Arata, Arata Wataya, Chihaya, Chihaya Ayase, Chihayafuru, Emotion Theory, Expression, Kana, Kanade Ōe, Karuta, Shinobu, Shinobu Wakamiya, Taichi, Taichi Mashima, Tsutomu Komano, Yusei Nishida
There had been lots of theories about facial expressions. Two of the most common ones are: first, it’s a universal language that’s already in us which reflects our inner feelings. And second, it’s a cultural notion that we acquired through influence.
So it was said that the facial expression is the immediate reflection of a person’s emotions. Say for instance, if we see somebody smiling, we can tell that it represents joy and a scowl represents anger. Likewise when watching anime, we end up smiling whenever we witness happy moments and we feel anxious when our favourite characters are in jeopardy.
Such convincing atmosphere and emotions combined with intensified tones make the viewing experience so emerging, and this is one of the many reasons why I enjoy watching Chihayafuru. The beautiful aesthetics and faces of the characters craft it’s so easy to have fun and engage with the characters and plot.
For instance, there’s something so true and heartwarming with Chiahaya’s adorable and playful expressions that never fail to make me smile. Despite having such a pretty face, I’m so fascinated by her clumsiness because it envelopes the innocence and determination of a child. More importantly, her pleasingly genki personality is so well-resonated by her sparkling eyes and beaming pulpy lips.
Kana managed so well to flare the true gracefulness and elegance of wearing a kimono regardless of her chubby and petite figure. Through her poised stares and modest smiles, she convinced everyone that beauty is not just all about the physicality but also through expressing and controlling her emotions on a high stake competition.
Moreover, who would have ever forgotten the cold smirk that conceals such seductive meanness and divulges an appallingly competitive Karuata match? Although Shinobu is cloaked by her Snowmaru shirt and obscured by her euphemisms, her pointy glares and flattened mouth can’t help but to unveil her fierceness yet stylish demeanours. In addition, I love how she could also be surprised by Chihaya—she looks like she’s going to snap anytime soon when Chihaya took two cards from her in a row.
And aside from that, the Taichi fanclub might highly agree with me if I say that he’s at the peak of his cuteness whenever he’s on his emo-mode. Most of the time, the way he jerkily masks his feelings for Chihaya makes him cool and sympathizing. But at the same time, he’s so endearing once he shuts his mouth and calmly closes his eyes each time he tries to sort things out and suppress his emotions.
Conversely, Arata’s tranquil expressions deliberately show his sensitive side. One of the best qualities that I love about him is his composure and focused because there’s always something so intimidating on how he steadily gazes on the cards as his eyebrows never show any slight curve and how his lips remained slightly pressed.
But having said all of these, it was also argued that a face is like a switch which carries only the expression but not the inherent meaning. To simplify, facial signals only happened to affect the trajectory of the social interaction.
I’m sure that some of us watch anime as stress relievers or amusement pills. Say for instance, we can end up watching some drama and have a sad face by the end of the show but it doesn’t mean that we’re truly devastated. As a matter fact, if a show could make us cry the happier we become and the more positive feedbacks we provide.
Nevertheless, whether facial expressions are our innate characteristics or are just happened to be some form of inherited cultural behaviours, we can say that these are medium that put soul into the non-verbal signals because they bring social activities into life. It’s truly amazing how the eyebrows, eyes, and mouth encode and decode the seemingly intricate thoughts into a simplified language.
Previous Chihayafuru posts:
- Explore the body language with Gestures, Movements and Karuta
- The thoughts of having ones dream with Authenticity of Chihaya’s Dream
Wow, I would never have expected a title with a pun like that from you.
The more I think of it, the more great moments I can remember that were brought about through facial expressions. The Queen’s were my favourite, since she can move between threatening and embarrassed with relative ease. It’s particularly when I look at all these pictures that the emotions of the scenes come flooding back and I remember why I love this show in the first place. All that just from facial expressions.
Yeah, I also like the surprising nature of Shinobu and her chibi form is really cute. Sometimes those little details make up for the most part why we’re enjoying something.
Actually they all just look incredibly amusing to me. when I look at facial expressions, I look for that one face…one face that will make my day. This season, not counting Chihayafuru (Which I should marathon from episode 12 due to the finale coming up) have come from Yomi. Every single facial expression she’s made put a smile on my face. Then again it may have nothing to do with understanding the significance of the facial expression and has more to do with how cute Yomi is. I dunno.
I miss Chiahaya’s unrivaled beauty and continue scratching my head as to why I put this glorious show on hold. Oh yeah, more than 7 shows to keep up with in the Winter season. Thankfully some of them will be ending this week so I’ll have more time to catch up.
You should catch-up with Chihayafuru. You’re missing so much if you don’t. Shinobu and Chihaya just really make me go kyaa~ and Taichi is becoming more and more handsome.
