Chihayafuru Vol. 1 by Yuki Suetsugu
Series: Chihayafuru #1
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Sports, Josei
Release Date: May 13th 2008
Synopsis: All her life, Chihaya’s dream was to see her model sister become Japan’s best… That is, until a quiet, unassuming transfer student named Arata tells her otherwise. A dream, he explains to her, is something she needs to work at herself. Arata plays a competitive version of a traditional Japanese card game–known as Hyakunin Isshu–in a way Chihaya has never seen before. After taking Arata’s place in a game, Chihaya discovers she has a passion for it. Now Chihaya wants to become number one in the world, the Queen of Karuta. Chihayafuru won the 2nd Manga Taisho Award. Winner of the 35th annual Kodansha Manga Award for Best Shoujo
My thoughts: I loved this manga. I really did. It was touching, humourous, and has some good messages weaved in the story. There is really nothing wrong with this manga so far although it is still very early in the series. I have high hopes for Chihayafuru‘s next volumes! Sadly, this manga has not been licensed in english so I won’t be able to buy physical copies of the Chihayafuru series but there are always the lovely fan translators!
Chiyhaya is a girl who always says what is on her mind. And she also has a dream: to see her sister become Japan’s best model. Well, that was her dream until Arata, a transfer student tells her that a dream is something that she needs to work at herself. She later finds out that Arata plays a Japanese card game known as Hyakunin Isshu. Chiyhaya is fascinated at the way he plays the game. One day she has to take Arata’s place in a game and finds out that she has a passion for it. Chihaya now knows what her dream is: to become the Queen of Karuta.
I have never read a manga with a story liked this. Suetsugu masterfully intertwines the game of Karuta with a sweet story of finding out what one desires. The story glued me into my seat, making me read nonstop until I got to the end of the volume.
This is a character driven story in which we meet an outspoken girl who is always living in the shadow of her beautiful sister named Chihaya (she is what many would call the glue that keeps the group of characters together), a quiet boy named Arata who has a passion and talent for the game of Karuta, and Taichi, a boy who is a genuinely nice person on the inside but is driven to do mean things because of the pressure his parents give him. These characters have a bond with each other and I loved reading about it. Awhile they do work well together they still have those times where they want to be better than one another (even when they are on the same team). Their friendship is very real. It has the sweet moments, the sad moments, the whole bit.
I never knew that Karuta was such an exhilarating game until I read this manga. Karuta requires the player to become “friends” with the poems that are printed on the cards. Karuta requires the player to have quick hands. I don’t think I would be able to do half as much as the group of characters in this manga are able to do.
Chihayafuru is a beautiful drawn manga that I cannot take my eyes off of. I will certainly be reading the next volumes. I want to learn how Chihaya’s story ends.