Chihayafuru’s Edutainment Value

Episode 6 is, in many ways, the episode I was looking for. It combined something that I understood (the protagonist and her buddy) with things I am more interested in (the new girl and how her personality clashes, the explanation of the poems, the context of karuta beyond just being a game). In fact, this episode is very compelling to me in the same way how Kanade’s explanations of the “Chihaya furu” poem was an eye-opener for Chihaya. I mean, now I get the ending visuals LOL.

Oh the joys of viewing things without context.

The coolest meta perspective is how the whole Chihayafuru-is-Japanese-heritage angle. By explaining those famous poems and their origins you get this whole-package history lesson. It transforms, in a very earnest sense, entertainment into education.

But that again is without the context of already knowing the stuff. I mean you must get into the problem where you have this artful story about high art and the only people who are interested in are history fujoshi and acafan-types. In the end everyone who watches your show already knows what you’re getting at. Does this complete the mission? I don’t know.

I mean if I learned something, maybe I can answer “yes” instead of “I don’t know.” But ultimately it’s got the impact of a gaijin hearing about some tidbit about Japanese history–about as much impact as it would on a 14 year-old Japanese kid dozing off in lit class because he just took the entrance exam 6 months ago, and doesn’t have to cram anything until the year after, and this history stuff is as useful as karuta to a non-Japanese. As in, karuta is pretty much useless if you’re not Japanese. I mean I don’t even think it’s useful for actual Japanese people.

Anyway, Chihayafuru is a solid show. I didn’t really like the back story bit; partly because it’s a bit contrived, and partly because Chihaya is too one dimensional for someone getting most of the spotlight. The solid production carried me through, and partly with the promise of this muda-bijin returning to her post-puberty prettiness. I’m only hoping the “crew gathering” part of this will be more interesting, since the focus shifts away from selling me something (ie., developing the protagonist, trying to convince us that karuta is not a joke) to stuff actually happening.

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