Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi
Having watched Chihayafuru and being a lover of anything delicate and beautiful, not to mention anything honestly romantic, I wanted to watch this series from the moment I saw it in the charts and checked out the preview. I was afraid though of that “super-liberal” interpretation part, of how interesting these stories could be, and of the possible large forgetable cast.
The series isn’t a masterpiece, but it was above average with all its quirks and love-talk. There were reoccuring characters which helped the audience remember characters, bond with them and care for them. I, for once, experienced quite a few doki doki moments and even cried at times. The structure was overall very well built by splitting the series into two era arcs, and by putting love stories which complemented each other or were thematically similar next to each other, creating ‘couples’. And talking about themes, some were really brialliant, like the art of poetry, the society dictating norms, and women making choices for their lives (yay for feminism!).
The op, ed, and the narrators, who were the ones gathering the poems into collections, were whimsical, bearing modern elements for fun. Some viewers were displeased, but I was amused and the op-ed stuck with me for days every time. And of course, I can’t not mention the episode in the middle of the series, where we witnessed an ox-car formula race, the poets in a host club scenario, and two poem-collectors playing an a-la-yugioh card game with the poems- I fell from my chair from laughing…
Before ending this post, these are my favorite couples:
1. Narihira x Fujiwara
Even when the impassionate gods/ Held sway in the ancient days,/I have never heard/ That water gleamed with autumn red/ As it does in Tatta’s stream
– Ariwara no Narihara
2. Yoshitaka x daughter of someone
For your precious sake,/ Once my eager life itself/ Was not dear to me.But now it is my heart’s desire/ It may long, long years endure.
-Fujiwara no Yoshitaka
3. Yukinari x Nagiko
“Good memories are not meant to tie you to the past. They serve to push you forward. We must try our best to move on, so we don’t feel sad when remembering the past and live full lives.”
4. Murasaki x Fujiko
5. Michimasa x Masako
6. Teika x Noriko
Though my feelings and dreams/ will never be realized, /I only ask that you bear growing weaker/ than you already have
As I wait for someone /who will never come,/ my body burns like the seaweed/ drying on the shores of Matsuho
– Fujiwara no Teika
If you haven’t tried it, go give Uta Koi some love. And be sure, it’ll give plenty back. By the time you finish it, the farewell can only be bittersweet – like romance…