Uta Koi, to recap for the many people who never bothered with this series, is about a blonde man travelling around Japan to find men in silly hats (and occasionally women not wearing any hats at all) and asking them to write a short piece about their first world problems. It follows the 100 poems from the Karuta game they play in Chihayafuru, and try explain the story behind each of the poems. Don’t worry, this anime isn’t some forgotten gem that you should rush out to watch. It’s serviceable, but I did increasingly struggle to care about these bunch of royals complain about the girl who may or may not like them when they were sitting in an extravagant palace while peasants desperately scrounge a living in the streets.
That said, there was one episode that blew my mind.
The poems stretch over 2 eras. The way the anime was formatted was to have a time-skip of around 100 years after episode 5 to tell the rest of the stories. It’s rather sad to say bye to the characters I’d grown fond of in the first arc, particularly since the characters in the second half were fairly dull in comparison, so the anime decided to give them a proper send off with episode 6. Now remember first of all that the anime is set almost 1000 years ago. Secondly that, while the anime is pretty goofy, they tend to stick to historical accuracy and treat the issues these characters are having very seriously.
For example, one thing they wouldn’t normally do is have a Formula 1 race with ox-drawn carts, complete with overly-enthusiastic commentator. One thing they wouldn’t normally do is have the characters appear on a crappy daytime talk show to discuss their celebrity lifestyles and relationship issues. One thing they normally wouldn’t do is put all the men in fancy clothes and have them appear in an advertisement for a host club. One thing they normally wouldn’t do is have two characters engage in a full-blown Battle Card Game with Poets, complete with full rules and the full set of Yu-Gi-Oh tropes, including revealing strategies that turn the battle on its head, dramatically flipping over trap cards, and the hero pulling out an unlikely victory with his final draw as he believes in the heart of the poets.
Cards. Believe in the heart of the poet cards.