Binge and Review: Chihayafuru

So you ask “What’s karuta?”

Well, it’s a Japanese card game. And if it weren’t for this extremely well done series, you would never get excited about it. Yet here we are. 52 episodes later and I’m dying for more matches!

One thing that this anime does better than most is making you fall in love with the characters. Before you know it, you care so much about every single one of the main characters. This series does a great job of using flashbacks to teach you about everyone’s back story. But they don’t overdo it like some others do. The flashbacks are well timed and they don’t drag on forever. You even learn just enough about the main characters rivals to get you personally involved with their matches.

There’s almost no wasted episodes. A lot of series that are based on matches or battles or some kind of competition draw everything out. It seems like the writers realized that nobody really wants to watch a long drawn out training arc. In most cases the only reason we do is because we’re already invested in the series. But they don’t take advantage of that. They skip months of unnecessary training and get you right to the meat of the story. In only 52 episodes they cover 2 entire years of progress.

When you start the first episode, you’d never think that you’d have all of your emotions tested. That is definitely the case though. You quickly become emotionally invested in all of the main characters. They time the music perfectly with all the important scenes. And next thing you know, you’re sitting there with tears of joy in your eyes as your favorite character has an incredible breakthrough. You also will find yourself on the edge of your seat stressed out about the outcome of the match you’re watching. And of course the overwhelming frustration when things take a turn and don’t go how you were wishing they would.

They’ve got jokes too. This isn’t a serious series the entire time. The writers have very well placed jokes to break the tension. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Otherwise you might go crazy cheering and yelling at the TV for hours like a crazed sports fan.

My only real complaint about this series is that they sometimes draw out an episode with the same flashback clips that you’ve seen a couple times before. It seems like they are just killing a few minutes so they can end on a cliff hanger. This doesn’t happen too often, so it’s not a huge issue. The flashback repeats are mostly when they are approaching an important match with a reoccurring character. You have to keep in mind that they had originally intended you to watch an episode a week, not a handful back to back on consecutive days. So it might not have even been noticeable when it was originally airing During a binge watching marathon you come to be familiar with them.

Overall I would recommend Chihayafuru to everyone. I’ve probably watched it 5 times by now and am still waiting patiently for a third season to start. They leave it on a big time cliff hanger on the last episode of season 2, so there has to be a third in the works somewhere. Or at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself as I check what series are scheduled to air every TV season.

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