Keeping Abreast of Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru is an unusual little sports anime. Competitive Karuta is a very Japanese game steeped in Japanese culture. Unlike Go it is not a game that has no language barriers. Even Shogi or Mahjong can be learned without learning Japanese despite their pieces having Japanese characters on them. Karuta not only requires being able to read and speak Japanese but being able to do so at a level that you can react instantly that make it unplayable by anyone who is not fluent in the language. But this is not the only thing that makes Chihayafuru so exotic. The fact that it is sport manga from a josei manga makes it even more unusual. As a manga written for adult women it treats certain subjects differently than your stereotypical boys sports show. Chihaya Ayase as a female protagonist is treated very differently just because she is from a josei manga. Almost all the reviews of the series has mentioned this fact. But there is one aspect of Chihayafuru being from a josei source that I have not seen anyone talk about and that is how Chihayafuru deals with breasts.

We have all seen the common tropes about breasts in anime. The girl with small breasts who is obsessed with the fact or the girl with large breasts that is constantly a source of fan service. This makes Kanade Oe such an interesting character. She is one of the few busty characters in the whole series. This is even more noticeable by the fact that all of female characters who are teenagers and older have a feminine shape to their proportions them almost all of them are modestly endowed. In a show aimed at boys there would be a good amount of comment on Kanade’s amble assets. Also the camera would tend to linger on her chest or at least position itself in a way to bring a greater notice to that area. But they are no more emphasized then her pig tails or her short stature. Her defining character traits are her love of the classics and transitional dress, her pleasant disposition, and her stubbornness as opposed to any physical attribute.

The thing about this is that I came to this revelation not by what was done with the character but what was not done. After two or three episodes I noticed that her breast had never come up. I won’t say that Kanade’s amble bosom is never touched upon. While episode 16 is mostly a recap episode there are a few comedic omake segments. In one of the skits the male members of the Karuta club discuss who they would date and naturally Kanade being well endowed comes up. But to assume that teenage boys would overlook this fact is pure fantasy. I suppose when you have a female author and a predominantly female audience then breasts are just far less of a fascinating subject. You can spend more time on the character of a character then their proportions.


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