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Its been almost a year since the first season of Chihayafuru ended, yet it seems like barely yesterday since we’ve set foot in this amazing series’ world. In perhaps, one of the more welcome surprises, one of the sleeper hits of 2011/2012 is back with a season 2. I must confess, I did not at all expect Chihayfuru to land a season 2. Its one of those genuine miracles that you only find in the Anime industry, where even an extremely niche series like Chihayfuru can do well, and continue on and get a season 2 less than a year after its first season.
The season 2 for this series is well deserved, though, because it is a show that really hits on all the right notes. Officially, Chihayafuru is categorized as a Josei series, but as anyone who’s seen season 1 can atest to, it is so much more than that. There’s of course, the classic romance/love triangle between the three main characters Chihaya, Taichi (my man!) and Arata. Beyond that however, the show is almost shounen in how loving and well done its “Karuta” aspect is, which truly elevates the rather niche card game to exciting new heights. It’s pleasantly surprising just how exciting a game of Karuta can be, and its down to exceptional pacing, great storytelling and some extremely deep love for the actual game that makes the show’s Karuta matches stand comfortably next to some of the best sports anime I’ve seen.
And of course, there’s also a ton of secondary characters that have been expertly developed, and play off each other so darn well. Beyond all the praises I can sing for Chihayafuru, I’ll say one more thing. Chihayfuru is the kind of series that is ripe for Anime blogging as far as I’m concerned. When you’ve been blogging for as long as I have, there are just some serious that are excessively easy to blog, and because of how much happens in Chihayfuru and how deep it can be, its just made to be discussed and obsessed over. If you’re reading this post though, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but some things just… NEED to be stated XD
With all of that said, I’ll say that the premier for season 2 was of the kind of quality you’d expect from Chihayfuru. The episode brought in a nice mix of the old, previous storylines from the last season, but also introduced some new elements to keep things fresh and interesting. I’ll state that I am particularly still a fan of the older storylines than the new stuff we’ve been given, but that’s probably because I’m more enamored with the characters I spent a season with.
It was pretty great to see the Karuta Club again. Club captain Chihaya, for example, was definitely still her naive and charming self. I think what’s really made Chihaya an interesting character for me, is the fact that she’s the embodiment of a shounen sports main character in female form. She’s really ambitious and super focused on the thing that she loves, Karuta, and oblivious to nearly everything else XD
It was a classic Chihaya moment when she ran into perhaps her first conundrum of the season. The realization that everyone has different goals and different aims within her Karuta club was a real revelation to her, where I think most people would probably find it obvious. Every person, even on a team with great synchronization and resonance, will have their own personal goals and motivations for what they’re doing.
For Chihaya, she not only wants to win at Karuta and become the Karuta queen, but she wants to raise the next generation of Karuta players and spread the love of the game to more people. Its not just a game for her anymore, afterall, but a way of life almost, something that people who love a certain art or sport can attest to as a very real thing.
While Chihaya has her big, over ambitious and agreeably greedy goals, it was nice to see how everyone else’s goals different from her own.
First and foremost, we have Taichi, who’s main goal is obviously the Queen and Master title matches. I’ll take the opportunity to state, that the character that really made Chihayafuru the series for me to truly enjoy in 2012, was none other than Taichi. I believe it was Gaurdian Enzo from Lost In Anime that coined the term, but while Chihauyfuru was airing, every Tuesday was “Taichi Tuesdays” for me. Seeing Taichi grow, mature and continue to fight for both his love for Chihaya and his competitiveness in Karuta were a joy to behold.
The road hasn’t been easy for him though, as we are reminded in this episode. For one thing, as many people remember, Chihaya seems to have this connection, bordering on an obsession with Arata. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I kind of preferred Arata to Taichi when they were kids, but that quickly changed once we got reacquainted with both characters in high school. While Taichi went from the easily jealous bratty kid to a truly likable, noble guy, Arata went from cheerful ambitious young kid to an emo depressed mess.
As is the case with the “nice guy”, however, Taichi has always kind of been at a disadvantage when it comes to Chihaya. He has even went as far as to kind of accept that he may not be number one in his eyes, yet his devotion and care for the girl he loves compels him to not only continue to support her, but better himself.
I think it really spoke volumes for me, when Taichi worried about how Chihaya was “wasting time” on getting new members for the club, when she was so serious and so deeply affected by her goal of becoming queen and not being able to achieve said goal.
