It’s finally here—after 6 years, a new season of Chihayfuru. The premiere at Crunchyroll Expo started out with a few words by the producer Toshio Nakatani. He explained how when they first started to plan for the Chihayafuru anime, he really wasn’t sure what to do with it or how well he could adapt it because there is so little movement in it aside from the karuta swings. However, the staff still gave it their all and visited actual karuta tournaments to gain a sense of what the environment is like. In fact, many of the sounds used in the anime, especially the sound of the hands hitting the tatami mats, were recorded at real tournaments!
He also mentioned that Chihayafuru and Hunter x Hunter have a secret connection to each other. As he was the producer for both and they started airing around the same time, the voice acting auditions were also at similar times. Seto Asami was late to the Hunter x Hunter audition and she burst into the studio wearing her school uniform, proclaiming, “I’m so sorry I’m late!” When the producer saw this scene unfold, his reaction was “Woah, it’s Chihaya.” Seto Asami failed the Hunter x Hunter audition…but instead, she got the role of Chihaya.
The anime episode itself starts off with a few flashbacks to Chihaya’s childhood days of first learning karuta. It’s a quick but nostalgic trip, having been eight years since the first season aired. The story then picks back up with Chihaya (with her injured fingers) and Taichi attending the Fujisaki training camp. We’re reminded how much stamina karuta actually takes, with playing of several long matches a day in the same position, and part of the training including some running through the mountains. The antics of each individual character are played up in the same way as previous seasons, with the comedy continuing to be on point and the romance being…well maybe we’ll get some actual progression one day.
But that’s not all as the premiere gave us not one, but two episodes of karuta goodness! Episode 2 starts off with Arata trying to form a karuta club. For a character who has always focused on individual tournaments and is also too socially awkward to even interact with others, it seems we can expect to see some interesting character development from him this season. But Chihaya and Taichi are also being set up for their own individual development as they start thinking about how much they truly want to pursue karuta and how that will affect their future, starting with potentially missing their school field trip? Season 3 is looking to be as good as the past seasons, with the atmosphere being as similar as I remember it. Whether it can keep it up during the climatic scenes is another story, as all the matches so far have been rushed through fairly quickly. Regardless, fans have been waiting for over half a decade for this, and I think it won’t disappoint us! Look forward to its official airing on October 23rd.