Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi is an animation of the Japanese card game Uta-garuta which itself comes from Hyakuninisshu one of the most important works of Japanese literature which is a 12th century anthology of love poems compiled by the aristocrat Fujiwara no Teika includes poems by the most important poets of the Heian Period.
History lesson out of the way. Each episode is introduced by Fujiwara no Teika himself in a modern setting and tells the background of each poem and a little about the poet's life, lacing it with humour and an intelligent script.
It is worth remembering that the characters were real people and
most were renowned in their lifetime including Sei Shonagon who wrote the Pillow Book and Murasaki Shikibu who wrote the Tale of Genji. They spent most of their time stuck in the royal palace especially Empresses, Princesses and ladies in waiting who were almost imprisoned. You can only imagine the boredom and frustration many of these intelligent women had not being able to use their intellect.
If you expect each episode to happily ever after then you will be disappointed. The people were royalty or aristocrats from the Heian Period and had to live by a strict code where they were told who to marry or how to live so each episode is about doomed love and the poems often reflect this.
Also the opening and ending songs a very good and the animation is nice though not spectacular, however, this is probably because most scenes are in the royal palace or in aristocrats homes.
I will admit is not to everyone's taste but if you are looking for an anime which is a bit more intelligent than most it might be for you. This is classic literature made cool.
No reviews yet so I guess I'll write a little something for people who have no idea what to expect.
I know some people cringe at the sight of "Historical, Josei" but I think you should give it a try. At least I was pleasantly surprised.
If you watched Chihayafuru you will definitely appreciate this show in a whole different way, but you can just watch it in all its glory without knowing anything about the 100 poems too.
The love stories so far have been great, and the way they tell them is very interesting. At first I thought it was going to be episodic, but many
characters are reoccurring and their stories continue on.
I was surprised how full of humor this show is, while it still carries some heavy and mature topics.
This was an enjoyable title while it lasted. Uta Koi, for the most part, portrays animated adaptations of stories concerning the lives of famous traditional poets in feudal Japan having their own differing experiences with love that influence their writing. Each of the stories provides enough fleshing out of the characters to let you know of their upbringing and unique romantic dilemma, many of whom involve differences in age and/ or social standing, the latter of which being a huge deal in feudal times. It made for quite the interesting watch since it let me know a little more about Japan's literary history.
also mixes in some comedy with its romantic stories, mostly through Teika's easygoing narrations as he introduces the stories being portrayed in each episode of Uta Koi. The comedy mostly relies on anachronisms with Teika and the other poets making appearances at points throughout the series when relevant to the story being portrayed in said episode. I found this style of comedy to be hit or miss and an absolute waste for one episode when it was used as complete comical filler. Fortunately, it doesn't get too intrusive in the other 12 episodes that are telling their romantic stories.
In terms of visuals, scenery and character designs are fairly standard in quality and being rather limited in its animation. Like Gankutsuou, Uta Koi implements stylized methods with its scenery and characters by implementing a design pattern onto the kimonos of characters, clouds and even rain drops. While still sticking out quite prominently in moments where characters are moving about, it isn't as annoyingly glaring as when Gankutsuou resorted to this approach.
Uta Koi will certainly not be for everyone considering the title's strong focus on poetery, Japanese history and episodic storytelling. But if you have interest in these elements of storytelling and genres, then Uta Koi makes for an entertaining watch as you experience the love woes faced by famous Japanese feudal poets who lived centuries ago.
Let's start :
The 13 episodes are episodic, so each one has a diffrent stroy to tell (understand a different poem to illustrate), but some characters are reccurent and you get to know them and their stories.
Theres nothing special to say, its not mystery or anything, because its no the purpose of the show.
Its very beautiful, the kimono, the hair, the colors, its beautiful, but nothing particulary outstanding. Expet some scenes that are really well animated, and absolutely beautiful and memorable.
The opening is really good and fits perfectly well to the show, you easily get the spirit. The ending is surprising
but nice. And the ost is present but discreet I guess, at least I have nothing to say, it doest its job, makes a good atmosphere. The voices are perfect, with many famous voice actors as good as always. The poetic lines are nice to hear and fits persfectly with the rest of the show.
The characters are great, worked, and have a great psychology that you might not suspect they have at first, but beware they do. You get the josei vibe if I may say, the realtion between them (love or not) are great, and tho it may seems because of the episodic episodes that you wouldn't have time to have character developement, you actually do! And it's not forced at all, it's very fluide.
