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Monday, September 24, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis; Chapter 72, Vol. 13

Chapter 72

Opening scene:  Chihaya retrieves the card she just took from Megumu after a sudden counter-attack.

The single-syllable card that I wasn't able to get before... I've finally broken through her defenses! triumphs Chihaya.

Her teammates watching the match, as well as those sitting beside her are aware of her breakthrough and sit in astonishment.

Sudo-kun, who has given up holding the Hokuo banner to their school principal (visibly irritated as he stands next to Sudo) analyzes Chihaya's match.  The enemy's speed for single syllable cards, compared to any other player, is definitely special;  she typically takes them while rejecting her opponent's attempts as if slapping them in the face.... That is so awesome!  The flow of the game is finally moving in Ayase's favor.

Even Mioka's club captain is in the audience watching in awe.  That sort of speed is really flawless!  Bellatrix's nerve synapses must directly connect her ear to her fingertips!  (He's already decided this nickname for her)  (TN: OMG, Chihaya has a growing male fan club of her own...LOLOLOL....)

If it wasn't for her speed she wouldn't have been able to take that card.  Also... her opponent's lower left quadrant harbors all her "s" syllable cards where the "se" card was, but she distinctly attacked the "su" card.

How much courage was needed for that move?

That feeling just now... beautifully striding forward... to that far corner!  Her manner of hurtling forward towards the cards she was previously unable to take....

As Chihaya retrieves yet another card she took from Megumu, Kana-chan looks at her and smiles.  "Chihaya... NICE..."

In response, Chihaya gives her a glowing thumbs up sign.  Kana-chan foresees the outcome of Chihaya not looking down at her cards. (TN: Then don't distract her, Kana!!)

Right as she's smiling as though she's saying, "I did it!"... in that moment... she will lose her concentration!

True to Kana's prediction, in the midst of her newfound triumph, Chihaya loses another card to Megumu.  (-_-;)

What a waste... think Sudo-kun and Mioka's captain at the same time.

Meanwhile, Megumu's teammates are thinking positively that she will pull through it.  One member of the team notices Megumu's paparazzi waiting silently on the sidelines.

Even though she lost her own single syllable "namesake" card, she didn't let the flow of the game turn against her.... as expected of the Western Conference representative! concludes the chief overseer.

Akashi's wild card is also their cheering squad... thinks Murao-san.
Osaka Megumu's situation is all or nothing, thinks Sudo-kun.

"All right," Megumu rallies.  "One card after another!"
"Right!" her teammates answer in unison.

Chihaya studies her opponent's expression after she rallied her team.  What a calm demeanor for a player to's the first time I've seen it.  What can I do, to grasp it...

Just as she's pondering this, both she and Megumu take the next card at the same time.

(TN: this next part is so lame, I'm mentally face palming as I type it, so I will just summarize....)  Chihaya recalls the words that Meat-bun said to her before this match started, that she needed to be more aggressive when contesting cards (Yumi-san style).   The other party only needs to find her annoying, and then will relinquish cards to her this way.  She then timidly asserts to Megumu that it was her card because she touched it first.  But this method goes against every fiber of Chihaya's being and she mentally apologizes to her opponent.  (Because in truth, she really thinks it's Megumu's card).

When Megumu relinquishes the card without a fight, Chihaya is so shocked that her concentration is all messed up and she forgets to send a card to Megumu.  Meanwhile, Megumu takes the next card while Chihaya sits frozen.

(TN: All of her teammates are mentally face-palming with me.  Moving on...)

Team Mizusawa's Meat bun, Taichi and Kana think suddenly in unison, "I've gotta step it up."  They all realize they must win to take the pressure off of Chihaya.

Desktomu-kun is a bit conflicted.   I...

This atmosphere... this crowd of onlookers...  my body just can't move arbitrarily.

As the next card is read, Desktomu is relieved that it's just a "blank" card verse.  He looks over and notices Sumire watching him intently.  Desktomu recalls the notes she took for him.

Hanano-san...I'll follow Hanano-san's notes....  His photographic memory recalls that his opponent has last year's popular limited edition Ryuji (a pop singer) handkerchief.  He notices it on the floor beside his opponent.

That girl, she really described it exactly...

So this means my opponent is a nostalgic girl who doesn't let go of her feelings.  Then it would be these cards....  Automatically Desktomu concludes there are four cards of sentimental poetry (written by guys) she would particularly be attuned to.

