with the second season yet. I’m waiting for it to complete first. Chihayafuru is not the kind of series I can wait weekly for. It’ll make me to anxious. >.<

    • wieselhead

      Hehe funny that I chose this show because of a mere screenshot 😀
      Chihayafuru was really nice to watch, the introduction was so memorable, I still think that karuta is strange, though.

      I prefer to watch shows as a whole in general, a main reason is that a few shows don’t work for me when I watch it on a weekly basis.
      Im not sure if I can withstand to look at the new episodes for much longer.

      • Xine

        Karuta is indeed strange since I don’t understand it ^^; I might give Chihayafuru a try because I’m curious and you seem to really like it. ^^

        • wieselhead

          Don’t worry while watching you’ll learn how it goes, aside from that I just saw it as sport without thinking too much about it ^o^
          It’s good that the sport itself isn’t too much in the focus of that show overall. Thx for trusting me, but others also liked it.

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