Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru
Chihayafuru
Chihayafuru vol 1.jpg
Cover of the first manga volume
ちはやふる
Genre Sport
Manga
Written by Yuki Suetsugu
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Josei
Magazine Be-Love
Original run 2007 – ongoing
Volumes 14
TV anime
Directed by Morio Asaka
Written by Naoya Takayama
Music by Kousuke Yamashita
Studio Madhouse
Network NTV
Original run 5 October, 2011 – ongoing
Episodes 25
Anime and Manga Portal

Chihayafuru (ちはやふる?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu, serialised in Be Love and published by Kodansha. It is about a school girl, Chihaya Ayase, who after seeing her sister become a fashion model, is inspired by a new classmate to take up Hyakunin Isshu karuta competitively. It has been adapted into an anime television series, screening on Nippon Television and Crunchyroll from 5 October, 2011.

The manga has won the Manga Taisho Award and the Kodansha Manga Award. Since its fourth volume was released in March 2009, it has regularly appeared on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, and in August 2011 was estimated to have sold over 4.5 million copies. Its popularity has boosted the profile of Competitive Karuta in Japan.

Contents

Plot

Chihaya Ayase is a girl who has spent most of her life simply supporting her sister in her model career. That changes when she meets a boy named Arata Wataya, a talented karuta player. He thinks that Chihaya has a potential to become a great player. As Chihaya takes on a new dream of becoming Japan's best karuta player, she is soon separated from her karuta playing friends as they grow up. Now in high school, Chihaya still continues to play karuta in the hope that she will one day meet her friends again.

Characters

Chihaya Ayase (綾瀬千早 Ayase Chihaya?)
Voiced by: Asami Seto[1]
A determined schoolgirl who "possesses a remarkable hearing ability". She believes that by persevering in karuta, she will meet Arata again, and begins a karuta club at her high school with Mashima.[2] While she is beautiful, she is considered too weird, her classmates referring to her as a "waste of a beauty".[3] She has been described as a "tomboy trapped in a supermodel's body".[4] Her "guileless" nature has been criticised as seeming unrealistic by Shigeko Matsuo of the Asahi Shimbun,[5] but Bamboo Dong feels that her "pure, sweet" characterisation "just works", although Dong feels Chihaya's attachment to Arata and Taichi is "a little weird".[6] Chihaya is extremely childish, and when she was younger, looked very much like a boy due to her short hair. She has a pronounced sense of right and wrong, which causes her to befriend Arata when the other kids made fun of him.
Arata Wataya (綿谷新 Wataya Arata?)
Voiced by: Yoshimasa Hosoya,[1] Yuka Terasaki (young)[7]
A transfer student to Chihaya's elementary school, grandchild of a master karuta player, Arata inspires Chihaya to take up karuta.[8] He has difficulty fitting in at Chihaya's elementary school because of his Fukui dialect and passion for karuta, but Chihaya befriends him.[9] His dream is to become a karuta Meijin. After graduating elementary school, he returns to Fukui to care for his grandfather.[8] After returning to Fukui, he quits karuta[2] because his grandfather died while Arata was competing in a karuta tournament to rise to A-rank.
Taichi Mashima (真島太一 Mashima Taichi?)
Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano,[1] Ayahi Takagaki (young)[7]
An all-round sportsman,[8] and Chihaya's childhood friend.[2] His mother is very strict with him, telling him he should stick to activities he can win at.[3] Because he is a sore loser, he becomes Chihaya's rival in karuta.[8] He seems to have feelings for Chihaya although he has a girlfriend, and is jealous of her feelings for Arata. A talented student and athlete, he claims to have outgrown karuta, but then, after watching Chihaya excelling and obviously having fun, he decides to help her form a karuta club.as the story progressed taichi figths for karuta as he thinks that want to win chihaya.
Kanade Ōe (大江奏 Ōe Kanade?)
Voiced by: Ai Kayano[1]
A girl with a taste for the classics,[8] Kanade is a quiet girl who works in a kimono store and loves all kinds of traditional clothing. She is quite knowledgeable about the true meanings behind the One Hundred Poems and joins the karuta club on the condition that they start wearing hakama.[10]
Yūsei Nishida (西田優征 Nishida Yūsei?)
Voiced by: Tōru Nara[1]
Tsutomu Komano (駒野勉 Komano Tsutomu?)
Voiced by: Tsubasa Yonaga[1]
Shinobu Wakamiya (若宮詩暢 Wakamiya Shinobu?)
The current Queen of Karuta, she is also the youngest Queen in history.[8]
Yumi Yamamoto (山本由美 Yamamoto Yumi?)
The former Queen of Karuta, she is 24 years old.[8]
Hisashi Suō (周防久志 Suō Hisashi?)
The current Meijin of Karuta. He began karuta in college, and took three years to take the title of Meijin. His favourite food is sweets.[8]

