「ふれるしらゆき」 (Fureru Shirayuki)
“From the Crystal White Snow”

As much as I like Fate/Zero, Mirai Nikki and my favorite comedies new and old, there’s no question in my mind – Chihayafuru is the Fall series I most look forward to every week.

Am I reading too much into the fact that Chihaya was wearing a “Let’s GO!” T-shirt when she and the boys visited a Go Karuta salon for the first time? Intentional tribute or not, there’s no question that this series gives me the same feeling that Hikaru no Go at its best did. While the two series are quite different and will obviously focus on very different aspects of growing up, there’s a shared sense of finding something you love, and the joy of sharing it with friends.

Hopefully we can put all the silly Taichi-bashing of last week behind us now that we’ve seen that he’s a good kid who made mistakes. In many ways Taichi is – dare I say it – my favorite character here, because there’s a lot of complexity to him. He strikes me as the most “real” of the three heroes, because he does give in to weakness and listen to his selfish impulses sometimes, as kids just entering adolescence so often do, but at heart he wants to do the right thing.

But who am I kidding – it’s a three-way tie, really, the trio at the heart of the show are all fantastic. Chihayafuru is doing a great job showing us the hurtful things at home that drive the children to be who they are without obsessing over them. I thought it was quite telling when Chihaya’s sister said that she should “Just keep gushing about how great I am.” At least her Mom seems to recognize that the sun doesn’t rise and set around Onee-san’s schedule and it’s OK for Chihaya to blossom into her own person. Arata has the most to gain from the trio, it seems to me, because he’s never really had friends before. It wasn’t surprising to learn that his Grandfather was a “Meijin” of Karuta, but I get the sense he’s never had anyone to truly share his passion for the sport with.

I thought all the scenes at the Karuta Salon and the exciting tournament were excellent, and I thought that the Harada-sensei was a wonderful addition to the cast as the first adult with a meaningful role. He started off looking like a comic figure, but showed himself as a true mentor, and the way he gently nudged Chihaya into understanding just how painful it was for the boys to separate from her – and how dwelling on her own pain was selfish – was a superb example of the right way to teach a child. Ah, the separation – this was real sadness, as we’d only just gotten the chance to see the exhilaration of the trio together. With Arata forced to go home to Fukui and model student Taichi going away to an elite middle school, we now know why the kids went their separate ways. Their goodbye scene in Arata’s apartment was one of the emotional highlights of the season so far – very direct and heartfelt without being cloying. Is there anything more painful in sixth-grade than saying goodbye to friends you love?

Whether we immediately return to the present as of next week I can’t say for certain without a preview, but it appears as if the reason for the flashback has resolved itself so I assume the answer is yes. I’ll actually be quite sad to leave the sixth-grade versions of Chihaya, Arata and Taichi behind. These were some of the best episodes of any anime featuring kids that age since Dennou Coil. But it’s also exciting to think about the potential of seeing their story unfold as high-schoolers with all the possibilities that brings with it. There really hasn’t been a misstep so far – the pacing has been perfect, the cast excellent, and the animation (that scene in the snow especially from this week) gorgeous. So I have full faith and confidence that his adaptation is going to keep making all the right moves.


  1. I also third in that opinion that “Chihayafuru is the most exciting show for me to watch every week as well. I can’t wait to see where it goes.” (innerchihiro)

    I love this manga to bits and now I also love the anime season.

  2. I hope the karuta game has more depth, honestly it seems childish. There doesn’t seem to be a league of any sort in real life for it. Otherwise the anime is excellent it really feels like Hikaru no Go all over again, which is a wish come true.

  3. I was beginning to wonder if this whole show was to be set in the past memory but with this advancement in the plot that they are to be seperating finally after the tournament perhaps we’ll be seeing some more development in the current time the show started with. I was actually surprised by how excited I was to watch only the third episode. This show has a good flow to it. Easy to get sucked into the enthusiasm the characters display. I’d say Taichi’s mother is well pleased with him going to the prestigious school. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next for Chihaya.

  4. This series is truly a sleeper creeping up. I am loving how the story makes me feel for the characters (even almost tearing at the epi’s end).

