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Chihayafuru Season One (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Chihayafuru Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

Author: Sumino Kawashima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 12, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Drama, School Life, Slice of Life, Sports, Card Game

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow

Synopsis:

Chihaya Ayase was a girl who never seemed to fit in. She never had much in common with the other kids, and her family was so obsessed with her older sister’s modeling career that, sometimes, it was like Chihaya was not even there. Everything changes when transfer student Arata gets Chihaya interested in the world of competitive Karuta, a unique card-based game that requires lightning fast reflexes, an exceptional memory, and a keen ear. Chihaya is a natural, and she has the skills to take her to the very top. Suddenly, Chihaya has found her goal: to become the best player in Japan! It will not be easy, but when a girl has a dream in her heart, nothing else matters! Will Chihaya become the Queen of Karuta? You will have to watch Chihayafuru and find out.

Commentary:

Chihayafuru is a series that starts off very slow but then it becomes something amazing. The character development is amazing and I truly believe that Chihayafuru loves its characters. Chihaya is the tom-boy who wanted nothing better than for her sister to become the top supermodel in Japan. That was her dream for her life. But thanks to Arata and Taichi, she finally realizes that she wants to be the Queen of Karuta. Taichi is from a wealthy family and he is quite the golden boy as he is smart, good looking, and mature. He also excels at nearly everything he does which is why he is the President of the Misusawa Karuta Club. He has a crush on Chihaya but is hesitant to do anything about it as he believes she only has eyes for Arata. Arata left after elementary school graduation to take care of his grandfather. His passion for Karuta is inspired by his grandfather who was a Meijin (master).

I will try and explain Karuta but it will not be short. Karuta is not to be compared with playing cards in the sense of the Western World. It is not Poker, Rummy or Skat. It would be most comparable to Memory. There are different types of Karuta that can be played. Uta-Garuta is played in Chihayafuru. The card game consists of 200 cards, 100 of which are called Yomifuda, this are the reading cards and 100 Torifuda, which are the cards that are use by the players itself. On the Yomifuda are the first three verses of a traditional Japanese poem. The Poetry comes from the Hyakunin Isshu (100 poems of 100 poets, each poet one poem). The Torifuda (game- or field-cards) contain the last two verses of the respective poem. The challenge consists in recognizing the poems during the reading and to catch the corresponding play card in front of the opponent. Karuta fulfills everything a sport should have, high concentration, excellent memory, lightning reflexes, strategic thinking, endurance, resilience, mental strength and a tremendous commitment to the long training for coordination and precession. The person who touches the right card on the field first gets the card, when you take a card from the opponents side you can give them one of yours, when your half of the playing field is empty you win.

It sounds simple and quite boring but it’s NOT. In order to touch the right card quickly, cards get flung of the playing field, people are sweating, thinking and reacting at full speed and crazy-eating chocolate in between these intense games. To really play Karuta at top level you need memorization skills, good hearing and senses, good posture, analytic and strategic skills, precision, strength, speed, perseverance, an emotional connection to the cards and so much more. As you can see, Karuta is very difficult to play but when it is played by people who love it, it is a beautiful thing.

The animation was so beautiful and colorful. They showed off backgrounds that will take your breath away and traditional Japanese clothing that is just amazing. The voice actors did a great job and I really enjoyed this series even if the first five to six episodes drag a bit.

Extras:

Chihayafuru includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as Special Features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A

Cardcaptor Sakura Complete Series

Cardcaptor Sakura 1Title: Cardcaptor Sakura

Creators: Clamp

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Re-Release Date: Aug. 5th, 2014

Format: DVD / 70 Episodes / 3 volume set / 1750 minutes

Genre: Shojo, Magical Girl, Romance

Age Rating: T for Teen 13+

Overall Personal Rating: A

 

Synopsis:

Ten-year-old Sakura lives a pretty normal life with her older brother, Toya, and widowed father, Fujitaka. Or she did, until the day she returned home from school to discover a glowing book in her father’s study. After opening the book and releasing the cards within, Sakura is tasked with collecting each of these magical cards, while trying to live the life of a normal fourth grader. In the monumental task of collecting all the cards, Sakura must rely on her friends and family, and decide what she finds most important in life.

As Sakura’s journey to recapture the Clow Cards continues. With most of them captured, she finds that the remaining cards are going to put up a fight. Along the way, she must also navigate the struggles of moving on to the fifth grade and contend with the ever-evolving romances in her life. And before long, she discovers that there’s a not so pleasant surprise waiting for her at the end of her card-capturing journey.

After a harrowing journey to collect the cards and prove her worth as their master, Sakura finds herself in a whole new world of trouble as mysterious events begin to threaten the small town of Tomoeda. To make matters worse, Yukito seems to be having some unexplained troubles of his own. With no cards left on the loose, Sakura must form a special bond with her cards to quell each new disturbance, and discover what could possibly be causing them before the lives of Tomoeda’s residents are damaged beyond repair!

Commentary:

It has always been common place to see older shows brought back and re-released. Some of them deserve to be revived and some are better of left to the annals of the anime world. For Cardpator Sakura the re birth just might the biggest one this year with the least amount of fan fair. I know that there is another one slated for November that is an all time favorite for many, but I feel as though Cardcaptor has a lot more to bring to the table than the other super girls coming later this year.

The big difference is the creators and their vision. Clamp has always been known for their shojo and the overall popularity of everything they have created. The anime of the popular manga series had to stand up to the critics because of what it was and yes it still stands the test of time. The fact that there is deliberately written into the show consistent costume changes is seminal for the series and also the high quality of action produced in the magical summoning scenes make a difference in the over all enjoyment factors.

I understand that this series was developed for the younger female audience, but I would not want anyone to shy away from it just because of that. The writing is so well done that all ages and genders can find this series a lot of fun and very easy to watch and get caught up in. With other famous shojo anime there always seem to be a serious dark element to each of the characters, but with Cardcaptor Sakura, the characters are just average kids who are put into these unusual circumstances.

Overall Grade: A

It would be very easy to go on about how well this series was written and developed, but it is very easy to see why it deserved to be brought back to life. Simply put, it is a lot of fun. It is well made and most of all it is easy to watch and enjoy with the entire family. I found myself rooting for Sakura in every episode and also appreciating the aspect that she is aging. I know it is not much, but Sakura does age and change classes, but even more importantly the costumes she wears are great and I for one would love to see a cosplay con be dedicator to this series. I think it would be great to see all of those strange and funny costumes come to life.

If you are looking for something that is for everyone and that is one of the best series going,then you need to go out and pick this up.