Childhood friends are very common in anime and for the most part, I like this cliche. I like the idea that a bond between people is practically invincible after being with them for a really long time. Now, I started watching Chihayafuru and one of the first things that got interested in this anime is its nature of childhood friends. The nature of childhood friends in this anime is quite unique because they have something in common. They are all Karuta players.
Other anime usually treats the depth of childhood friends in a very uninteresting way. “My house is between both of their houses” or “we were in the same class since kindergarten” or even “we sat right next to each other that one time in 3rd grade.” It sounds really lazy and illogically convenient. But in this anime, all three of them, Chihaya, Taichi and Arata have something in common. Something they all do in their free time. Something they love to do together. Something that managed to break their negative first impressions of each other. Something that changed hatred to love… Karuta.
If this is other anime, they shouldn’t be friends in the first place. Taichi genuinely bullied Arata when they were little and Arata’s lack of social skill is severe to the point it’s next to impossible for him to make any friends. If it’s just because their homes are close with one another or because they sit right next to each other, they really wouldn’t be friends. The thing that brings them together is Karuta. Without it, they wouldn’t be friends and might even hate each other considering how Taichi treated them.
At first, I thought that might not be entirely true. I thought that Chihaya might be the one bringing them all together. But in truth, while she might reduce the tension between everybody else and Arata, she won’t be friends with either of them. There’s no reason for her to hang around Arata especially when Arata is the one being very closed and chasing everybody else away. I believe even Chihaya can’t break the wall. Taichi and Chihaya will only be together for so long. After their separation, there really isn’t any good reason for them to come back to each other. So, without Karuta, they most probably won’t be friends. They even might be enemies for a short while before they separated.
I can’t help but feel that their friendship really is genuine. Sure, the friendship itself has flaws. Taichi never really liked Arata when they were little, Arata was just friends with them because of Karuta and Chihaya was too pushy about the rivals between those two. But still, I like their friendship and I love it more when their tragic separation begins.
In conclusion, I really like how Karuta forges their friendship in this anime. Throughout the anime so far, their friendship is still revolving around Karuta. As a sports anime, it actually makes it better. Karuta makes them friends. Karuta makes them a team. It’s not entirely a great team but a team nevertheless. I think will remember these trio for a very long time.