First Impressions – Chihayafuru

Here we go; the first of two shows that I’m really looking forward to this season has begun. Chihayafuru is based on an award winning manga, is directed by the masterful Morio Asaka (of Chobits, Gunslinger Girl, and Nana fame), and represents part of a return to the days when Madhouse was good (Before Marvel came along and ruined everything). So it’s fair to say that there was a decent amount of hype surrounding Chihayafuru.

With the first episode having now aired, does it seem like it’ll live up to the hype? I think so.

Chihaya is the younger sister of famous model Chitose Ayase, and upon entering high school, some of the students catch wind of this and rush to go see if she is as beautiful as her sister. They find that while she is indeed beautiful, they believe her beauty is wasted on someone as tomboyish, strange, and obsessed with Karuta as she is. She struggles to find others who share her passion, and her long-time friend Taichi, who used to play Karuta with her has now dismissed it as nothing more than a hobby.

As a child, Chihaya had a bad habit of saying everything that was on her mind, and was always in the shadow of her more beautiful older sister. Not that Chihaya had any problems with that, in fact it was her childhood dream to see her sister succeed as a model. When her habit leads to a transfer student, Wataya, being revealed as a poor boy that needs to work to help support his family, despite still being very young, the other students bully him. When Chihaya sticks up for Wataya knowing that it’ll make the other students ignore her; she goes with Wataya to his house where he plays a game of Karuta with her, which turns out to be the spark that ignites her passion for the game.

Chihayafuru shows a lot of promise and so far stands as a great adaptation of the manga. The characters are all being developed nicely and the backstory is being firmly established. Morio Asaka brings out the best in his staff (Chobits was made in 2001, and still looks decent), and has made a show that looks terrific, with a great art style and gorgeous animation. The concept of Karuta is far from exciting, and the direction during the scenes where it is played goes a long way toward making the game seem far more enjoyable than it probably is. The music doesn’t really stand out, but helps give the show a very pleasant air throughout.

It’s a show I can recommend to anyone who enjoys Josei or Romance anime, and looks set to be one of the better shows this season. The first episode has been the one I’ve enjoyed the most so far, and I expect very good things for the rest of the series.

Will I blog this?

I’m not sure at the moment, but it’s possible. My main reason for being uncertain is the fact that it will run for 2 cours, and so will Persona 4. I’d like the other show I blog to only last 1 cour, as I’d like to cover something next season, and I probably won’t be able to handle covering 3 shows at once, but if I had more time, I’d definitely cover this. If nothing else I’m interested in turns out be any good then I’ll pick this up.

4 Responses to “First Impressions – Chihayafuru”

  1. 1 blindability
    5 October 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I really enjoyed this first episode. I wasn’t sure what kind of girl Chihaya would be but I quite like her after this initial introduction. I think the show also did a really good job showing the relationship between Taichi and Chihaya, as well as Arata and Chihaya through looking back. It’s true that Karuta doesn’t seem particularly interesting and being non-Japanese, it might be difficult to appreciate the poems used, but the show’s able to convey a passion that you just have to respect through young Arata (and very likely Chihaya and Taichi soon).

    So by 2 cours, do you mean this is a 26 episode long show?

    • 2 Gooney
      6 October 2011 at 1:04 am

      Yeah, it’s a 25 episode series. I agree with you about that passion, it’s hard to describe, but it definitely got me interested.

    • 3 Gooney
      6 October 2011 at 1:06 am

      And I like that the relationships were established fairly early on, and that the characters have a fair bit of depth to them.

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