What’s it about ?
High-school romance, with a side helping of card games.
Chihaya, our tomboy-ish protagonist. Used to be on the track team, and her former teammates would love to keep her around. But now that she’s in high school, she wants to indulge in her passion, and set a club up for the “karuta” card game (which, from what I understand, involves a referee reciting poems in a random order, and the players rushing to pick the matching cards up). Nobody seems to be interested so far. Her older sister is a model.
Taichi, her childhood friend. He obviously still holds a candle for her (why else would he join the same high school despite having access to better ?), but the poor guy gets pitifully friendzoned when they finally meet again.
Arata, an outcast transfer student they both met in elementary school, who obviously impressed Chihaya enough to communicate her his love for karuta. Chihaya’s the only child in the class who befriends him ; all the others (including Taichi) bully him because he’s poor, speaks in a dialect, and keeps to himself.
To be clear, none of them went to the same middle schools ; and neither Taichi nor Chihaya have had any contact with Arata for at least a year (but it’s obvious Chihaya still cares for him).
Quite good. I loved how Chihaya preempted any fanservice potential when she pins a poster to the board, by wearing her tracksuit pants under her skirt.
Some of the dramatic effects for the flashback karuta game are a bit overblown (Arata throwing the cards into the wall forcefully enough for them to stick ? I know the walls are crap because his family is poor, but still…), although we’re nowhere near Saki territory.
What did I think of it ?
I quite liked this. Chihaya is a fun protagonist, with way more personality than most romance female leads (you can tell this is josei and not shoujo). The card game itself seems to have very little potential (unless there are other rules I missed), but it’s mostly just an excuse to have the characters meet and interact. If this balance of focus is kept, this could be perfectly entertaining.