1000 years ago, Ariwara no Narihira wrote a passionate poem about love. The poem is now an integral part of karuta. Chihayafuru is a glorious live action adaptation of the manga and anime of the same name. The world of competitive karuta may seem very odd to people outside Japan. It is both a competitive sport as well as homage to Japanese history and culture. Chihaya (Suzu Hirose) is a passionate teenager who insists on playing the card game. It’s her way of keeping ties to a lost friend in hopes one day they might reunite. The story is largely about the bonds of friendship. At times, there are very intense emotions between the characters, all played convincingly by a young cast. Among the relatively new actors is the son of legendary Sonny Chiba (Mackenyuu).

Chihayafuru is lush with color and gorgeous short depth of field. Rack focus and slow motion draw the viewer in, especially during the game scenes. Part 1 makes better use of aesthetics, while Part 2 concentrates on interpersonal relationships. It would have been nice to see a touch more animation in Part 2, as it was put to such great use in Part 1. Momiji (Japanese maple leaves) and sakura (cherry blossoms) swirl around the opening credits, and the animated sequences are perfect for depicting the Ariwara no Narihira poem. The cinematography of both parts of Chihayafuru is a visual feast. Nori Koizumi has replicated the anime well, down to the fabric pattern of the karuta team’s kimonos. Great attention was given to imitate the general tropes of anime, such as over-exaggerated facial expressions, teenaged posture, slow motion hair blowing in the wind, and the ubiquitous love triangle. (D. G.)


Part 1 Official Trailer:

Part 2 Official Trailer:


Fantasia Screening : Part 1: July 23, 11:30 AM (Hall Theatre)

Fantasia Screening : Part 2: July 24, 12:00 PM (Hall Theatre)


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