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.
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.
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.
Finally, Chihayafuru claims our attention and affection, because it talks about raw, honest feelings, and reminds us of our own childhood and adolescence.
Chihayafuru -Album of memories