Looking to learn more about the Japanese hobby and gaming culture? You shouldn’t miss this anime then! Chihayafuru is an anime about karuta, one of the oldest played sports in Japan.
To help you guys understand the anime, let us first discuss what Karuta is. Karuta is a traditional game in Japan that makes use of the 100 poets’ poems. The game uses two sets of cards. The first card set is called Yomifuda or the reading card, which has the first part of the poem. The second set is called Torifuda or playing card, which has the other half of the game. Basically, the aim of the game is to identify the Torifuda card once the Yomifuda card is read.
Karuta is taught even to young children because the 100 poets’ poems are part of the history and culture of Japan. It is usually played in special occasions too.
Chihayafuru is an anime that made competitive karuta more popular in Japan. Chihayafuru portrayed karuta as a sport that is very intense. A karuta player needs to have not only metal strength, but physical strength as well, as the game is very exhausting especially if you’re playing for hours and hours long.
The anime centers on Chihaya Ayase and her two friends, Arata Wataya and Taichi Mashima. When they were young, Taichi and Chihaya always hanged out together. A new boy in school, Arata Wataya, is always bullied by his classmates because he never speaks and looks really poor. The kind Chihaya decided to befriend him. In the process, she discovers Arata’s talent for karuta and his drive to someday be named as Master. Taichi, burning with jealousy, challenges Arata in a game of karuta. Taichi kept Arata’s glasses and Chihaya is forced to defeat Taichi in the game. She manages to do so and they all become very close friends. They went as far as forming a team to play competitive karuta.
The twist comes when Arata is forced to leave school to go back to his hometown to attend to his sick grandfather. Fast-forward to when they are sixteen, Chihaya and Taichi learns that Arata no longer plays karuta after his grandfather died. In order to convince him to love karuta again, Chihaya and Taichi decides to form a competitive karuta club and participate in competitions.
The biggest hit for me is the graphics. It is extremely engaging and the difference between the manga version and the anime version is little. Nonetheless, the anime really took time to improve the graphics of the anime.
The story line is also very interesting. I don’t like sports-related anime except Prince of Tennis and Slam Dunk but I had no trouble liking Chihayafuru. In fact, I finished this in one day! The story is very exciting and it is unpredictable. For instance, you’d think the characters would always win, but there are so many instances when they lose. This makes the characters close to reality. Each character also has a lot of depth into them because their backgrounds are well-developed.
I also want to point out that I enjoyed the dubbing of the anime, especially Arata. Since he’s from Fukui, he speaks Japanese with a different accent and even has different word usage.
Although I really like the story line, I think it could be improved. The story is a bit slow-paced and the ending is really bad. Good thing I researched the anime and found out that Season 2 is to set off on the second week of January 2013.
The love triangle between Arata, Chihaya and Taichi also lacks focus. I’m hoping it gets attention in the second season.
I highly recommend this anime to everyone, especially if you like learning about the Japanese culture like I do. There’s something about this anime that’s really charming.
What do you guys think? Any other sports-related anime you can recommend?
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