I am ten episodes into Chihayafuru and I already love it so much. To me, it epitomizes everything I love about anime— exciting, personal stories about people who work to better themselves with the people they care about. Chihayafuru is about Ayase Chihaya, her friends, and their love of Karuta, a traditional Japanese card game that has been around since the 1600s. To me, it is a drama/sports anime in a category of its own. And it has a little shojo trash sprinkled in to get me giggling like the fangirl I am. I love this anime. For a lot of reasons. But today I’m only going to talk about one.
Chihayafuru is an anthem that calls people to do what they love, no matter the consequences. Every character in this show plays Karuta and they are all admonished for it. Such an old, uninteresting game…a game about memorizing poems? You're such a freak! The people in their lives don’t understand why they want to pursue it so fervently. Their families think it’s a waste of time, their friends think it’s stupid, their teachers wish they would take that energy and focus it on their studies. To the average person, Karuta is a game of the past, an unimportant sport, and completely useless. But no matter the ridicule they receive, the Karuta club continues to play. Why? Because they love the game.
Karuta is the only thing Chihaya has ever felt she was good at. Her sister, a natural beauty and model, steals the attention of Chihaya’s parents and, at first, Chihaya was fine with that. But Arata helped her realize that she could have aspirations and dreams of her own. As a result, she fell in love in the game that made her dream of being the best in the world. Her parents, happy that at least Chihaya likes something, pays her no mind. With only the support of her friends, Chihaya pursues her passion and walks forward without blinking an eye. She is the picture of determination and I love her. What a great character. What a role model.
Her best friend Taichi is the same. His emotionally abusive mother only acknowledges him when he succeeds and gets angry with him when he pursues things he is not immediately good at. “There’s no point in doing it if you can’t win,” she told her twelve-year-old son. Harsh, much? But Taichi also fell in love with Karuta, and most likely Chihaya who loves it (See the shoujo trash forming?), so he decides to pursue it with Chihaya through elementary school. After they separate for middle school, Taichi gives it up (from a lack of Chihaya or the anger of his mother, I can’t say for sure) but takes it back up in high school when Chihaya relights his passion for it again. His classmates can’t believe it, the popular boy, soccer star, and 1st academically in the class playing Karuta? But, like Chihaya and the rest of this amazing cast, Taichi moves forward with his dream to become the greatest at the game.
And it’s a weird game. A crazy weird game. But it’s so much fun to watch and this anime is so good and I’M ONLY ON SEASON 1 AND THERE’S GOING TO BE A SEASON 3 IN 2019 YES!
Sorry, I lost my composure for a moment there.
I know that I am only ten episodes in to this series and the hype is high…I’m probably too engrossed in it to judge it objectively. But who cares? I’m having a ball watching it and I’m so inspired. Chihaya, Taichi and the rest of the club just get me pumped. They’re going to do what they love, no matter what anyone in their life says! And if that’s not a great lesson for a story to teach, I don’t know what is.
Damn, I love anime.