Posted by psgels on 22 February 2012 with categories: Chihayafuru

Oh, Taichi actually lost so that he won’t be able to play in the A-Class East Qualification tournament. Oh, wait there’s another chance for him to do so. Wait, he didn’t make that one either? oh, he got offered a promotion instead. What the.. he declined? He’s not focused on making the next tier as fast as possible, but rather as someone who doesn’t run away? Very nice here, Chihayafuru.

On top of that, this episode showed the return of Arata. Finally! Again, the encounter was short, but very sweet. The best part of this episode was how much more we got to learn of Arata’s grown up version. Up till now we’ve mainly just seen flashes of him, but here he was present for an entire episode. His worries about Chihaya and Taichi having become a couple really worked well with Taichi getting more and more depressed in this episode. Chihaya herself was the icing on the cake: her emotions went wild in this episode, and the creators portrayed them really well.

Overall, out of all of the Fall series that are still airing, Chihayafuru still stands out as the best. The way it handles its characters is just unrivaled here. As the representative of its season however, when you start to compare it to other years, it unfortunately isn’t the best: Autumn 2010 is the only fall season in more than 8 years where I didn’t consider the best 2-Cour series to be better than Chihayafuru. (As a frame of reference: 2009 had Armed Librarians, 2008 had Michiko e Hatchin, Clannad and Casshern, 2007 had Shion no Ou and Ghost Hound, 2006 had Red Garden and Bakumatsu, 2005 had Noein, Mushishi and Jigoku Shoujo, 2004 had Fantastic Children and Gankutsuou.

Obviously Chihayafuru is very well made, and in that aspect it doesn’t lose to the abovementioned series. But if I had to give a reason for why it doesn’t live up to those others for me, then it’s probably a combination of its lack of ambition and variety. The abovementioned series were series who kept evolving and kept bringing new things to the table. Chihayafuru however, has all been karuta matches, karuta matches and more karuta matches. Sure, the characters are evolving, but the plot isn’t. For me, Chihayafuru is a series that does really well when you look at the short picture, but in terms of the bigger picture it’s just karuta over and over. That’s solid, but not solid enough to measure up to some of my favorites.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

17 Responses

  1. Jambo says:

    Ah, I see a picture of the Queen, now I’ll have to start watching this again.

  2. Hogart says:

    I agree with you in general, psgels, but the lack of a moving plot hasn’t been a hindrance for me at all (lately). It’s like Natsume Yuujinchou to me.. a bunch of repetitive stuff where characters very slowly evolve.

    But I’m still enjoying it as much as I enjoyed Bantorra and the other series you listed, because it focuses on the characters instead of the weirdo plot, setting, etc.

    The last few episodes of Chihayafuru have been incredibly good, without devolving into cliche or obvious “feel good” or “feel bad” stuff. It’s just excellent drama, which I’ve found is just as rare and appreciable in anime as an excellent plot.

  3. kero says:

    I loved this weeks episode!
    The use of music was excellent and added to the tension, and some of the animation was beautiful and creative in parts.

    So much Arata! *fans self*

    I also thought they would take the ‘obvious’ route with Taichi winning the match, and when he didn’t, of him accepting the offer. But he didn’t!

    The conflict that Taichi faces of wanting Arata to be there, and also not is so ;_; ahhhh.

    I love Arata’s accent a lot, and wish there were more shows with characters with the accent. <3 <3

  4. Taara535 says:

    @kero I am also REALLY impressed with the show for being willing to let and/or asking the voice actor of Arata to speak with a Fukui accent. For a lot of anime out there, it’s only about Tokyo this and Tokyo that. To acknowledge that the country actually has different regions with different accents is very refreshing.

  5. Kim says:

    Chihayafuru is a sports series with amazing character development. I am not really sure what else it needs to do.

  6. paula says:

    i just love this show.
    lack of ambition? i dont think so.
    well, lets see how it ends.

  7. joojoobees says:

    I loved how they kicked Taichi down again this week. Not because I dislike him, but because I was sure they were going to find a way to give him that win, and, as you said, at the end it looked like he was going to be handed his A-rank anyway, but he turned it down. This was absolute class. Instead of delivering the show we have been taught to expect, Chihayafuru delivers its own story, making it well worthy of best show of 2012 so far.

  8. ein says:

    chihaya is not your favorite, probably because chihaya not go as you want, because I saw your prediction on this show is always wrong, chihaya can make a simple game like karuta into something meaningful, for a normal person like me chihaya can become a favorite easily

    • psgels psgels says:

      “Normal person”? Define “normal person”.

      I’m indeed not sure what this series can do even more. It’s an excellent adaptation and I really like it. It just isn’t going to make my favorites.

  9. hoiut says:

    Certainly a powerful episode with a lot of attention to detail as always.

  10. David A. Young says:

    I guess one of the things I find so fascinating about this show is that it stays so interesting and surprising while maintaining such a narrow focus. I think that’s got to be harder to do than when the writers have the freedom to change things up a lot (through either new plot lines or locales). Especially considering the fact that I generally don’t even LIKE sports shows — Chihayafuru has been an utterly delightful surprise.

  11. ronbb says:

    This is another great episode. No offence here, but I am not that drawn to Arata. It is not that I don’t like him. It’s just that we don’t see him much making it harder to connect with. Taichi’s the character that gets developed the most. We hear his thoughts, know his feelings, and see his growth. It’s hard not to get drawn close to him. I guess there’s a reason for why people call it Taichi Tuesdays…

    For the episode, I love the train station scene a lot – the background music, the train that comes through without stopping…it’s beautiful. I also like Taichi’s response – rather than simply taking an easy way out, he’s not going to give up fighting against himself…proving that he’s not someone who runs away… That reply amazed me, as it did to Harada-sensei…the inner strength that Taichi is seeking as contrast to what he used to or taught to do – quitting when not winning – wows.

    I also like the scene when Chihaya just simply grabs Taichi’s arm…how ironic…

    I am not expecting this show will give us any closure, but I am happy with it from the get-go…two thumbs up here.

  12. Sapphire says:

    I specially loved the water-karuta sequence. Well done!

  13. Ney says:

    It’s an anime about karuta, what else does it need to be about? xD I loved Hikaru no Go (the only reason why I play Go everyday) and because Chihayafuru is so much like it (other than the romance), I like it. But I do agree Chihayafuru lacks a solid plotline. I mean Chihaya’s already strong and the only time she was defeated was with the Queen and Sakura and maybe with her master too. There aren’t any new characters either that would be integral in the team’s development. They have each other I guess but I don’t think that’s enough. The only thing that’s keeping me interested in this is the match between Taichi and Arata, Chihaya and the Queen, and the love triangle. xD

  14. Noob says:

    I was wondering if you guys knew about this :
    http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=105586&page=62
    In the last post of the linked page, a poster gives an interpretation of the episode based on the poems related to it.
    It seems that Chihayafuru can have a deepeer meaning when you actually know about the poems, I find it pretty interesting given it is more or less Kana’s pov about Karuta.

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