Anime Review: Chihayafuru Episode 2

Anime Review:
Chihayafuru Episode 2

What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Chihayafuru is a 25-episode anime television series airing between October 2011 and March 2012, based on a shoujo romance manga by Yuki Suetsugu. Chihaya has always put all her effort in supporting the modeling career of her older sister, until one day she meets a reclusive transfer student who introduces her to the competitive world of karuta. Now, years later, in high school she continues to pursue the game of karuta in hopes of meeting her friend again.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Very Quick Episode Summary: In this episode of Li’l Karuta Rascals… Li’l Taichi bets that he can beat Li’l Arata at the upcoming karuta tournament. With his reputation on the line, Li’l Taichi goes dirty pool and steals Li’l Arata’s glasses, so he can’t see the cards. As he heads for defeat, Li’l Chihaya butts in as Li’l Arata’s replacement and bests Li’l Taichi. While Li’l Chihaya is thrilled, her family doesn’t care in the slightest. Li’l Taichi finally befriends Li’l Arata, and they life happily ever after.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

It’s Part Two of the elementary school flashback that introduces the main characters and their motivations. Li’l Arata, Li’l Chihaya and Li’l Taichi are cute and all, but I’m sort of hoping that they’ll wrap up this flashback sequence soon, because at this point it beginning to feel like a “very special episode” of The Wonder Years, complete with that sickly-sweet, cloying feeling forced nostalgia.

But that being said, this was a fairly effective way of quickly defining the characters, and we certainly do get the solid impression of Chihaya’s strong-headed willfulness and emotional cluelessness. Likewise with Arata’s autistic laser-like focus on his one-and-only skill (karuta), and with Taichi…well, he’s pretty much your average half-devil/half-angel little boy, full of braggadocio and guilt and snips and snails and puppy tails and all that shit.

And I think we have a good overall feel for the game of karuta as well (to wit: sort of a cross between Spoons and Concentration). As far as I can tell, there really isn’t that much of a “skill” involved — to be a good player it seems all you have to do is memorize a couple lines from a whole bunch of old poems and be really fast.

Given that there isn’t a whole lot of strategy involved with the game, I really hope they don’t delve too deep in the minutiae of karuta (as opposed to the excruciating intricacies of mahjong covered ad nauseum in Saki), or this show could get really boring really fast. But honestly, I don’t think that’s going to happen, as it seems this is going in the direction of heavy character interaction. Which is a good thing.

The verdict:

But I really do hope they wrap up the whole flashback bit soon, and start moving forward with the modern-day story instead. The fumbling innocence of elementary students has limited appeal to me.

Oh, it really did sting a little bit when Li’l Chihaya was calling her family all-so-proud at winning the school tournament, only to get completely rejected by her mother and dismissively ridiculed by her sister. I realize their actions were not so much mean-spirited as they were out of a total lack of caring or empathy, but I did want to reach through telephone line and slap them around a little bit. Unintentional cruelty really hurts.

For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:

    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • “Chihayafuru continues to surprise here, with it’s rather charming cast of characters leaving a great impression. The cast really has a sense of realism and personality to them, with even the bits of drama due to jealousy and guilt feeling very real and not blown over the top. There’s a strange sense of honestly and naivety to the kids here, and makes the entire premise feel rather genuine.” – Emory Anime Club
    • “I sort of want to cry after having seen this episode. It is not because it was sad, nor is it because it was emotional, but simply because I could not help but cringe multiple times whilst watching the show and that disappointed me. One thing this episode did for me was that it reaffirmed my lack of tolerance for brats.” – Otakuness
    • “lol the irony of this series is, I keep telling myself that i would have dropped the manga during certain scene but still loving this show.” – Conspicuous Klux
    • “I’m not necessarily complaining about the plot’s realism. Rather, the drama just feels a little too cheap and a little too forced for my liking. Every drama is contrived to a certain extent, but when the story becomes too transparent in its designs, the narrative immersion is ruined for me. I should be finding myself lost in the story, but instead, I’m removed from it and picking at the structure.” – Moe Sucks

      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2

      Coming up next: Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

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