And you were wondering, why Chihayafuru is not being blogged on Metanorn? Well, better late than never!
|The fluffy shoujo stuff gets me every time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Yeah, I have to admit that I was one of the people going “card games? Lolwut? ” on the Fall Preview and I kept that stance on the show for the longest time despite hearing great things about it… That is, until Kyo said I should watch it. So yeah, here I am now and I LOVE IT~.|
|I had more than positive things to say even when most people were dissing about it on our Fall preview. I stand corrected and can easily say that Chihayafuru has maintained its quality and that feel of OH, I’M SO GONNA GET IT to FABULOUS MAX. If you were scared about it being about Karuta, it IS but it’s SO MUCH MORE. Just read through this quickie catch up summary prepared by Kara and I, to find out why!|
|Episode Two: Continuing from the first episode, the story is still in flashback mode and everyone is ignoring Chihaya because she talks to Arata. However, while arguing with Taichi, Chihaya tells everyone that Arata can beat them all at karuta. So the class (mainly Taichi) makes a bet that if one card is taken from Arata in the karuta tournament the next day, then the whole class will ignore him until graduation. …Was elementary school always this immature? Anyways, the next day, Taichi does pretty well, but Arata’s match in the tournament is amazing because none of his opponents can get a single card. Taichi gets worried that Arata is going to beat him in the finals, so he steals his glasses. However, Arata still manages to overpower Taichi, so then Taichi starts changing the cards around, messing up Arata’s memorization of them. This pretty painful to watch until Chihaya asks to replace Arata in the tournament, where she beats Taichi with the Chihaya card (you can sooo tell that this is going to become a pattern). So Chihaya becomes the 6th grade karuta champion, but when she tries to tell her mother the great news over the phone, her mother doesn’t really care since a scouting agent is at the house for her sister. At the same time, Taichi’s mother says that he’s never allowed to play in a Kurata tournament EVER AGAIN since he lost a tournament ONCE. Lol Japanese parents. So Taichi finally apologises, gives Arata back his glasses and Chihaya decides that she wants to become the best karuta female player in Japan/the world.|
|Episode Three: Arata, Chihaya and Taichi all go to a karuta society to see how pros play. They’re instantly impressed (or at least Chihaya is) by how serious everyone is. The leader of the society welcomes them happily with tears since karuta isn’t that popular with kids and has them play a team match with some other younger members. Arata forms a strategy based on their strengths, but when they play, it looks like Arata is just taking everything by himself and not trusting them. However, as the game goes on it turns out that he IS trusting them and they win. So they have fun times together for a while until it turns out that Taichi is going to an elite middle school elsewhere and that Arata need to go back to his hometown because his grandfather is really ill. Chihaya gets depressed and gives up on karuta until the day of the tournament, where Taichi and Arata send her a shirt with their team name on it (though the matches are one on one). She makes it just on time, but none of them win the trophy. They have a good cry over all of them separating after graduation, but in the end, they all agree that they’ll meet again as long as they continue to play karuta.|
|Episode Four: The flashbacks finally end this episode and it’s back to grown up Chihaya and Taichi on the train. Chihaya meets Taichi’s girlfriend (oho, was that jealousy I detected?) and says that if she makes A class (there are levels to karuta playing and from what I gather, you move up a class if you win a tournament type thing) on Friday, then Taichi has to help her make a karuta club. On the actual day, Taichi does go disguised to watch Chihaya and the doctor recognises him right away. Taichi admits that he stopped karuta because he realised that he could never beat Arata. So Chihaya make it to the finals and plays against some guy who’s failed the A class a bunch of times before. The game is pretty even, but Chihaya looks like she really has fun and then she wins by claiming her trademark Chihayafuru card. Afterwards, Chihaya hugs Taichi and says to create the club with her. She also phones Arata to tell him that she made A class, but when he picks up the phone, he tells her not to call him again and that he gave up on karuta. Le gasp! Your turn, Kyo.|
|Episode Five: Oh helllll yeah, Kara. This was the episode I had been most looking forward to because it’s where Arata’s older self is finally revealed. I literally had goosebumps on his Fukui accent (I swear I was going to write Fuyuki~ xD), declaring his early retirement from a game, which was his lifeblood since childhood. No wonder that Chihaya decided to visit him with Taichi to find out what the hell happened. I love the fact that she has enough spunk to stand against all odds for what she believes in. Even if Arata lost his enthusiasm over Karuta because of an unfortunate accident involving his grandfather, she’s there to urge him on and continue with it because it’s after all what his grandfather always wanted, being a legendary player himself. The emotional turmoil between Taichi and Arata was more than apparent and the tension when Arata simply rejected Karuta was almost nail-biting. But over everything, Chihaya’s enthusiasm shown through making their friendship come alive again with the zeal of Karuta-love that the trio shares, even if two of them left it for a while. The tear-stained face of Arata and the almost plastered forms of Taichi and Chihaya were a perfect proof of their never ceasing bond.|
