I wonder sometimes about where the precise delineation point for “slice of life” lies. Does having one of these characters be a teen model take it out of the realm of everyday existence and move more into regular comedy/drama territory? It likely doesn’t matter, but I’m trying to articulate why CHIHAYAFURU worked for me in a way that so many other shows with a conspicuous lack of demons and cyborgs haven’t. Maybe it’s because it has at least one exploitative element (for lack of a better term) in the Haruto card game that offers something to hold my interest that's just a little outside of breakfast table conversations and heart-to-hearts in the school hallway. Whatever it is, this was Josei show where I, at last, wasn’t always thinking about how I’m not the intended audience.
Comparing this to a good John Hughes or Cameron Crowe flick feels like grabbing low-hanging fruit by now for the amount of times I’ve invoked them to express why I like a down-to-Earth comedy/drama. They just feel like fitting models of comparison for any show that conveys as real a sense of community in its cast, as this does, without needing any exaggerated bad guys in that community to establish conflict. It doesn’t need chibi to express humor or emotion, either.
Maybe my only gripe is that the transition to these kids middle school days (just three or four years prior?) makes this first episode feel like it’s dealing two cards at once. I’m sure this will be alternating between these two “eras” throughout the course of the series, but it maybe could’ve used a little more theatricality to separate those eras in a more conspicuous way. Middle school to high school don’t seem that drastically different once you’re out of college.
I’m intrigued about Haruto, now. Any of you more Japanese-savy lunatics care to film me in on it?
Watch this episode, "Now the Flower Blooms” here and decide for yourself.