Anime: Chihayafuru


Watching an anime based on a little known Japanese game is difficult, especially when the game deals with 100 famous Japanese poems. Having never played the games or heard the poems, I think a lot of meaning and subtext is lost. Still Chihayafuru does a good job of balancing game time with all the different relationships going on in the show. For me, Mashima Taichi stood out among the rest. I fell in love with his character and how he changed throughout the series. The other character that I feel deserves mention is Ooe Kanade. She is the epitome of a Japanese lady and I love how she was portrayed, always provided the meanings of the poems, describing the history behind them and really giving them life.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch this anime when it first came out, it seemed like one of your usual shoujo animes and the summary for it was really misleading. However, after the first episode I decided to marathon it. The pacing of the show, especially at the beginning where it flits from childhood to teenage years, draws you in. To be honest, there’s nothing particularly special about the plot. It was definitely an interesting “sport” to choose to use, but as in all sports anime, there was the usual progression of key plot points. Of course with the addition of friends being separated, there was some good drama and hints at romance, but nothing really to classify this anime as josei (the reason for this eludes me). The characters with the exception of the two I already mentioned are your typical run-of-the-mill.

I guess it is hard for Chihayafuru to stand out in the sports anime genre, there are already classics like Hikaru no Go that have set the standard. Also Karuta (which is the game they play) isn’t very psychological, there aren’t any mind games being played. No doubt Chihaya (the main character) is still learning the game, but she tends to depend on speed and hearing more than strategy. Which is a shame if you think about it, because mind games always make for more interesting competition.

In summary, Chihayafuru is average. You will definitely learn a good deal about Japanese culture from it. Karuta is a pretty interesting game which I never knew existed until this anime. The animation was good, the music was good, the plot was okay and the characters developed quite nicely. There feels like there should be a second season, the manga has progressed quite a bit beyond the anime. Perhaps the studio was testing waters with this first season, but it felt incomplete. Something was lacking in the show, which I’m not sure a 2nd season would remedy, but not bad for an anime based on a card game.

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  1. […] For someone who really enjoys learning more about Japanese culture and has a morbid fascination with the supernatural and fantastical, this book is perfect. It details about 50 different Yokai’s information and history, adding in some defensive measures as a bonus. It’s was a joy to read, informative but also very entertaining. There were many mentions about the Gazu Hyakki Yako – The Illustrated  Night Parade of 100 Demons which was the basis of Nurarihyon No Mago. Also there were many mentions of Karuta cards, which I was familiar with due to the anime Chihayafuru. […]



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