...that I need to break through and take!  (TN:  In order to break her confidence)

When the next card is read, his logic proves infallible and true enough, his opponent is extremely annoyed that he takes one of her favorite cards.  It's difficult to display my abilities when competing with this guy, even though I heard he was a C rank...  It's so hard... she thinks.

Desktomu thinks hard on what he can do for his team.  Let me be the first then... the me who began competing today just with this match...

"Defend!" he shouts out to his team.  "We need to take the next one too, Mizusawa!"
"Right!" his teammates shout in unison.

Sumire watches him, quietly impressed as she realizes he must be using her notes as reference.  She remembers what he told her earlier.

"Hanano-san you really wrote it down to the last detail.  Thank you!"

Megumu and the others are silent.  As the next card is read, every Mizusawa player is able to take it, because it is the "Oe" card.

They did it! Sumire beams excitedly.

Everyone was able to take the "Oe Mountain" card, the flow of the game is in Mizusawa's favor.  You can't mistake it!

The flow of the game....  thinks Chihaya quietely.
The flow of the game is something....

.....we must continuously grab hold of!

But even as Chihaya makes this revelation, Megumu takes the next card.  As her opponent is retrieving it, Chihaya silently praises her opponent, Such a sense of stability...

Then, the quiet is interrupted by Meat bun loudly contesting a card.  His opponent is speechless.
"That's all right," calls out Megumu.  "One card after another--"  But she gets a disjointed response.
"R-right," says the girl.  "Sorry, Megumu."

The Akashi team captain observes Megumu and marvels that Megumu can remain so calm in a big competition like this.  Despite the fact that they've been together in a team this long, she still can't figure her out.  Even though "letting Megumu be Queen" is their team's mantra, but she wonders what Megumu's real heart's desire is.

Does she even want to be Queen?

Meanwhile, the Mizusawa president, Taichi, notices that Chihaya is unable to continuously take cards from Megumu.  When he looks at the number of cards they both have left, she and Megumu are almost evenly matched.  He thinks back to when he told Chihaya to just win fair and square before the match started, and starts to regret the words he said so carelessly.  But still, he concludes that Chihaya isn't the same girl she was last year when she took Taichi's orders to win to heart and became nervous to the point where she couldn't play.

It's already been a year.

One year!  he thinks nostalgically at everything that's happened so far to their club.

As the next card is read, Megumu strikes first, but as soon as they realize it's another "empty" card verse, Megumu retracts just as quickly.  The audience members notice how fast Megumu is, but she is equally fast at controlling her movements.  One Akashi classmate in the audience notes, Her speed isn't hindered at all. 

Chihaya stares silently at Megumu's right hand, curled up in a fist in front of her.  Suddenly, Megumu's head band falls to the tatami mat.
"Sorry," says Megumu as she picks it up again.  She looks down fondly at the words, "Ganbatte, Megumu."

Her teacher fondly how Megumu came to have that headband, and how it's become her trademark item.  (He mentally shouts, "Oh, the springtime of youth!")  But for this competition, Megumu also made headbands for her teammates and he marvels at how beautiful friendship is.  (TN:  Sorry for the summary, but this guy's so long-winded...)

The reason why we admire Megumu, her stalkerrazzi club thinks unanimously, is because there's such a huge gap between her and other players.  Our camera lenses tell all.  

It's so cool!  It would be too cold for her to wear a headband alone... It's good that she was able to pull everyone into the depths of her world. (TN: literally, in the Chinese translation the guys were saying it was too "cold" for her to be the only one wearing the bands, thus it was good that she was able to pull everyone "under the water" with her... *shrugs*)

But just as the next card is about to be read, Chihaya waits, listens and takes the next card -- even though she wasn't the first to strike.

She attacked from below... and took the card, Megumu marvels as she sits dumbfounded.

From the very beginning she was able to take the "A" level cards, but it wasn't until now that she was able to execute it beautifully, watches Sudo-kun quietly.

Is she already able to grab hold of that something she was missing--? 

Meanwhile, Megumu is still in shock.  Just now... that was....  Her teammates are dumbfounded by her reaction.  Suddenly Megumu remembers she is the team's rally member.
"OK...continue," she says.  "Keep on taking just one more card."
"Yes ma'am!" her teammates cry.

This is supposed to be a team competition... thinks Megumu.  Why am I the only one rallying?

Queen? she thinks.  That sort of title isn't even important!

