For many years (5+), I stopped watching anime due to the lack of good stories. It seemed that everything coming out were recycled from shows I’ve already seen. Slap on different character names and chose different hair colors and there’s the newest anime. Add in a dash (or in many cases, a heap full) of fanservice and there ya go!
So I stopped watching.
Due to the lack of stuff to occupy my time lately, and access to the Crunchyroll PS4 app, I’ve been either using my new elliptical or planted on our couch catching up on tons of anime. A lot of it was horrible and honestly made me wonder why I even bothered. Watching paint dry would probably be more entertaining. However, the other day, I was on a queue-fest with the Crunchyroll app. I queued up about a dozen different anime, selectively watching the first few episodes and either putting them on hold or deleting them from my queue, wondering WTF was I thinking. One of the anime that has drawn me in and kept me marathon-ing is Chihayafuru.
I’m a huge sucker for good stories with depth and detail. I’m also a big fan of “josei” type stories and this show is basically perfect! It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good josei anime. The last one that even came close to this one was Honey & Clover. I also learned about something new: karuta. I’ve never heard of it before! It’s amazing how much detail and background this anime goes into while telling the story about Chihaya, Taichi and Arata. I’m only on episode 8 of the first season, and there’s two seasons! This has been such a diamond in the rough!
Chihayafuru is about a
“tomboy trapped in a model’s body” (ok not really, but it’s what they say about the main female lead a lot) competitive karuta. While they were young (and I believe still in elementary school), Chihaya meets up with the bullied student named Arata and discovers his passion for competitive karuta. Taichi, Chihaya’s childhood friend, tags along with Chihaya because he doesn’t like how she is paying more attention to Arata than to him. Some time near the end of the school year, Arata has to move back to his hometown, but Chihaya made him promise to keep playing karuta so they can meet up at the tournaments. Taichi ends up choosing an elite middle school that was 1.5 hours away, which wouldn’t allow him to continue playing karuta with Chihaya either, so they also lost touch until their first year of high school, four years later.
Another thing I have this obsession for is listening for and determining who certain seiyuu are before looking it up. Since I’ve been out of the loop for a while, a lot of my old favorites aren’t doing as many roles as they used to. A lot of roles are obviously going to the newer, younger talent. Nothing wrong with that, just that I can’t pick them out like I used to. However, one of my favorite male seiyuu does the voice of Taichi: Miyano Mamoru! Not only does he have a very likable, distinguishable voice, but he does a good job going from a cutesy happy-go-lucky “genki” character to a very serious, dark, menacing type (here’s looking at you, Light-kun! :P). I like that sort of talent because you can’t exactly pigeon-hole him into any one type of role.
Deep down, a part of me wishes that friendships in anime actually happened in real life. I mean I’m sure it does for a select few, but as with any other person’s sad story, it has never happened for me. Whether it was because I moved a lot and went to many different schools growing up, or that I was ethnically different from everyone else around me and bullied because of that, I never could maintain friends as a child. To this day, I still don’t actually have any friends. Well, ok I have one if you count shiranai. He’s the only one that has ever been able to put up with me. These sappy stories in anime always make me tear up and touch my heart and I’ve always secretly wanted something similar to happen to me. Considering my old age, that’s asking for a lot. What I wouldn’t give to have that one person that stood up to my bullies and defended me, taking my side and not join the crowd and make fun of the way I looked or acted.
Either way, if you’re looking for a good anime with a great story, I highly recommend watching Chihayafuru!