If you like Ore Monogatari, Chihayafuru is an absolute must-watch. Hell, even if you don´t like Ore Monogatari and just like good anime, Chihayafuru still deserves some of your attention for being empowering, entertaining and the closest thing to a serious sports anime centered around girls we´ll get in good while.
Chihayafuru tells the story of Chihaya Ase, a frank, tomboy-ish girl who has been fascinated with the world of karuta ever since her two childhood friends got her into it – they´d play every day, and vowed to continue doing so till the ends of time. That is, until the three friends were forced to part ways. Years later, Chihaya meets them again.
Chihayafuru is empowering. The kind of empowering both the Tumblr folks and Gamergate people would agree on. For one, Chihayafuru´s main characters is a girl who´s not doing everything she´s doing for some guy, Chihayafuru has a “better than the best, never gonna rest” kind of attitude that a lot of sports anime a lá Kuroko no Basket have, but fail to be 100% honest about it. Chihayafuru tells us everyone is equal in the metaphorical karuta boxing ring, and that everyone can be an athlete as long as they love what they do and are ready to spill blood, sweat and tears for it.
Male, female, short, tall, chubby, thin, studious or not, Chihayafuru holds a diverse cast that never once feels preachy, essentially, Chihayafuru is a josei anime, for reference, so are Nana and Paradise Kiss, both coincidentally also animated by Madhouse.
This is a show that´s easy to shrug off – the strange card game can be off putting and the fancy colours of its posters just ask you to ignore it, but please, Chihayafuru is so, so much more than a corny feel-good, politically correct anime about a card game; It holds the tension of Kuroko, the shoujo feel of Ao Haru Ride and its own sweet, entertaining taste which is unique to this show. For reference, I watched both seasons (50 episodes) in less than a week.