Just then, Chihaya raises her hand to hold the reading.  "I'm..."she begins solemnly.
"I'm sending over a card."

Curiously, she sends over the 'asaborake' card, nicknamed the "big mountain" card.  this makes her teammates and the audience members buzz with speculation as to why she would pass over such a difficult card as it is usually kept and guarded by most players.

It comes to be that the next card read is the 'asaborake' card.  But surprisingly, and in an amazing way, Chihaya moves right after Megumu guards it, breaks the defense and takes the card at an angle from underneath Megumu's hand.  Both the chief overseer and Sudo-kun are amazed.

She... broke through the defense!

There are many people who have the speed to quickly take a good card... Sudo assesses.  But really, what separates the wheat from the chaff, is the ability to take a card regardless of how difficult it is.

Cut scene: a flashback to pre-nationals practice days at Mizusawa High

"That's why I said your defenses aren't worth squat!" Meat bun chides a dejected Chihaya.  "You guard like this!" he emphasizes as Kana holds the card.  "How many times do you need me to say it?  If you can't even overcome a difficult situation, how can you even hope to be Queen!?"

"Actually, the method of attacking the card after you hear it is more suitable for you, Ayase," Desktomu chimed in with Taichi standing by.

"We'll help you practice."

End scene:  back to the game

How much time did she spend practicing that move? Sudo-kun ponders.  That rascal...

Megumu is at a loss for words.  Her heard is beating loudly in her chest.
"Megumu?" her teammates ask in concern.  There is no rally cry now.

Becoming Queen was never important!

But... this Queen... 

I must defeat her here! she concludes solemnly.  With that look, her stalkerrazzi fan club goes wild and starts snapping shots, one after another.

---End Chapter---

TN:  What an odd chapter. It's exciting, certainly, as it leads us by the nose into the conclusion.  (It's not going to end with this volume...)  But really, my favorite parts are still when the team moves, thinks and feels as a solid unit.  That camaraderie is really something.

How long can the mangaka stretch this out? How many secret weapons does Chihaya have at this point?  Is it me or does Sudo and that Mioka captain have front row tickets to the Chihaya fan club? When will the the chief overseer and everyone else recognize Mizusawa's worth?  Is there something going on between Sumire and Desktomu?  WHERE in the world is Arata Wataya? (Oh, right, he's been banned for now... -_-;)  

So many questions... not enough answers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chihahafuru Manga Synopsis, Chapter 71 Vol. 13

TN: Had a chance to pick this up again.  Wah, this match goes on and on... but enjoy!

Chapter 71

"Megumu has become faster," comments one of her fans as they watch behind their camera lenses in awe.
"I got it," Megumu says with a smile as she walks back to her position.  "All right... One card, one card!" she rallies her team.
"Yes, Ma'am!" they respond.  Chihaya remains silent and at this point she realizes the type of opponent she's up against.

In the crowd, Sumire notices a girl in uniform watching one end of the room and then turning back to watch them.

Isn't that a fan from Akashi First Girl's High School?  Mizusawa is Tokyo's 2nd ranked representative, and in the B Hall we haven't come across any significantly strong opponents.  It doesn't matter if it's the semi-finals team or the finalists, Akashi is definitely more favored.  If one were to compare, the real competition to watch...

Would be the match against Fujisaki and Hokuo!

Cut scene:  Both teams on Fujisaki and Hokuo are embroiled in their competition.  Hiro-kun and his opponent are still baring their teeth at one another.

As the chief overseer observes the matches, he recalls Arata's explanation as to why he came today. "I came to support my friends from Tokyo in their competition..."

Even he discounts Mizusawa and thinks that Arata actually came to support Hokuo.

Cut scene: Hokuo's teacher stares intently at the game.

Last year, because Mizusawa snatched the opportunity away from us, we weren't able to enter the national championship.  Only Amakasu and Takuma actually have experience in the nationals... This year we were able to bring the freshmen and sophomores with us.  All the members of Fujisaki are third year seniors...  If we can strike them down now, next year they'll be even less of a threat.

Hang in there, everyone! he thinks fiercely.
But I...  he breaks out into a sweat, I'm really scared of Fujisaki's teacher, Sakurasawa-sensei!  As she is sitting beside him, he hides behind his program while Sudo looks on in question.

Next to her is Akashi First Girl's High School teacher.  "All of the members of Akashi appear to be doing well, Minami-sensei," she comments casually.  "Osaka-san is especially outstanding."