    Really hoping they keep the quality up for at least half the season (if not all 25 epi)

    1. Honestly TSouL you say that… but its not even based on a card game thats even exiting. I mean have you ever heard of Karuta before this anime? I haven’t. In real life would you even want to attempt to play it after seeing what’s even about? For crying out it doesn’t even involve money. And Karuta is based on a borrowed Portuguese word.
      I do agree on what your saying about a sleeper. I do hope character development is little faster, but I would like to see where the anime left off, the beginning. The reason why I watched this far was because of high school environment it was in. It kinda makes me uncomfortable when writers do this (I mean the time jump that every author has to do now), its great on a movie because it sums up the important cr4p and a lot more people are not out of shape on the background of the story, but its already been 2 episode and i was hoping that this was the episode that they would of jumped forwards back to the high school life.

      1. I don’t know what you’re going on about dude…all he said was that he felt for the characters. I don’t know why you had to bring up irrelevant things such as whether or not he would play karuta…nobody said anything about wanting to play it themselves lol.

        Also, I don’t see what’s so bad about getting to know the characters as kids. A good story is a good story. You don’t necessarily need the characters to be in your age group you know. I mean, hell, I’m already in college, and I can still enjoy animes about elementary school kids as long as the characters are believable and the complexity feels human enough for me. Much better than some typical high school anime drama where the main characters feel fabricated and fake.

      2. I don’t mind whether the environment is high school or primary school, as long as it works. (I of my fav is Wandering Son/Hourou Musuko which is set in middle school)
        I also seen Karuta played in several animes, but never understood how it’s played until now. Anime has introduced me to Go, Shogi, and Karuta. =D

      3. well James like i said before I would of like to see more of the school life, maybe thats where the main story is. Because the elementary theme is obviously the past, there won’t be progress in the main story is there? Thats why I liked the High school theme first and I might of not disliked them elementary theme as much as i thought i would if the writers wrote the elementary theme first.

      4. I’m a little baffled when I hear people saying the “flashback” is too long, when it isn’t even a flashback – it’s the setting for the first part of the series and it’s much longer in the manga. We have literally dozens of series every year that focus on teenagers – how often do we get really good character-driven series that focus on preteens in an intelligent way? I wish the sixth-grade part had been longer, not shorter.

  5. I look forward to this show the most each week, I had a feeling that the story would be less interesting because the card game doesn’t seem too fun and that pretty much they just slap the cards after hearing a syllable, but how wrong I was. The scene where they started to cry made me cry too. the relationship between the trio is what makes this anime so good. Chihaya’s straight honest forward character draws me in.

    1. Divine was quite insistent that since my writing is my work, I should also post it on my blog. As long as people who want to read it can read it, does it really matter where? I know the audience here is huge, and Divine wants to provide them with a variety of different takes on anime, and I’m grateful to be a part of that.

      Look at it this way. Sometimes stories in newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post are picked up and run in other newspapers. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in the NYT – it just means people can read them in whatever paper they usually read. I don’t really understand why more choice for a reader is a bad thing.

  6. Not sure why people need to bring up “Karuta is boring and has no strategy and I hope the story doesn’t dwell on it so much like people say it does in the manga” in every episode, as if its lack of strategy is going to ruin the story.

  7. Wow, they really took out a lot of the emotional build-up from that tournament by cramming its introduction and end result all in one episode. This episode covered 4.5 of the 6 manga chapters about their childhood. The tournament alone spanned a couple of chapters and was what really sold me on this series, so it’s a shame it was highly condensed for anime-only viewers.

    I definitely recommend reading the first manga volume that this episode covered to get a real feel for how Taichi redeemed himself and how the three of them grew closer together. For example, the scene where they all snatched the “Chihayafuru” cards without fail was a pretty big moment but it was shown so quickly in the anime that I bet most people didn’t even catch it.

      1. It never has, because it strips all tags. I’ve looked into modifying the plug-in, but it never quite worked the way I wanted because the text is truncated.

        Normally it’s not a problem if people don’t just put their entire comment in a spoiler tag and say something about what it entails first.

