Chihayafuru Volume 1
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Chihaya is a girl in the sixth grade, still not old enough to even know the meaning of the word zeal. But one day, she meets Arata, a transfer student from rural Fukui prefecture. Though docile and quiet, he has an unexpected skill: his ability to play competitive karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. Chihaya is struck by his obsession with the game, along with his ability to pick out the right card and swipe it away before any of his opponents. However, Arata is transfixed by her as well, all because of her unbelievable natural talent for the game. Don't miss the first volume in this story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out in the most dramatic of ways.
What's New in Version 1.1
Updated some pages of the book
A little difficult to get used to the translation
5 stars for Chihayafuru because it’s a wonderful story, but it’s a bit difficult to get used to the translations used for Arata’s dialogue. It doesn’t seem right to treat Japanese dialects and accents in the same way you would English accents, because Asian dialects and accents have distinct traits which are very different from English… Also, those who watched Chihayafuru the anime with English subtitles will have a hard time because the poems are translated differently than the anime.
One of my all-time favorite series
I first saw Chihayafuru the anime series on Crunchyroll.com, and I was hooked from the first episode. I hadn’t even heard of the Japanese card game Karuta. It’s an unexpectedly physical sport that also combines literature and poetry as well as intense memory work. The anime and then this manga series made me want to learn more about Karuta and the Hyakunin Isshu, the 100 poems the game is based off of.
The characters as introduced in this first volume of the manga series are all really interesting and sympathetic and made me want to learn more about them. There is a light romantic thread, but a lot of this first book is a look at the characters’ introduction to Karuta and their childhood together. (Later books deal with them as teenagers in high school.)
The English translation is good, with efforts to make the cultural references more understandable to an American audience. At the same time, the Japanese culture is clearly shown especially in all aspects of the game and the characters’ interactions with each other.
I really love this series and even though this first volume is mostly about the characters as elementary schoolers, it’s still interesting and engaging. Later volumes, when the story jumps to their high school years, are even more interesting.