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.
“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.
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.
Chihayafuru is a show that I did not cover at all in the two seasons that it aired, but it was easily one of my favorites from the past two seasons. It wasn’t perfect, but the show did a really good job of exploring a competitive game and the people that play it. When I was younger, I played a lot of chess. Not just with family or friends or in some small club, but competitively. I played in a large number of tournaments and even traveled to different states to compete in national tournaments. Chess and Kurata are fundamentally very different games, but Chihayafuru did an excellent job of portraying the spirit of competition that is common between them. Continue reading