“If you had told me a year ago that I would get this worked up about a cartoon of people slapping around cards with ancient poetry on them, I would have called you a liar. And yet, here we are..” -vexingthoughts*
This comment on a crunchyroll vid (where I’m watching the series) pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole thing. When you think about how obscure and repetitive karuta is, it’s kind of amazing that someone has been able to create a show with at least 2 seasons off of it. Not only that, but the show is damn good.
The show is so good, I’m kind of stunned. I’ve taken a break from the anime/manga world for a few years, and although I’ve drifted in and out occasionally, I have yet to find anything that gripped me as much as say, my former Digimon Adventure obsession (who am I kidding; still obsessed) or had the kind of artistic and story complexity as Cowboy Bebop. There are others that I’ve tried to get into because of their acclaim, but even they turn me off at some point due to lagging plot or uninteresting characters.
Chihaya Furu is kind of in a different league. I suppose it would be categorized as a sports drama, but there are enough touches of comedy and romance to keep things moving. In fact, the momentum of the series is one of its most commendable points. At no time do I recall it dragging or going through an arc I just wish I could skip. The other thing I love is that each character is well thought out. Each one not only brings something different to the table, but interacts in such a way that really makes you feel for them.
All this is achieved without the crutch of fancy costumes, supernatural powers, or even a popular sports setting. Just ordinary Tokyo teenagers and their club. That’s good writing.
I noticed a lot of crunchyroll commenters praise how pretty Chihaya is. I think this is an interesting observation because really, what anime female isn’t?
(besides maybe Sora Takenouchi, you evil, two-timing bitch! *sob!* TAIORA 4 EVAAAAAAAA!)
But even I have to admit there is something about Chihaya’s character design that is very appealing. She is pretty without looking fake, or unrealistic, or even really that revolutionary. One thing I noticed was how the animators were not afraid to play around with her hair styles. I counted at least 5 different hair styles (6 if you include her kimono modeling pic for Kana-chan) that Chihaya wears throughout the series, changed appropriately to accommodate her activity. That really impressed me because how many different shows have we sat through where the chicks all have the same hair the whole time? Just about every one.
The other interesting thing is how the writers handled the concept of Chihaya being a beauty in the first place. Yes, she is regarded by other characters within the show as being easy on the eyes, but it’s simultaneously “explained away” by the fact that her older sister is an aspiring model. Almost as if the show is saying to the audience, “Yes Chihaya is a kind person and is good at karuta and pretty BUT THE PRETTINESS ISN’T HER FAULT! It runs in the family, she can’t help it!” I do kind of appreciate them doing that. I’m sick of shows where the girl is pretty and it’s like, so what? I like how her looks (and that of her sister) can be a sort of secondary plot device.
Speaking of beauty; Team Taichi!
Of course he shares the same name as my all time fave Taichi Yagami so I’m already biased to start. But even still, I like him way better than Arata. I just wish Chihaya would wake up and see it! Concerning character design I’m not crazy about his pink hair and he’s a little too run-of-the-mill pretty for me, but there’s no denying it; he’s attractive, hard working, and devoted to Chihaya. Hot in my book! I like how he still knows how to make fun of her on occasion, and fights with himself about being in love with her even though she doesn’t give him the time of day, romantically speaking. It means he has a friggin backbone. Favorite Chihaya x Taichi moment so far; the birthday tart scene. Yum. 🙂
*At the time of this writing, vexingthouts’ video comment on episode 14 of Chihayafuru has 64 “likes”