The main character is a high school student named Chihaya Ayase. When she was younger, she was more of a tomboy and spent her life supporting her older sister in her modeling career. In elementary school, she stood up for Arata Wataya, a transfer student that the other students in the class would tease and pick on. Among the tormentors is Taichi Mashima, Chihaya's friend who excels at sports.
Through Arata, Chihaya learns to play karuta, a Japanese card game where players have to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and grabbing it before another player does. After learning the game, it becomes Chihaya's dream to become Japan's best karuta player. Over the next couple of years, Chihaya is separated from both Arata and Taichi.
At the beginning of the series, Chihaya is trying to form a karuta club at her high school, but she doesn't seem to be having a lot of luck. While Chihaya has matured into a beautiful young woman, her classmates consider her to be weird and refer to her as a "waste of beauty." She discovers that Taichi has transferred to her high school, but he claims to have outgrown karuta. Chihaya, meanwhile, decided to keep playing karuta in the hopes of being able to see her friends again. In the first episode, both Chihaya and Taichi mention that neither one has heard from Arata in a while. Chihaya comments that Arata didn't compete in the last major karuta championship.
While the karuta card game is a major focus in Chihayafuru, there is also a major emphasis on relationships and drama. The first episode focused more on the backstory, to show how Chihaya became interested in karuta back in elementary school; however, I think the backstory was done in such a way that it makes the viewer interested in watching more to find out more about these characters. I was really moved when I saw Chihaya standing up for Arata and becoming friends with him.
After seeing this episode, I believe that there's a lot of potential for the series as it progresses. Hopefully, potential North American licensors won't be afraid to license the series due to the Japanese nature of the card game.
Visually, I saw nothing objectionable in Chihayafuru for younger viewers, and I think that viewers as young as 11 or 12 years old can relate to the relationship and drama elements of the series. I think that anime fans who enjoy sports/competition anime mixed with drama should give this series a try by watching the official subtitled streams that are available at Crunchyroll.
|Chihayafuru 2||25||2013-ongoing||Morio Asaka||Madhouse||N/A|