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Manga: Chihayafuru
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.

This work contains

  • Abusive Mom: Taichi's mother is a bit of an Education Mama, for any competition.
  • The Ace: Subverted in Taichi's case, as Kanade quite harshly sums his up in one omake: "Jack of all trades, master of none".
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the anime Chihaya has red eyes, Arata blue eyes and Taichi gold eyes. Not so much in the manga, where Chihaya's stated to have 'big, serious black eyes' and Arata has Gray Eyes.
  • Alliterative Family: Chihaya, her sister Chitose and their mother Chieko.
  • 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.
  • Arrogant Karuta Guy: Oh, Sudo.
  • As You Know: Kanade gives her knowledge of karuta's backstory in this fashion, not knowing that Chihaya knows next to nothing about it.
  • Bishounen: Arata and Taichi; they were also cute young boys in the flashback episodes.
  • Blind Without Them: Arata.
  • 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.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Young Taichi.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Chihaya's older sister and seemingly Taichi's younger sister in their respective teenage years. Chihaya's sister takes it Up to Eleven.
  • 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?!"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As Komano says it best:
"All the best Karuta players are weirdos."
  • 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.
  • Cast of Snowflakes
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Shinobu after getting caught out in the rain.
  • Character Development: Everyone gets some.
  • Child Prodigy: Tachikawa Ririka, who made Rank A at grade 4.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Chitose sure is a Jerk Ass, but the New Year's money omake was so darn funny anyway.
  • Conspicuous CG: Episode 13, when Arata drops the cards.
  • 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.
  • Crush Blush: Chihaya and Arata. A lot.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Queen to Nayuta, Chihaya and Sudo in the Omi Jingu tournament.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Shinobu to Arata.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Funnily enough Taichi ends up as this to Chihaya.
  • 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.
  • Gainaxing: By Kana-chan in episode 17 during the relay race. Cheers from the male crowd were extra loud when it was her turn to run.
  • Gaming and Sports Anime and Manga: Obviously, although it overlaps with Slice of Life genre sometimes.
  • Genki Girl: Chihaya.
  • The Gloves Come Off: At the end of episode 21 of season 2, Chihaya unwraps her injured right hand in preparation for the match with the Queen
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Taichi in regard to Arata.
  • 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.
  • In-Series Nickname: Most of the cast.
    • Tsutomu is called Tsukue/Desktomu due to his studiousness and hilarious devotion to his school desk.
    • Kanade goes as 'Kana-chan'.
    • Nishida is Nikuman/Porky, no points for guessing for what reason.
    • Chihaya is known as 'Beauty in Vain' in the school.
    • Arata is called 'Megane-kun' by Harada-sensei.
    • Taichi is called 'Matsuge-kun' (Eyelashes) by Harada-sensei. Which fits as Taichi is a Bishounen.
    • Hiro is 'Retro-kun'.
    • Taichi's mom is, quite fittingly, 'Mrs Pressure'.
  • Josei
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Arata gets teased because of his.
  • Kawaiiko: Kanai Sakura, whom Chihaya is playing during her first A Class tournament, dresses and speaks in a manner of a teenager despite being a middle-aged woman.
  • Kick the Dog: The entire childhood of Taichi.
  • Kids Are Cruel: When the whole class (except Chihaya) bullies Arata.
  • Jerkass: Taichi and his mom, but the first one kinda leans to Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Sometimes.
    • As of the timeskip, Taichi is more firmly within the Jerk with a Heart of Gold category.
    • 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
  • Love Bubbles: Falling maple leaves and Cherry Blossoms are used too.
  • Love Triangle
  • 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.
  • Megane: Arata and Tsutomu.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Played straight in the manga, which actually takes a few chapters to get through. The anime starts with Chihaya in high school and turns the childhood stories into a few whole episode flashbacks in order to make the Grand Finale come full circle.
  • New Transfer Student
  • The Nicknamer: Chihaya
  • 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.
  • Oblivious to Love: Chihaya seems to be oblivious to Taichi's crush on her.
  • Potty Emergency: Arata due to food poisoning. He also routinely has unlucky illnesses.
  • The Power of Friendship: Harada-sensei says it best: kids can't go far in karuta without friends
  • Princess Carry: Arata carries Chihaya this way.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 16 is mostly one, with a few other things.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Chihaya is a nicer variant.
  • Rich Bitch: Taichi's mother, emphasis on bitch.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Taichi and Arata fit to a T during Chihaya's childhood.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Tsukuba's three younger brothers aren't really triplets (they're year apart), but their Strong Family Resemblance and characterization in general fits the manner of showing Same-Sex Triplets in fiction. Chihaya even mistakes them for triplets.
  • Scary Black Man: The team of students from Chiba International School Play With this. Tsukuba has some decidedly cringe-worthy and uncomfortable interactions with the team's black member, Matt, but Matt turns out to be a total sweetheart and a bit of a Gentle Giant. More than anything, Tsukuba comes away looking like a bigot.
  • 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.
  • She's All Grown Up: Chihaya
  • 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.
  • Sleep Cute: Between Chihaya and Taichi.
  • 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.
  • Team Spirit: Every sports series must have this.
  • The Three Faces of Eve:
  • 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.
  • Tsundere: Taichi.
    • Nishida's older sister. To the max.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: And how.
  • 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.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend
  • Unmoving Plaid: in the OP.
    • 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.

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alternative title(s): Chihayafuru; Chihayafuru
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