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Story takes place 2 years after "Chihayafuru Part 2" and Chihaya is now a high school senior.
Cast & Credits
This review may contains spoilersI made sure not to include spoilers. I included only the details which were present in the trailer. If you watched Chihayafuru Tsunaga or read the manga or watched the anime, I'm pretty sure you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about.
Additional note: Director Koizumi Nori mentioned that he communicated extensively with Suetsugu when he was writing the script for the third film. While it is not exactly what will come out in the manga, you can trust that the main backbone of this adaptation is faithful to Suetsugu's vision.
I watched this during the Japanese Film Festival in my country last July along with the first two films. Technically, it was an entire day of marathon of the three movies inside the theater. To me, the third film really achieved the perfect balance of entertainment and art that Director Koizumi Nori wanted to achieve. Musubi is not only a film about these kids wanting to play karuta, but it also questions why they even play it. In the 2nd film, the characters--particularly, Chihaya--were faced with their own individual struggle. But in this 3rd installment, there was a collective sense in which all of them are experiencing one problem, yet they had to face it on their own if they want to overcome each hurdle.
The sense of camaraderie among the Mizusawa team is ever-present. Seeing them be filled with passion for the karuta game makes you proud. This time, it's not just about winning a game. Even if that was the goal, these kids play for each other and for the love of the game that definitely bounded them. In his way, Arata was able to get back up and rebuild his connection with karuta. His own team may be far from the quality of Mizusawa, but they are well on their way of becoming a big contender (especially since they're made up of strong players). The Queen is still the Queen. Shinobu remains to be my favorite, mainly because Mayu Matsuoka is just as good. And Chihaya is still Chihaya. Passionate as ever. She will always be a 'karuta baka,' but it was lovely seeing her grow more and be more mature when she is faced with a sudden change in her life.
Now, to me the main highlight of this third installment was Chihaya and Taichi's relationship. In the trailer, it is evident that he left the karuta club and Chihaya was pretty devastated. I won't go into the details of what exactly happened as it will ruin the experience of watching it unfold. But in terms of character growth, it was really Taichi who shined here. He remains to be the flawed character that you cannot help but relate to. He loved karuta because of Chihaya. Now, he's just not quite sure if he should continue going on like this. His growth was poignant, and as always it feels earned.
I'm sure you're curious about the romantic aspect, but of course, I won't spoil that for you. But if you have been closely watching the film, the answer isn't very mysterious after all. Still, on the whole, the ending was satisfying and so was the entirety of this movie. Frankly, this is the best live action adaptation I've seen so far in the little pool of live actions that I've watched.
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