The Brilliance of Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru shines among anime not because it gives us perplexed stories or some philosophical notions, but through it’s simplicity and beauty.Snippet Tee from Lemmas and Submodalities has already talked a bit about what she enjoys in Chihayafuru and I couldn’t agree more with her. I’m going to try putting my excitement in my own words and in the process adding more reasons why this series has taken a special place in my heart.Β 
First of all, when the cards thrown float, it makes my heart flutter and there’s a holy feeling of revelation. It’s like a fog hanging in the air and then dissolving; it’s another kind of nirvana. It might sound exaggerated but it’s the best way to describe what is stirred in me. If we add the use of light in the mix, the suspension of the cards midair, one could say, creates suspension in the viewer’s inner world. Perhaps it has to do with the nature of suspension itself: it is caused by the lack of weight (like in space or void) or in the case of birds, when they manage to manipulate the air in a way that their weight and the air’s pressure is balanced. By watching the cards float, I think that we get enchanted, because we place unconsciously ourselves in their place and either feel weightless or more balanced. Of course, others might simply claim that we have to do with a slow motion technique used with the purpose of creating tension. You can choose or combine both interpretations. I’d rather say that tension is produced from the speedy cards bumping onto other things or get stuck in paper doors like ninja stars.
Chihayafuru doesn’t forget to take advantage not only of its high production values but also of the nature of the game itself. Deep eyes, full of determination or focused on the task, suck us in them; gorgeous strands of hair dance gracefully with each light ‘breeze’, literal or metaphorical; out of beautiful mouths come rugged breaths of exhaustion and large amounts of fresh air enter in prettilly designed noses, and so we exhale and inhale the same time as the characters; streched ears try to grasp the tiniest sign of the upcoming word, caloused feet endure pain, and hands shoot forward either with precision and elegance or passionately and spontaneously: Chihayafuru engages all our senses and achieves the participation of our bodies and souls. De facto the viewer cheers, smiles and cries along with Chihaya, Taichi, Arata, Nishida, Komano and Kana, forgetting they are 2D.

What really pushed my excitement buttons though, enough to fire me up and prompt me to write a post were and are the astonishing analogies-imageries used. With the right colors, sounds/music and flow, they strike a powerful blast in the mind and engulf the viewer’s being. I talk about scenes like the one in episode 6, where Kana-chan explains how she sees karuta bound to literature and how each card is ‘painted’ with a scenery and color – the ‘impassionate gods’ card being the apex of beauty and emotions. Or the appearance of Wakamiya, the Queen… of ice. OR Arata’s comeback in episode 20 taking place ‘underwater’; his playing being fierce and seamless like strong currents of water.

Finally, Chihayafuru claims our attention and affection, because it talks about raw, honest feelings, and reminds us of our own childhood and adolescence.
ChihayafuruΒ -Album of memories
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12 thoughts on “The Brilliance of Chihayafuru

  1. @kuroshinko: Welcome to our blog! I'm glad you liked the post. And even more glad I've got one more follower πŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting!

    P.S.: Is there something in particular you'd like to see in our blog?

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  2. But but but Haibane Renmei *is* a masterpiece…

    I actually wrote about Chihayafuru based on the first three episodes here: http://trzr23.blogspot.com/2011/10/chihayafuru-is-big-fish-in-small-pond.html Ho ho, plugging posts like there's no tomorrow, yessir!

    As for relatability…I just can't get into it. In fact, my friends and I used to be huge Duel Masters junkies when we were young, making it all the more surprising that I can't connect with this show. As for love, it was requited, thank god πŸ˜‰

    But maybe I'm annoyed by this show because I love Taichi too much. You just can't make a woman love someone she doesn't love…but dammit, I want Taichi to win!

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  3. Hihi πŸ™‚ Can't I have the right of my opinion like you? I'll plug you, too, to answer http://kitsunetoneko.blogspot.com/2011/04/ashes-to-ashes-dust-to-dust-our-viewing.html

    I have read your article; and I'd say I'm going to remember it and recommend it for the enjoyment factor.

    Hm, I didn't like Taichi as a kid, but I sympathize with him due to his bitchy mom. Now, he's grown up a bit and like him some more. But I have a soft spot for cool megane characters with accent, like Arata. Also, somehow Shinobu would be very fitting for Chihaya, who isn't as unbearable as you depict her to be. Sure she's naive and tactless, but the series has managed to avoid the cookie-cutter stereotype of dense with a heart of gold that I hate.

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  4. When people look frustrated that you don't like their favorite show, they're really not angry at you. They're just disappointed that you didn't experience as much enjoyment as they did while watching it.

    This is the story of me watching Chihayafuru (and AnoHana last year). I can't relate to the characters at all which makes it a dry and hollow experience. I can't identify any major element of either show which connects to my childhood. So on a personal level, I have no emotional investment in it. It's such a shame because I too want to enjoy the show along with everyone else.

    But I guess it is what it is… But this is a wonderful post though!

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  5. The frustration can go either way since I don't understand people claiming Haibane Renmei is totally a masterpiece for example, so relax.

    I haven't watched Ano Hana (I rarely pick up shows with moe designs). Well, I find it hard to imagine that you cannot relate to any level with the characters. You might have not karuta related experiences but don't you have a team you root for? Haven't you had an unrequited love? A passion for a certain thing? I'm not attacking you, I'm just surprised by your statement. I guess you aren't really a shoujo/josei lover, but that's totally fine. I can't watch mecha πŸ˜‰

    After all you did drop a comment here πŸ™‚ And you appreciated my point of view. Thanks πŸ˜€ *waves tail*

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  6. This post makes me really want to pick up Chihayafuru. It seems to really treat the subtle details in motion beautifully–dramatically but not overboard. Yea, I want to watch this now, if only for the visual experience.

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  7. Yup, you should watch it. I could recommend buying it, too, when the time comes- it really is a shining little diamond.

    And don't worry, there's yuri material in it, if you wear your goggles, be it Chihaya x Kana-chan or Chihaya x Shinobu (I root for the latter) πŸ˜‰

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  8. The gifs aren't actually mine. What I did on my own, like the ppt and the mini video, I made it clear. I say this for clarity's shake and because I should be credited only for what I did.

    I'm happy you liked my effort. I thought that I should show in action what I really like. I also wanted to put a clip of Chihaya breathing, but in the end I thought it would be too much.

    I think you'll have no problem in WordPress. You just upload in slideshare and embed with the code.

    Thanks for the comment! I'm happy I presented you with a good read πŸ™‚

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  9. First of all, I really love the moving images and your cute PPT. I wish I can also do that in WordPress.

    I loved how you described how Chihayafuru uses senses, such as the mouth, eyes, and even hair strands, to captivate its viewers. This show truly engages me because of those simple yet intricate details. Aside from that, I enjoy how it's bringing the poem and literature into life. Although it wasn't fully elaborated, the images and how the characters deliver it makes it so interesting and inviting to play karuta.

    Btw, thanks for this wonderful read~

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  10. Hana-chan, I'm so happy to see you commenting here- thanks a lot! πŸ™‚ I know you do a great job blogging the series, being the calm voice of reason, juxstaposing Crusader (I check the screenshots with the caption commentary on THAT), so I wasn't expecting you to drop by. I'm quite honored. I'm glad that you liked the post.

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  11. It's like a fog hanging in the air and then dissolving

    What a lovely way of putting it. ^ ^ I agree that Chihayafuru has some of the best use of imagery I've seen in a long time, which, couples with the character developments and themes of friendship, self descovery and nifty non-boring sporting action, make this show so much fun and so refreshing. Thansk for the read!

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