It’s here. It’s finally here. The Chihayafuru live action movie that most of us have been waiting for, for at least 6 months, is finally here.
As you all know, I finally released a Chihayafuru anime review this year, which was dreadful because it turned out to be more of a rant of ‘which couple would surface and claim victory out of probably the best love triangle formed since’ … actually I don’t know. Quite frankly, this may be the best love triangle ever due to the lack of frustration that it brings to one’s gentle heart. (Please do forgive my oddly structured sentences and my choice of language. I’ve just stumbled out of watching Bridget Jones’ Diary and you do not wish to be in my head right now because that English accent is quite contagious; not to mention it is getting rather annoying.)
Now as you all know, I’m not a big fan of live actions. In fact, I rather dread them. Examples… Ao Haru Ride and LDK (Those are just a few). I’m not quite sure whether it’s the unnecessary over-acting or the butchering of the story line or simply, the poor casting choice – take your pick out of that list because whatever it is, I can’t seem to stand any of them. Many may disagree, however many may also lack the integrity of staying true to the original and just the general appreciation of quality acting. I mean, if their sole career is to stand in front of a camera and they receive more than the average blue collar worker for doing so, they should at least be bloody well capable of acting.
With that being said, I do find that live-action dramas are a lot better than the movies. It is true. They are better.
However, despite my very apparent prejudice against live-action movies, Chihayafuru – Kami no Ku fared rather well. I did enjoy watching it though I do have some qualms about the slight alterations that the directors and writers established. I do understand that many of those reading this review right now may have not yet experienced the splendor of viewing the movie and so I will ‘tip-toe’ around the general outline of it all and will set off a warning signal before diving into all of the technical details; as my reviews usually do.
For the rare few that have not previously watched the anime or read the manga, this movie will be excellent. Sure, some of the slight over-exaggeration -in terms of acting- may be a little cringe-worthy and hard to handle at the beginning but it fades away rather quickly. I wasn’t sure if the acting abilities developed as they filmed or whether I just grew accustomed to it all but the over-acting was not an urgent problem in this movie at all. Now, I’m abnormally stubborn and, to me, it’s important that any remakes must follow the original. Especially if the original did it right. More specifically, all details must remain true. If this isn’t a major concern for you, or if you have not yet experienced the original anime and manga, this movie is great. The alterations that were made weren’t necessarily bad, it was just that I’m unnecessarily picky about certain things.
[Spoilers shall now be disclosed from this point on wards]
There were some minor details that bugged me a little but once I got passed it, it did work. It didn’t ruin Chihayafuru or made it odd in anyway. However, needless to say, the original anime and manga combo will never be beaten. The directors of this film project decided that it would be better to alter the timing for all of the events. We’re immediately thrown into the story, instead of being gently placed in through the huge flashback of how the trio formed their friendship, and the movie opens up with Chihaya just before her Queen match. Which, for those who have been keeping up with the manga, know that that hasn’t happened yet. But after this major foreshadowing, I’m sure we’ll be able to witness this soon in the manga. Now there are also rumours that there will be a third film (for those who don’t already know, there has been a second Chihayafuru live action film, however the subs for that have not yet been released. And unfortunately no RAWS have been made available as of yet) in 2018.
The timeline changes were a big deal for me because they delayed the death of Arata’s grandfather. Which, of course, meant that Arata didn’t have that whole ‘douche bag’ moment throughout this whole entire movie. I was also slightly disappointed that the scene, where Arata basically slapped Chihaya through their first phone call, was removed. I mean, I was using that as a reason to validate why I was on Team Taichi. Now that you’ve taken that away, I’m rapidly running out of reasons. (Only joking, Taichi’s still my number one.)
Speaking of Arata’s actor, I greatly admire him for taking on the task of picking up the whole Fukui dialect. Honestly, I love the Fukui dialect. I’m a big fan of the outskirt country accents and it’s just great. I’m not sure if he’s nailing it or not because I’m pretty sure that the original Arata voice actor also had to pick up the Fukui dialect for the part. Now, I wouldn’t say that he’s perfect for the Arata role but he’s done a great job. I know that he’s a huge heartthrob at the moment because he’s up and coming plus he’s from America so he speaks ‘fluent’ English. However, I’m not a huge fan of his English and I don’t know if he appeals to me that way. Either way, I hope he has a great career.
I was somewhat ‘okay’ with Taichi’s actor, however after watching Sukina Hito Ga Iru Koto, I just couldn’t see him as Taichi at all. In fact, my mind was extremely against it. You see, in SHGIK, he played a boy that was a player, a smoker and a horrible student that skipped classes. Now, I didn’t HATE this character but he was just so different from Taichi. I know that the actor actually has an extremely chill character and he’s really into riding BMX and all of that, which is pretty much the polar opposite of Taichi. All I have to say is, try to refrain from watching SHGIK before watching Chihayafuru; maybe then he’ll be a better Taichi for you. (I don’t hate the casting role for this)
Other than that, I was pretty satisfied with the casting choices. Sure, Nikuman could’ve been a little bit chubbier and they could’ve hacked off Tsukue’s hair a little bit more but other than that, it was pretty great. Nikuman’s character didn’t seem to line up exactly with the anime and manga version however, I saw how the actor brought his own character to the role and I would prefer that over him trying to mirror the original and failing so I applaud him for his performance and his acting choice. Now, I was a tad bit confused with their casting choice for Tsukue’s actor but after he opened his mouth, all my doubts went away. Did you not notice that his voice was eerily similar to the original? Now, I’m not saying that they sound exactly the same, but it’s close enough.
Overall, I did appreciate the movie though I do wonder why they chose to make three separate movies. After all, since they’ll be producing that many shouldn’t they have just chose the route of producing an entire drama series? However, I have no qualms about their choice. I have also seen the behind-the-scenes while they were making the film and there is one thing that I really appreciate from live-actions that are based on sport animes/ mangas. The producers really make sure that the actors train and train until they master the sport before they even begin any sort of production. For example, the Prince of Tennis live-action movie (which was pretty cringey… though it did make me like Hongo Kanata so no complaints). It was no different for this one. The actors did have to learn how to play Offensive Karuta and they had to keep training until they had blisters on their feet from kneeling properly on the tatami mats. I really do applaud that dedication. The actor that played Arata also displayed his skills on live television where he played Karuta with the hosts. His reactions really were immediate and after that even I was convinced that he made a pretty great Arata.
If you haven’t already seen this movie. I urge you to do so, especially if you have not yet witnessed the splendor of Chihayafuru. It’s a really great live-action movie that could really actually be easily passed off as a stand alone film too. I look forward to the second instalment.