Development

An Edo period karuta card with "Ariwara no Narihira Ason" written on it, where the name of the series comes from.

Yuki Suetsugu belonged to a karuta club in senior high school, and feels that the school years are a period of a person's life where "you can dedicate the most genuine part of yourself to something". The name of the series comes from the first five syllables of a poem in the Hyakunin Isshu poetry anthology, which is printed on the karuta cards.[11]

Media

Manga

The manga has been serialised in Be Love since 2007,[2] and has been collected by Kodansha into 14 bound volumes as of September 2011,[12] which is also available in eBook format.[13] The manga is licensed in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing.[14]

No. Release date ISBN
1 13 May, 2008[15] ISBN 978-4-06-319239-1
2 12 September, 2008[16] ISBN 978-4-06-319245-2
3 12 December, 2008[17] ISBN 978-4-06-319252-0
4 13 March, 2009[18] ISBN 978-4-06-319259-9
5 12 June, 2009[19] ISBN 978-4-06-319266-7
6 11 September, 2009[20] ISBN 978-4-06-319271-1
7 11 December, 2009[21] ISBN 978-4-06-319276-6
8 12 March, 2010[22] ISBN 978-4-06-319282-7
9 11 June, 2010[23] ISBN 978-4-06-319287-2
10 13 September, 2010[24] ISBN 978-4-06-319294-0
11 13 December, 2010[25] ISBN 978-4-06-380301-3
12 11 March, 2011[26] ISBN 978-4-06-380309-9
13 13 June, 2011[27] ISBN 978-4-06-380320-4
14 13 September, 2011[12] ISBN 978-4-06-380324-2

Anime

An anime television series based on the manga was announced in May 2011.[28] The series was produced by Studio Madhouse under the direction of Morio Asaka with script supervision by Naoya Takayama and character designs by Kunihiko Hamada.[29] The art director is Tomoyuki Shimizu, the director of photography is Kenji Fujita, the colour supervisor is Ken Hashimoto, the CG director is Tsukasa Saito, the music is by Kousuke Yamashita, and the sound director is Masafumi Mima. The opening theme is "Youthful", performed by 99RadioService, and the ending theme is "And Now", performed by Asami Seto.[1] There are 25 episodes announced.[2] The series will begin its broadcast run on NTV starting 5 October, 2011.[29] The series is simulcast in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand by Crunchyroll.[30]

The series is planned to be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 21 December, 2011, with a limited character charm of young Chihaya.[31]