Lol, I can imagine why you like Yomi and I guess that’s because of her misdemeanour and psychotic emotions.
I have let you down this time dearest Snippy. I swear it won’t happen again. I am saddened I missed so many opportunities to discuss Chihaya’s gifted beauty, Shinobu’s cuteness and Taichi being better than Arata.
Without spoilers, may I assume the black haired woman is Chihaya’s toughest opponent in the series?
Yomi’s adorable and a deeply infatuated lesbian. What’s not to like?
No worries OG, Chihaya’s gifted beauty is very forgiving, haha.
Yes, the black haired is Shinobu and she’s the reigning queen that Chihaya needs to beat. I’m really shipping those two but on episode 24… I’ll stop before I spoil you.
Although I like Yomi’s eyes and her Dead-master’s costume, I’m still after for Mato. I don’t know why.
I mixed up Shinobu with Oe. My bad. Oe’s cuteness is what I was referring to.
Hmm…I have a feeling this spoiler has something to do with Chihaya confessing to either Arata or Taichi, or the other way around. Let’s face facts dearest Snippy, Chihayafuru was never a yuri show. Even though the show still rocks, we can only dream of an alternate reality where Chihaya saw the light and snuggled with Shinobu after the final battle.
It may not be a yuri, but there’s nothing stopping us to look on a different spectacle. Which is the fun stuff in terms of shipping non-yuri anime. ^^
have a feeling this spoiler has something to do with Chihaya confessing to either Arata or Taichi, or the other way around.
Nope, it has nothing to do with that. I don’t want to spoil you, OG.
Spoken like a true Nation Member. I am honored to continue addressing you as one of “us” for your heart is strong in the admiration of love between women.
Ah, so it’s something else, eh? I’ll let you know when I find out the truth, if I don’t end up losing my mind after being mesmerized by Chihaya’s beauty. Shinobu’s no slouch in the looks dept either I see. Rawr.
Foxy Lady Ayame said:
3 posts on Chihayafuru… you’ve honored this show very much, as it deserves to be. Nice catch there about how each of the characters says things with his face. It’s always marvellous how you can expant a single idea to a whole post. Though you forgot Nishida and Komano – I still remember Nishida’s ‘open’ triangle eyes lol. Chihaya-chan’s, Taichi’s and Arata’s expressions are the ones that can’t go unnoticed and are also my favorite.
“But having said all of these, it was also argued that a face is like a switch which carries only the expression but not the inherent meaning. To simplify, facial signals only happened to affect the trajectory of the social interaction.”
I need a bit of explanation here *sweatdrop*
btw how did a bieber song inspired you to write this?
Yes, those three posts testify how much I love this show ♥
When I was writing this post, I ran out of stamina looking for Komano and Nishida’s screenshots that’s why I just cut them off.
I need a bit of explanation here *sweatdrop*
Haha, you’re so cute. That argument tells us that facial expression doesn’t really have meaning whenever we do it. Say for instance, Justin Bieber said in one of his songs, “You smile, I smile” As a third person, how would you tell if he smiled because he’s happy or he smiled because the other person’s smile happened to be contagious. So likewise, when watching anime. We may not be feeling any happiness before we watched it, but sometimes we smile on what we’re seeing not because we’re happy but it just happened that we got influenced by what we’re seeing.
As for the Bieber song his “You smile, I smile” lines made me thought about it and gave me an idea on what to write about this show… I’m sorry, I’m just really weird like that.
Oh brilliant just brilliant. I loved this article. I wish there was something more profound I could say but you said it all. well done.
Thank you. I really appreciate.
What I find fascinating about shows like Chihayafuru is how they mix actual depiction of emotion through expression with the more manga-vocabulary faces. I think it speaks to your general thesis that some expressions we recognize from our experience with real people and some things (see: the last three pictures in your post) we have learned through continual exposure to a medium.
These little quirks are what make me love anime because it can accomplish things that you can’t do with actual actors.
Yeah, it’s really interesting to explore those littlest things such as expressions. Compared to real life, anime has its own set of expression that stirs emotions, say for instance sweat-drops, shadows on the face, and chibis. We don’t really becoming like that but they can still manipulate our feelings.
And yeah, that deviation and almost tangent to reality experience is what I enjoy whenever I watch anime.
Ryan A said:
Yes, I agree with the_patches. This first struck me when we met the young Chihaya, who was overflowing with expressive emotion, but it seems all the characters have nicely crafted expressions. It helps us distinguish their different modes and colours, in a sense, reading the character as we would be able to read individuals in reality. I like seeing this in visual media, especially the mild expressions we see in Chihayafuru. Some shows over-express and it becomes comical or too playful for sentiment, but Chihayafuru uses it’s character designs well.
Thanks for the post.
