On the surface, the game of karuta doesn’t appear to be particularly interesting or exciting, but the game’s simple nature belies the speed and intensity of competitive gameplay. The same could be said of the new show on Crunchyroll this season, Chihayafuru. On the surface, a series about the game of karuta does not sound all that compelling, but this simple premise belies the strength of the show’s artistry, characters, and storytelling.
What would you do if you suddenly discovered that your favorite video game – normally an avenue for escapism and cathartic release – had real-world consequences for each of your actions? What if it’s your own life on the line, and if you die in-game, your real life is forfeit? That’s the kind of dilemma that the players of Sword Art Online, a new Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online RPG, face inside this summer’s anime of the same name.
They are known by many names: Pirates, Buccaneers, Privateers, Corsairs, Raiders, Filibusters, Freebooters. Their modus operandi is pretty much the same across the board: independent acts of robbery or violence, typically taking place on the sea, committed by one vessel against another vessel or town. Sometimes they are romanticized and revered, other times demonized and reviled; how they are seen depends on who they ultimately serve.