Chihayafuru (ちはやふる) is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu, serialized 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.
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 who recognizes the potential Chihaya has 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.
- Main article: Characters
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.
- Main article: Chapters and Volumes
The manga has been serialized in Be Love since 2007, and has been collected by Kodansha into 16 bound volumes as of December 2011, which is also available in eBook format. The manga is licensed in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing.
The manga became the 20th best selling manga in Japan in 2013 with 2,311,857 estimated sales in period.
- Main article: Episode Guide
An anime television series based on the manga was announced in May 2011. 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. 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 "Soshite Ima", performed by Asami Seto. The series aired on NTV between October 5, 2011 and March 27, 2012. The series is simulcast in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand by Crunchyroll. The opening theme of the second season is "STAR" performed by 99RadioService and the ending is "Akane Sora" performed by Asami Seto.
The first volume of the series was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 21 December, 2011, with a limited edition character charm of young Chihaya.
- Main article: Music
99RadioService released a Chihayafuru-themed single of "YOUTHFUL" on November 30, 2011. An original soundtrack album was released on January 18, 2012.
- Main article: OVA 1
An OVA was released on September 13, 2013 along with the 22nd volume of the Chihayafuru manga.
Light Novel Series
- Further information: Light Novels
A light novel series was published by Kodansha between September 9, 2012 and December 13, 2013. The 4-volume series was written by Yui Tokiumi and featured illustrations by Yuki Suetsugu.
- Further information: Official FanBook
The first Fan Book has been published on December 13, 2012. It covers all the details about the characters, challengers up until this date. It even includes exclusive interviews with Yuki Suetsugu and various anime voice actors. It also has some more details on how to play Karuta and advice from the official king and queen of that time.
- Main article: Movie 1
Due to the big success of Chihayafuru in Japan, Toho has filmed a Live-Action Trilogy. The first Movie has been released on March 19, 2016, the second movie on April 29, 2016. The third and last installment is planned for release in 2018.
Chihayafuru won the second Manga Taisho award, and the 35th Kodansha Manga Award in the shojo manga category. 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.
In the week of March 10-16, 2009, the fourth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #24 on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, selling 29,776 copies in that week. In the week of June 8-14, 2009, the fifth volume appeared at #11 on the chart, selling 46,774 copies in that week. The next week, it slipped to #21, selling an additional 40,344 copies in that week. In the week of September 7-13, 2009, volume six of Chihayafuru appeared at #8 on the list, selling 61,089 copies. The next week, it appeared at #23, selling 45,028 copies in that week. In the week of December 7-14, 2009, the seventh volume ranked at number nine on the list, selling 70,790 copies. The following week, it ranked at #15, selling an additional 55,266 copies. The eight volume of Chihayafuru ranked at #5 on the bestseller's list, selling 92,555 copies in the week of March 8-14, 2010. The following week, it slipped to seventh place, selling an additional 72,957 copies. For the week of June 7-13, 2010, the ninth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #6 on the chart, selling 99,296 copies in that week. The following week, it slipped to ninth place, selling an additional 74,885 copies. The tenth volume of Chihayafuru placed first on the list for the week of September 13-19, 2010, slipping to nineteenth place the next week. For the week of December 13-19, 2010, the eleventh volume debuted at #2, slipping to #23 the next week. The twelfth volume appeared at #9 for the week of March 7-13, 2011, rising to #4 the following week. The thirteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of June 13-19, 2011, slipping to #20 the following week. The fourteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of September 12-18, 2011, slipping to #24 the following week.
As of August 2011, it was reported that there were sales of over 4.5 million copies of the manga volumes.
The popularity of Chihayafuru has boosted the popularity of competitive karuta.
Among North American reviewers, Gia Manry, writing about the first episode of Chihayafuru, felt that despite the animators' efforts, karuta seemed boring, and criticized the overuse of CG sakura, describing it as a "mixed bag" of an anime. Bamboo Dong says that Chihaya's passion and characterization make karuta interesting. Carlo Santos felt that the series was the "first genuinely good show of the season", citing its characterization, unusual subject, and polish of the first episode. 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. 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". Chris Beveridge praised the tension shown between Arata and Taichi in the second episode's karuta match. 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.