    1. Likewise, I’m also surprised they went over the childhood chapters so quickly,there were some real highlights, like you mentioned. But I’m guessing it’s because they have so many chapters of material to cover (14 volumes) that they can afford to speed things up a little, and I’m looking forward to how they portray the rest of the story 🙂

    2. So, am I not the only one who felt like this episode rushed all the good times and emotional bonding/build-up in their childhood like they had in the manga? The tournament ended rather quickly. And really, so much was packed into one episode. I felt like they could have taken the same pace they had with the first two episodes and utilized a few episodes for everything that was compacted in episode 3. I would have still very much enjoyed it. Oh, well. Can’t explain, I’m not saying I’m not enjoying the show. I’m so happy that they adapted the manga into an anime. Wish Eden of Hana got a chance if the mangaka didn’t get accused of plagiarism. 🙁 Can’t wait to see the rest of Chihayafuru.

      1. I don’t necessarily feel that it was rushed, more like compacted too much into the episode. Events just seemed to blow by in this episode compared to the first 2, but they did manage to nip all the important points. I didn’t had any problem with it.

        Anyway, it’s indeed a shame that they have to split up. I guess that’s why Chihaya[teen] in the beg of the 1st ep didn’t look as energetic and vibrant as her child counterpart. In the manga, it was rather difficult to transition from her younger self to her older self because of this(the beginning events of ep 1 happened after the events of this episode in the manga). Her teenage aloofness was cute, but it’s not as endearing as putting all of her childish energy into everything she’s involved in =03.

  8. Personally, I thought this episode was a little too rushed and was, as a result, the weakest of the first three. That said, I love a good story centered around friendship and this is pulling it off very well. I find the character interactions to be the highlight so far and am much looking forward to the present day stuff to come.

    But, because of the rather fast pacing I got to say Fate/Zero (which has been damn near perfect imo) is slightly ahead of this as my favorite of the season. But, yeah, Chihayafuru is definitely one of most noteworthy series airing that I’ve seen.

    1. Basically, Karuta cards are split into 2 fields, yours and your opponents, 25 cards each. Rules state that when a card is being read, you may grab as many cards in your field as you want without penalty, as long as you grab the correct one. If the card is in your opponent’s territory however, grabbing a wrong card first will count against you.

  9. Well, the main story is their lives so…I can’t fathom how a “how they got to where they are” story arc would be bad for development. Mind you, the anime is 25 episodes long so 3 episodes of elementary school years is pretty reasonable relative to how long the series will be. It’s not like they gave you one whole episode of high school then all of a sudden you’re watching two episodes of elementary school life. Only the very beginning was high school. So far, it’s pretty much starting from the beginning of their elementary school years and working towards high school. Think of the very beginning as a way for you to become interested in what happened between these 3 characters. Obviously we didn’t know enough about them to make any assumptions, but oh, what’s this? You’re going to flash back and explain why the characters are where they are and act how they act? That seems like a pretty good transition to me.

  10. So my hunch is actually correct that everything I’ve seen in the past 3 episodes are more of a prologue, it seems the real story will begin next episode.

    Episode Impression: It’s a bit fast-pace but over all I think it did a fairly good job in letting the viewers immerse to a world as how the characters see it through their eyes. Very good episode overall.

    This 2-male and 1-female best friend setup kinda reminds me of Xam’d The Lost Memories for some reason, any people who have watched that series will know how they ended. Hopefully it is nothing like that in Chihaya Furu, but still I would love if something like that will happen Show Spoiler ▼


  11. I only enjoyed the first two episodes but this episode blew me off my seat.. It ranks up with Guilty and Fate/Zero now IOP.

    When Chihaya was yelling “I Don’t want it to end,” during the tournament, I was thinking “I don’t want this episode to end.” Looking forward to next week.

      1. I sent the above comment as you sent your comment.. I wouldn’t have sent it if i saw your “Indeed, that “be” is extraneous – I was staring right at it and still didn’t see it.”

  12. I haven’t felt this way towards an anime for a long time. The moment when Chihaya said to listen during the tournament and hit the karuta card at the first syllable, the music, the mood, the voice, everything felt perfect and completely drew me in. This episode was amazing! I haven’t felt this good towards an anime for a while! I’ve seen too many titles lthat seem to be only ecchi so seeing a good show like this feels pretty great.


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