I'm still alive
Okay so first of all, a DISCLAIMER: I haven't read the manga yet so I'm only comparing the anime and live action movies. I'm still having second thoughts about reading the manga but nevertheless excited for the 3rd season of the anime this year (2019)! Still, feel free to discuss about the manga as well as it might actually help me decide to read the manga in the future regardless of the availability of my schedule. lol.
Second. I now finally realized after all this time, and will do so from here on, that if I can, I should definitely watch the live action first before watching the anime (or reading the manga, for the matter) in order to fully appreciate the movie and the characters. That's because compressing the story of the anime (or manga) in a two-hour movie, even if it has 3 or more installations, is just hard — hard for the expectations even for successfully made live actions. Also, the characters portrayed by the actors/actresses can only be either great or disappointing.
So now to the review.
Spoilers Warning! | Personal Opinion
Chihayafuru is quite a popular anime and is most of the time praised a lot by people around the internet, so I've decided to give it a try although I wasn't in the slightest interested in a card game I've never heard of before. Even so, that was one of the best decisions I've made in 2018. In my case, I've watched the anime first after seeing the title over the internet several times and it definitely didn't help me when I've started watching the first two movies: Kami no Ku and Shimo no Ku. That's because in the live action, it feels like the story was turned upside down. I mean I can remember a lot of lines in the anime that I believe were actually shuffled by timing in the live action. So many events are cut and their games weren't shown 'closely'. By closely, it means the inside of the game: the players' attitude towards their individual matches; their techniques; how strong they are; Chihaya's amazing speed; and Shinobu and Master Sou's precision. It's quite confusing and a bit disappointing in spite all the good feedbacks I've read. Besides the shuffled plot though, there's no question to the overall quality of the movie. It has its own identity and the arrangement of the events ain't really bad. Which is why I think it's better if you've watched the live action first and then later on find a deeper understanding in the anime because a lot of things we're discussed and explained there compared to the live action. I strongly believe that's the better pattern one should take. When you've watched it the other way around, the live action plot becomes draggy and unspecified. Most live actions are, and that explains why people find such movies cringy.
As for the characters, I'd be lying if I say that everyone is perfect for me. Except for Komano-kun's actor, I'm pretty much contented with the cast. Morinaga Yuuki-san is maybe a little too soft for me (I mean his acting) and I honestly don't like how his eyebrows moved (no offense). Tsukue-kun is a dear character for me cuz he's actually cool and cute in the anime so I was expecting a bit more from his human counterpart and they kinda failed me in that. He was totally consumed by a totally different personality (in my opinion), and I couldn't feel his character in the live action at all. In the other hand, Nishida-kun isn't as fat as he is in the anime (lol) but Yamamoto Yuma-san was awesome! He's cute and acted so well throughout the movies although I couldn't call him Nikuman-kun because he's thinner compared to the anime. As for Sudo-san of Hokou Koukou, it took quite awhile for me to get use to Shimizu Hiroya's visual! lol. He's cute really! I was disappointed for a few second until he spoke and acted out Sudo's Do-S attitude so well. So in the end, I got contented. Same goes for Retro, Master Sou and Shinobu's characters... I personally think the casts for them are all perfect! For Kana-chan, there's our dear Mone Kamishiraishi. Ahh. I couldn't ask for anyone else to perfectly portray her. And then of course, there's our favorite trio: Chihaya, Taichi, and Arata. I would really like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to whoever it is that chose Suzu-chan, Shuhei-kun, and Mackenyu for these characters because they're too perfect I could cry. UGH. THE VISUALS! I especially had high expectations for Taichi's character. I can't help it. Taichi Mashima is our Mr. Perfect after all: handsome, smart, and rich... and Nomura Shuhei nailed it. HE NAILED IT. I'm in love with the anime Taichi and also couldn't help but fall in love with the human Taichi. (Insert crazy fangirl scream). And thankfully my favorite cute and fluffy childhood friend relationship between Chihaya and Taichi are also given life to the live action. The way they care for each other is so natural that you couldn't help but ship them!! It's a hopeless ship since it's quite obvious in the anime that Chihaya and Arata have mutual feelings, but I'm not giving up! (TAT)/
Moving on to Chihayafuru: Musubi, the 3rd movie of the live action, the events here are advanced from what we watched from the anime so far. I've read in twitter that the movie had been faithful to the manga. And it's finally in this movie that my interest (for the live action) peaked cuz I still have no idea with the events in this part so I got really excited. If there's one adjective I'd use to describe the third movie, that would be: EPIC! My feels overflowed especially during the championship match of team Taichi VS. team Arata. Also, the romance part hurt my heart. I'm hurting for Taichi especially seeing how straightforward Arata is with his feelings for the ever dense Chihaya. I could feel how hard it was for him to struggle with his feelings and I felt so heavy as Mizusawa Koukou played without him. But I'm most proud of Taichi for having that rare chance of being the assistant of Master Sou. The way he went back to the team for the finals, stronger and more resolute than he ever was, thanks to the influence of the Meijin, was breathtaking. And when Chihaya hugged him at the end of the game and said "Welcome Back", I almost flipped my laptop along with my table cuz I felt so attacked in the heart. Then there's that face-palm-worthy scene where we all thought Chihaya would answer Arata's feelings but spoke a totally different thing from that supposedly-romance-part. Still, at the end of the movie, I'm on the verge of tearing cuz my feels overwhelmed me too much. With that, I couldn't help but get a lot more excited for the season 3 of the anime this year.
Chihayafuru is definitely my favorite anime now. And thanks to this, I got really really interested in karuta, that I really want to watch a real-life match in person. Yes, Karuta is definitely a sport that doesn't only requires brain power but also the physical ability to endure. And what's more amazing in the sport is that it goes down in history and poetry of Japan through it's main concept: the Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred poems by One Hundred Poets). I love how strong the culture is behind this sport even if it's in competitive form.
Lastly, if you strongly feel that I'm missing half of my life for not reading Chihayafuru manga, then please don't hesitate to tell me off for missing something in this review.
ijou desu. akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaitashimasu!