Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 12th, 2017
Do you enjoy light-hearted, but fiercely competitive sports shows? No? Not into baseball or soccer shows, eh? Do you at least enjoy competitive people? Yes?! Okay, that’s a start. Now, do you enjoy cultural things like poetry? Yes?! Oh my, I have an anime for you! Competitive poetry, a sweet soundtrack, a rather wonderful storyline, and a sport that you wouldn’t have known as a sport make Chihayafuru Season 1 a great pick-up for you. Many thanks to Section23 for the review unit.
Chihayafuru is the story of Chihaya Ayase, a beautiful girl obsessed with Karuta, a Japanese card game based on 100 culturally-significant poems. In elementary school, Chihaya came into contact with Arata Watase. In meeting him, she gained her own dream to become the Queen of Karuta, the #1 female player in Japan. As she enters high school, Chihaya forms the Karuta Club alongside her friend Taichi. Through hardships and gaining members, the club is formed and the competitions begin!
As I mentioned above, Chihayafuru is based on the Hyakunin-Isshu, a collection of 100 Japanese poems, each by a different poet. Culturally, it’s a game tied deeply to the Japanese and hardly played outside of Japan. Because of this, it’s said in the anime that if you become the best in Japan, you are the best in the world. The competition is fierce and the show itself is very well animated. The story pacing is excellent and the Japanese voices sound passionately intense. To be honest, Chihayafuru felt like a shounen battle anime with poetry card games.
Sadly, I can’t say I had the exact same experience while watching the show with the English dub. Don’t get me wrong! The Chihayafuru dub is easily listenable and one of my favorite parts is how much the card reading was fluid and natural. (There must’ve been some heavy practice sessions!) However, some of the character voices fall flat, especially if they’re in the background. While that could be said to be normal, this is true for even some of the recurring characters. While not as enjoyable for me after watching the subs, I still had a great time with the dub and I hope others will, too. It is by no means unbearable.
Overall, Chihayafuru is excellent. The music is satisfying. The competitive storyline is compelling. The romance is touching and you even get fierce rivalries building up. For the price of $64.99 USD on Sentai Filmwork’s digital storefront, you get 26 episodes of an incredible anime. If season 2 ever comes along to the US’s shores, I hope to get more memories of Naniwa Bay’s shores, as well.
Lolinia gives Chihayafuru Season 1 a Drastik Moé Measure of 8.2 out 10.0 (82).