Quick Thought: Chihayafuru

Another series I’ve started watching is the anime Chihayafuru. It’s the story of a group of young people playing competitive “karuta.” Oh, you think, a cartoon about kids and a game of memorizing traditional Japanese poetry, how… exciting… Except that it is incredibly intense. After just four episodes, the emotional level, is, if not turned up to “11,” pushing well into “10.” The show’s been running for three seasons, so I have to wonder where it can build to…

The production is very 21st Century, technically. One of the main visual motifs are the poetry cards sliding, scattering, and flying across the room. That’s a challenge to draw just in a comic, but doing it in traditional animation would be immensely difficult, all the more so since it’s important to see the writing on the cards. So while the characters in the anime are produced by hand on paper, the cards are computer graphics, rendered and them composited with the drawings. It’s done very impressively.

So where this will end up going, I don’t know (the originally comic has been coming out since 2007) but I’m looking forward to watching more.

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