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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Drama > Teens > Romance > Gaming > Japan > TV > Chihayafuru: Season 1 - Complete Collection (2011 - 2012/Sentai Blu-ray Set)

Chihayafuru: Season 1 - Complete Collection (2011 - 2012/Sentai Blu-ray Set)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: C* Episodes: B+

Chihaya isn't a normal girl. While she is a beauty, she is more interested in playing Karuta. Along with her friends Taichi, Arata and the Karuta club members they dream of playing in high school tournaments and even playing on the national level one day. Chihaya is inspired by Arata and discovers she is a natural, she decides to become the next Karuta Queen, Japan's number one female Karuta player in Season One of Chihayafuru (2011 - 2012).

Karuta is a Japanese card game involving memorization and reflexes, a half a poem is recited and it becomes a race/competition to see which player can find it's matching card. Chihaya was encouraged to follow the footsteps of her big sister to become a model to use her natural beauty to her advantage, but she rather be her own woman and play Karuta than depend on good looks to advance herself in society. Her two best friends are Taichi and Arata, who both are also Karuta players, BUT they also become romantic rivals for Chihaya's attention and affection (in which she has completely no clue of).

This is a drama of friends growing up and playing Karuta together. This series is not only about Karuta and the love and passion for the love of the game, but it has a lot on Japanese customs, culture and history. As time moves on people will always change, but they will always have Karuta and it is the game that keeps them all connected.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 image and lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Japanese Stereo are a great combination (the English DTS-MA track is weaker, but passable) up in the higher quality we are used to from Sentai's best anime releases. Nice, solid performance throughout. *Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers, but know that a much larger box set is being issued by Sentai with 8 discs (!) and far more extras, so check it out to see if you want to grab a copy of that version while supplies last.

Episodes for the debut season include....

This Flower has Bloomed at Last - Chihaya remembers why she started playing Karuta, because of friends Arata and Taichi.

Painted Red - During their elementary Karuta tournament, Taichi cheats and hides Arata's glasses, but still loses when Chihaya substitutes for him.

Bright, But With Snow - Chihaya, Taichi and Arata attend a grown-up Karuta club. Arata learns he is moving away soon. Chihaya says also long as they play Karuta, they will meet one day again.

The Cherry Blossom Scatter and Blow Away In the Wind - Chihaya continues to play Karuta into middle school and high school, and finally becomes a Class A player. Chihaya calls to inform Arata only to discover he has stopped playing.

The Beautiful Silver Moon - Chihaya and Taichi visits Arata to discover why he stopped playing. Arata's grandfather pasted away while Arata was playing in a tournament. As Chihaya and Taichi leaves, Arata realizes he still wants to play.

But Many Times Brighter Sill, They Light the Courts of Kyoto - Chihaya starts a Kurata club at school and gets Kana from the archery club to join them ...on the condition she models kimonos for her family store catalog and they wear hakumas during the tournaments.

Would Anyone Sojourn There? As Autumn Comes, They Do Too - Chihaya and Taichi recruits another play Komano, who believes he has no talent. Taichi tells him he also has no talent, but hard work can overcome any talent. Komano decides to join.

But Their Fame Still Lives, It Echoes Through History - Chihaya and Taichi manages to steal another player from the tennis club, Nishida. That he has natural timing to play Kurata, Nishida remembers how he once loved Karuta and joins. Chihaya is overjoyed that their club has enough members to now become an official club.

I Tired to Hide It - Chihaya starts a training camp for their next tournament at Taichi's house, but when Taichi's mother and sister come home early they end up hiding. The club plans a surprise birthday party for Chihaya.

Those Who Come, Those Who Go, and Those Who Part Again - Chihaya continues to text Arata, but Arata continues to only responds through Taichi. The club attends the regional tournament, but does poorly due to first time nerves. Taichi realizes he has been a poor leader/captain focusing only on individual abilities rather than them as a team.

O Heavenly Wind - As the matches continue Chihaya proposes a different order that is to suit to each member's strengths and weakness and they begin to play better. Chihaya sends a pic of the team to Arata that he should come and watch them play.

Flowers Lap At Your Ankles, Running Through Locked Fields - After the tournament Chihaya learns that she must get over the her stage fright and of playing under pressure. Chihaya regains her confidence after see her father's scrapbook of her achievements. Chihaya's homeroom teacher begins to understand Kurata is more than just a game.

For You I Go Out - Chihaya heads off to the national tournament. Arata arrives to watch Chihaya, he has flashbacks to how his grandfather had a stroke and asked him to substitute and then died while he was playing. Only after watching Chihaya, Arata is able to get over his past trauma and admit that he still loves Kurata.

For You Are My Sole Comfort In These Lonely Mountain Cold - Chihaya plays against the current Kurata Queen Shinobu and is reminded on how she first played with Arata long ago.

Pearls Fleeting From a Bracelet - Chihaya loses to Shinobu, but she resolves to do better in the future. After the tournament, Taichi say their weakness is that the entire team lacks stamina to play multiple games in the tournament and they should focus more on their physical training.

Mount Ogura - A series of recaps and omake/outtakes of the series so far.

This World I Forsook - Chihaya, Taichi and the club members try to improve their Kurata skills and ranks. Chihaya learns she must not to rely on speed and dead memorization alone.

The Plum Trees of My Home Will Always Keep Their Old Scent - Chihaya and company continue to play in local games. Chihaya tries out a new strategy but continues to make faults. Even though she is a ranked Class A player, she learns she must learn from her club member's strengths.

If I Were to Keep On Going - Chihaya realizes the faults in causing them to lose their matches. But despite all their loses Chihaya believes they have all grown, and now they are stronger as team and that they should all play again together.

Clouds Just Beyond the Blue Ocean, Foam-White Waves in Their Wild Dance - As Chihaya studies for her school test exams, Taichi tries to qualify for Class A ranking. Arata asks Taichi to give his contact information to Chihaya but Taichi refuses him and says he should give it to her himself.

This Snow That Covers All Soaks My Sleeves For Your Sake too - Taichi learns his weakness not how he plays but how he view Karuta as a mental game and he needs to practice his physical technique. Arata attends the Western Karuta tournaments.

Their Color Dimmed in Vain - Chihaya faces the former Kurata Queen Yumi, she starts out well in the beginning but then loses to her when Yumi get serious.

If You See White Frost, You Will Know the Night is Done - As everyone seems to be on a losing streak, Chihaya begins to get depressed, but then they learn to become a master is more than just winning, that you will never become a master if you don't have fun too. On Christmas Eve, Taichi gives Arata's cellphone number to Chihaya.

Cherry Trees Blossom On the Highest Peaks - The club watches the masters and queens match on TV at Taichi's house. Chihaya learns from the former and current Kurata Queens what she lacks to be like them.

The World Shines For One Second, Things are Pure, White, Resplendent - Arata learns to improve his game he must begin to play stronger opponents. Arata tells Taichi that even though he doesn't have natural talent like Chihaya there are other ways to improve himself. All the club members resolve themselves to improve their Kurata skills. As the new year begins, the school faculty tells them they will lose their club room unless they find five more new members.

- Ricky Chiang


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