Karuta, Arata and Chihayafuru

To be honest, I just decided to watch this anime because of the beautifully drawn characters. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the story, its characters and its main theme – Karuta.

Like most of Chihayafuru’s fans, I have no idea what Karuta was until Chihayafuru aired. According to the anime, it is a card game where speed, memorization and sharp listening skills are needed. It’s a one-on-one game where players are given a set of twenty five cards that they are to lay strategically in front of each other. They are to memorize the placements of the cards and once the first verse of each card is read, the players race against each other to tap, touch, or swipe away which card contains the second verse.

You think that’s easy? Well, the type of Karuta in the anime is Uta-garuta. Its cards contain waka (now called as tanka, English translation: Japanese poems) from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, which is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred poems by one hundred poets and was compiled by the scholar Fujiwara no Teika during his stay in the Ogura District of Kyoto, Japan between the 12th and 13th centuries. A waka is a five-line poem of thirty one syllables, arranged as 5-7-5-7-7. So, to be a Karuta player, one has to memorize all the poems in the said anthology. Most of all, one should be able to read hiragana because the poems are written in that manner.

Reading my simple explanation of the card game, do you think you’d be interested to watch this anime even without seeing what the lead characters look like? I personally would not be interested. My first thought when I read about this anime was, “I think this would be boring.” If I hadn’t seen the beautiful lead character, Ayase Chihaya, I would not have given this anime a shot. Thankfully, I saw her because if I didn’t, I might be having one of my greatest regrets right now. I might not have seen Wataya Arata, my current anime crush ♥

But kidding aside, if I didn’t see Chihaya, I would’ve passed up to see this anime and searched for another under the same genre. Call me shallow, but beautiful lead characters always catch my attention before anything else. Thank goodness that Chihaya and the rest of the characters aren’t just beautiful to watch, but their personalities are really fascinating too. Their relationships are as intriguing and as interesting as their personalities. Each episode, you’ll get to know the depths of their characters and how sometimes a shallow point of view of a teenager becomes deep and suddenly becomes the turning point to have a goal to reach.

The story revolves around three main characters – Ayase Chihaya, Wataya Arata and Mashima Taichi. They were friends from elementary school and it was the card game that made their friendship strong. Actually the anime basically revolves around them and their love for Karuta. And along the way, as they grew older, each of them struggled to keep their friendship and their love for Karuta. It was only Chihaya who consistently played the game, enhanced her skills and nurtured her passion, thinking that one day, she will become queen and that the game would reunite her with childhood friends, specifically Arata.

Okay, that was way too big of a giveaway but that is essentially how I see this anime will be ending – Arata and Chihaya, together and in love. Hahaha! But don’t get me wrong, the anime is far from over and far from the ending I am hoping. Chihaya is still growing up and doing her best to beat Shinobu for the queen title. Arata is still far away, living in Fukui and had just returned to playing the game he so loved and is so great at. And Taichi? Well, he’s giving everyone else a run for his money. He’s the dark horse in this anime and he is secretly in love with Chihaya.

So, with all the things I said, do you think you’d like to watch Chihayafuru? Well, if you’re still not convinced enough, then here’s my latest artwork. This is a fanart of my current anime crush – Wataya Arata, grandson of the eternal Karuta master. This was drawn and colored using Photoshop Elements v8.0.


Ogura Hyakunin Isshu information came from http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/hyakunin/intro.html.


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