Watched in one day, I just couldn't stop, I kept wanting to see more of the romantic, sad, poetic atmosphere. The atmosphere is great. I wish there were more shows as good as this one.
It has all I wanted : historic, interesting and good characters, beautiful art, a poetic vibe sometimes melancolic, some romance, some comedy too (I haven't talked much about it but the context story is pretty comedic and the good thing is that it doesn't even bother, it fits well to the rest). If you like those things I believe I you might love as much as I have.
A must for romantic fan. But the show is more than that as I said. Imo it is incredibly good in its category. I haven't given it a 10, not because it has some big flaws, just its episodic there isn't one big story so...its not a good reason actually. I guess its just that I don't see myself singing the opening or kya-ing about the show, but I think that's because its not really made to have this kind of fan actually. Its a show you appreciate alone, for its poetry, beauty, melancolic side.
I say give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed, its so worth it!!
I think that Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu is a good series, with its use of historical references to Japan and Medieval Age Japanese poetry, as well as the way the characters were portrayed in it (which I believe was one of the highlights of this series). At the same time, it did make me want to read the original set of 100 poems, which are available here:
I will say that the art is good, but not the best - it could have been a shade better. Also, the story had its moments when I wondered what the tone of the anime will be. Although it carried its
concepts well, it lacked discipline in some places. Which was sad, because the characters were not constructs in any form - in fact, in a subtle way, it portrayed what medieval Japan was like, especially to live in that time and its hierarchical society. Its enlightening, actually.
While I won't say that its the best anime I've seen, I feel it has its merits as a good anime which gives food for thought. And I would definitely recommend it to be seen at least once - especially for those who want to experience "love" in a mix of poetic, and metaphoric aspects. Its nice, its fun for its 13 episodes, and the morals that they share in this anime are such that we can relate with them, from metaphoric or conceptual grounds anyway.
Story - Long ago, a man named Fujiwara no Teika was hired to create an anthology of 100 poems by 100 different poets. He titled this group of poems the “Hyakunin Isshu.” 43% of these poems happened to be about love and came from nobles as well as lower classmen. Uta Koi focuses around the stories behind 12 of these romantic poems. Therefore, each episode is its own individual story that centers around the love between two characters.
Characters – It feels strange to call the cast of this anime “characters” because they are all based on real people. There are so many different people you
are exposed to and it’s a pretty cool thing to see. You’re bound to find a character that you like and each person comes from different backgrounds. From Empresses to economical officials, there are tons of different people depicted in this anime.
Art/Animation – Traditional Japanese garments are so intricate and that is what the majority of the characters in this anime wear. Most of the women look mature and beautiful, but many look too similar. This created confusion and led to some mix-ups. The men were a bit more distinguished and had more noticeable characteristics. However, sometimes I felt that the artwork was a bit like drawings from a coloring book. There were not too many details in some scenes and there was a strong black line outlining each of the characters as well. It was slightly unappealing and felt a little “cheap.” A low-budget was clearly evident for this series.
The animation was very stiff and looked unnatural at times. What bugged me the most was that the designs on the characters outfits stayed in place and did not move along with their movements. Kind of hard to explain in text, but it is very noticeable once you watch the series. Also, the rain didn’t look like rain falling. Instead, the “raindrops” were just circles expanding and shrinking on the screen.
Sound – There was barely any musical tracks played in this anime, which was very disappointing. For an anime that was lacking in its art and animation, it would have been nice to have some nice songs played on traditional Japanese instruments playing in the background instead of bland, quiet scenes. The ending song was also very unfitting for this anime and stuck out like a sore thumb. A hip-hop song as an outro to a historical anime? I don’t think so. Was not an appropriate fit at all.
Pros – Its definitely cool to see how even thousands of years later, legacies still live on. Before we die, we always wonder if anyone will remember us and if our names would ever be mentioned after death. This anime shows that indeed they do. I also enjoyed the focus on the poems written by these individuals.
It was also enjoyable to see each poem have such emphasis. They were also analyzed or put into “simple” terms, reminding me of the No Fear Shakespeare books that basically translated all of Shakespeare’s works. Definitely helped out in the understanding of these poems because some can be difficult at times. The symbolism used combined with my lack of poetry skills would have left me confused in this anime without those translations.
Also, knowing the stories behind these written poems was possibly the greatest thing about this anime. Poetry is always fun when the audience knows the story behind it. Each story was romantic and depicted their era very well. Problems such as nobility and honor were real problems back then. They could forbid the relationships between two people and this anime shows that. It’s very realistic for the majority of the anime and made the characters feel more “human”.
