Chihayafuru Original Soundtrack & Character Song Album 1 – Review

Album Title: Chihayafuru Original Soundtrack & Character Song Album 1
Anime Title: Chihayafuru
Artist: Kousuke Yamashita, Ko-ta, Ko-hey, hidehiro kawai, SADA, Yutaka Shinya, 99RadioService, Asami Seto, Tooru Nara, Yoshimasa Hosoya
Catalog Number: VPCG-84916
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: January 18, 2012
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Track Title Artist Time
01. YOUTHFUL (TV Size) 99RadioService 1:15
02. Karuta Biyori Kousuke Yamashita. 1:23
03. Takaburu Kimochi Kousuke Yamashita. 2:07
04. Manazashi Kousuke Yamashita. 2:05
05. Kokorogamae Kousuke Yamashita. 1:34
06. Himeta Omoi Kousuke Yamashita. 2:21
07. “Chihayafuru” Main Theme Kousuke Yamashita. 2:59
08. Karta no Me Kousuke Yamashita. 2:02
09. Kako no Kioku Kousuke Yamashita. 1:25
10. Karta Nante Kousuke Yamashita. 2:00
11. Shouri e no Michi Kousuke Yamashita. 2:32
12. Aseri Kousuke Yamashita. 2:16
13. Omowanu Tenkai Kousuke Yamashita. 2:29
14. Hontou no Jitsuryoku Kousuke Yamashita. 2:10
15. Wabito Kousuke Yamashita. 2:23
16. Kumori Kokoro Kousuke Yamashita. 1:54
17. Ooki na Sonzai Kousuke Yamashita. 2:33
18. Katsudou Kaishi! Kousuke Yamashita. 2:25
19. Osananajimi Kousuke Yamashita. 3:02
20. Team Chihayafuru Kousuke Yamashita. 2:55
21. “Chihayafuru” Main Theme ~p.f.ver.~ Kousuke Yamashita. 2:19
22. full throttle Chihaya Ayase (CV: Asami Seto) 4:22
23. Yume e no Chizu Arata Wataya (CV: Yoshimasa Hosoya) 4:40
24. NICK MAN! Yusei Nishida (CV: Tooru Nara) 4:04
25. Soshite Ima Asami Seto 4:25

Review: The basis for Chihayafuru is an odd one seeing that it revolves around the world of karuta, a niche card game where the player who identifies old Japanese poems the fastest emerges victorious. Although competitive karuta might be a quirky subject, Chihayafuru’s atmosphere is no different from most other shows focused on sport or competition. The matches retain the intensity, energy, mind games and moments of self doubt that have been staples of the sports genre since forever, but, given the nature of karuta, the anime also delves into the Japanese poems’ culture and history. It’s through this backdrop that composer Kousuke Yamashita demonstrates his musical excellence, bringing not only the karuta matches to life, but also the emotions that lie embedded in Japanese poetry.

Impassioned. That’s one word that continually hangs over the anime and Chihayafuru’s score certainly reflects the energy and excitement that flows through the characters during the course of their journey through the world of competitive karuta. This passion is especially evident in the soundtrack’s main theme. The crescendo early on in the piece is invigorating as it unleashes the vast reservoir of the characters’ pent-up energy through the brassy bursts, capturing their emotions as they bask in the glory of victory. Depicting this singular moment is not enough however; in the grand tradition of main themes, it maneuvers itself to encapsulate the entire scope of the anime – the melody is first allowed to simmer in the glow of contentment before proceeding with inspirational violin swells that light up the characters’ path ahead, illustrating their boundless energy as they look forward to the next challenge with confidence and joy!

“Chihayafuru” Main Theme

[audio:7 – Chihayafuru.mp3]
With such a magnificent theme, Yamashita makes sure to work it in many of his other pieces, giving the soundtrack its thematic cohesiveness and making it a memorable listen. For example, “Wabito’s” prim and proper melody uses the flute to draw forth a traditional sound to put the listener firmly in Japan’s past as the anime delves deeper into the literary history aspect of karuta. Love and restraint emerges forth and the fleeting memories and emotions are channeled well in the way the flute expresses the parts of the main theme. Other tracks, like “Team Chihayafuru” conjure the shining inspiration that the main theme delivers, much to my delight, but the best contrasting use comes in through the piano version. Here, the piano’s soft, slower delivery brings about an introspective air, allowing both the characters and the viewer to look back on all that’s transpired and appreciate how much the characters have been able to achieve while wrapping up the instrumental part of Chihayafuru’s soundtrack nicely.


