7 April 2012 | Tweekums
An engrossing series
Who would have thought that one of the most engrossing recent anime titles would have been a josei (for women) series about high school students playing an obscure Japanese card game that would be a challenge to play even if you spoke fluent Japanese? I certainly didn't; I initially watched the opening episode out of curiosity but was soon engrossed. The opening episodes are shown in flashback and show us how protagonist Chihaya Ayase gets interested in the game of Competitive Karuta*; we then see her struggling to recruit enough members to form a club when she starts high school. As the series progresses the members improve at the game and learn their strengths and weaknesses as they practise and take part in various tournaments. The series ended after twenty five episodes however it was open ended with several plot threads still open; I for one would love to hear that there will be more episodes one day although at the moment I have no reason to think there will be.
This was a surprisingly engrossing series and each week I looked forward to the next episode becoming available. The series is animated in such a way that the games are exciting to watch and it doesn't matter if the viewer has no knowledge of the game as it the characters' passion for it that is so engrossing. Each member of the team is distinctive both in looks and character with each playing for different reasons. The character designs and animation were both pleasant to look at and their voices sounded right although, not speaking Japanese, I had to rely on the subtitles to understand what they were saying.
* I haven't attempted to describe the rules of the game; if you want to know more look up 'Competitive Karuta' on Wikipedia.