Chihayafuru is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu; Chihayafuru is her first animated work, but not the first manga. The manga has been serialized in Be Love(Kodansha) since December 2007. Third season of the series aired in 2019, which is 6 years later after the second season. The manga, as well as the TV series, have won many awards; the manga also has more than 16 million copies in print.
Being in a team is always challenging: aside from improving yourself, you need to improve the team and help them keep going no matter what frustration they might face. Mizusawa High School's Karuta Club has achieved many accomplishments and now the members of Mizusawa High will need to focus more on the individual tournaments. Ayase will finally, once again, challenge the Queen, and Taichi will be able to compete against Arata. But they are not the only players, who want to get better and get the title of 'the best player.'
At long last, six years after the second season of Chihayafuru, we get the third. After six years, you might have had to rewatch previous seasons of the series, but if you started watching it not long ago, even better. After a small recap, the anime returns back to where it ended and things start to get spicy. Karuta is no longer a team game, like it used to in previous seasons of the series. Now Ayase Chihaya, Mashima Taichi, and Wataya Arata will focus more on their individual ambitious: the desire to become the Master (the best male karuta player) and the Queen (the best female karuta player). What is more, Chihayafuru does not stop only on these 3, because it is boring to have good main characters and supporting cast that gets no development whatsoever. That is not the case, since the supporting cast here gets quite the development, too. There might be players that play for fun, but there are quite many players, who, too, want to get the title of the best karuta player. Finally, the third season introduces more characters and shows more about the current Master and the Queen. Anyways, long story short, there are so many new details Chihayafuru 3 introduces, but, at the same time, they are well balanced. You do not feel that the story lacks something.
Chihayafuru's soundtrack and animation are great as always. Chihayafuru's OST is light and airy, comprised of flutes, piano and other classical instrumentation. What is amazing about the OST is the fact that it fits the series very well and helps the viewer to dive into the world of karuta even better. During every karuta match, the OST helps to keep the tension and it does its work very well overall. But the best part, of course, is Japanese voice acting, which makes this series that amazing.
Animation wise, it is great, too. It is well-made series, with mature-looking, reasonably-proportioned characters. Indeed, it is not something you will watch for animation and it is quite difficult to say that the animation is great, it is good and even beautiful in its way, but it could have been a bit better sometimes.
While the first season of Chihayafuru largely focused on Chihaya and her progression as a karuta player, and the second season centered on teamwork, the third season, however, seems to more focus on the individual desire to win. Namely, why people play karuta. Yet, now more focus is made on the supporting cast: the Master and the Queen, as well as other supporting characters, including the head of the Shiranami Society for karuta and new characters, for example ex Queen. And this is really amazing, there are so many things going on, new characters, their stories, what they want and what they are trying to achieve. And this is quite enjoyable, I must say, since watching 3 seasons about Chihaya, Taichi and Arata would surely be boring. Not here, though, as mentioned before, there is a balance about everything in this show and it makes Chihayafuru 3 never boring to watch.
Enjoyment wise and overall, Chihayafuru is still as good as it used to and is a highly recommended show to watch for all the fans of great SoL. Chihayafuru shows people competitive karuta, in which anyone can play and it does not matter who you are, what are you doing, and how skillful you are, since any player can get A rank, when they spend enough time improving their skills. There are so many characters, supporting cast is not weak as in many series, they are as good as the main cast, they get enough development, their backstories are shown to you and because of that you are starting to like them. There is absolutely nothing I can criticize in this series, absolutely nothing. What I can say is that I would love to see a slightly better animation, but that is not much of a problem for me to stress, it is still good and has its beauty.
No questions about it, the third season is a solid 10/10 and a must watch for all those, who like SoL and saw the previous seasons.
