Posted on 29 June 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Chihayafuru



Let’s put this into a bit of perspective: generally to warrant a second season a series needs to sell well in one way or the other. Chihayafuru’s DVD sales were abysmal: it sold like, 500 copies in its first week or so. Despite being a really excellent and well-made series, people just didn’t want to bite, and I had given up on any hope for a continuation. Imagine my surprise when the manga suddenly gets really popular and a second season has been highlighted!

And guess what? The production-values still are completely top-notch. There only are a few episodes with some bad and jerky animations. Otherwise: everything is perfectly crisp, the animation manages to make every single karuta match stand out and sparkle. There still is a ton of eye candy here. Any idea how hard it is to keep up this consistency for like fifty episodes?!

I mean, Chihayafuru’s sequel is just amazing. It continues the trend that the first season set, and just continues on with it, doing so many things right. Every single episode, it doesn’t just push one character forward; it tries to do this with as many characters as possible. No episode is wasted like this, and every episode brings something new to the table. It really is amazing how the creators continue to be able to do this. They introduce quite a few new characters that have a great impact on the storylines, and nearly all of them have some sort of gimmick, yet they feel real, and very relatable. The acting was fantastic in the first season, and that didn’t let up in the second, and the second now has so much build-up and development behind it!

It’s really clear that the creators here have a very good understanding of the game of Karuta: they really manage to flesh out the game even more in this season, and show many different sides of it. A downside is that if you just look at the matches objectively, then this series is a bit predictable in the big picture, but in the small picture, it’s everything but: the creators try their hardest to make the individual karuta-matches as exciting as possible.

This season does have a bit of a downside that it’s the middle arc, so there is no beginning, nor an ending, and because of that the juiciest developments are reserved for the other parts (if they’ll ever get there), and as a result this series does have less subject material, so it can move a bit slow at times. But still this show had some of the best characters of the year.
One-Sentence Review: If this series can’t get you fired up on Karuta, then nothing will; fantastic characterization.
Suggestions:
Hikaru no Go
Nodame Cantabile
Shion no Ou

Posted on with categories: Chihayafuru

Aftermaths often are boring. But no, not with Chihayafuru! I still remember how awesome the final episode of the first season was, and this too was a delight to watch due to the characterization, even though there was no Karuta in it. This definitely was not another one of those “let’s just fill in some time to give the characters a bit of time to cool down”, this too had a purpose.

I’m surprised that they never showed the actual king here, but the alternative was also quite good as it showed how Chihaya dealt with the fact that she had a very soft bone in her finger. It’s something that most people don’t even bother with: getting surgery just to fix it. It’s an interesting way of showing Chihaya’s resolve, but there was also no way for her not to get that surgery, with her entire life revolving around Karuta. It was also interesting that they showed that scar of her.

There also was a lot of romance, and I like how this episode relied on not saying everything explicitly, but instead showing how feelings are developing. First Taichi definitely got more serious about his feelings, and that got time to flesh out. In the meantime, we have Chihaya who is locked onto footage of Arata for days upon days while writing romantic poetry about him. Yeah. The thing is, Chihaya manages to just bring a smile to my face so many times per episode. It’s incredible how well she’s fleshed out at this point.

Season 3 would be awesome. How high would I guess those chances? Well, I’d say about 30%. The manga needs to end first, and then the producers of the manga must see it viable to invest for a third time into a full fledged series. Remember that the DVD sales for this thing are really bad and that it’s a miracle that it got a second season to begin with. And dangit this show is too awesome to end right here!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 24 June 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

The second season of Chihayafuru was the obvious middle part of the story: lacking a beginning and end. While for Chihaya herself, it may not be the most important in terms of character-development, it definitely has its parts where it can shine above the other seasons. One of the biggest ones really became apparent in the conclusion: the fact that Chihaya can step down as the main character for a bit, to allow other characters to shine.

I forgotten about it, but I love it when the main character just spends a bit of time as a spectator. A time where the matches don’t revolve around building up a match for her, but instead are important in their own way. Episodes 23 and 24 were about matches that shouldn’t have been overshadowed by Chihaya. Taichi’s advance to Class A, and the match between Arata and Shinobu. These two things have been built up for so long now. They needed to be fully put in the spotlights.

All three characters were awesome. These matches didn’t serve to particularly develop them, but rather, they highlighted their development: they showed how much they had grown to this point and how well they prepared. This also looked so well into how their karuta works, and the difference in their playstyles. The focus on Karuta was the icing on the cake, by the way: to close off the season with what a play between two of the best players looks like. It made the sport even deeper than it already was.

