Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi (mid-season comment) ~ a pretty flower must wilt one day
August 5, 2012
Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi (hereafter Utakoi) is an unusual anime in several respects: the primary subject is the Hyakuninisshu, or 100 poems by 100 poets; it has a very distinctive art style, that uses bold lines, and if you look at the screen cap above you will see something very unusual in recent anime, a nose! As noted above, the characters are older than the typical school-going anime cast, and that plays into the unusual themes for the stories: love that didn’t work out, reconsidering mistakes one has made, and questioning whether one’s life has had an impact.
Utakoi is an interesting show in terms of character development. The series is very episodic, and yet there has been a lot of effort put into showing the connections between many of the poets, so that their stories are revealed, and the poems are provided as lenses through which we can see different sides of people and social relations. In essence the show uses biographic details to shed light on the meaning of the poems, and also to educate the viewer about the temperament of the Classical period.
As an older viewer I find the wistful tone a lot easier to relate to than most anime. Unlike the typical anime hero, whose life is full of choices to be made and as yet unsuspected possibilities, my own life is more than half full of choices that have already been made and opportunities that were already seized or squandered. Utakoi speaks in a language from 500 years ago, but I have no trouble understanding what it says.