UNO! HEART ATTACK! Oh sorry, wrong game….
I guess after graduating from shounen go..go…ghost stories, to seinen shogi murder mysteries, to moe ecchi epic mahjong tile-slamming with the fury of Zeus, we’re left with shoujo card playing with a romance sub-plot. Well I say…bring on the hot blood non-UV competition, fellows.
I probably put the first episode of Chihayafuru as the best first episode of the fall season, trumping the incredibly saccharine Tamayura ~Hitotose~, if only because it wasn’t so relentless one-track and had no moe blobs (probably a discussion for another time.) The execution was pitch perfect and it did everything it had to do well, giving a bit of naunce to each character as needed when they’re introduced and focused upon. The art direction and animation are pretty stellar, and Asaka Morio (director of such works as the original Gunslinger Girl and NANA) is a very safe pair of hands for this kind of project.
Of course, it still remains to be seen if the show falls into the common shoujo trap of having Chihaya turn into an oh-so-perfect quirky girl that’s only moderately pretty at best, fighting against gender norms and being utterly irresistible to any sapien sapiens with three legs. Considering there’s only 2 members in the bishounen harem so far, things seems to be under control for now. Not being too familiar with the source material, I’m not sure where the balance between the competitive elements and relationship moping is, but judging from the OP visuals, I think it won’t degenerate too far into the latter direction.
Now, let’s hope Gonzo’s return to their Last Exile franchise is favorable. PLEASE.