Cons – The humor in this anime was not funny, interesting, or relevant. Our narrator, Fujiwara no Teika was often floating in space, playing on the beach, cosplaying the Tokyo Tower, playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, or being a ballerina. It took the seriousness out of the show and was peculiar at times. Episode 6 was so awful, I don’t know where to begin. It wasn’t about a love story, instead it was about a race between all the characters we already have met. It was extremely random, made no sense, and was quite dull.
- Animation could have been stronger.
- Not very memorable.
Overall - Uta Koi was a sweet revival of such timeless poetic pieces. The stories of romance were all heart-warming and lovely. The major downfall was that they were not memorable. Even now I am having trouble remembering all of the stories. I definitely recommend marathon-ing the show because taking breaks between this anime will lead to you forgetting the stories of certain characters for sure. Many of the stories dealt with forbidden love just with different people. While they were still nice to watch, it was a bit repetitive. Also, if you aren’t into Japanese history, some viewers may feel a bit lost or bored watching this show. The stories are nice, but I just don’t think that they will appeal to everyone who happens to watch.
Rating - 7/10 (for those who are interested in Japanese history, poetry, and romance)
6/10 (for those who aren’t really intohistorical anime or poetry)
“Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi” is a very free adaptation of the lives of some of the authors included in the famous poetry anthology "Hyakuninisshu" (100 poets, one poem each).
Story – 9
The anime centers in the love poems of the anthology and narrates the events and relationships that gave rise to some of them. However, such events should not always be considered faithful to history, as many of them didn´t happen, or happened differently in reality. But it doesn´t really matter. The core of this anime isn´t the portrayal of actual events, but rather the spirit of poetry in the Heian Court, which is successfully rendered.
Love poems were the way to court women, and poems came along with a lot of other things which are beautifully shown in the anime: care for calligraphy and presentation (poems were usually sent together with a flower or a branch, for example), the excitement with which the poets waited for an answer, the screens that separated women from men in their encounters. The anime also shows the main characteristics and themes of heian poetry, such as the grief caused by impossible love.
It is divided into two sections: the first half deals with the early Heian poetry and the Rokkasen (the six best waka poets), Ariwara no Narihira and Ono no Komachi being the two characters that are more deeply developed. The second half deals with the late Heian Period, and introduces several poets, but –for some reason- there are more chapters devoted to Sei Shonagon, author of "The Pillow Book". I would have liked to see more of Murasaki Shikibu, who only appears in one chapter.
The manga is episodic. Each chapter tells a different story, but some characters are protagonists in more than one story, and those who are main characters in one of the episodes, may appear as secondary characters in another one.These chapters are all presented by Fujiwara no Teika, the anthologist, whose poetry is shown in the last episode. At least one of the poems of the Hyakuninisshu is recited and explained in every episode, together with other poems by the same authors, not included in the anthology.
Characters – 10
As most stories are told within a sole chapter, some of the characters appear briefly and there isn't much time for development... but there are characters, such as Narihira, Komachi, Yasuhide and Shonagon that appear in several episodes and are more deeply developed. There is little known about the real lives of some of these poets, especially the ones of the early Heian period, but there are many legends surrounding them. Much in the anime is based on these legends.
The best character, in my opinion, is Narihira. No matter how little we know about the real Narihira, I definitely can imagine him behaving as he does in the anime. I am not that sure about Murasaki Shikibu. She appears too little and I don't know how faithful to reality her story was. I would also have liked to see a chapter devoted to any of the poems in her novel "Genji Monogatari", which is the work she is mostly remembered for.
The characters are restrained by the rules of the Court as well as political an social issues, especially women. The anime reflects successfully the ways of the Palace and the distinct feature of most of the poets' personalities, as history has come to remember them.
Sound – 9
The opening and ending songs are both good, and although there isn´t really a traditional feel to them, for some reason they go well with the story. I usually like the strange mix between the old and the new. It gives a refreshing and original touch.
As for the seiyuus, I must applaud that most female characters don´t sound childish and annoying. And there are a lot of male characters with beautiful voices. The only one that might feel a little exaggerated at times is Yasuhide, but then again, he is one of the characters that brings humor to the story. I liked Narihira´s seiyuu especially.