So, what about this hypothetical third season. Let’s suppose that it gets made. The strange thing is that the creators are building up Arata as the ultimate rival for Chihaya, and not Shinobu. When looking at the chronological events, this has to be the case if they want to end predictably: Chihaya will beat Shinobu in the Queen’s match, and she’ll then be up against Arata during the regular finals for the actual climax.

The problem with that will obviously be predictability. The creators will have to pull out all of their tricks to spice things up and pull away focus from this predictability. The first steps were made for this by giving Shinobu a cold in this episode. That was very clever, because it still is a mystery who would win in a fair match where both are at their best. Also, Suoh will need to be developed really badly there. He will probably be dethroned by Arata. The trick is to give this as much depth as possible.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 10 June 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

Oh man, these two episodes. They both were amazing in their own ways. These were possibly the two most important matches in the second season when it comes to character development. First of all the creators still wanted Chihaya to play Shinobu, but also: Nishida versus Arata. And the thing is that both matches had incredibly obvious outcomes. You see? Tension isn’t just making the results as close as possible!

When Arata first was matched up against Nishida, I didn’t think much behind it. But holy crap, that match was intense. I mean, this match really went back to the beginning of this show, where Nishida and Arata still had this rivalry. And it was so tragic: Nishida has actually more experience: his period of not playing was actually pretty short. And yet, Arata just blew him away. I love how Nishida’s frustrations didn’t just go away with winning the team finals. His struggles, they were awesome!

But seriously. The energy and the tension in the match between Chihaya and Shinobu was even better! The way in which Chihaya set the tone of the match right at the start. That was done amazingly! The match was not meant to give Chihaya a chance: there was no way she would win with that hand of her. It was meant for character development: Shinobu’s loneliness really got fleshed out some more here: she finally got to the age where she can just play people her age, and she finally met someone who didn’t mind it if she went all out. That showed so much promise for that third season. If it’ll ever come… yeah.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 29 May 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

And so the team tournaments finally ends, and seriously I am so impressed with all of the build-up that prepared just for this episode. Every single result for Chihaya, Taichi and Nishida in the previous matches was used in the big finale. It’s just amazing, and definitely worked as a climax.

Also, the individual tournaments. I didn’t realize this, but holy crap there is a complete busload of named and developed characters present at the tournament now. So much variety! I mean that recap was bad and all, but after that I really liked the build-up for the individual tournaments. Take all teams that made it to the semi finals: that’s already more than twenty different characters participating, with all of the bench people, Arata and the Queen and some other random characters. And all of them are great!

So yeah, Chihaya is not going to get far. This really wil be about the Queen and Arata. With the third year, Arata will be getting back to Tokyo, and I predict that that will really bring everything together for this series. If it will ever get made!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 15 May 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

Don’t get me wrong, this finale is amazing. But I can only see an incredible cliff-hanger coming ahead at the end of this series. Chihayafuru was lucky to get a second season. But a THIRD? It will need it though. This entire second season was just one giant build-up for the what’s left to come.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: the second season so far has been fantastic. Every match has been awesome and the finale of the team matches is quite possibly the best yet. But none of the things that we were hoping for has happened yet! Arata and the Queen have pretty much been sitting around doing nothing, and that king guy is nowhere to be seen either. Oh, there were hints. The build-up for these guys is beautiful. But that only works if we’re ever going to get there!

Slow pacing… it is a double edged sword. You can see that with both Chihayafuru and Space Brothers here. I really don’t mind this series taking its time. Both series are absolutely brilliant at building atmosphere and keeping me at the edge of my seat for episode after episode. However, that is just the storytelling. The way they test my patience with recaps, on top of recaps at the start of each episode is counter-productive. This is the wrong use of flashbacks!

Oh, but really: these two episodes were glorious. Chihayafuru has completely nailed the tournament arc. It understands that you can’t just show stronger opponents and just expect things to work. The key is spicing things up. Making every match different and unique. This show managed to do that in so many different ways: every character is evolving, every opponent is different, every theme is different. But really, the finale. It didn’t have intimidating opponents that were different from every other opponent so far, it also used the Queen brilliantly. And Chihaya’s injury. Holy crap that made this match intense. Now that I think about it: the team matches really are the meat of the second season. They are what symbolizes Chihaya’s growth, since with this, she pretty much won’t be able to participate in the individual matches.

There is this big theme of loneliness hidden underneath these team matches, visible with the top players. I mean, I said that Arata and the King and the Queen have been sitting around doing nothing. The only reason why this bothers me is my impatience (in a good way!). This show likes to dance around the issue, but it does paint that threesome to be really lonesome. This point was the first time at which this really came to the surface. But while just about every other character in this series is chock-full of team spirit, they don’t. That contrast is stark, and I love it.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 26 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

I just realized this at the end of the episode… but the opposing team on the finals consists out of a bunch of nut-cases.

