April 28, 2012

The now legendary Match 48 of Round 1 of the 2012 AniBlog Tourney has finally drawn to a close. And as we drag ourselves to our feet, and wipe the sweat from our brows,  we cast a tentative glance at the goal:

It went in!

Thanks for the victory to all who supported me! It truly feels awesome.

Entering the Abandoned Factory.

This is just a hello to anyone stopping by the Abandoned Factory for the first time. For those who don’t know, the Abandoned Factory is proud to have been accepted into the biennial Aniblog Tourney.

You can get a good feel for the site by clicking on links, either the recent posts below, or take a look at the categories listed on the right. I usually just muse about things that were of interest to me in a given show, but I am particularly interested in the Art and the Music. If you feel so motivated, please vote for the Abandoned Factory on April 26, 2012!

The Communicator. "You have no choice but to prevail against your own ordeal."

Tsutomu Komano X Kanade Ooe.

Chihayafuru episode 22 had a stunning conclusion and I really wonder where we are going for our season conclusion. I’m gonna keep it short this time.

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Kanade has prepared a special hakama for the Eastern Meijin Qualifier.

Maybe humans aren’t supposed to be perfect, but Chihayafuru clearly is. This series will go down in my book as the most solid series that I have ever seen. I have a tendency to love anime that show brilliance, even if they can be a bit uneven. I’m willing to overlook some flaws, because I tend to think of that as a sign of Art pushed to its limit. And yet here is Chihayafuru, a series that delivers a compelling viewing experience episode after episode. To me the pace has never once dragged. I have been sucked in to this show from the beginning of episode 1, and each week something remarkable is delivered. My only concern is that this wonderful experience will end.

Now, I’m not saying that Chihayafuru is the most mind-blowing show I have ever seen. I still have a soft spot for shows like Mawaru PenguinDrum and Tatami Galaxy that delight with crazy ideas, even if there are times when they go a bit off the rails. Instead Chihayafuru is consistent — the amazing part is that it is so consistently GOOD.

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An emotional episode.

Episode 19 of Chihayafuru completes the Saitama prefectural tournament, which means two major victories and two major losses. In addition to the tension and emotional release of gameplay and determining the victors, this episode also covered some of the relationship management that is necessary when a group of players fights amongst themselves. All in all another very satisfying episode.

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Kanade Ooe and Tsutomu Komano battle in earnest with an advancement in rank as the prize.

The series of tournaments that were introduced last week are now enjoined in full. The entire Mizusawa Karuta club shows up for the Saitama prefecture tournament, and you know what that means, it’s Hakama time! This time the episode was mostly split in half, between Chihaya’s match and the final round of the tournament, which has a double shocker. Kanade and Tsutomu are playing for the rank D title, and Taichi and Nishida are  battling over the rank B title. Winning these matches won’t just mean taking a prize, as they qualify the winner to advance in rank. Despite Chihaya’s poor performance in the A rank matches, Mizusawa is destined to go home with two prizes, which should feel pretty good, but for those on the tatami mats, the pressure to be the one who advances is intense.

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Shinobu Wakiyama ~ the Karuta Assassin.

I was already looking forward to this episode because there has been some interesting build up. Chihaya has wanted to be the Queen, the strongest female Karuta player, since she was in grade school. As exciting as some of the team mechanics were, episode 14 of Chihayafuru finally returns us to one-on-one matches, and the ultimate rival appears. I was on edge almost the entire episode, and for the first time (and in the exact right game) a match isn’t concluded before the end of the episode — cliff hanger! In many respects this episode was all about the reigning Queen, so she will be the focus of this post as well.

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Tokyo Regional High School Karuta Champions.

Episode 12 was a nice little interlude on the way to the National Championship at Omi Jingu. It showed the team looking forward to the Nationals, while those around them were mostly indifferent to their success. In particular  how Chihaya’s family reacted, and the mini plot with the Empress, were nicely handled. Plus Kana-chan had an adorable moment. With all of that, the episode still managed to bring us literally to the steps of the Omi Jingu shrine.

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The regional championship tournament takes its toll on Chihaya and her friends.

Chihayafuru is the show that keeps delivering flawless episode after flawless episode. In Episode 11, our protagonists are up against their toughest challenge yet, a team that habitually wins the Tokyo Regionals, and has a good shot at the National title. And, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, we see the return of Arata Wataya!

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Chihaya Ayase face planting.

I truly do love this show. Chihayafuru episode 10 had so many things going on, from the tension around the central love triangle, to personal triumphs and sorrows, all within the larger context of the Tokyo Regional tournament preliminaries. The pacing is excellent. There always seems to be an excellent mixture of pathos and comedy. And to top it all off, the show continues to look great, especially because of Kanade’s condition that everyone must wear hakama in tournaments.

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