What is this?
A now-friend of mine, Seren, started an /r/anime rewatch of Chihayafuru on February 06 2019, and I participated in this rewatch as I really liked the show and particularly the card game (karuta) that they played in the show, with special focus given to the symbolism and meanings of the cards, which were based after old Japanese tanka taken from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. The actual anime itself contained lots of allusions and references to the poems and even seemed to showcase actual tactics used in the karuta game too, and I realized that it would be fun (and challenging) to do writeups on every single episode as the rewatch ran along.
This was very painful at first, because the rewatch progressed at a pace of one episode a day, which meant that eventually I was coming up with a 10k-20k character essay every single day on average for two months straight, as well as map out (and occasionally analyze) the playing boards for the episodes that showcased games, something that had never been done before. On top of this, I hadn’t started my Japanese studies in the University at this time, so I basically bought a deck of karuta cards and learnt Hiragana by watching the show and trying to identify the cards in each episode. I didn’t know Seren at the time, but she took an interest in me due to my efforts in her hosted rewatch, encouraging me along, and we slowly became friends that way.
The rewatch was for the first two seasons of the show, and went from February 06 2019 until March 28 2019, because Season 3 of the show was scheduled to start right after that. However, the show’s airing was pushed back until October 2019 due to delays, which gave me time to not only polish up my Japanese skills, but also take some East Asian focused culture classes at the University. Due to this added time, Seren also approached me and inquired if I was interested in collaborating with her in writing longer-form (~50000 characters per post) analysis posts for each episode of Season 3, since we would be on a weekly schedule (anime episodes are generally released weekly on Crunchyroll and similar sites) instead of daily.
I leapt at this opportunity, and we had tons of fun analyzing the heck out of this show together, with her doing the opening part of every essay (a look at the featured episode poem of the week) and a couple other things like the opening and ending songs, and me going after the card boards, actual episode events, and symbolism writeups. This took us from October 28 2019 to March 25 2020.
Chihayafuru was a big part of why I am so intensely interested in East Asian culture, even if I’m not specifically crazy about the game or cards or poetry or even characters on their own. The complete package is very attractive to me however, and I’ve since taken both East Asian art/religion as well as poetry classes just to complement my knowledge in this field, actions that I can draw a line directly back to both this Chihayafuru anime, and the writeups that I/we did for it. I daresay that this also had an effect on this blog of mine, as this showed me that I could do (and got me into the habit of writing) basically a long-form essay every week, and now I do a 30k-50k character diary post every weekend.
Anyway, instead of reproducing the essays themselves below, which would make things harder to edit if I ever need to go back to them, I’m linking directly to my own Reddit landing page that has links to each one instead. There are about 75 essays in all, more or less, with the last 25 being longer than the first 50, and with some of the comments containing insightful stuff and occasionally extra “overflow” essays as well, so it would be difficult to reproduce or transplant all this here anyway without losing context.
Documents dated: Feb 06 2019 to Mar 28 2019, then Oct 28 2019 to Mar 25 2020.