I can’t agree more. Chihayafuru really does it so well in captivating its viewers through its lovely arts. For instance, in some anime the chibis are overused that the whole episode is becoming extremely comical. With Chihayafuru, chibis are being used so well in the funny scenes, but at the same time the realistic atmosphere is maintained.
I’m glad you liked the post, Ryan. Thanks.
Ephemeral Dreamer said:
I think this is one of the biggest reasons why I enjoy Chihayafuru. You probably already know about this, but I’ll say this for the other readers as well; the use of facial expressions is very important in Deaf culture and signing. Each facial expression set the stage for an emotion to be expressed and from there on, it is ever-changing to suit the flow of the conversation, or in this case, a story. I love how Chihayafuru utilize the expressions to give us a wide variety of emotions and moods. ^_^
I’m glad you find significance on this post. I think the deaf culture really sees lot of wonderful things in a different perspective compared to the normal ones.
Curse the day I put the series on hold!!! (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Your post makes it sound so beautiful and those good looking guys…oh ma gaa!!
Why did you put Chihayafuru on hold? Go catch it up and you’re not going to be disappointed.
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Daddy bear and Snowmaru, DADDY BEAR AND SNOWMARU!
So you’ve seen it! Snowmaru and Daddy Bear <3
Oh I saw it. I am now a Shinobu fan and looking forward to seeing what exactly sparked your yuri senses between Chihaya and her. I did spoil a few things for myself, namely pictures of a once chubby Shinobu. I’m not surprised she got a flashback. I’ll keep on watching and review this show because it deserves to be seen by many more people than just a few who were smitten by Chihaya…I wish a woman like her existed in real life, both in looks and personality.
Ahahaha, chubby Shinobu? Lol, I guess you’ll be more surprised… The chubby Shinobu isn’t really a flashback…
And yeah, Chihaya <3 In real life it's so easy for me to befriend someone like her. I'd actually be the one pursuing her. Looks and pleasing personality is something that I would run for.
Count me in the Chihaya x Shinobu (skinny version ofc) camp!
If there was one thing I missed in this great show it was that Chihaya’s personality was not really explored. I wouldn’t expect this from a run-of-the-mill sports anime but Chihayafuru went far beyond the limitations of this genre. Taichi, in particular, has a realistic and complex personality which developed a lot during the show. Chihaya, on the other hand, is so fixated on karuta that I’d say it’s almost unhealthy. E.g. calling Nishida constantly his insulting nickname against his wishes was quite rude – she got away with it this time but Chihaya lacks some basic social skills. I wonder why this is so. Also, the issues she had with her family who cared only for Chitose were resolved a bit too superficially for my taste. As a sidenote, high school Chihaya looks much better than her sister!
I’d like to comment also on the interesting topic you raise in this post, Snippet: Occasionally, I wonder why I’m drawn so much to anime in general and one of the reasons, I think, is that the characters’ emotions are so much easier to read than in live-action or in real life. First, because the characters faces are drawn much more expressive. Chihayafuru’s characters, as you concisely describe, are a prime example. Then, because many characters are younger and do not hide their emotions so much. Also, anime characters’ facial expressions are virtually always honest – true, also evil characters smile, but their smile is most likely a crooked, evil kind of smile. Anime enhances the readability even more by using signals like drops or shaded faces. Like glucose works for the brain, anime quite often has a much stronger and more direct emotional impact on me than other forms of media or even real life interaction.
I’m glad to see another Chihaya x Shinobu fan. ^^
To be honest, Chihaya is my favourite on the show. Her character may not be that well-explored because her character development is slowly taking the process. The way she learned and improved her game is being presented in a very detailed way–which I truly appreciate because it specifically shows that in order to be the best, it’s not just all about talent but rather it’s more of perseverance and dedication.
I also sometimes question Chihaya’s obsession with Karuta. As you’ve mentioned, it seemed like it’s becoming unhealthy because obviously she’s failing her marks and sometimes neglecting her friends. As for naming names, I wouldn’t really call Chihaya as rude. habit. But instead, for me Chihaya is just being too familiar with people and that clumsiness is part of her charm and her way to socialize, although I do admit that doing that is somewhat rude. But I guess, these somewhat disappointing qualities are specifically being shown in order for us to “grow up” with Chihaya, and make it more moving when the time comes for her to become a true lady and queen.
Anime enhances the readability even more by using signals like drops or shaded faces.
Yes, I truly agree with this. In terms of what I’ll be watching, I highly weigh the quality of animation and visuals because these allow me to be more creative and at the same time it keeps my imagination grounded to reality. Chihayafuru has one of the best facial features and aesthetics that I'd ever seen in anime that's why it has a special place in my heart.
Btw, thanks for the comments and discussing Chihayafuru with me. I really adore this show. Hopefully, there's going to be a second season.
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That 4th picture you have (the flustered Chihaya with the school windows in the background), which episode is it from? She almost looks like Chitose.