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J-Drama: Chihayafuru is getting a two-part Live Action Movie!

Pardon me for branching into a completely different terrain today but I would like to cover the Live Action of Chihayafuru. Chihayafuru is one of the most underrated anime of all time, but it has a solid fanbase built from the manga and boosted with the anime and has not-so-recently been granted a live action movie adaptation. Chihayafuru is one of the few shows that had the opportunity of being adapted into both an anime and a live action!

The movie comes in 2 parts (Chihayafuru Kami no Ku and Chihayafuru Shimo no Ku) and was shown in cinemas in Japan on 19 March and 29 April this year respectively. Given how early it came out, this post is a little late but I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the series and the cast and what I liked about this movie. Hopefully you would watch it too if you haven't!

The story follows a girl, Ayase Chihaya, who was inspired by her friend, Wataya Arata, to start competitive Karuta when she was in 6th grade. Together with her later-to-be bishounen childhood friend of hers, Mashima Taichi, they started making a three-man Karuta group. This ended aruptly when Arata moves back to Fukui Prefecture. Ayase and Taichi grows apart and while Taichi doesn't play Karuta anymore, Ayase makes plans to start a new Karuta club in high school to compete in group matches and hopefully meets Arata in one of them. She later succeeds with forming and club but upon meeting Arata, she discovers that he doesn't play Karuta anymore.
The main romance would be a love triangle with the three main leads Ayase, Taichi and Arata. Taichi and Arata both show an interest in Ayase, who is really only interested in Karuta

But more importantly, we get to see how the characters grow through this series no matter which version you pick up, be it the manga, anime or live action. Every character has their own flaws and insecurities, and they all embrace and overcome them. For instance, Mashima becomes more reliable and Ayase becomes more calm and independent. 

I also love how the characters depicted in this franchise clearly show what they love and they are not ashamed of it, even when Karuta isn't recognized as an "in" thing among other high school students. Also, while their love for Karuta is a strong point, I like how not all characters simply live for that one reason alone, and not all of them strive to become the best player. Kana is a perfect example for this as she grew up in a kimono store and loves almost all things traditional. Her reason for joining the club wasn't because she used to play Karuta like most other members, but because she loves Japanese poetry and the 100 famed poems featured in Karuta are her favorites. Furthermore, Kana isn't aiming to become the best female player (Queen) like Ayase is, but leans more to becoming a reader, who reads out the poems during Karuta matches. It is due to these slight differences in drives and personalities help to distinguish one character from the next and add dimensions to the characters.
Another aesthetic point of Chihayafuru would be the traditional kimono and hakama that everyone wears to the competitions. This is thanks to Kana as well as her family provides these for all the members as a form of "free" advertisements.

While this is also featured in the anime and manga, kimono is one of those things that I appreciate more seeing it on actors than on digital characters due to the intricacies and difficulties of putting it on.

I also love how this show is an accurate depiction of karuta matches and actually has a lot of time dedicated to the competitions instead of simply focusing on the romance build-up, which is an easier route albeit less faithful to the franchise. It is also amazing that the actors appear to have a comparable level of passion for karuta as the characters they are depicting, and their movements when getting the card looks polished.

Through this series, you sense their love and pride as a Karuta player, where every win and every loss, no, more than that -- every time your favorite character manages to snag a card, it sparks a flame in the viewer's hearts and creates this warm bubbly and fuzzy feeling that just makes you want to cheer them on more.

This show is a beautiful myriad of pure emotions, and if this short introduction to Chihayafuru has sparked your interest in the franchise, be sure to check out the anime, manga and live action movies!

~ Reina-rin

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