Chihayafuru was a very intimate experience. It’s one of those rare romance stories that I was actually invested in for awhile. I think it was well-handled in terms of showing the audience, mainly the younger side of it, that perseverance pays off, wonderfully depicting how personal endeavors and traumas can keep you distant from others and as a result: making you genuinely care (for some time) about the characters getting better and better and find enjoyment in the success they find.
I remember watching Chihaya vs Queen (Shinobu Wakamiya) and while, predictably, Chihaya lost but was the first person in a long time to actually take a card away from her. This is one of those cases where no matter how predictable the scenario is; it is predictable because it is the best written option available. Because I expect Chihaya to be better than any average player, I want her to grow; I want her to be Queen someday! And that scene, where she takes the card away from Wakamiya was the signal that classified her as someone who wasn’t like everyone else and someone who can grow strong enough to beat Shinobu Wakamiya. And to my knowledge, there wasn’t a scene more beautiful than that one.
I could also talk about Mashima and Arata who are wonderful additions for their individual differences. The godlike Arata being so consumed by the death of his Grandfather that he drops karuta and later has to re-adapt when he decides to get back into it. Mashima mainly being skilled for his almost superhuman ability of memorization that allows him to basically be 1 step ahead- these are both very nice characters that almost leaves you torn as to who is best for Chihaya. Albeit, Mashima has 0 chance in hell. Arata’s way too fuckin’ good. He’s the type of guy that’ll just throw a bunch of cards including a pair of sunglasses, catches all the cards first perfectly and catches the glasses with his face and walks away from the girls he’s trying to impress. Almost like he lost all intent to tap dat ass whilst realizing how cool he is.
Okay, i’m memeing but it’s true! Anyways, i’m being coy; I’ll get to the point. For all the good things it does initially: the amazing direction and soundtrack that not only makes the karuta battles exciting but meaningful, the progressive romantic subplot and the spirit of seeing thes characters genuinely strive to become better!
That all stops. Simply because, you kind of have to realize that, while predictability isn’t a bad thing, there’s a certain point where it makes it completely pointless to watch a show that you already know the steps of. We know Chihaya is gonna beat Wakamiya eventually. We know she’s gonna be Queen. Hell, she probably might even beat Arata. Not that it matters because they both will be Queen and King regardless. Which is why I was never excited for a possible finale of Chihaya and Arata. Oh and we know Arata will beat Hisashi Suou. That’s really my problem with the second season; it was just a series of competitions and less about the characters’ relationships. The romance became less fulfilling, the I started to care less about the characters, it even felt like Kanade and Tsutomu became less significant which was sad because I thought it was cool how they were like these training players that Mashima and Chihaya were developing. Almost an academy team. Thus, I had to drop the second season at episode 14. Really thought this was gonna be my gateway to sports anime but I think my expectations just lowered.
Let me know what you think of Chihayafuru and what it’s taught you.