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.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #151

I am making my way through Twilight of the Golden Witch, the final chapter of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. As I am still not done I will save my final review for the chapter and the series as a whole for a later date but I do think there is one major fact about the game worth mentioning. When this game was first released the reaction was divisive to say the least. Going mostly on spoilers it seems that there was a very vocal community of people who felt that Ryukishi07 shot the pooch with the ending. I may or not be related but it has taken quite awhile for the English patch of the game to come out. Purposefully or not this might be for the best. It has given people (including myself) sometime to distance themselves from that initial reaction and judge the ending on its own merits outside of the initial hype for the ending and then the backlash when the ending was finally revealed. So far I am enjoying it with some time to divorce myself from the initial reactions. A prime example is the Professor Layton style puzzle section is nowhere near as horrible as it first sounded. It has some of the most powerful scenes if you get the puzzles right. It gives a little insight into how everyone in the family was still a human despite the many horrible things they had done. That is thematically important given how I think they are building up this ending. It does not shy away from the terrible things they have done but if you think anyone there is a complete monster than it makes the ending somewhat disingenuous. I look forward to reading the ending and weighing on the series as a whole now. I think I would have been far more brutal if I did not have some time away from the series. This really shows the benefit of some time away from the gut reaction of a community.

After talking about Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% in my year in review, I decided I’d better watch some more! I watched up through episode 7 which is a good half way point before everyone goes to idol summer camp (oh yes!) and decides on their partners for their final exams. Each episode has focused on one of the guys who through Haruka’s positive attitude helps each feel more confident/find his voice/etc. Of course she isn’t able to melt the frozen heart of Tokiya upon first try but we do learn quite a bit about him and a few secrets are revealed. He gets a lot more attention for the obvious reason that he is the “true path” more than likely in the original game. It continues to be a far-fetched fantasy that knows it. Also the headmaster may appear infrequent but remains entertaining as Norio Wakamoto lends his voice to the bizarre antics. I’m hoping that perhaps they will focus on Haruka’s roommate in an episode but that may be unlikely in a show like this.

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S.W.A.T. Reviews: Fall 2011 Pt. 1

With the success of the S.W.A.T. reviews last season we’re trying it again with the autumn line up. The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. These are the first four of the new season:

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Listen – Episode 1 of Phi Brain – Puzzle of God is from Sunrise with the opening “Brain Diver” by May’n.

Listen – Episode 1 of Chihayafuru from Madhouse with the opening “YOUTHFUL” by 99RadioService and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere from Sunrise with the opening “TERMINATED” by Minori Chihara and is streaming on Anime Network.

Listen – Episode 1 of You and Me from J. C. Staff with the opening “ByeBye (バイバイ)” by 7!! and is streaming on Crunchyroll.