Hirose Suzu will star as the heroine Ayase Chihaya in the live-action film project of Suetsugu Yuki’s Chihayafuru manga. This will be her first headlining role in a film production. Suetsugu’s manga sold over 12 million copies. It follows a schoolgirl named Chihaya who competes in the Japanese card game of karuta.
Nomura Shuhei will play Chihaya’s childhood friend Mashima Taichi, while Mackenyu will play Wataya Arata, 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).
Koizumi Norihiro directs the movie. The movie will be released in 2 parts: Chihayafuru: Kami no Ku (Chihayafuru: Upper Phrase) in March 2016 and Chihayafuru: Shimo no Ku (Chihayafuru: Lower Phrase) in April 2016. The film titles refer to the two halves of each poem that are key to the Japanese card game of karuta.
Auditions with over 800 applicants ran from the end of last year until casting was decided.
Suetsugu herself drew a sketch to express her excitement and anticipation for the films, and said that Hirose with long hair looks so beautiful and so much like Chihaya. (Hirose normally wears her hair short.) Although Suetsugu added that the film will not be in stereoscopic 3D, she said that the karuta scenes will be really cool in live-action.
The rest of the cast includes:
- Kunimura Jun as Chiba’s teacher and mentor Harada
Mizusawa High School Competitive Karuta Club:
- Morinaga Yuki as Komano Tsutomu
- Kamishiraishi Mone as Oe Kanade
- Yamato Yuma as Nishida Yusei
- Matsuoka Mayu as the “karuta queen” Wakamiya Shinobu
- Matsuda Miyuki as the teacher Miyauchi Taeko at Chihaya’s Mizusawa High School
Hokuo Academy Competitive Karuta Club:
- Shimizu Hiroya as Sudo Akihito
- Sakaguchi Ryotaro as Kinashi Hiro