Genre: Drama, Game, Sports, Romance
Synopses: Chihaya is a lighthearted tomboy, who’s not especially good at anything in particular. Her dream has always been for her sister (an aspiring model) to become the number one beauty of Japan, or perhaps of the world. But then one day she meets someone who tells her that a dream is something that should concern only herself—and something she has to work hard for as well.
At the same time, Chihaya discovers a passion for the old Japanese game hyakunin isshu, also called “karuta”.
Animation: The art in Chihayafuru has very smooth and calming effect which helps a lot with the overall mood of the anime. The details put into the characters and environment truly surprised me. Scenery throughout the entire anime was vibrant and brought about a since of realism to the situation.
Story: Chihayafuru is based in Japan. Throughout the majority of the anime, Chihaya, the main character, and her friends compete in a sport known as ‘karuta.’ When I found out this sport was done with cards and poetry, I was somewhat skeptical. I saw little chance that a card game about poetry would provide for an interesting turn of events. However, I was quickly persuaded by the complexity of the game and how truly competitive it can be. Despite the complexity of karuta, the way it is described and presented in Chihayafuru makes it seem quite simple and actually enjoyable depending on your likes.
Many problems arise through the anime, and, being a drama, there are moments of pure joy as well as moments of comedy and even gut-wrenching sadness. There are intense moments, and there are relaxing moments. I’ll be honest and say the emotions throughout the anime are up and down constantly, and as I watched it I was truly feeling the characters.
Characters: The three main characters in the anime are a group of friends, Ayase Chihaya, Mashima Taichi, and Wataya Arata. The three met together at a young age and formed a karuta team. A love triangle quickly formed between the three, giving way for a very interesting turn in events. Each character has their own unique personality and detailed history. Despite the tension in the love triangle of the three main characters, their bonds remain strong beginning to end.
Other rivalry karuta teams appear throughout the anime, but none more notable than the Queen of karuta herself, Shinobu Wakamiya, who Chihaya is determined to defeat. Shinobu is quite the character. She comes up throughout the anime unpronounced, and quite frankly reminds me of the girl from the grudge is a not-so-much dead form. Her fierceness and relentlessness in karuta is was truly drug me into actually attempting a game similar to karuta.
Sound: The clarity in the voices of the characters was beautiful. Poetry is used throughout the anime, and provides a very calming effect, further influencing the effects of the art and music. The openings are very relaxing, but get old after a while. The only voice actor that I recognized was Miyano, Mamoru who played as Chihaya’s group member and long-time friend Taichi. Miyano also voiced Masaomi Kida from a highly rated anime called Durarara!!
Overall Critique: While Chihafuru did grab my attention by throwing off my skepticism, it did start to get old towards the end of the season. There are many moments throughout the anime where the characters do nothing but think to themselves. However, the flashbacks and fillers were kept at a bare minimum. The art: amazing! The music for the opening and closing scenes were peaceful, and I did enjoy them a lot. The development of the characters throughout the anime is clearly there, and connections were both strengthened and weakened, providing for an interesting twist in the love-triangle cliché. The beauty used to link together color, sound, movement, and sportsmanship with poetry truly amazed me. It is a great anime to sit back, think about, and truly enjoy.