First Impressions – Chihayafuru 2

It’s baaaaack! And with it, the Kara no Kyokai tag.

Chihayafuru! Chihayafuru! The first season was nothing short of fabulous and I don’t think it ever really lost momentum, so I expect nothing less from season 2. It’s nice being able to have high expectations for an anime and having it actually meet them. Anyways, Kyo and I are back blogging this, of course, so let’s hear the boss lady’s thoughts before we move on.

Oh hai thar, my favourite show of this season. I’ve missed you a lot and SO GLAD that Madhouse picked it up for season two as I heard about the DVD Sales not doing too good (though, my suspicion is that they were early numbers). Anyways, it’s back and let’s not delay this review any further as I tag along with Kara.

 

On the Return 

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Chihaya, “I motion to pass a 48hour long Karuta match!”   The rest, “EEEEEHHHHH!!!”

From the Chihayafuru letters, sakura petals to the ending scroll theme (yep, they definitely stuck to the same 99RadioService for OP and Asami Seto for ED), it felt as if I was talking to a close friend yet again. If someone marathons season one with the first episode of S2, the only difference they would see is the change of OP and ED. Everything is exactly the way we left it and as glorious. Now I know this is not the most perfect looking anime like a KyoAni or Ufotable production but Madhouse knows their stuff and even if they do use static images sometimes, it’s for an effect or added pun/comedy. Overall, no decrease of quality and the cast of Mizusawa Karuta club are all back as usual.

Now our Nikuman-kun doesn’t even flinch when’s called that (by everyone!), Desk-kun has mellowed down into a cute oldman (he’s so young but has a clever ojisan quality to him), Kana-chan is ferocious as usual (oh her brilliant schemes!), Taichi has decented up even more (if it was even possible… This is Mamoru Miyano’s only role this season so fangirls, you better be watching!), and our main heroine is as energetic as ever. Though, they face their own brand of problems.

A Divided Karuta Club

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Taichi, “I look so cool yo!”   Desk-kun, “I’m always the smallest… Oh god, why have you forsaken me! T_T”

It’s the start of the new season! And what do they give us? …Karuta themed drama. The team has always had different goals, and it usually works well for the team since they’re not always direct rivals. However, with the new development with training the newbies, things aren’t going so well. For one, Chihaya is just too dense to figure out that 99% of them are just there because the existing members are good looking and another reason is because she wants to do absolutely everything. Yes, that’s why we love her, but at the same time, her best traits are showing themselves to be hindrances. I think Kana would have been the best choice for training since her strict sensei act is definitely needed to bring the raging Taichi fangirls under control. If they aren’t actually interested in Karuta, they should get the hell out of the club and go take up space elsewhere. Seriously. Anyways, with Taichi’s goal of A class continuing on, and him seriously preparing for it, maybe someone from the Karuta club will actually accomplish something during this time of discord.

Chihaya’s Awesomeness

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Now, this is more like it! Give me a strong female lead with a good head on her shoulders, who’d rather think about what she wants to do when she grows up than fishing for superfluous status of getting the hottest guy in school. Yes, I know, this is anime and not RL but type-casting in anime has been going through a motion of change and I’m glad to get Chihaya as a main heroine. Sure, she’s an airhead and doesn’t get love-troubles at all but she has an actual life goal and has done everything possible to reach towards it. The try again and again really does work and the reality check flags (like not winning the match to appear on the next queen match), is refreshing. Random fact, look at Asami Seto, how she has grown through the years? Her first image was in a uniform when she voiced her first role in Houro Musuko but now. So, Chihaya!

Kara has touched upon the different goals of the original Karuta club. Chihaya wanting to do EVERYTHING like Taichi making A-class, teaching the new kids and winning all the upcoming tournaments sound IMPOSSIBLE at this point until everyone take their respective roles seriously but that is exactly how she is. Practicing speedy swipe motion till her arm falls off or falling sick herself, memorizing all the poems and even getting in the groove of hearing the reciter’s specific word lilting to identify the first syllables before others… That’s our Chihaya and I love her for it. I believe in not half-assing anything and that is what exactly she does. Now, it would be pretty interesting to see how others keep up with her but damn, she has the ability to inspire alright.

Annoying Fangirls in the Future?

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Sumire, “I’M GONNA GETCHA GOOOOOOD~”

If you couldn’t pick up from my paragraph above, the new development isn’t exactly my favourite. Sumire might become something more and the slit eyes guy gets an automatic pass from me because he reminds me of Suou, but the rest of the 20 new members just seem like extra baggage for the club. I don’t share Chihaya’s optimism that they’ll fall in love with Karuta and I’m betting on something more along the lines of them seeing how Karuta actually is, thinking it’s too scary/too much work and the majority leaving. Judging from the OP, only the two people I mentioned actually stay with the club. …Or maybe it’s just that they’re the only ones note worthy enough to participate on the trips. Sumire is definitely just a Taichi fangirl at the moment, but since they gave her character so much screentime and delved into her thoughts, she’ll probably be one of the people who stay. With her reaction to the poem, she seems like she might have something to hold her to Karuta other than Taichi (when she inevitably realizes the expanse of his feelings for Arata Chihaya and moves on with her life). She definitely annoys me at this point, but I can see her moving beyond that into becoming an inspiring character. Her perseverance is admirable at least.