"Of course, Sakurasawa-sensei!" Minami-sensei comments in his booming voice.  "Our entire team's status is excellent!"  He gives a thumbs up grin as he guffaws in Sakura-sensei and Hokuo's teacher's direction.  "Please be gracious to us in the finals, whether it's Fujisaki or Hokuo...."  (Big sweat drops from them both at his lack of etiquette)

Someone whispers to a girl in a Fujisaki shirt seated behind him.  She silently watches the Akashi and Hokuo players retrieve the cards they claimed.

Meanwhile, Chihaya stares down at her still very full card arrangement amid the bustle.  I distinctly recall last autumn when I watched her play, I didn't exclaim, 'Wow, she's fast!' or anything like that.

With this advancing speed she attacks... Even the difficult to attack "Awaji River" card... Was she just guessing?

Megumi hands Chihaya a "penalty" card.  Chihaya takes note of which one it is.

The only "ya" card in the entire collection... she's giving it to me... as a target.   Even Sudo notices that Chihaya has tucked it away in her lower right quadrant and he hands over his corner of the Hokuo banner (to the Hokuo school principal in the audience) to take a closer look at Chihaya's match.

When the next card is read, he notices that Chihaya is struggling.  How unlucky!  She was guarding the "oku" card with her right hand but the "ogu"card was read.

There was nothing I could do about the "ogu" card, Chihaya rallies herself.  That's all right!  The match has just begun.  I just need to take one card...

"One card," Megumu says, "is coming your way."
"....."  Chihaya notices the card she sends over as the only "so" card in the entire collection.

How she takes karuta cards is entirely different from how she seems on the outside, muses Sudo-kun.  "Yasu" and "sono" were both cards Ayase would use to enter her opponent's territory.  By positioning them to the forefront she is forcing her opponent to maintain the defensive.
"...."  Chihaya seems to be at a loss.
"All right," says Megumu, almost taunting.  "One card, one card."  Chihaya is startled by her words.

She's trying to force her opponents to feel like they need to attack!

Meanwhile, Ms. Miyauchi is having a hard time believing what she is seeing.  They all seem like a bunch of delicate girls but they all appear really strong.  This sense of unity among them.... She ponders but then puts a fist into her palm and concludes, Can it be... the key is their headbands?  Next time, I'm going to make headbands!  (TN: -_-;  She's partly correct....)

Next to her, Sumire notices that Tsbuku has fallen asleep and is snoring and drooling next to them.  She shakes him violently and demands, "Tsubuku! How could you have possibly fallen asleep?!"  Sumire slaps him repeatedly.  "Wake up this instant!"

"Be-because I already played in three consecutive rounds..." he complains as he holds his bruised face.
"You can't say 'because' or 'but'!" she insists.  (TN:  President Taichi's orders, see prior chapters)
"You wouldn't understand this type of exhaustion..." Tsubuku whines.

In the matter of half a day I fully invested in three matches, almost four....  Even a guy like me could fall fast asleep.  Oe-senpai, he says looking in Kana's direction.  She's going into her fourth competitive match.  From a stamina perspective, Oe-senpai causes the most concern.  Her last two matches were so neck-and-neck that she only lost by two cards.  Even to the last, she never gave up her competitive edge, but at the very last moment she lost the last two matches and she was just too tired...  If she was going to lose in the end, she should have taken it easy to give herself a proper rest!

Kana-chan is visibly panting.

But Oe-senpai is not the only one we should be worried about....

Tsutomu-senpai is competing for the first time in this match...  but he's immediately facing the semi-final round.  Ayase-senpai is facing the opposing team's wild card, and her cards are being continuously taken...    That wild card is obviously catering to the audience to create the atmosphere!

He just posted a text to his little brothers saying that he, as the team's wild card, has victory in his sight.

I'll just say my cell phone malfunctioned.... (-_-;)

Cut scene: Chihaya is having a conundrum during her match against Megumu

Do I attack?  Do I guard?

"...."  Chihaya doesn't have an immediate answer.

There's no sense in being confused!

Don't be confused!  Don't be confused!

Chihaya recalls something Harada-sensei once told her. "Chihaya---"


The reader begins reciting the next card, "Me---" and to Mizusawa's astonishment, none of them are able to take that card.

One of the Akashi players concludes, Even if I don't look, I already know.  Megumu-senpai would never lose a "me" card to anyone.

