Chihayafuru was not the anime I expected it to be. Well, actually, I don’t know what I expected. (I don’t have time to read descriptions!) I had actually never even heard of it until someone on Twitter was ranting and raving about it. I was due for new anime so why not? Chihayafuru is about a high school girl named Chihaya who’s dream was to see her model sister become Japan’s best… That is, until a quiet, unassuming transfer student named Arata tells her otherwise. A dream, he explains to her, is something she needs to work at herself.
Arata plays a competitive version of a traditional Japanese card game, known karuta, in a way Chihaya has never seen before. After taking Arata’s place in a game, Chihaya discovers she has a passion for it. Now Chihaya wants to become number one in the world, the Queen of Karuta.
At the beginning of the 1st episode, we see a beautiful girl wanting to start a karuta club. I paused the episode. “What the hooha is karuta?” I’ll just go ahead and paste the definition for you since I would just say “A crazy ass card game!” “The basic idea of any karuta game is to be able to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and then to grab the card before it is grabbed by an opponent. There are various types of cards which can be used to play karuta. It is also possible to play this game using two standard decks of playing cards.”
She eventually gets the karuta club going (which includes her handsome, childhood friend, Taichi) and she and the other players show their love and passion for karuta. What I liked about this anime was that when the group went to competitions, they actually lost. It was REAL, there were very few wins and most of it was a learning experience for Chihaya and the group. As a shoujo anime, this was definitely taking a different route. It focused more on the art of karuta. Getting to know each of the 100 poems that are written on the karuta cards and applying them to their every day lives. Of course, in typical shoujo fashion, there is a possible 3 way love interest going on. But the doki dokiness is few and far between (which made me sad sometimes). Chihaya is more focused on her love for karuta than her childhood friends that pine for her.
Now that I’ve completed the series, I can say I really liked it. And I really liked all of the main characters (which seems to be rare for me). I did find myself getting bored at times though. About half way through the season it was just karuta game after karuta game and it was VERY slow paced. The anime swung back around though and we got a break from the competitions. Chihayafuru is now in the middle of their 2nd season and I’ve only had a chance to watch 2 episodes of it, but I can tell I’m not going to like a few of the newcomers, but maybe that will change along the way! If you’re looking for a good anime with a little romance, I highly suggest Chihayafuru!