Chihayafuru First Impression: Beauty in Vain

Chihaya enters high school with hopes of starting a karuta club. This is definitely considered weird among her classmates and friends. They wonder why a beautiful girl, who is also the younger sister of a popular model, would be interested in such a boring game like that.

Poor Chihaya is left alone by her friends who have gone to join more prominent clubs. She lies on the grass and listens to a monotonous recording of someone saying the Hundred Poems. Her childhood friend, Mashima Taichi, appears and they are reunited after three years (because Taichi studied at a different middle school). The two then walk to the station and wait for a train. Taichi receives a call from his girlfriend. Chihaya is shocked and begins to wonder if their childhood friend, Arata (whom they haven’t seen since elementary school), has found something more important than karuta. Chihaya admits that she joined the track team in middle school instead of playing karuta. Taichi says that he doesn’t plan on playing karuta in high school because it was only a hobby.

On the train ride, Chihaya reminisces about her past with Taichi and Arata. The three of them were in the same elementary school class. Chihaya and Taichi were good friends (though I daresay that Taichi had and still has a crush on Chihaya) in the class. Arata was a new transfer student from Fukui and was gossiped about among the students in the class.

Chihaya doesn’t really notice Arata until she recognizes him as the boy who delivered the morning paper to her doorstep. She speaks with him after school and wants to apologize for her comment earlier. Taichi sees the scene and is not pleased. He pushes Arata and Chihaya onto the wet ground and goes away.

Chihaya goes to Arata’s house with him and talks with him about dreams and karuta. Arata chided Chihaya for not having her own dream and tells her about his dream – to become a karuta master. The two play a game and Chihaya can see Arata’s passion for the game. She gets into it as well and tries to beat Arata, but fails.

I thought this first episode was well done and directed. Everything flowed well from the character introductions to the flashback. We successfully met our three characters: Chihaya, Taichi and Arata. The only complaint I have about the episode is the character design. I can’t say that it isn’t pretty, but Chihaya’s character looks sort of scary. In my opinion, her red eyes are a little too red. Other than that, I’m pleasantly looking forward to the next 12 episodes that follow Chihaya and her desire to start a karuta club at her high school.