Chihaya at this point is very confused.  She could have sworn she was protecting that card in her lower right quadrant and she clearly had her hand out to protect it and still her opponent was able to take the card.

This is the Western Conference representative... she marvels.

No!  This is a player who, starting from that match last autumn, has increasingly refined her speed...  a Queen's Competition contestant!

Her thoughts are interrupted when Amakasu and another player from the Hokuo team interrupts Megumu as she has also taken their "me" cards scattered on the tatami.  (It's really strange that she would actually take three of the same card)

Her fan club seems to get a rise out of that.

"All right," Megumu announces as she settles down again.  "Another card!"
"Right!" Akashi answers in unison.

"...."  Mizusawa is clearly facing a difficult match.

Cut scene:  As he's watching Megumu, the Akashi coach has a flashback.  TN: Ha! What did I say... 

The phrase, "Shibetsu can change in three days" also applies to becoming the Queen in karuta.  
(TN:  He actually says, "士别三日,刮目相看" which literally translates into "Shibetsu three days, admirably see."  Shibetsu is a province in Hokkaido that began during the Meiji Era as a fishing village.  What?  I had to look this up and found a Q&A on and this was the best answer:  There are four meanings to it.  1) having ambition to change in 3 days, 2) to understand your own faults and to want to change it over a quick period of time, but not literally in 3 days, 3) with time, anything can change, and determination can qualitatively change a situation, 4) one cannot change if one is still using an old world view.  So... take your own life lesson from that.  Class dismissed.)  

He recalls approaching the karuta club for last May's regional Kyoto competition, encouraging them to study up and practice so they could enter.  They would use the club finances to fund their entry.
"Daigoro, you're so annoying," said one of the club members. (TN: They call him by his first name?)  "Just focus your passion on volleyball."

"We are technically a team in this club but our team isn't very strong....  Even our regional participant Osaka is pretty loose when it comes to team playing," said another.

But then our luck started to change and Megumu became the Western Conference representative.  All the club members were astonished at Megumu's feats and her friends and classmates went so far as to stitch a lucky headband for her.  (TN: the one she wore when she played against Yumi-san)

There was the possibility that she could become the next Queen.  But she lost to the former Queen.  After the game, people were talking about how they pitied Megumu.  She was riding a newcomer's luck to get to the competition but when push came to shove, she wasn't as talented as Yamamoto Yumi.  Her club members overheard and resented those words for her.

When they asked her on the train ride back if she was dissatisfied she denied it.  But then the team captain said, "We'll accompany you to the point where you can actually feel dissatisfied when you lose...  and make the Queen's seat your goal!"

Everyone then banded together to support Osaka Megumu to be the next Queen!  From that point on those kids passionately practiced to the point where I was in tears.  Every time they went into a team competition they used that as practice to get a feel for becoming the Western Conference representatives, even though that really is limited to one person.

Cut scene:  flashback to the beginning of today's competition

In this competition they decided to put their wild card, Megumu, as the middle third position. "From a five member competitive standpoint, the most important thing is to help Megumu gain experience!" declared the captain.

Cute scene:  Back to the match between Megumu and Chihaya

Become stronger!  

Become faster!

Megumu recalls the support of her team mates as she plays, while Chihaya is still having a hard time gaining momentum.

It cant be! laments Chihaya as she struggles.  She's taken 4 cards in a row.  I still need to take my first card... just one card!

As the next card is read, Chihaya finally claims a card: "kazeso."

I finally got it!

"Good!" Chihaya says aloud.

Starting from here... I will begin to catch up!


Attack!  she thinks intensely.  Suddenly a gentle hand touches her shoulder.  It's Kana's, who is sitting beside her.

"It's 'the wind blows Kawakami's trees'... Chihaya!"  Chihaya turns to look at her silently but Kana has already turned back to her own game.  Chihaya glimpses the sun peeking out from the broken clouds outside the glass doors of their competition hall.

The rain... thinks Chihaya, suddenly noticing.

"From where we are seated, the wind blows Kawakami's trees as the sun wanes an Autumn hue... at a time when we wear buckskin garments, I am watching Summer's colors." (TN: 风吹川上树...唯有袚褉时, 猶见夏景色 --> OMG that took forever to translate...whew!)

...has stopped!

Flashback: Chihaya recalls a history lesson she received from Kana about this very card

"When you read the Waka poem 'the wind blows Kawakami's trees', the sun sets unfeelingly behind the mountain, on the last day of summer."  What Kana is really saying to her is, "Our entire Summer rests on this day."