|Episode Six: It’s the oba-san loli’s turn to show up as Chihaya and Taichi prepare to tidy up the club room with the addition of tatami mats and get all srs bsns about playing. The loli in question, Kanade Oe is a girl a bit behind times in taste, whose sole reason of joining the Archery Club was to wear a hakama. Her family runs a traditional clothing shop and her tradition-loving heart can’t take the love lost due to decreasing leads of rich kimonos. Of course, that’s nowhere related to Karuta but you got to know where she comes from. She knows and loves the Karuta poems; all damn 100 of them! And that is where she will be more than useful to their budding Karuta club because even if Chihaya is super enthusiastic about the game, she doesn’t know much of the ‘meaning’ behind it. After trailing Kanade from school to even her family shop, Chihaya not only learns about Chihayaburu being the card of ‘never ending love’, but she also scores Kana-chan as a member. This time it’s not just Chihaya’s enthusiasm that wins over, rather it’s a trade with Kana-chan extorting a bunch of modeling pictures for the Oe Kimono collection. Feisty, this little one and yeah, I will ignore all the yuri-vibes between these two! Zettai yada!|
|Episode Seven: After the last episode, you already know how things are moving, towards the completion of Karuta club of course! The next one on the Chihaya-scope is none other than the second smartest kid in their school after Taichi: Desk-kun. He’s an overzealous student, who LOVES to study (srsly, there’s something wrong with his head). He does homework like a lovestruck puppy, making adorable megane-shouta faces; though, he’s no Arata rest assured. Chihaya literally kidnaps him along with his desk and bates him with the fact that Karuta improves one’s memory and thus helps in studying. Desk-kun takes the bate but adds his own spin to it, challenging her to play a game with cards upside down because it’s a memory game after all. For the first time, we see Taichi’s true urge to win against Chihaya, using his natural talent of memory (he definitely has a brain if he’s first in everything). I actually liked the fact that he used his strengths to change around the card positions and finally became serious rather than half-assing Karuta just because he’s afraid of Arata’s shadow. He became a true mentor for Desk-kun, who challenged him to come out of his ‘desk-shield’ and actually do something worthwhile for himself rather than others. Yep, another member scored.|
|Episode Eight: Behold the fifth contender and the one who will complete the formation of the Karuta club: Porky-kun! Unlike the new members of the Karuta club, Nishida is actually an old acquaintance as he played against their Team Chihaya Furu when they were little noobs (not Arata though). He quit playing because Arata seemed one mean-Karuta-playing-machine and like Taichi he had the same demotivation of not being able to measure up to the ‘God of Karuta’ as Chihaya puts it. After that resounding defeat, which even scares him sometimes, he joined the Tennis Club in middle school, ending up in the same club in high school as well. But of course, Chihaya won’t have his excuses and spies his game being a replay of Karuta syllables. He’s simply substituting with Tennis, which is challenged by Taichi for a game with Chihaya. And as we expected, Chihaya shows the training she has been going through to achieve A rank at the Karuta she has come to love. The match is again breath-taking and even if you don’t know much about the rules, you are glued to the screen for every little movement and development. My rapt attention didn’t waver like Kana-chan and Desk-kun, the trainees of Taichi. The win was literally giri-giri-safe but it was enough to inflame Nishida, who officially joined to complete the Karuta Club.|
|Episode Nine: Thanks to Nishida joining the karuta club, the club is now official. Taichi becomes club president and Chihaya declares herself the team captain. The three karuta senpai teach Kana and Tsutomu to play, and Chihaya shows them no mercy since her first match with Arata was intense and that made her enjoy the game more. Since Chihaya wants the team to go to the nationals, they decide to set up a karuta camp since there’s a long weekend. Their place to train? Taichi’s house. However, unlike other anime about clubs that go to camp to train (coughkoncough), they actually train. After a long montage of karuta, Taichi forces Chihaya to stop being a slave driver and then Taichi’s mother comes home (and unlike most Japanese parents in anime, she actually cares if Taichi has girls stay overnight), so Chihaya takes Kana to her place. Chihaya later feels guilty about overworking Kana and Tsutomu and then suddenly Kana gets up and drags Chihaya to a meeting spot where the rest of the members are waiting. Chihaya apologises , but it turns out that they don’t mind her hardworking attitude and then they wish her a happy 16th birthday. They all have fun and then Taichi gets a text. Chihaya offers him food and he eats it right off of her spoon (KANSETSU KISU) …and then Chihaya reads the text, (which is Arata wishing her a happy birthday) and she calls this the best birthday ever.|
Chihaya GETS, what she WANTS!
Oh Taichi, I hope you grow up to be better than a coward…
The cool dude, who overshadows all. Notice the red tinge of the sun, what does it tell you? :3
Public Service Message: If you have such urges, please get yourself admitted to the nearest psychiatric hospital.
Harada sensei: “Aaah, Keiji mayu, all grown up~” Taichi: “Gerrofff meee!”
FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU– Taichi, leave your house now. Your mother will kill your self-esteem!
Kana-chan: “Chihaya, let’s elope!” Me: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Taichi: “BADUMMPPCHHH” Chihaya: “Holy shit! Arata and Taichi are sexting! *A*”
Manga comparison #1: Arata isn’t portrayed THAT poor, you know! He doesn’t have an old phone!