Fun with Chi~

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Kana, “Dance my little puppets, DANCE!”

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Chihaya, “Taichi, is this a dream?!”           Taichi, “Stop drooling and accept their forms!”

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Sumire, doing a Sadako. Kowe!

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Taichi’s obligatory broody shot of this week

The new characters were… interesting, but the old cast was great as always. Hell, this entire series has been great and the first episode here was no exception~. We already have Karuta problems (and a few non-Karuta related problems), the main characters all had a seamless re-introduction and we already know what’s on their minds for the future. Sounds like a pretty good set up to me. Kyo touched on the topic above, but the production was really great as well. Of course, from last season, we saw what Madhouse could do, but it’s comforting to know that they’re putting the same (if not more) effort into it. Not that I expected them to slack off, but imagine if they did. …Anyways, between 99RadioService, Seto Asami, and Madhouse, things are looking (and sounding great). I’m excited for things ahead and I’m really looking forward to watching Chihaya enter a new tournament and seeing what Arata is up to these days. Taichi has his A Class matches coming up too. So lots of good things in the future, let’s just see the club get over the problems they’re having now.

Aww man, I can go on and on about how awesome this is. I know, not everyone will share my enthusiasm, maybe turned off by the sports or josei genre but you really don’t have to be a fan of any of these genres to enjoy this because it’s all about human emotions. How they are the driving force behind our actions. Taichi has definitely grown up to be a better guy and a better player, I’m rooting for him to make it A-class soon! Also, Kana-chan needs to be given a medal for playing the matronly yet strict headmistress amazingly (the way she clapped her hand to say, “Listen to your senpai bitches!” was awe-inspiring. I missed Arata but we’ll be seeing him soon enough too I guess. Sumire’s addition was needed as I can see (adding spice to the romantic dorama), and the slit-eyed guy voiced by Miyu Irino would be playing a major role as well. I’m looking forward to some old opponent faces along with Shinobu and Suo down the line.

For Mizusawa Karuta club and its new members, it’s going to be a long road of hardship (read practice and training). And even if the original members have some differences, there’s nothing they can’t resolve among them. The power of bonding and nakama will win. Yep, I so believe! Anyways, how has your experience been with Chihayafuru and what you are looking forward to the most in next episode except for that impending confession?

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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17 Responses to “First Impressions – Chihayafuru 2”

  1. Justin says:

    Um…I’m pretty sure S2 basically picked up right where S1 left off. As soon as they had the shot of the Mizusawa team practicing and swiping cards, basically nothing has changed — and I don’t see why that’s a bad thing :)

    Obviously, the romance angle is one that seems to have garnered the most discussion since that was an element mostly left to the sideline as karuta dominated S1. I would side with Kyokai in that Sumire’s addition was something of a good change of pace, and I feel that didn’t affect the episode at all for me, mainly because of what happened at the end — sure, Sumire’s gonna make another attempt to get Taichi to like her, but I think it’ll still be romance < karuta.

    I think the most important thing I'm looking forward to in Ep 2 is determining who will stay in the club. Needless to say, not all of the first years that joined will stay in the club. My guess is there will be the 2 that stuck out like a sore thumb (Sumire and the only guy that joined), and maybe 2 others we don't quite know of yet. Otherwise, we'll probably also see Taichi showing how serious he is about karuta to Sumire and Sumire potentially questioning whether or not to search for someone else to love.

    • Kyokai says:

      I forgot that the one year gap they talked about from tournament was shown in S1 last episode or not but that was not critic, rather how it was so good that the tempo and timeline both were constant. :)

      I think without the RomCom addition, Chihayafuru would be pretty dull so I’m happy whenever these elements come to play and I agree with the conclusion of karuta > romance still. Sumire and slit-eyed dude will definitely be staying but how the team goes about discarding the extra baggage would be interesting. They can’t kick out everyone (Chihaya wants to teach them), but at least on tournament basis the two highlighted would definitely be participating.

  2. Jrow says:

    The new theme songs are good. I like this season’s ED much better than last; the Asami Seto track is more enjoyable this round and there’s actually something to look at in the ending instead of flowers.

    Chihaya is getting more hysterical as her love for Karuta deepens, though as Kara mentioned we still love her for it, although… why Taichi gave the microphone to her was a mistake. That was a scene I kinda cringed for Taichi and the others because the meeting had gone just fine until then. And then she trains the newbies in a way that would only scare them off rather than keep them in. Ease them in, Chihaya… no need to rush or explain jargon to them.

    Nice stuff, KnK. Should be another fun season. :)

    • Kyokai says:

      I agree on the ED. I always like a good follow up for season 2 and even if the new OP is not as addictive as Youthful, it’s still fine.