As he watches, Tsubuku marvels that Kana is only 4 cards behind her opponent when she should be exhausted at this point.

That card, Kana-chan thinks, is not the "kazeso" card, or at least it shouldn't be called that.  Chihaya--  Chihaya touches her shoulder where Kana's hand was.

The eight-hundred year old feelings behind "the wind blows Kawakami's trees" poem....

...should still be be achingly beautiful!

As the reader picks up the next card, even before the syllables are read, Chihaya recalls Kana's words, "Even the wind can hear it."

Chihaya reaches out to the next card even before the first syllable can audibly be heard.  Megumu, and the members of the Mizusawa and Akashi team are astonished at Chihaya's breakthrough.  (TN: I think Akashi is shocked because this is another "me" card that Megumu always claims, since her name also begins with the character "dream" or "yu-me")  Kana-chan is all smiles.

Kana-chan!  I remember!  Kana had explained this card to her as well.  "When you see the 'yume' card,  you will immediately think 'Suminoe river'!

Chihaya retrieves the card and looks at Megumu with new determination.


Let's have our showdown!

(Chapter end.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis, Volume 13, Chapter 70

Chapter 70

Opening scene:  The Omi Jingu Championship roster board is marked to indicate Mizusawa proceeding into the semi-final round, along with 3 other teams

Chihaya's heart is beating loudly as she watches.

The National Team Championship... is about to go into its semi-final round...

"The decisive semi-final round will pit us against Akashi First Girl's High School.  I'm thinking everyone here knows..." explains Desktomu, "our most formidable opponent will be the third year, Megumu Osaka." (TN: did I do that right?)
"Who's that now?" asks Chihaya innocently.
Suddenly, Desktomu, Taichi and Meat bun all yell, "Moron!"

"Is that your head sitting on top of your neck?" demands Meat bun.  "Is it working?"
"She's last year's Queen Competition challenger from the Western Conference!" reminds Kana and Taichi.
"Didn't we watch that competition together when Yumi-san was competing?" asks Meat bun.

Ah!  Chihaya suddenly recalls the match and Yumi-san's opponent at the time; the female representative of the Western Conference (aside from Shinobu).  (TN:  I knew she looked familiar)

Waaaah.... I want to challenge her... says the karuta nut within as Chihaya blushes.

"Since the playing hall was completely different from the one I was in, I had Hanano-kouhai attend their match," explains Desktomu.
"So that's why this mumbo jumbo is about hand phones and designer bags?" asks Meat bun as he reads over the notes.  "This is completely useless ---"
"Well," insists Sumire, "Well, what was I supposed to do?  From where I was sitting I couldn't even see the cards, and...and I can't really read the flow of a karuta game yet."
"It doesn't matter!" defends Desktomu-kun.  "Hanano-san was keen on details. From this we can glean the personality traits of the players."  Sumire looks grateful for his support.
Kana-chan joins in,  "Aside from Osaka Megumu, the others are ordinary girls who started their karuta training only after they entered high school----" she begins as she studies the notes.  

"We should pay attention to the significance of that type of player, who are most likely very good at the cards involving love poetry.  Sekibu-san is very boyish and prefers to keep things simple...  or maybe she's the same as Osaka Megumu, and she is the listening type who relies heavily on sound."

The others are rather in awe of Kana-chan's analysis at this point.

"Let's not forget their names!" she adds.  "Everyone should pay attention to their counter-part's last names.  Because she's Osaka Megumu, we can be sure her strong cards are 'ooko', 'omae', 'oke' and 'me'!
"Also!  Concerning the playing roster for this round," begins Desktomu.  "The two A-ranked players on their team have always been arranged in this fashion, in the 1st and 3rd seat, so there is a high probability that they will maintain this formation in the semi-finals as well.  If we take all of this into consideration, then concerning our own playing roster... it would be... to not allow Osaka Megumu face Ayase, Mashima or Meat bun-kun---"

But... we all know... they all think in unison, that this goes against the very existence of our own wild card...  who will most likely insist that in all fairness she go head-to-head with the strongest player of the opposing team---

They watch quietly (with sweat drops) how Chihaya visibly struggles in anguished poses with Desktomu-kun's proposition.

"Then..."she struggles to utter the words as she clutches her face in her hands, "I...."
"...will be positioned...."
" 2nd......."