Manga comparison #2: One of the best scenes, full of raw emotions.
Let the DAAAAAAAAAWWWness ensue~
Holy crud, this took SO LONG but as it’s so brilliant, we were willing to go an extra mile. I have sung its praises before but Madhouse has finally delivered this season after those AHO-DA-NE~ Marvel mashups. I’m not a very big fan of sports anime but this one goes beyond the genre and has a nice blend of shoujo and drama thrown in. I guess, I’ll always have a soft spot for Josei.
Don’t get me started on the pairing because even if I always skewed towards Arata because he’s the silent, serious type; not to mention, a bishie megane-kun. My heart was set on supporting him since the beginning, while I felt mildly felt annoyed with Taichi’s shenanigans. However, his character is what has grown the most throughout the series and now I’m not really sure. From a kid being bullied by his mom over perfect scores, he started off with ganging up and bullying Arata but then later on when he too experienced the fun of Karuta, he joined hands with him. Of course, he must have done it to keep a close eye on Chihaya, who had captured his heart from a time unknown. But kids that age don’t think much about such serious stuff, it’s the teenage years when hormones go all haywire and they become a bundle of confusion. Looking at his current direction, you can cuss at him for two-timing his girlfriend. I’m not sure if he even has a girlfriend now that he’s reunited with his childhood sweetheart. Even if he knows that he will never be as good as Arata, he’s willing to take a chance and go for what feels right to him. It will definitely take time but he seems serious and when he’s not half-assing stuff, he is actually good.
Interestingly, having the least screen-time, Arata overshadows the plot like a mysterious god. Even if the god fell for some time, he’s back on his feet with Chihaya’s urging. Will they meet up in the near future in some tournament? When will Taichi get his A rank certificate because by the record, Arata and Chihaya already have one. The whole grandfather excuse seemed lukewarm to me but I’m glad he got out of the feeling soon enough. He won’t be moving back to the city anytime soon but I can’t wait to see him back on screen and maybe meeting up his friends because he does miss them. From the manga raws I’ve checked out, don’t expect too much of his appearance and contain your heart beats.
Now coming to Chihaya, the girl with the CAN-DO attitude. I love it! I like anime which portrays female leads to be more than just cleavage or a decoration item for the main protagonist. Of course, it’s not the real world, but everyone needs a protagonist they can identify with rather than facepalming on the choices taken. That reminds me… What the hell is wrong with you, Chihaya! Stop being a dumbass and give some respect to your members! Aah well, she’s Chihaya and I know even if she calls him Porky, she doesn’t mean it in the literal/bitchy sense because I think everyone knows how true hearted she is? Seeing most of you nod gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. She’s clueless about Taichi’s feelings for sure and even if she idolizes Arata, the emotions to her aren’t bordering on like like. She just doesn’t know and like any other Josei/shoujo you’ll have to wait for her to realize it for any kind of development.
Okay guys, Arata or Taichi? Though is there any competition? Megane always win. I have to admit that Taichi isn’t SO bad now that he’s grown up, but man did I ever want to smack the kid back in the first couple episodes. Poor Arata. Though now the tables have turned since Arata keeps interrupting Taichi (god knows what even happened to Taichi’s girlfriend). I have to say that this show has one of the best love triangles going on that I’ve seen in a while. In fact, I’m my opinion on which one Chihaya should go with keeps swaying (where normally, I’m pretty clear with which guy I like more).
Both of the guys have their own pros and cons to them. …Though Arata seems to have the upper hand at the moment and he’s not even there. AS for Chihaya, she’s a pretty strong lead and an appealing character. I like the fact that she’s not timid.…Back to the karuta part. Umm… I have nothing much to say really about karuta. I understand the gist of it, but I’m sure that I’m missing a ton of information about how this is played. If anything though, this anime is excellent on informing people about something pretty obscure (well, obscure here. I’m not sure about Japan, but if the anime is anything to go by, it’s obscure there too), and create an interesting setting around it. I don’t think karuta is anything that will be popular in North America anytime soon, but it’s nice to know a bit more about Japanese culture.Another thing that’s great about Chihayafuru is that Chihaya actually loses. …Or at least she’s lost a couple times on and off camera.
I’m not saying that Chihaya’s superhuman hearing is all that realistic, but it’s a hell of a lot more realistic than say, Saki (where girls have the ability to become invisible by playing mahjong and another character suddenly plays better when she’s suffocating a stuffed penguin with her boobs). Though the character’s luck with drawing the right tiles in Saki and Chihaya constantly winning with the Chihaya card are on the same level of being too convenient. But if it was 100% realistic, then this would probably be a lot less interesting. Anyways, it will be interesting to see how far Chihaya gets in actual tournaments before she loses. It has to happen eventually, right?
Preview: Nothing! But we can guess that the big tournament they have been practicing will come to fruition. Everyone will wear a hakama and you can guess the print on Chihaya’s kimono. So, till next time, ja ne~