Chihaya Ayase dreamt of seeing her sister become Japan's next top model until the day a new transfer student, Arata Wataya, tells her that she should have a dream for herself to work at. Arata's own dream is to become a top Karuta player; this dream also becomes Chihaya's own after she experiences the game firsthand and becomes entranced by it.Chihayafuru is an anime based on a manga by the same title and winner of Kodansha Manga Award for Best Shoujo and the Manga Taisho Award. It also marks the recovery of the author, Yuki Suegutsu, after the infamous plagiarism scandal that almost ruined her career.An Anime Adaptation was made, and has aired as part of the Fall 2011 Anime season. A second one has aired as a part of the Winter 2013 Anime season.There is currently a Character sheet in development.
Anime Accent Absence: Subverted. Taichi actually notices that the Chiba team, while speaking English, spoke with a strong Japanese accent. Afterwards, they dropped the act and admitted to being raised in Japan.
Book Dumb: Chihaya. It's been noted by the others that she is one of the last twelve people in terms of grades.
Book Ends: The first episode and the last episode of the first season has Chihaya pinning up notices for the karuta club.
Breather Episode/Clip Show: Episode 16 is a mix of these. Coming hot off the episode where Chihaya just lost to "The Queen" and Taichi losing in the final round of B group, a comedic episode is due. These joke scenes take place in between clips from past episodes, which seem to serve solely as framing for when the scenes occur.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: While trying to decide on a new design for the team uniforms, Chitose comes up with some pretty good concepts; but then Chihaya hears a "voice from the heavens" (the author) vetoing the designs.
Sidetext: "Those are a pain to draw, so no thanks!"
In the second season, it's revealed that Chihaya doesn't actually know what "Chihayafuru" means Kanade says, "We're in the second season and she still doesn't know what the title means?!"
Buxom Is Better: Kana-chan, who is also a Nice Girl and is shown as getting approval as the most attractive dating candidate from all of the club members (quite begrudgingly from Taichi's side). Yes,even Chihaya's.
Cool Old Lady: Kanai Sakura is a skilled and friendly karuta player who beat Chihaya in the latter's first Rank A tournament, and in doing so, gave her the epiphany she needed to really realize her weaknesses. They parted on good terms and hoped to see each other in the Eastern qualifiers.
Dude Magnet: Chihaya is one due to her looks, but men are usually driven off by her personality.
Kana-chan is this, along with Even the Girls Want Her, as all the other karuta club members unanimously decided that she's the person they would all want to date (Chihaya included).
Epiphany Therapy: Chihaya and Taichi when they go to Fukui to see Arata. Their meeting helps bring Arata back to karuta.
Fan Disservice: In-universe example with Chihaya and Shinobu, both are often complimented on their looks and at the same time they're considered weird. The former's personality and the latter's fashion sense.
Fighting Your Friend: The Individual Tournament Class B and D matches ends with Taichi vs Nishida and Kanade vs Komano respectively.
Hard Work Hardly Works: In-Universe example. Taichi had this attitude for a while, even quitting karuta for a while because he felt that he wouldn't be able to catch up to Arata even if he kept it up his whole life. Harada-sensei told him that it's a waste to think like that if he never even tried. Ultimately averted when it comes to any player who's at all good, even Arata and the Queen, who all achieved their levels of skill through determination, hard work and practice.
Hot-Blooded: Chihaya is very dedicated to playing karuta and will make very sure that everyone around her knows it.
So is Sudo, who manages to drive Chihaya to tears by bullying her 'lack of motivation' (ie. passing out during the match).
How We Got Here: Manga begins with an 18 year old Chihaya playing in the Queen match. Immediately flashes back 6 years before to show us how she met Arata and discovered her passion for karuta. The story picks up again 3 years later when the cast is in their first year of highschool.
Also, Chitose, who withheld from giving Chihaya her New Year's money to buy herself some new clothes (since she'll be giving them to Chihaya in two years anyway) can't bring herself to continue acting that way seeing how nice and cheerful Chihaya always is and immediately gave her that fashionable new jacket she bought as an indirect apology.
Sudo also qualifies.
Lady of War: Kana tells Chihaya that she needs to be more graceful at all times even in the heat of battle.
Lap Pillow: Between Chihaya and Arata, after she faints from a fever during a match
Meaningful Name: All of the major characters have a karuta poem with which they are associated, often times this card is considered their "signature card". The most blatant one is Chihayaburu, which is both Chihaya's signature card and the series namesake. However, Kanade's signature card is Ooeyama, and the card Sumire identifies with is Hananoiro, which both of their last names reference.
Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: The rules of Karuta are amazingly lax when it comes to unfair playing tactics. For example, if you aren't sure which card to remove, you can swipe a whole bunch out of the playing area with one move. If the correct card is among them, you get the point; if not, there's no penalty. Since players are allowed to array their own cards as they choose, they can even maximize the effectiveness of this tactic.
On the other hand, Taichi rearranging cards in the middle of the match is improper behavior.
There are penalties for touching a card when the poem being read isn't on the field, or touching one side of the field when the correct card is on the other side. You still have to have some idea of where each card is to win (or a really, really quick hand, which is Chihaya's strong suit).
Desktomu-kun uses this to his advantage in episode 19 to stage a comeback by rearranging his remaining cards so he can swipe them all without having to identify which one's being read.
Serious Business: Traditional Japanese clothing is this for Kanade, to the point where she joins the club on the condition that they start wearing hakamas.
She gets it from her mom.
The actual hundred poems, also to Kana, who takes it as a personal affront to be berated on her card arrangement by Nishida when he doesn't know any more about the cards than how he arranges them for ease of play compared to her, who knows them all by heart.
Karuta to the karuta players, who don't let the fact that few others care for karuta, only that they play their best.
Arata's grandfather who was diagnosed with early dementia and was on his sick bed, for a brief moment remembers the tournament and demands that Arata goes.
Shipper on Deck: When Kana starts to notice Chihaya may have feelings for Arata, she strongly encourages Taichi to visit her without other club members, insists he should make his feelings known, and even arranges for them to have time alone together.
Stern Teacher: Miyauchi-sensei, who is feared for her strictness but is also supportive of her students. She initially doesn't think much of competitive karuta until she sees how seriously the karuta club was practicing, after which she decides to personally chaperone them to Omi Jingu and learn some about the one-hundred poems herself.
She's also pretty accepting of the karuta club's formation before she even got serious with it at all, giving them a room to use (even if it's a storage room) and immediately recognizing them as an official club as soon as they got all five members, the only other condition being that someone other than Chihaya becomes the president.
Sumire - the flighty, vain and boy-crazy Love Freak of a Seductress.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Chihaya is the Tomboy, meaning she will wear leggings under her skirt or heft a desk carrying a possible recruit into her clubroom. In comparison her sister Chitose, a model, and club member Kanade are girly girls.
Underdogs Always Win: The karuta club won against all the athletic clubs during their school's athletic meet. While they did regularly train to build up their stamina (with Chihaya having done so since she started karuta) and that Taichi and Nishida were in athletic clubs before, Tsutomu and Kana-chan started only relatively recently, and they won against even the track team.
Subverted when it comes to Karuta itself.
The Unfavorite: Chihaya. Subverted as her parents seem to come off as uncaring toward her at first when they seem to have endless picture albums of her older sister and her modeling career, but it turns out that they're overjoyed at the fact the can collect newspaper clippings of both their daughters. Chihaya's only just started.
Unknown Rival: The Queen treats Sudo this way, although it's quite obvious that she's mocking him.
It comes back any time a patterned hakama is worn, usually by Chihaya.
Unskilled, but Strong: Chihaya. She's incredibly fast, but has no technique. In episode 17, both Tsutomu and Kana-chan point out her weaknesses, which actually pulls her out of her Heroic BSOD after Harada-sensei points out to her the problem of relying over much on speed. In episode 18, it's all but spelled out to her why her over reliance on her speed and sharp ears isn't the best way to play.
Weak, but Skilled: Tsutomu and Kana-chan aren't the quickest to react in a karuta game, but after some time, they've devised personalized playing styles that utilize their strengths. The former keeps track of his games with everyone, figuring where their strengths and his are. The latter can tell apart the cards with a certainty, to the point where multi-syllabic cards that start similarly are two totally different cards to her. They haven't won much, and still lose often to those faster then them, but in such a short amount of time, they've already closed the gap against ranked players.
Kana-chan's arrangement of cards on her side of the field (by season instead of by sound) probably also confuses the heck out of her opponents, although it hasn't been mentioned as a competitive advantage.
Whole Episode Flashback: The flashback when Chihaya is pinning up the notice about the karuta club starts halfway through episode 1 and doesn't end until the end of episode 5.