Art – 9
The art has been frequently criticized for being flat and lacking in animation. I particularly loved it. It is true that there isn´t much animation… but I found it very original and appropriate for the story, with emphasis on the outlines and on color. It was strange to see blond and red-haired Japanese poets, though.
Enjoyment – 10
“Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi” is definitely underrated. It may be because of its topic. But those who like poetry, or Japanese traditions and esthetics, should watch it. Those who aren´t familiar with Japanese poetry but like love stories or historical plots should also give it a try. It is very interesting. Furthermore, despite the tragic and sad nature of most of the stories, there is a great deal of humor in the anime. 10 for enjoyment.
Not what I was expecting in the slightest, this anime stands out. I was originally intrigued due to his historical setting and context. I’m a huge fan of history in general, especially for areas of the world I’m not that familiar with. Once I got started in this show, though, it was the individualized art style and emotional punch that kept me going.
The art in this show is unique to say the least. Not to everyone’s taste, however I found much enjoyment in it. Usage of thick lines and geometric type backgrounds give the anime an artistic sort of feel, like we’re looking at
an ancient painting or woodcut. I’ve heard that’s what the goal was; in my opinion, mission accomplished. Colors are beyond vibrant. The usage of such intense color stands out all the more against those thick lines I mentioned. This series is a work of art, hands down. While not to everyone’s taste, for the tone and subject matter of this anime, it’s very appropriate.
Sound is a mixed bag. I enjoyed the OP, even though there’s a part of me that feels it doesn’t belong with the tone of the series. It’s still catchy enough to hook you in, though. The ED though was out there. Having a rap-sounding song round out each episode was jarring, to say the least. It didn’t feel like it jived with the tone nor story of the series. Nothing stood out OST-wise. It met the needs of the show conveying emotion where needed, but I won’t be rushing out to by the soundtrack. I do have to give a shout out to the voice acting, though. So many big and recognizable names!! I watched the sub so I got to listen to the greats like Ishida and Koyasu. Hearing familiar voices in a totally new story made me smile.
Told in an episodic format each episode being self-contained stories, each one though ties into the others with recurring characters, themes, and mini-arcs. There is no epic nor grand story here, no battles for supremacy or struggles against tyranny. In my humble opinion, what makes this anime stand out is how gentle the stories are. Though set in a timeframe that was FAR from gentle with death at young ages and an extremely stratified society, each tale still conveys a sweet relationship-driven tale, be it romantic or platonic. Your emotions are drawn in by each doomed or uplifting story, feeling for each romance/friendship that won’t work out or each that does.
Our characters are real figures from the Heian period, the great poets of the era. While each is not in every episode, the audience can’t help but be drawn into their relationships and struggles as each episode progresses. One doesn’t need the characters in every episode to get to know each one in depth. I felt like I could feel each character’s struggle and emotions as if I had an entire season to explore them. With no particular favorite out of the bunch, I think I felt closer to our female ones, though. Their struggle stood out especially to me, given how history has been unduly cruel to our gender. Heian era Japan was no exception, with women placed behind screens and their intelligence downplayed to light poetry and motherhood. It’s amazing that some of their poetry and stories was admired enough to last through patriarchal suppression.
Where this series really stands out though, the main reason it’s been added to my favorite list, is the emotional impact it carries. While infinitely gentle, this series still packs a punch to the heart. I like that it illustrates that every relationship doesn’t always have a happy ending, as is true historically. With such a stratified society as Japan, romance is all the harder. Even so, our characters find a way to express their love and devotion in other ways: glances, stolen kisses, moon-gazing, and poetry. Each doomed love is captured in the beauty that is ancient Japanese poetry. So simple yet each verse/sentence conveys such a powerful message. The whole package together creates an anime aura that strikes into the emotional heart of the audience.
Yet for all that emotional heaviness, there’s also a bit of light hearted fun added to the mix. Occasional staple anime elements of SD faces and sweat drops add a touch of humor against all the doomed love. I liked the occasional jumps into modern day and alternate scenarios in the beginnings of some episodes and in the middle series episodes. All together, they give a touch of funny to counter balance the pain of the other elements.
While the sound elements may not be up to par with the rest of the series, this anime was a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much nor be as emotionally invested as I was and did. Art was absolutely gorgeous, if not your standard anime fair. In my mind, that makes it stand out all the more. Characters and emotions draw you in, making you click that “next episode” link all the faster. I’d definitely recommend this anime to any fans of emotionally driven shows with unique art and concepts. This one will stand out for me for years to come.