I think this keeps true to one of the themes of this series: geniuses are eccentric in one way or the other (even Arata with how seriously he takes his punishment). I’m not sure whether this has a deeper meaning beyond just being really entertaining, but I love it. At first they seem like this very serious team to come over, only to get completely hilarious once the actual match starts.

The creators also really know how to torture Kanade here, by having like, the best announcer in existance voice the finals. If there is anything that this second season has been brilliant at, it’s its build-up. The final match was hinted at many times before, the creators keep referring back to Arata and the Queen, which will just happen much, much later. And it does interesting thing with them: it really plays with its characters and finds creative ways for hinting like that. The comedy really works when it needs to and that really helps.

The cliff-hanger was awesome, but I am a bit worried that at this point in the series, we’re still stuck in the team matches. I mean, this is nice and all but the team matches are not what really matters here in this series. That goes to the individual matches, in which we can see all these characters participate yet again. There are so many awesome matches and re-matches about to happen that I worry that they’re not going to be able to fit all of that in what? eight remaining episodes?
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 18 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

Holy crap! When Nishida lashed out to Tsutomu last episode, I did not expect that it was about to build up to something as amazing as here right now. I mean, the outcome of this episode was predictable, but the way in which it happened totally wasn’t!

Most of the episode was about Chihaya and her growth. Chihaya lost to Megumu, but it’s clear that she has become better, while at the same time that she has a long way to go (the way how her nails were clenched into the palm of her hands the whole time). And then when she lost, Tsutomu really came out of nowhere to really steal the show. This show already had the luck of the draw decide against the team’s favor, so with this it is a really good way to balance out. Because of this you really don’t know what to expect when things come down to it. Either way it was Tsutomu’s crowning moment of awesome there.

Then there is Kanade. What really surprised me here was that there were two matches of which we hardly got to see anything: Kanade’s and Taichi’s. What really intrigues me was why Kanade finished before Taichi, which really made me think that we haven’t really seen much about how she actually improved. All we know is that she suddenly has gotten really good, with multiple wins in a row despite being dead tired. Still, was Taichi just against a better player? It seemed like the best two seemed to be against Chihaya and Nishida. I mean, Taichi is pretty much an A-Class player at this point, as soon as he manages to win that damned tournament, so what exactly worked against him there?

This episode was also full of hints about special cards: the cards that contain the names of everyone. Chhaya lost hers to Megumu, Megumu lost hers to Chihaya. And I noticed the creators also dropping the names for the cards for Arata and Shinobu. Yay for building up!

One thing never improved though: the photographing guys never really stopped being annoying.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 12 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

This match is very different from usual for Chihayafuru. Normally, it delivers in every episode. Last episode felt a bit flat. Normally it tries to push forward as many characters as possible. Here however, the focus was different. This really was about Chihaya versus Megumu. This episode at least.

Perhaps I’m not a fan of making the match go on for three entire episodes, but that allowed this episode to have that clear purpose for a change: a really detailed view of how Megumu changes through a match. That really had me fired up much more than I expected and I really have to say that how she gradually lost that ditzy behavior of her was done in this episode.

Oh and I said that this episode didn’t really focus on pushing forward the other characters. but still, Chihaya forcing herself to contest cards, Nishida losing badly, Tsutomu trying hard, the other girls trying really hard for Megumu, they were all really nice touches. I just meant it for the really high standards of this series. Seriously you do not see series that are as consistent as this series. Especially considering that we’re almost forty episodes in!

One point of criticism: that point where Tsutomu figures that a girl will likely want to grab cards about broken hearts because it’s one of the themes that the singer whose name is on one of the towels of the girls sings about… that is overanalyzing things a bit too much.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 1 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

These two episodes showed a match and a half. The first was surprisingly short, the second surprisingly long. Usually episode 11 and 12 are some sort of midway climax. Not here. Here they’re just meant for build-up.

What I liked most, was Desk-kun. A support character like him has been done before, but I just loved Nishida as he wanted to prevent Desk-kun from turning into one of them. The ones who can never stand on the spotlights because they’re just not as good as the aces. It’s rare to see a show actually tackle that issue, because there are not many series that can balance their characters out as well as this series did.

But dammit, I have to say this: Megumu and her fanclub really are annoying. Especially the latter. This series has this unnerving talent to make any single character great, but I do wonder how they were planning to do it with these stalkerish types. The best they did so far was note that Megumu has improved, but that could just as easily have been done without them. And I like Megumu’s teacher and advisor.

