Chihayafuru – Episode 6

Let’s get back to Chihayafuru! When we last left off, Chihaya and Taichi had successfully rekindled Arata’s passion for karuta, meaning it might be time to actually compete again! But I’m guessing the first order of business will be establishing Chihaya and Taichi’s school club, which means it’s also likely time to introduce some new characters. I’m totally cool with that – Chihaya’s been great, but Taichi and Arata both often feel like they’re stuck in her shadow, and I’d appreciate some characters who are less clearly infatuated with our admittedly charming lead. Either way, let’s get right to it!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 5

It’s time for Chihayafuru! We’ve fully transitioned over to the modern-day narrative now, though things certainly haven’t settled into any kind of reliable neutral. The main issue now seems to be that Arata’s gloomy-ass self has given up on karuta for some reason, leaving Chihaya with only two legs of her three-legged karuta stool. Taichi would clearly be fine with that, since he’s never really demonstrated much passion for katura outside of its ability to bring him closer to Chihaya, but Chihaya herself is presumably not pleased.

The depth of her desire is frankly still pretty unfathomable to me – not only did Chihaya only spend a few days playing karuta with the boys back in elementary school, but she’s passed through the entirety of middle school since then. I suppose I kind of have to accept some contrived “destined companions” stuff given the genre, but that disconnect keeps making it tough to engage with this show’s drama on the terms it demands. The matches themselves are great, but the connective tissue is a little iffy. But we’re still early in the show and it’s still fun to watch, so hopefully Chihayafuru will earn its drama over time. Let’s get to it!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 4

And we’re back with more Chihayafuru! Last episode brought us to what I assume is the end of the show’s flashback arc, with Chihaya and her two karuta buddies separating at the end of elementary school. The overall arc left me with some mixed structural feelings, as I felt that not only did this flashback kinda dampen the show’s dramatic momentum, but it also didn’t necessarily sell the depth of the bond between our leads. But even though I had a number of narrative structure concerns, the actual moment-to-moment execution of the show was still very solid throughout. Let’s see what high school brings!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 3

It’s time for more Chihayafuru! Episode two led us to the founding of Chihaya, Taichi, and Wataya’s original friendship, after Taichi’s jealousy resulted in a pretty tumultuous sixth grade karuta tournament. The episode did solid work for both Taichi and Wataya’s characters, while also offering plenty of sunny Chihaya spirit to counterbalance her alternately gloomy and vengeful friends. The show hasn’t really hit a propulsive stride yet, but it’s still an enjoyable and generally well-realized production. Let’s see what episode three brings!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 2

Let’s dive right into Chihayafuru’s second episode. There was a whole lot I liked about the first episode, from the strong use of color to the generally sharp direction and very likable protagonist. There were also things I was a little less enamored with, like the fairly routine love triangle framing and the flash-forward dramatic structure. But the things I liked are things whose worth is immediately apparent, while the things I’m not sold on can easily justify and complicate themselves over time. This is already a fun show, and its reputation is pretty stellar. I don’t need to be convinced here – I’m happy to give it another episode. Let’s get to it!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 1

Alright, let’s get started on Chihayafuru. I’ve had the show recommended to me a number of times, and even briefly started it a couple years back, but never really got into the meat of the drama. As far as I understand, it’s a combination of thrilling sports drama and shoujo-inflected love triangle shenanigans. I don’t actually have all that much experience with sports dramas, but the ones I’ve enjoyed (Girls und Panzer, Cross Game), I’ve really enjoyed. Setting up a kind of “fair,” parsable contest and then letting your characters clash in it is a natural recipe for impactful drama, something that smart shounen properties like Hunter x Hunter also understand. I’m also perfectly on board for romance, so pretty much the whole package here seems good to me. Let’s dive right in to the first episode!

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