Chihayafuru is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu. It has been serialized in Kodansha’s Be Love magazine since December 2007. It is about a school girl, Chihaya Ayase, who is inspired by a new classmate to take up Hyakunin Isshu karuta competitively. A 25-episode anime television series adaptation aired from October 2011 to March 2012. A 25-episode second season aired from January to June 2013. A 24-episode third season premiered in October 2019. Three live action film adaptations were released from 2016 to 2018.
The manga has won the Manga Taishō 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 2016 was estimated to have over 16 million copies in print. Its popularity has boosted the profile of competitive karuta in Japan.
A 25-episode anime television series adaptation, produced by the studio Madhouse under the direction of Morio Asaka, aired on Nippon Television from 4 October 2011 to 27 March 2012. The screenplay was written by Naoya Takayama and character designs were by Kunihiko Hamada. The music was composed by Kousuke Yamashita, and the sound director is Masafumi Mima of Techno Sound. The series was simulcast by Crunchyroll. Animax Asia aired an English version of the anime from 13 February to 18 March 2013. The series was released in nine DVD and Blu-ray Disc volumes from 21 December 2011 to 22 August 2012. A Blu-ray Disc box set was released on 18 July 2013.
A second 25-episode season, Chihayafuru 2, aired on Nippon Television between 11 January and 28 June 2013, and was simulcast by Crunchyroll. An original video animation episode was released on DVD bundled with the special edition of the 22nd manga volume on 13 September 2013.
A 24-episode third season was originally announced to premiere on Nippon Television’s AnichU block in April 2019, with the main cast and staff reprising their roles, but was delayed and aired from 22 October 2019 to 24 March 2020.
Sentai Filmworks licensed the first two seasons of the anime series for home video release in North America. The series’ first episode premiered with English subtitles on the Hidive streaming service on 15 June 2017. Sentai Filmworks’ dub is streamed by Hidive starting from 29 August 2017. The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 September 2017. In December 2019, Sentai Filmworks announced that they had licensed the series’ third season.
The first season’s opening and ending themes are “Youthful” by 99RadioService and “Soshite Ima” by Asami Seto respectively. 99RadioService released “Youthful” as a single on 30 November 2011. The original soundtrack with character song albums was released in two volumes on 18 January and 28 March 2012. The second season’s opening and ending themes are “Star” by 99RadioService and “Akane Sora” by Seto. The third season’s opening and ending themes are “Colorful” by 99RadioService and “Hitomebore” by Band Harassment.
Kodansha released several guidebooks for the series, with the first released on 9 November 2011. It provided a study guide for the poetry and background for the story.
A 4-volume novel series, Chihayafuru: Chūgakusei-hen, was published by Kodansha under their KC Deluxe imprint between 9 September 2012, and 13 December 2013. The books were written by Yui Tokiumi and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu and follow the middle-school years of the three protagonists. A manga adapting the novels, written by Tokiumi and illustrated by Oto Tooda, was published in Be Love from 13 October 2017 to 1 November 2018 and compiled into three volumes.
On 11 April 2015, it was reported that the series would be adapted into a live-action film. A live action film adaptation titled Chihayafuru: Kami no Ku was released on 19 March 2016, with a second film, Chihayafuru: Shimo no Ku, released on 29 April 2016. Starting on 20 February 2018, five webisodes titled Chihayafuru: Tsunagu were aired on Hulu Japan. Chihayafuru: Musubi, a third and final feature length film in the trilogy, was released on 17 March 2018.
A 3-volume novelization of the films, Eiga Chihayafuru, was published by Kodansha under their KC Deluxe imprint. The first two volumes were released on 11 March 2016 and the third on 13 February 2018. The books were written by Yui Tokiumi, based on screenplay by Norihiro Koizumi.
Another 3-volume novelization of the films by Yūki Arisawa, Shōsetsu Chihayafuru, was published by Kodansha under their Kodansha Bunko imprint in 2018. The first two volumes were released on 16 January and the third on 15 February.
- Chihaya Ayase
- A determined high school girl who was inspired by Arata in elementary school to play karuta and to dream of becoming the “Queen” of karuta. She begins a karuta club at her high school with Taichi. She is first introduced to competitive karuta by her childhood friend, Arata. Karuta has remained as Chihaya’s passion despite being separated from Arata. She has an exceptional hearing ability that gives her an advantage in playing karuta. While she is beautiful, she is considered too weird, her classmates referring to her as a “beauty in vain”. She is crazy about karuta (her friends calls her “karuta baka”), to the point that she can be oblivious to other people’s feelings. Chihaya is the captain of Mizusawa Karuta Club. She works very hard at improving her karuta skills, and reaches Class A near the beginning of the series. She is a strong, passionate person who loves karuta and is dedicated to her teammates and friends. Chihaya shares a strong bond of trust and friendship with Taichi and appreciates his skill in leading the club, though oblivious towards his feelings for her. Chihaya cares deeply for Arata, despite their long-distance relationship. While on the telephone with Arata, she realizes that she will always love him and karuta.
- Taichi Mashima
- A good-looking, all-rounded sportsman and Chihaya’s childhood best friend. His mother is very strict with him, telling him that he should stick to activities he can win at. He seems to have feelings for Chihaya although he had a girlfriend at the beginning, and is jealous of her feelings for Arata. Taichi is the president of Mizusawa Karuta Club. He is a talented student and an athlete, at the beginning of the series he claims to have outgrown ‘karuta’, but then, after watching Chihaya excelling and obviously having fun, he decides to help her form a karuta club. He has good analytical skills and a good memory when playing karuta, but he has very bad luck. Due to this, he ends up staying in Class B longer than supposed to. He has been in love with Chihaya ever since childhood (and eventually realizes his feelings) but never confessed to her. When Sumire tried to confess to Taichi, he tells her that he would rather have a relationship with the girl he loves than with a girl who loves him, indirectly indicating Chihaya. He cares for her very deeply, being there for her every time Chihaya gets upset or sad. He has serious character to make up for Chihaya’s comical character. As a child, Taichi was a rich, spoiled child and disliked Arata, making fun of him for being poor, but as soon as he, Chihaya, and Arata started to play Karuta together, they became friends. In love, Taichi still views Arata as his enemy.
- Arata Wataya
- was a transfer student to Chihaya’s elementary school, grandchild of an eternal master karuta player, Arata inspires Chihaya to take up karuta. He has difficulty fitting in at Chihaya’s elementary school because of his Fukui dialect and passion for karuta, but Chihaya befriends him. His dream is to become a karuta Meijin. After graduating elementary school, he returns to Fukui to care for his grandfather. After returning to Fukui, he quits karuta because his grandfather died while Arata was competing in a karuta tournament to rise to A-rank. However, after Chihaya and Taichi visit him in Fukui, he regains his resolve to play competitive karuta again. He has beaten “The Queen” Shinobu Wakamiya and is aiming to beat “Master” Hishashi Suo to claim the position of “Master”. Arata cherishes his friendship with both Chihaya and Taichi, albeit romantically to Chihaya. Later in the manga, Arata confesses his love to Chihaya, also informing her of his move back to Tokyo. Arata then excuses himself, leaving Chihaya flustered and speechless.