Chihayafuru – 03

Chihaya, Wataya (Arata), and Taichi enter the world of competitive 3-on-3 Karuta when they join a local club, who are pleased to have them. Here, Chihaya awakens her talent, Taichi learns teamwork and sacrifice, and the three become friends. But when Taichi is accepted to a far away school and Arata has to leave town to be with his ill grandfather, the golden trio splits apart after competing in a tournament, which they barely lose. Chihaya plays Arata one last time before he moves, and manages to beat him. She vows they’ll never be apart as long as they keep playing Karuta.

That was a god-damn tearjerker at times. We haven’t seen this much vibrant, compelling drama fill a scant twenty-two minutes of airtime in a while. This episode covered both the establishment and the disbanding of Team Chihaya Furu, and really fleshed out the excellent core trio. Taichi was far more likeable, Arata showed his gloating side, and Chihaya was simply fantastic throughout, as she finds her passion and develops her skill for the game, even as her family offers zero encouragement (We don’t care how pretty her sister is, she’s just plain scum).

All these good and bad times almost pass too quickly; but at the same time the series definitely made a bold statement telling so much story in so little time; it means it has a lot more story to tell. After all, we’re still in the past: Chihaya’s in high school now. We’re not sure the next episode will return to the present (there are no previews), but we would say we’re ready. All that needed to be established in the past was deftly, efficiently, and affectingly established. The series needn’t maintain this rapid pace, but if it maintains this quality, it has a chance to join the likes of Hanasaku Iroha and AnoHana as our favorite dramas of the year.


Rating: 4

Advertisements

Mirai Nikki – 02

Amano’s school is bombed by the terrorist Minene Uryuu, AKA the Ninth. She then holds the school hostage and promises to finish the job until they hand him and Yuno over. They do, but the Fourth, a policeman, arrives and evens the odds. They’re able to defeat the Ninth with teamwork, but she escapes before they can kill her. Amano, Yuno, and the Fourth agree to form a “Diary Alliance”.

A school being bombed: we remember that about the brief OVA preview for this show. Turns out the perpetrator is a psychopathic pink maid with purple hair who was able to fill a school with bombs and mines. She wants godhood, and she’s good and ready to kill whoever gets in her way. This episode did a good job establishing just how much danger Amano is in, but also how his future/destiny is always changing as his actions deviate from what the diaries say.

And it isn’t only his phone. Everyone has a special diary that gives them an edge. Amano’s sweats the details; Yuno’s is all about him, whom she calls “Yukkii”, while the detective and bomb maid have diaries of investigation and escape, respectively. It’s a neat plot device that I hope the series continues to use in clever ways. It is indeed an interesting narrative that comes right out and gives you an outcome, and then puts the onus of preventing that outcome on the characters. It’s also nice that they didn’t forget about Amano’s prowess with darts, which will surely keep coming in handy moving forward.


Rating: 3.5