It's a pretty simple formula of a high school student's journey through trials and tribulations with a passion/skill and determined goals.
Chihaya is a beautiful high school student, who is perceived to 'ruin' her beauty when she opens her mouth to speak and reveals herself to be a little less dazzlingly intelligent than her beauty might complement. Despite this, she is painted as always being up against this image - which never sat quite right with me, as her character was never particularly stupid, and I thought this consistent reinforcement cheapened her character a little, which dulled a certain empathetic quality about her journey.
The show began to drag on a bit, especially toward the end [SPOILER]where I felt as though things should have been at least progressing a little with Arata or Taichi[/SPOILER]. I realise that there is supposed to be a second series, but I felt more frustrated by the lack of forward momentum than I felt could be justified by the - as yet still unsubstantiated - promise of a second season.
Otherwise, it's a relatively tight story, but people who don't like karuta should steer clear, as all of the storyline's subtleties and developments stem almost wholly from karuta being played, watched, analysed and used in metaphor.
Sometimes it could be a little bland, but otherwise functional, and no real jarring complaints on that aspect.
VA's were good, and did particularly well in creating tension through inner dialogue throughout in all the characters, which was a large portion of the series' 'action'.
Aside from Chihaya's unfortunate lumping into the 'not too bright' category, the rest of the characterisation was good, in general, with all things mentioned.
7.5/10 - with a second series
6.5/10 - as is/without a second series