Of course, as Nishida rather obviously stated, Taichi himself hasn’t even made A class yet. We all remember it, the moment where Porky was able to head into A Class and Taichi was left behind. And of course, the one conversation that truly cemented Taichi as one of the greatest male characters in anime, the whole conversation between him and Haruda-sensei, where Haruda-sensei offered to let him advance forward. This was mostly out of Haruda-sensei’s worry that Taichi would break from the failure of not having made it, and partly from his own belief that people need some reward for their effort to keep going. Of course, Taichi put that all to rest, when he refused and decided to keep going based on his own abilities.
It was great, therefore, to hear Chihaya say that HER largest priority was seeing Taichi become an A-Class Karuta player. This was truly the one thing that Taichi needed to hear, as I’d say that he really needs to focus a bit more on himself. I’m glad to see he’ll be going over to Haruda-sensei and working on becoming stronger.
For the rest of the group, I’d say it was pretty similar. Nishida, Tsutomu and Kana all shared the idea that they wanted to focus on practicing for the team high school tournament, while leaving the whole thing about the new members as a non-priority. The major difference, I think, is that Tsutomu wants to still include the freshman in some form in the club, while Porky wants to totally focus on the high school tournament to the point where he feels extra members would be a distraction.
Its kind of hilarious that Kana’s priority is etiquette, probably the furthest from the actual game of Karuta itself, but still very close to both the Karuta Club and the actual proceedings for said game. Indeed, Kana’s path to become an actual reciter for the 100 peoms featured in Karuta makes her primary goal very much so to deal with the look, feel and procedure of the game. While I definitely think that Kana’s eye for presenting Karuta is clever, I think it kind of backfires a bit when it comes to the freshmen.
Her idea to use Taichi and Chihaya to get people’s attention rather than a Karuta demo was a decent one, but as anyone who’s run an organization can guess, it wasn’t a particularly good one. The problem was that people flocked to the club based on their interest in Taichi and Chihaya rather than the actual game itself. Whether its admiration for how pretty Chihaya is, the outright crushes on Taichi, its a bad lot all the same.
And thus, it is based on this whole idea that we’re introduced to our first new character, Sumire Hanano. And maaan, I’ll be quite frank in saying that I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw. A girl that’s pretty much focused on relationships without really understanding what they are, and rushes for the first hot guy she sees after being dumped. It doesn’t help the fact that she can’t, even the slightest, have someone like Taichi be interested in her.
I think looks are important to any guy, but for someone like Taichi, it has to be someone that truly stands out as interesting and different, and only an odd creature like Chihaya can really perk his interest XD. And thus, it was kind of hard to watch Sumire so blatantly persue Taichi while disrespecting Karuta and the Karuta club. Her direct and rather confident way of approaching everything is something that can get on a lot of people’s nerves, and while it works in a classroom setting, its totally the wrong approach when you’re trying to make friends or something beyond that.
I will say this though, I won’t be judging Sumire by just this first impression. In a series like Chihayfuru, first impressions mean nothing really, as I wasn’t a particular fan of Taichi at the very start. It remains to be seen whether Sumire will have similar redeeming qualities to the star of the show, and I’ll keep an open mind until then.
If anything, the girl at least resonated with one the 100 poems, and took Taichi’s rather blunt rejection but refused to give up.
I’m interested to see where things go from here, as we have another new character to see after this, and that should definitely shake up the dynamic alittle bit. In any case, it’s great to have Chihayfuru back, and now its going to be Taichi Fridays from here on out!
I’ve got to say, I’m a fan of the new OP theme. The song is nice and upbeat, and very much in the same spirit as the one from season one. The animation is a nice montage of all the characters in the series, as well as a nice preview of some of the new things in store. Overall, I’d say this OP achieves the rather rare feat of being able to keep the quality of OPs consistent, in a season where most second OP themes have disappointed to no end (Psycho Pass, Robotic;Notes….)
I admit I’m not as jazzed by the Ending theme as I am by the Opening theme, but its pretty good and very serviceable. Not bad, not bad.
Since Chihayfuru doesn’t seem to have previews in the crunchyroll version that I’m viewing, I guess there won’t be previews associated with the blogging of this series. Sad in some ways, but probably for the better. Previews can REALLY tend to spoil stuff.