I can’t understand why moonchild15’s review had seen Chihaya 3 and thought the series was going downhill. Too much evidence to the contrary. The animation technique is decidedly superior, a point I made in my review of the recap episode. The storyline is intensifying with the certain deepenings of overall skill in Chihaya and Taichi's doubts whether he'll ever improve his game to the level of mastery. As for sound, the themes, granted, are not up to the standards set by the previous two seasons, particularly the heavily synthesized, fast-paced closing theme. But we’ve advanced the story from learning what the game is about, to the quality of teamwork which builds champions, to the drive which makes one want to win it all. Chihaya 3 was the only version that I had to take in a 'subbed.' No crime in that; in many ways I’d prefer it. Still, I saw that the perspective of karuta players from Mizasawa High (and elsewhere) was unaltered. All learned to play the game for fun, but a few would be tested in such simple loyalty to karuta in transcending to the point of playing with excellence ... or not playing at all.
As the premise of Chihayafuru expanded, so did the cast of characters. And we are not necessarily talking about new characters as Haruka Inokuma, an old queen who returns to the game and challenges Shinobu for the crown with two children in tow and one more in utero (playing karuta with pangs of morning sickness must not be fun). We might notice old, uninteresting characters as Mr. Fukasaku, Chihaya’s high school advisor who uses a moment of Chihaya’s lack of drive in karuta to show her academic ways of learning to expand her scholarly roots without compromising her love for the game. There are defined standards of those players who stand in the way of Chihaya’s dreams as Rion Yamashiro, a rising karuta star and possible friend/rival of Chihaya. Even Master Suo, painted as an undesirable representative of the sport has a backstory which inspires sympathy. Suo is afflicted with a degenerative eye disease. Blindness is in his future, and he only wishes to make a name for himself before he is a victim of this disability.
The oddity of this season could be perceived as a weakness; the climax comes at episode 20 with the resolution of Shinobu vs. Haruka (Queen) and Master Suo vs. Dr. Harada (Meijin) battles. This left four episodes for a transition ... to where? Taichi comes to question his ability in karuta, coming in fourth at a prestigious tournament, losing to Arata en route. He comes home crushed, uncertain of where he stands in the game of karuta. Chihaya recognizes this and tries to resolve his depression on his birthday by holding a semi-official karuta tourney in his honor, with Master Suo (who vacillates between hating Taichi and 'not' hatting him) as the reader. But the key events come with Arata's confession of love to Chihaya in episode 14 and Taichi's confession eight episodes later. Chihaya remains mute through both, though she agrees to play karuta with Arata always. Chihaya's ambivalence is shocking, her expressively bright red-orange eyes the only clues to what she is thinking. And ... is she thinking?
The thoughts of a fourth (and final) season are evident. All episodes in the three seasons are entitled with lines of poems from the 100 karuta cards. With season three, we've used 75. Only 25 left, and every reason to use them. Arata finally has formed a karuta club at his high school, and the promising aspirant to become the next Master is eager to try his team against that of Mizasawa (and those of Japan ... and the world). He is stunned to learn that both Taichi and Chihaya have quit their karuta club in their confused uncertainty of what to do with their lives. For this prospective fourth and last season would cover the final year of high school for Chihaya and all the other third-years. Chihaya finally has reached the level of competence to take on Queen Shinobu, and, if she doesn't self-destruct with her continual emotional breakdowns, has a good chance to become the new queen. Arata has outright challenged Master Suo to hold off his 'retirement' for one more year so he could battle him on the mat for the prize of Meijin. Taichi can have that last burst of improvement which could place him in striking range of Master. Or if this fails, to win the hand (so to speak) of Chihaya. Or, better, what does Chihaya think of Arata and Taichi? Or is she thinking of stuff other than karuta? Hard to tell with that girl.
Cool things that can still be experienced in the fourth/final season. Come on, MADHOUSE, I know you want to do this! Do we have to wait six years for this one?
Completely worth watching if you liked the previous two seasons
I liked a lot that it was focused a little more in the love side of the show but still super exciting episodes
cant wait for season 4 this anime is a masterpiece
(spoiler free review) compared to the first 2 seasons, i felt like this one was a bit lacking. There were too many episodes spent on certain karuta matches, and therefore it felt a bit prolonged and repetitive at times (basically, i got bored). There was somewat of a development with the romance which i liked, but overall this season was just above average. I hope theres a season 4
Just to clarify, i did not write this blog post. I simply wanted to share it here as its rly interesting