I’d also have loved to see more of the other match that went on in episode 12, but that only appeared in a few details (like when Megumu accidentally grabbed some cards that belonged to them, that was a nice detail).
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Masky
    (Monday, Aug 3. 2015 11:47 AM)
    @;(: Nah, I meant in general, I didn’t read your posts beyond “You shouldn’t read manga like One Piece from the beginning”
  • Bam
    (Monday, Aug 3. 2015 03:32 AM)
    Man Witcher 3 is one dense game. I’ve put 110 hours in and I’m just over halfway thru. The amount of detail is staggering. I catch myself listening to NPCs for 10 minutes sometimes lol
  • ;(
    (Sunday, Aug 2. 2015 09:47 PM)
    @Masky: Are you talking about me?
    Because if you are, you completely misread all I wrote…
    But if that’s the case I don’t feel like explaining myself considering you probably don’t want to listen anyway…
  • Masky
    (Sunday, Aug 2. 2015 02:09 PM)
    Geez, people really make odd excuses when defending stuff they like ._.
    …I feel like thats probably hypocritical comment coming from me since I’ve probably done that too, but I think I usually go with attitude of “Hey, you’d probably not like it anyway, but I think you are wrong about that thing” xD
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 09:47 PM)
    @Aidan: I would recommend downloading it rather than browser-playing it as my browser kept crashing when I tried to.
    Its quite short but it gives a great teaser and introduction to the game, that gets me excited for it.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 09:45 PM)
    @Aidan: Mangagamer have released the demo for kara no shoujo 2, they’ve also confirmed a release for Autumn. Its probably better to call this demo more of a prologue/compliment to the game with content exclusive to it.
    Demo/prologue here: http://mangagamer.org/kns2/
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 02:14 PM)
    @invicableGod, Yep that comment was spam. Should have got rid of it first time I saw it.
  • Wicked
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:10 AM)
    well, this place changed a lot. Gotta say, I’m not a fan of how they adapted GATE into an anime. It feels too decompressed. Manga did a better job at keeping the tension taut
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:08 AM)
    Also I am not the blog, I’m just a poster… I really hope you have enough sense to tell the difference…
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:07 AM)
    @Emo: you’re saying all that like that doesn’t fit your description to a T. Kinda sad actually…
    Well I guess now at least I gave you one more thing to get angry about so your day seems just a bit more active than your last.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 04

Not much to talk about this episode as it was mainly set up to the next. The army’s reputation looks to have risen after driving off a dragon and looks to have caught the attention of our new female character. I was about to sigh when I saw the old anime staple of a bath […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 03

Here it is, a flashback to the beginning of the outbreak. In a market as over saturated with zombie media as ours it’s rather hard to do this kind of story without treading on old ground. The start of the outbreak is the focal point of every beginning for a zombie movie. Rarely is it […]

Gangsta. – 04

I have said it before but these twilight characters rub me the wrong way. This group of superhuman individuals just sticks out like a sore thumb in a grounded setting such as this. They are a Shounen element in a otherwise Seinien show so when they come out and start leaping on rooftops this just […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 03

This episode introduces what looks to be the main trio of girls for the cast. A elf girl, a mage girl and a Goth lolita girl with a giant axe. The Goth lolita, otherwise know as the Apostle of a death god, Rory is so far the most interesting of the bunch. Though mainly because […]

Gangsta. – 03

I really don’t understand Mangalobe’s thinking on this changes, for you see this episode was an adaption of the second chapter in the manga. I don’t see the reason why they felt that they needed to mix around the order of these episodes but I suppose it’s no harm done. To be honest I found […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 02

  So despite saying I would cover Chaos Dragon in my summer preview, I have decided to cover this instead. The reasons for this is simple, the obvious one being that Chaos Dragon is a poorly written, badly animated and jarring mess of an anime. But the main reason is that after the second episode […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 02

This episode was certainly stronger than the first as Itami’s otaku tendencies were cut down and the focus was more on the conflict. The fight itself was brilliantly portrayed as we saw it mainly from the side of the other world. In the beginning when they were marching towards the army they were assured of […]

Gangsta. – 02

As this show continues the Black Lagoon vibes only get stronger but this episode did present an issue. Namely the supernaturally strong dog tag soldiers which can jump ten feet into the air and pull out road signs. In a series that at least started fairly set in reality these elements are somewhat odd though […]

Knights of Sidonia S2: Battle for Planet Nine review – 73/100

The second season of Sidonia makes a number of mistakes that a lot of second seasons do. That namely being that the anime slows down and introduces characters and conflicts that are often resolved in a undetermined to exist, third season. A new antagonist is introduced, whom does very little in the season and only […]

Latest Reviews

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]