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Live-Action Chihayafuru Film Cast Appears in Costume at Real Karuta Shrine

posted on by Egan Loo
Cast films scenes at actual site of high school card tournament

The cast from the live-action films of Yuki Suetsugu's Chihayafuru manga began filming in costume on location in the middle of this month. Actress Suzu Hirose (Crows Explode, Umimachi Diary, Mamoru Hosoda's The Boy and The Beast) appears as the heroine Chihaya Ayase along with the rest of the cast for the Mizusawa High School Competitive Karuta Club:

(From left to right in photograph above) Yūki Morinaga as Tsutomu Komano, Yūma Yamato as Yūsei Nishida, Shūhei Nomura as Taichi Mashima, Suzu Hirose as Chihaya Ayase, Mackenyu as Arata Wataya, Mone Kamishiraishi as Kanade Ōe, and director Norihiro Koizumi (Midnight Sun, Kanojo wa Uso o Ai Shisugiteru)

The cast filmed scenes against the backdrop of the Rōmon gates of Shiga Prefecture's Ōmi Shrine — the real-life "karuta holy land" or "karuta shrine." Not coincidentally, the film began shooting during the real-life All Japan High School Karuta Tournament – the same championship seen in the manga. In particular, the film recreates the scene from the manga's fourth volume when the club pray at the shrine just before the tournament.

Notably, this is the first look at Hirose with long hair extensions to match her character's look. (Hirose normally wears her hair short in a bob.) Hirose said that even she thought she did not look like Chihaya when she read the manga, due to Chihaya's height and hair length. However, the manga creator Koizumi said that she personally thought Hirose looks so much like Chihaya once she changed her hairstyle. Director Koizumi chimed that with long hair, Hirose absolutely fits the role and looks like a ordinary, down-to-earth schoolgirl like Chihaya.

Hirose remarked on all the children milling around the shrine due to the karuta tournament and said that she wanted to see the actual matches in person. However, Koziumi and Nomura joked that if Hirose showed up, the matches would come to a standstill as everyone would be abuzz to see the actress. Nomura added that he was deeply moved to set foot in the same shrine that he had seen in the manga.

Koziumi acknowledged that even with two films, four hours would not be enough to cover the 27-volume manga. Instead, the films dramatically reconstruct the story and pick out the best parts of the original manga.

Comic Natalie and Mantan Web posted more photographs of the cast.

The first film, Chihayafuru: Kami no Ku (Chihayafuru: Upper Phrase), will open in March 2016, and the second film, Chihayafuru: Shimo no Ku (Chihayafuru: Lower Phrase), will open in April 2016. The film titles refer to the two halves of each poem that are key to the Japanese card game of karuta.

Shūhei Nomura (Taifū no Noruda, live-action Daily Lives of High School Boys, Hibi Rock: Puke Afro and the Pop Star) will play Chihaya's childhood friend Taichi Mashima (pictured center right in the image below).

Mackenyu (Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future) will play Arata Wataya (center left), the childhood friend who leads Chihaya and Taichi into the world of karuta. Mackenyu is the American-born son of internationally renowned actor Sonny Chiba (The Street Fighter, Kill Bill).

The rest of the cast includes:

Mizusawa High School Competitive Karuta Club:

  • Yūki Morinaga (Kanojo wa Uso o Ai Shisugiteru) as Tsutomu Komano (top row, second from left)
  • Mone Kamishiraishi as Kanade Ōe (top row, second from right)
  • Yūma Yamato (Silver Spoon, Crows Explode) as Yūsei Nishida (top row, far right)
  • Mayu Matsuoka as the "karuta queen" Shinobu Wakamiya (bottom row, far left)
  • Miyuki Matsuda (Hot Road, ZOO) as the teacher Taeko Miyauchi (bottom row, second from left) at Chihaya's Mizusawa High School

Hokuo Academy Competitive Karuta Club:

Suetsugu's manga follows a schoolgirl named Chihaya who competes in the Japanese card game of karuta. Suetsugu launched the manga in Kodansha's Be Love magazine in December 2007, and Kodansha has published over 12 million copies of the manga's 27 volumes. Kodansha also released a bilingual edition of the first two volumes in Japan in 2011-2012.

The manga won the Manga Taisho (Cartoon Grand Prize) award in 2009, and also won the Best Shōjo Manga award at Kodansha's 35th Annual Manga Awards in 2011.

The series inspired the first 25-episode television anime season from October 2011 to March 2012, and the second 25-episode season aired in Japan from January-June 2013. Additionally, the 22nd volume of the manga bundled an original anime DVD when it shipped in September 2013. Crunchyroll streamed both television anime series outside Japan as they aired.

Sources: Comic Natalie, Mantan Web

Update: Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future's title corrected. Thanks, ukiya_seed

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