Everyone is astonished at her words.

Chihaya desperately clutches the wall for support as she mutters, "Since I have only been assigned 1st, 3rd and 5th position in the past, if I am assigned 2nd position there is a higher likelihood of me being up against a B-ranked player...  Just do it that way...."

Chihaya.... Taichi concludes as he sees Chihaya is tearing up, is planning to take the victory....

We're only 2 games away....

The title of Japan's Number One is within sight!

Meat bun thinks about it and pulls her aside as he speaks to her privately. "Ayase!  If you really want to win that badly, then I'll just go ahead and say it outright...  I've thought this over for a while...  During the Hokuo Academy match you said at the very end, 'since we reached the card at the same time, the victory is yours' and you backed off.  But even if it's just the difference of a fraction of a millisecond you cannot back down...  If you want to win, you must contest everything!"

Taichi listens to this quietly as he considers the blank roster in his hand.  Suddenly he is accosted by Hiro-kun of the Hokuo team.
"Mashima!" he shouts at him.  "You have to win!  After that, Tokyo's two representative teams will have a re-match for one final showdown!"  (TN: Yeah, like I don't see that coming...)

Taichi listens quietly while an organizer calls the teams to go into the competition hall.

Cut scene:  People gather into the competition hall for the next round

Caption: The semi-final round...

Caption: Mizusawa High School versus Akashi First Girl's High School...  Fujisaki High versus Hokuo Academy.

People are holding up banners for Fujisaki and Hokuo (ala Meat bun's sister and Sudo).  The one for Hokuo has pretty decorative hearts.  Their coach notes that other supporters for Hokuo includes not only Sudo but other graduates of the team.

The Hokuo Academy players start feeling a bit faint from all that pressure.

As they enter, Chihaya passes the area where the New Year's competition takes place.   Next year... the challengers will come meet the Meijin and the Queen in that space.  Last year... that time I faced Shinobu...

Chihaya hasn't forgotten Sumire's words.  "The Queen was here!  She was here with some guy from Fukui." 

Ba-bump!  Her heart beats in her chest as her expression pulls tight.  She stands motionless as Taichi observes, until he brings everyone together in a huddle on the tatami.
"What, are we doing this already?" asks Kana.
"Everyone listen up!" commands Taichi.  "Chihaya, you go into 3rd position."  Chihaya's eyes widen while everyone else is shocked by his declaration.
"Hokuo strategically places its players based on the superior or inferior capability of its opponents.  But...are we trying to run away?  Chihaya, all you have to do is win.  (TN: easier said than done, buddy...)  Go for the victory!"
"MIZUSAWA, WIN!" he rallies.
"YEAAAH!" they respond in unison.

Sumire and the others watch in wonder.

Cut scene: the Akashi team enters the hall

?!  People watch curiously as Megumu's stalkers position themselves and their cameras on the floor....
 -_-; (TN: the only reason why anyone would do that is to get a shot facing upwards, and those are only pursued by panty and leg fetish guys... REALLY?? WTH?)

.....  Meanwhile, Taichi and Desktomu are pondering the roster along the same lines.
However...Akashi may not keep the same playing roster in this round....  even though I didn't say that to everyone before... thinks Destomu.
...even though I didn't say it... thinks Taichi.
But, thus far for the last three rounds they haven't changed their playing roster... Is it because they haven't faced any strong teams, so it was their long-term arrangement....

If they face a strong team... that should change.  But I'm not sure if in Akashi's eyes....if we're considered....

As Taichi and Desktomu meditate on the outcome, the announcer, Murai-san, steps forward to call out the respective rosters.

As the names are called, Meat bun and Kana are pitted against opponents they were expecting.  And, as  Chihaya expected, she is pitted against Megumu.  But Taichi and Desktomu are conflicted about Akashi not actually changing their roster.

What are they really trying to say... is this according to plan or do they really think so very little of Mizusawa...? thinks Desktomu.

Do they really trust the outcome to their wild-card (Megumu) that much?

His train of thought is interrupted by a member of the Akashi team going over to collect Megumu from the wrong side of the room where the Fujisaki - Hokuo match is about to take place.
"Good grief!  Megumu!" she says.  "We aren't playing Fujisaki!  This side!  This side!"  (TN:  She's positioned herself in the 2nd seat here, which suggests she would change seats if she were playing a reputed stronger team...)