[audio:15 – Chihayafuru.mp3]

“Chihayafuru” Main Theme ~p.f.ver.~

[audio:21 – Chihayafuru.mp3]
In between all of that, the easygoing music of day to day life and the tension of the karuta matches make up the rest of the music. An example of the former includes “Karuta Biyori,” a fun, upbeat track featuring a steady piano rhythm backing up the strings and woodwinds as the latter adds a dab of whimsy here and there in the way they syncopate the melody at a certain point. “Katsudou Kaishi!” is also enjoyable, dazzling me with the energy and optimism it radiates and bringing to mind the persistence the karuta club members have as they continually strive to improve.

Karuta Biyori

[audio:2 – Chihayafuru.mp3]
As the karuta matches approach, “Shouri e no Michi” evokes images of the calm before the storm of battle. The cello’s short melodic fragments express a great deal of tension through the grim atmosphere as it builds up towards a faster tempo. Once there, the rest of the orchestra enters, indicating that battle has been joined and the mood fittingly grows dark. As the drama of the matches get underway, tracks like “Aseri” surface with their ominous sounds dripping with tension. But things do look up as the soundtrack progresses. “Ooka na Sonzai” might have started out by weaving a threatening atmosphere, but the key shifts mark the turning point towards the resolution, instilling hope of victory. All is resolved in “Team Chihayafuru,” which releases the joy as the team members’ struggles bear fruit. Throughout all of this, each track, even the atmospheric ones, contributes to the ebb and flow of karuta in a way that feels natural and is rarely, if ever, boring. The consistency in its quality is what makes this soundtrack a success and joy to listen to.

Shouri e no Michi

[audio:11 – Chihayafuru.mp3]
And to live up to the album’s title, the disc also includes three character songs – Chihaya’s “full throttle” (by Asami Seto), Arata’s “Yume e no Chizu” (by Yoshimasa Hosoya), and Yusei’s “NICK MAN!” (by Tooru Nara) – and Chihayafuru’s ending theme, “Soshite Ima” by Asami Seto. Asami Seto, the best vocalist on this disc, is sufficiently energetic and upbeat in “full throttle,” even if she does strain ever so slightly when she’s trying to hit those higher registers. In contrast, Seto succeeds in nailing those higher notes in “Soshite Ima” while also channeling a calming, soothing aura during the verses. The remaining singers are mixed; Yoshimasa Hosoya’s delivery resembles the typical male J-pop ballad in that it’s enjoyable, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression because of its vanilla delivery. Tooru Nara’s “NICK MAN!” is the least enjoyable. The chaotic mix of voices and synth during the chorus just doesn’t work for me and Nara’s voice is too heavy in the way it channels his energy.

Soshite Ima

[audio:25 – Chihayafuru.mp3]
Not surprisingly, the disc’s forte lies in the background music, and Kousuke Yamashita’s efforts yield impassioned compositions that are thematically cohesive. Chihayafuru’s soundtrack reflects well upon Yamashita’s consistent, but underrated music career and this latest work of his can sit proudly alongside excellent scores such as the ones he composed for Glass Fleet and Shion no Ou.

Rating: Very Good


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

26 thoughts on “Chihayafuru Original Soundtrack & Character Song Album 1 – Review

  • March 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Such a great score! One of the best new scores, and sure to be a favorite from this year.

    • March 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

      I am curious to find out how the second soundtrack volume is going to fly. Almost seems like he can’t top this, but somehow, I’m sure he won’t disappoint either.

  • March 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I look forward to new posts here all the time! I really enjoy the music in Chihayafuru. Enjoyed reading the post, thanks.

  • March 3, 2012 at 12:43 am

    This really is a great soundtrack, with some rich and satisfying cuts. Lately I have been listening to Aseri a lot; it is a mysterious mood piece.

    • March 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      And a bit of tension in the whole thing too! When I heard this track, it really reminded me of what he did for Shion no Ou, which is definitely a good soundtrack worth checking out because he sure knows how to do mystery/suspense anime rather well.

  • March 3, 2012 at 3:38 am

    I wasn’t familiar with Kousuke Yamashita prior to Chihayafuru, perhaps because many of the anime he has worked on are not very well known. Thanks to this soundtrack, he is now on my watch list. Such a fantastic main theme.

    I’ll mention, for those unaware, that Kousuke Yamashita will be composing the music for Leiji Matsumoto’s upcoming sci-fi anime Ozuma. The anime debuts later this month on the 16th. The soundtrack will be released shortly after on the 28th.

    • March 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

      Oh, right, I forgot to mention something. Maybe it’s just me, but I particularly enjoyed the flute on this soundtrack. Even though it didn’t play a major part on many tracks, it still added something more to them. A good example of this would be on “Shouri e no Michi” and that short flute solo near the end of “Omowanu Tenkai”. It just goes with the overall feel of the soundtrack, I guess.

    • March 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Well, crap. There’s just a lot of good soundtracks to be looking forward to this spring then! Winter 2012 is a bit weak in the OST department, but when you look at Spring, I expect there to be a lot of crazy-good soundtracks for us to consume. Thanks for highlighting Yamashita’s upcoming work and I’ll very much look forward to it.