      I think Chihaya’s problem is with her airheadedness really. She thinks everyone loves Karuta just like her but it’s not the case. She’s breaking in the n00bs like an army Major rather than a tender teacher. Definitely need to slow down and I hope the rest can give her some sense. ><

      And thanks for the compliment! xD

  3. Highway says:

    I’m still watching season one, at about Episode 20 (the episode where Chihaya skipped out on studying with Desktomu and Nishida to root for Taichi). I like the show overall (but still not getting why so many people thought it was the awesomest show last year), but find that my tolerance for Chihaya’s outright idiocy wanes pretty quickly. It’s like everyone else in the show is figuring out what they’re doing, and improving, and Chihaya just regresses. She *says* a lot of things that she needs to do, but seems to always just end up hyperventilating her way to failure.

    Hopefully I’ll catch up this weekend and start on S2.

    • I had the same feeling as you, now that I’ve just recently completed all 25 episodes of season 1. Took me about 3/4 days to watch it at one go, excluding all the breaks and the parts in-between. Skipped the OP and ED to get to the story much quicker.

      I’m a bit worried of S2 (mainly due to the newcomers and their different attitudes from the main cast…may be polarizing to put it short) but I believe that the producers working on it will find a way to make the rough edges smoother in the adaptation.

      • Highway says:

        I really like the Season 1 OP song. It’s a great rock tune that fits the singer well. So I usually don’t skip that. The ED, to me, is as boring as anything, tho. And the fact that there’s almost never anything after the ED means I skip it completely.

        One other note on Chihayafuru: It’s a show that I definitely know when it’s supposed to be over. It doesn’t give me that feeling of suspending time, surprising me when the show ends. I’m ready for the end of every episode with this show.

      • Kyokai says:

        @Highway, Chihayafuru is definitely not the best show of 2012 but one of the good ones for sure (don’t believe on APR that much).

        About Chihaya, I’d rather have her fail in some matches than winning in everything (that whole shounen theme that most of the anime-watchers are used to). The thing you have to understand is that she is not perfect and has actual flaws. She’s SUPER obsessed with Karuta but still learning it and is nowhere near expert level. She definitely possesses some innate ability (like her hearing of first syllables), but she has to hone them more to win them all. The reason I admire her more is just because she picks herself again and tries again.

        @Reverse Vampire, I think the curve-ball of new characters was added to spice things up. I’d say the staff has been very faithful to the manga till now so I don’t see any reason of them deviating. Though, even when I don’t like Sumire personally, in the long run I see her trying hard in becoming a good player (just so she could become an admirable woman in Taichi’s eyes). I’m also curious on how Arata would come into play again as I want to see the old trio reunite in season two for sure.

        • Highway says:

          Well, in season one, it’s seems less like she fails in some matches than that she fails in *all* the matches, at least in the second half of the show. And does it in worse and worse ways. Like I said, it seems like she spends the whole second half of the first season regressing: grades failing, losing matches because she can’t focus, or can’t stop hyperventilating, or she spends too much time just watching her opponent. So far the show’s been about how everyone but the title character has personal growth. It just makes the show somewhat frustrating, because you invest in this character, and then they keep screwing up.

  4. T.K. says:

    Marathon-ed season 1 last week, turned out better than I expected and despite being the first episode of season 2, someone already got friendzoned, jeez this show doesn’t joke around. Visual wise, incredibly crisp, although I finished S1 in 360p, not worthy of comparisons.

    Anyway, hoping S2 is as good and that we’ll get at least some form of closure since the manga is still ongoing.

    • Kyokai says:

      Chihayafuru is a dark horse indeed and I’m glad you caught up!

      Always remember, in this world, Karuta > romance. See how Arata struggled with Chihaya (that phone number thing >>;), and how she’s still nonplussed by some hints that Taichi sends her way. Will this ever be resolved? Who knows! But I’m in to find out and enjoy a game that I never knew about. Now that is an achievement.

      Also, quality of S1 was great too so if you plan to save it, DL the 720/1080p versions. For reference, the scene where Kana explains the Chihayafuru card looked awesomeoferric on HD (those colours and leaves!).

  5. Joojoobees says:

    Kara sez: “She definitely annoys me at this point, but I can see her moving beyond that into becoming an inspiring character.”

    If they can pull that off a second time it will be pretty impressive. Taichi’s transformation from kid I most wanted to punch in the face to not only likable, but admirable was a highlight of season 1.

    Kyo gushes: “awesomeoferric”

    I set the abstract shot of the kimono as my desktop wallpaper as soon as I saw that scene, and just changed it last week, because I wanted something more wintery. I really like the look of the show, but I like the way the characters develop even more.

    So glad to have this one back!

    • Karakuri says:

      Well at least we know they can do it, but it’s a matter of if they will or not, I guess. …I had completely forgotten about Taichi’s moodiness last season to be honest.

    • Kyokai says:

      @JJB, you hit the nail on why I like Chihayafuru so much. The character developments are sometimes awe-inspiring.

  6. Hawthorne says:

    Sumire trying to get between my precious ChiChi … I will never forgive her.

    Anyway, great insightful post! Look forward to following Kara no Kyokai tag once again this season kukuku.

    • Kyokai says:

      I know right? No forgiveness however nice she becomes later! And thank you! Join us for a tag any time you want. :3

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