When the second season of Chihayafuru was announced I was excited along with all of my fellow fans after having enjoyed the first season. At the same time, though, I was worried that a second season could not live up to what I saw as the success of the first season, and that karuta would, in time, grow stale even to those of us who love the show. That said, with the conclusion of the second season, I can gladly say that I was completely wrong about my concerns.
In the latest episode of Chihayafuru, Chihaya finds herself in a difficult position with her right hand injured. This doesn’t stop her from competing, of course, and somehow she manages to win the first two rounds in the Class A bracket using her off-hand. The plausibility of this success is pretty low, but watching this episode did spark an interesting idea.
Inspired by Chihaya’s performance in the first two rounds of the individual tournament and her will to play even with an injury (or maybe stubbornness), I decided to conduct my own little experiment (also because I’m a complete dork). I do not play karuta, but I was curious to see how well I could perform in something I was very familiar with after switching around my hands. The activity of choice was, of course, League of Legends.
Of all the plotlines in AKB0048, the one that I was most invested in was the drama of succession between Takamina and Kanata.
“He always let his actions speak for him. He’s careful and has a lot of pride. He’s always thinking about what happens when he loses.” – Komano, Chihayafuru 2 episode 19
Nowhere does Chihayafuru hit home for me as well as it does with Taichi’s development over the course of the series.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that Diana, and not Akko, would’ve made a more suitable protagonist for Little Witch Academia.
Turmoil finds its way into Bunny Mountain Market when Choi tells Tamako that she is the bride for the prince that Dera has been searching for all this time. Like with most things Tamako is relatively unphased by the news and expresses doubts that she is actually the prince’s bride. To her it is no big deal, and she goes about her days as though nothing has changed. The people around her, however, are thrown into a state of confusion as they suddenly find themselves faced with the prospect of Tamako leaving and torn between their desire to see Tamako happy and to not see her leave.
It is troubling when a show trivializes the wounds or disabilities of a character, using them to create a dramatic effect but later disregarding them. A lot of shows or manga (especially Shounen) love to injure their characters as a way of illustrating how tough the character is, or how strong the opponents they face are, but then ignore the severity of such injuries by having their characters miraculously heal overnight or regain lost limbs. Removing serious injuries without addressing them is not only noticeably odd, but it can very often work against the story that is being told. On the other hand, when the injuries of the characters are treated with the proper weight, the story is much more effective and what is trying to tell, and this is something that Pandora Hearts does very well.
Aida Mana, the leading girl of DokiDoki! Precure, is a character that is ridiculously competent. The student council president, a very hard worker, and someone who is always willing to extend a helping hand to others, Mana is the type of person that parents and adults look at with pride and peers look up to with respect. But while she is so independent, Aida Mana is hardly the perfect young girl, and her particular character traits, and resultant problems, allow for different types of character exploration. Episode two of DokiDoki takes a look at one of these problems in an episode about being willing to ask someone else for help and the alienating effect of trying too hard by yourself.
Though it has been close to a year since the first season finished airing, season two of Chihayafuru picks the story up right where we left off without losing a single bit of it’s charm. One thing that I’ve always liked in particular about this show is its portrayal of the competitive aspects of Karuta. Not only because it makes for a very intense story, but also because competitive games have always been a big part of my life. Growing up I played in quite a few Chess tournaments around the country. I competed and placed in tournaments, some even on national level, and on occasion even participated in teams. In recent years I’ve also begun playing League of Legends, and while not as serious as my Chess experience, I still try to be competitive both as a solo player and with my team. Chihayafuru really resonates with me because the experiences and the struggles of the characters remind me so much of my own experiences in the competitive world. And as we enter the show’s second season, and the Karuta club is forced to pick up additional members, Chihayafuru once again impresses me with its depiction of team dynamics.
In the past few days before the holidays I have been taking a trip down memory lane by re-watching much of Aria. Though I’ve seen the series several times, the simplicity and sentimentalism of the stories have not lost their magic. The series is full of strong episodes, but one that I’m particularly fond of is the OVA that takes place between The Natural and The Origination.