Episode list

No. Title Original airdate
1 "Now the Flower Blooms[32]"
"Sakuya Kono Hana" (さくやこのはな[33]) 
5 October, 2011[34]
Chihaya Ayase attempts to start up a karuta club at her high school, though she finds it hard to find members. After reuniting with her childhood friend, Taichi Mishima, she thinks back to her elementary school days where she often spent her time just supporting her fashion model sister. Whilst waiting for a newspaper, she meets Arata Wataya, a boy who is often picked on in class for being poor, particularly by Taichi, who threatens to alienate Chihaya if she makes friends with Arata. After drying off at his place, Arata asks Chihaya to play a game of karuta with him, where he shows tremendous skill. At the end of the game, Chihaya manages to use what she knows of the game to obtain one card for herself, a card which bears the name 'Chihaya'. Inspired by Arata's dream to become a karuta master, she decides that her dream is to become the strongest female karuta player--or karuta Queen. 
2 "The Red That Is[35]"
"Karakurenai ni" (からくれなゐに) 
12 October, 2011[36]
As everyone starts to ignore Chihaya as well as Arata, Chihaya stands her ground, boasting about Arata's karuta skills. Taichi makes a bet that if he can beat Arata in a tournament, he will be ignored until graduation. Jealous of Chihaya's admiration of Arata, Taichi continues to harass the other boy, making him spill coke all over himself. As both Taichi and Arata make their way to the final, Taichi steals Arata's glasses, making it difficult to see. Although Arata manages to cope on memory alone, Taichi swaps the cards around to make things difficult. At this point, Chihaya offers to take Arata's place in the match, using her instincts and unorthodox methods to tie with Taichi. On the final match, Chihaya starts seeing things through the eyes of a karuta player and takes the final card, winning the tournament. However, Chihaya becomes a bit upset when her family doesn't acknowledge her achievement. As Chihaya resumes her search for Arata's glasses, Taichi returns them to Arata and apologises for his foul play. Arata calls him a coward when Taichi asks him not to tell Chihaya because he doesn't want her to hate him, but the boys reach an understanding. 
3 "From the Crystal White Snow"
"Fureru Shirayuki" (ふれるしらゆき) 
19 October, 2011[36]
Chihaya, Taichi and Arata go to a karuta society where people practice competitive karuta. There, they are challenged to a three-on-three match against some of the regulars. Arata takes charge for most of the games, leading to some competitiveness within the team as well as with the opposing team. After winning the game, the group learn of a team tournament and start training for it. Later, Chihaya learns that Taichi is going to a far away middle school and Arata is going to return to Fukui after he graduates, meaning they will not be able to keep playing karuta together. At the thought of this, she becomes upset and refuses to enter the tournament. However, after some advice from her karuta mentor, she decides to join them after all, accepting that she is not the only one who will be lonely. After graduation, Chihaya challenges Arata to one final match and promises that one day they will meet again. 
4 "A Whirlwind of Flower Petals Descends"
"Shizukokoro Naku Hana no Chiruramu" (しつこころなくはなのちるらむ) 
26 October, 2011[36]
Back in the present, Chihaya becomes jealous when he learns Taichi allegedly has a girlfriend, and vows that if she can win a tournament and become a Class A karuta player, Taichi must help her form a high school karuta club. As Chihaya progresses through the tournament, Taichi reconnects with his old karuta tutor, Dr. Harada, who shows the progress Chihaya has made. In the final match, Chihaya faces a tough opponent who can read her moves, leading to a fierce battle for the 'Chihaya' card. However, Chihaya enjoys facing a strong, passionate, opponent and soon wins the tournament. After the match, Chihaya calls Arata to tell him the news, only to be told to stop calling him as he had long since quit playing karuta. 
5 "The Sight of a Midnight Moon"
"Yoha no Tsuki Kana" (よはのつきかな) 
2 November, 2011[36]
Following the call, Chihaya decides to go with Taichi to Fukui so she can confront Arata. However, Arata is not too pleased to see them and becomes aggressive when Chihaya brings up karuta again, kicking away her cards. Taichi gets upset then, and drags Chihaya away, saying that they didn't travel all that way just so Arata could abuse their cards. Arata's friend, Yuu, explains to Chihaya that his grandfather died of a relapse while Arata was playing at a karuta tournament, the guilt making him unable to play karuta again. After Arata reads a letter that Chihaya wrote for him, he still holds his friendship dear and goes to see Chihaya and Taichi off as they head back towards home, with Chihaya able to make out that he doesn't completely hate karuta. On the ride back, Taichi agrees to help Chihaya form a high school karuta club, so Arata will have something to return to. 
6 "Now Bloom Inside the Ninefold Palace"
"Kyō Kokonoe ni Nioinuru kana" (けふここのへににほひぬるかな) 
9 November, 2011[36]
Having obtained a clubroom, Chihaya and Taichi need to find three more members to be officially recognised as a club. Kanade Ōe, a girl who loves traditional clothing, takes an interest in the club but feels dejected when she finds out they don't wear hakama. As Chihaya continues to approach Kanade about joining the club, she comes to learn about the true meanings behind the hundred poems, which helps her improve in the game. Feeling pleased by this, Kanade agrees to join the club on the condition that they start wearing hakama during matches. 
7 "But For Autumn's Coming"
"Hito koso Miene Aki wa Kinikeri" (ひとこそみえねあきはきにけり) 
16 November, 2011[37]
As Taichi laments that he's can't match Chihaya's skill level, Chihaya scouts a bookworm named Tsutomu Komano for the club, literally dragging his desk with him to the clubroom. Wanting to become smarter to become the number one in school, Tsutomu challenges Chihaya and Taichi to play a game with the cards flipped over. With this new rule, Taichi gains an advantage over Chihaya, whose memorization skills aren't as developed, and wins against her. After the match, Tsutomu laments that he lacks friends and talent, but Taichi tells him that he keeps playing, even if he keeps losing, for the reward of winning. Hearing this, Tsutomu decides to abandon his desk and join the karuta club. 
8  
 