      Shion no Ou is good; same can be said for Glass Fleet. Check those out if you haven’t already!

      • March 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

        Other solid Kousuke Yamashita scores include Dragonaut the Resonance, Digimon Xros Wars, Getsumen Toheiki Mina, two scores to Nobunaga’s Ambition games, Xenosaga the Animation, and Yamato Nadeshiko Shinchi Henge.

        The thing about most of Yamashita’s anime scores is that he tends to have a lot of synthesizers, rock, and jazz mixed in with the orchestra so very few of his scores are purely symphonic. The same thing can be said for Toshihiko Sahashi, who is a great symphonist but tends to write a lot of disco and jazz that is mixed in with the orchestral on his scores.

        I tend to get into a composer and follow his works even if I haven’t seen the anime or series. I’m sure there are a ton of scores he Kousuke Yamashita wrote for Jdramas that are nearly impossible to find outside of Japan.

      • March 3, 2012 at 11:39 pm

        Are there? Last I checked, there’s still a lot of shows next season that haven’t announced their composer.

      • March 4, 2012 at 2:07 am

        I’ve already started poking into Xenosaga and I’m enjoying what I hear. Haven’t been able to locate Yamato Nadeshiko yet, and it’ll be interesting to see what’ll come out of a more shoujo-oriented comedy.

        Also, that’s one interesting comparison. I already regard both composers highly for being able to come up with cohesive themes (Sahashi did a spectacular job with Gunslinger Girl in that regard) and it’s interesting that their other commonality lies in the synth and such that they’ve used in their soundtracks.

        And yeah, I did just take a peek at Yamashita’s output for J-Dramas and that’s one heck of a list. Will be getting the chance to go to Japan later this year, so I might do a bit of scrounging around while I’m there.

        Off the top of my head: Kanno for Apollon, Kajiura (of course) for Fate/Zero, Iwasaki I think has something he’s doing, and now, Yamashita. Also, even though it’s not a TV series, I am curious to see how Momo e no Tegami will turn out. I have enjoyed Mina Kubota’s output and hope she can put in yet another good showing.

  • March 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

    This soundtrack actually makes me want to get into this anime. It seems to give off that vibe I’m really craving for right now~

    • March 12, 2012 at 1:08 am

      One of the best parts of this show is how it always gets its characters to drive forwards with their lofty goals and ambitions without ever giving up and always working hard to improve. The soundtrack captures all of these facets really well and I’ve often used it to help inspire me when I’m working on homework or projects.

      • March 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

        There’s a lot of music that makes doing work seem EPIC. Some good tracks for that include “Katsudou Kaishi!” and “Kokorogamae”, but I also like the tracks that generate tension, too. Really a great album all around!

      • March 13, 2012 at 2:36 am

        Haha, it’s is definitely to take in the acoustic guitar in “Katsudou Kaishi!” or that steady rhythm in “Kokorogamae” to really get into the groove of doing work. Any inspiring piece with a good steady rhythm is good music to do work to, now that I think about it.

  • May 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I recently listened to it, and I was surprised by how good it was. For a karuta anime? Geez.

    • May 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Talk about an epic treat. It sure made the karuta scenes all the more impressive and exciting to watch. Not often that I can say that about the scores to game-related anime.

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  • March 3, 2013 at 6:36 am

    do you know the song that played on episode 1,when chihaya calling Arata for sorry when the rain day after school?if you know tell me^^

    • March 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

      That question is pretty specific! I don’t have the episodes on me so if you can link to a Youtube clip or something, that would really help.

  • June 15, 2013 at 12:51 am

    Man, there are times when I’m watching an episode and think to myself “This has to be my favorite soundtrack ever,” but after thinking about it I think “It couldn’t be,” not next to Aria surely. Chihayafuru’s OST certainly gets the job done beautifully.

    After rewatching season 1 I can’t help but notice that there are a few tracks that aren’t in this album. Obviously there are some that are modified slightly (“Team Chihayafuru” in Chihaya’s match with the queen) but there’s one from episode 13 that plain doesn’t seem to be anywhere, and I was wondering if anyone knows what it’s called and how to find it.

    Here’s a link to the episode on Crunchyroll:

    Track starts at 16:30

    • June 17, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Might want to check all of the Chihayafuru soundtracks since there are two for season 1 and 1 for season 2. I kinda wished they put all of the music on one disc, but oh well… still enjoyable all the same and yeah, this one stands really well even when compared to the likes of ARIA. To say Kousuke Yamashita’s work here is stellar is an understatement!

      • June 22, 2013 at 11:00 pm

        Aha! Thank you. For whatever reason I could never find it on youtube when I searched for Chihayafuru OST so I didn’t realize that the second disc existed. I finally found it though thanks a bunch!

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