9  
 
10  
 
11  
 
12  
 

App

A mobile phone app has been released which allows the user to play karuta with other users of the app.[38]

Guidebook

A Chihayafuru guidebook to the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu poetry anthology used in karuta was published on 11 November, 2011.[39]

Reception

Chihayafuru won the second Manga Taisho award,[40] and the 35th Kodansha Manga Award in the shojo manga category.[41] When Chihayafuru won the Manga Taisho award, it was commented that the series combines elements of the sport genre and literary elements with a discerning eye on the subject matter.[42]

In the week of 10 March - 16 March, 2009, the fourth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #24 on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, selling 29,776 copies in that week.[43] In the week of 8 June - 14 June 2009, the fifth volume appeared at #11 on the chart, selling 46,774 copies in that week.[44] The next week, it slipped to #21, selling an additional 40,344 copies in that week.[45] In the week of 7 September - 13 September 2009, volume six of Chihayafuru appeared at #8 on the list, selling 61,089 copies.[46] The next week, it appeared at #23, selling 45,028 copies in that week.[47] In the week of 7 December - 14 December 2009, the seventh volume ranked at number nine on the list, selling 70,790 copies.[48] The following week, it ranked at #15, selling an additional 55,266 copies.[49] The eight volume of Chihayafuru ranked at #5 on the bestseller's list, selling 92,555 copies in the week of 8 - 14 March, 2010.[50] The following week, it slipped to seventh place, selling an additional 72,957 copies.[51] For the week of 7-13 June 2010, the ninth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #6 on the chart, selling 99,296 copies in that week.[52] The following week, it slipped to ninth place, selling an additional 74,885 copies.[53] The tenth volume of Chihayafuru placed first on the list for the week of 13-19 September,[54] slipping to nineteenth place the next week.[55] For the week of 13-19 December, the eleventh volume debuted at #2,[56] slipping to #23 the next week.[57] The twelfth volume appeared at #9 for the week of 7- 13 March 2011,[58] rising to #4 the following week.[59] The thirteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of 13-19 June 2011,[60] slipping to #20 the following week.[61] The fourteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of 12- 18 September 2011,[62] slipping to #24 the following week.[63]

As of August 2011, it was reported that there were sales of over 4.5 million copies of the manga volumes.[2]

The popularity of Chihayafuru has boosted the popularity of competitive karuta.[11][64]

Gia Manry, writing about the first episode of Chihayafuru, felt that despite the animators' efforts, karuta seemed boring, and criticised the overuse of CG sakura, describing it as a "mixed bag" of an anime.[65] Bamboo Dong says that Chihaya's passion and characterisation make karuta interesting.[66] Carlo Santos felt that the series was the "first genuinely good show of the season", citing its characterisation, unusual subject, and polish of the first episode.[67] Marcus Speer enjoyed the production values of the first episode, but felt that the theme songs were "standard fare". He was intrigued by how the characters' childhood impacted on their present interactions.[68] Martin Theron appreciated the focus on the characters rather than the game, feeling that while the teenage Chihaya seemed "gimmicky", her younger self was "quite likable".[69] Chris Beveridge praised the tension shown between Arata and Taichi in the second episode's karuta match.[70] Martin Theron felt the second episode's karuta tournament was tense and compelling, and that despite the plot unfolding in a predictable fashion, the execution made this forgivable.[69]

References

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