"Ah? Sorry!" she says embarrassed.  Her (stalkers + paparazzi = stalkerazzi) are moved by the expression she makes.  (TN: Give me a break....)  "Ah, that's right.  We're still in the semi-finals."
"Megumu," chides her teammate.  "They've clearly already read the playing roster, how can you still get it wrong?"
"Well, we're already a shoe-in for the finals!" she says with cheerful innocence.  Both the Hokuo and Mizusawa teams give blank stares at the apparent offense she just doled in their faces.

Her stalkerrazzi are dazzled by her sweet and cruel nature.   Sumire is only justified in her conclusion that Megumu is a dunce with a poisonous tongue.  She then is astonished that the author would add their past dealings with Megumu on a manga panel.   (TN(-_-;)  <-- as am I.)

(TN: I'm going to go through it as quickly as possible b/c I'm not going to summarize the fantasies of perverted audience members... seriously....)  Apparently they stalked waitresses and maids in cafes before they came across Megumu.  She chided them for going too far, but invited them to photograph their competitions (--what?)  And that's how they came across her warmth...  cuteness.... and....

After they stalked her team during the competition, and she erased all the photographs.  (?!)

They apparently have some sort of sado-masochistic, symbiotic relationship with Megumu, who allows them to shoot her during matches, but subsequently strong arms them into erasing the photos.  One of them is blushing while looking at a photo (...or doing something else....? *eeeeeew*) and is subsequently discovered by his fellow stalkerazzi members for having kept a photo of Megumu from last year's match.  They order him to erase it as it goes against the "pact" they have with Megumu-sama.  But one of them looks up and notes that her expression has changed.

Megumu has a serene look of determination on her face.

The audience whisper amongst themselves in speculation about her, commenting that she was last year's competitor for the Queen's Challenger and the representative of the Western Conference.  Even though she went up against Yumi last time, perhaps she would be the one to challenge Wakamiya Shinobu this time around.

"How good is she?"
"She wouldn't lose to just anyone," comments another.
"But just how strong is she?"
"Ah, but she's going up against that pretty girl," says someone up front.

The Osaka I saw last autumn.... thinks Chihaya as she sits down, was the type of player who didn't place speed as the most important, but softly observed her rival's karuta.  I also must focus, and be precise!

This semi-final... is an opportunity that is a gift from everyone.  She looks to her left and right.  That's right... alone, no matter how diligent and hard working, one would never be able to get here!

She looks up and takes a glance at everyone in the whole room.

Five individuals sitting side by side... on the tatami mats of Omi Jingu.  She looks at her opponent, Megumu, and recalls those callous words.

"We're already a shoe-in for the finals!"

Chihaya looks her straight in the eye.

Don't say words you'll come to regret.

"Begin!" the announcer shouts.  As the opening poem is read, we catch a glimpse of Hiro and the Hokuo team pitted against the Fujisaki team, with Hiro and his opponent making faces at one another.  (TN: <--intimidation effect?)

But, just as the first card is read, Megumu takes it before Chihaya can react.  She and the audience are all astonished as they barely saw the card fly.

"Megumu has become faster," comments one of her stalkerrazzi in awe.

"Much faster than when she played the Queen's Challenger competition last year!" comments another.

(End chapter)

Monday, July 23, 2012

In other Chihayafuru news....

As you know, Chihayafuru has been approved for a second season recently, but did you know that short stories about Chihaya's middle school days will also be published??  There was never a time I wanted to learn how to read Japanese more...hahahaha.  The following was posted on Anime News Network (ANN) recently at:

Chihayafuru Manga Gets 1st Text Short Story Collection

posted on 2012-07-22 21:15 EDT
Omnibus set in Chihaya's middle school days by Suki Desu Suzuki-kun!! novelist

Chihayafuru, Yuki Suetsugu's award-winning manga about a schoolgirl competing in the Japanese card game of karuta, will get its first text short story collection on September 13. The omnibus collection will tell brand-new stories from the middle-school days of the heroine Chihaya; the story setup for the original manga begins in elementary school, but most of the story in the manga — and its anime adaptation — is actually set during Chihaya's high school years.

The text stories will be told from various points of views, including those of Chihaya herself, her childhood friend Taichi, and Arata (the transfer student who eventually has an huge impact on Chihaya's life). Novelist Yui Tokiumi is writing the upcoming Shōsetsu Chihayafuru: Chūgakusei-hen 1 book. Tokiumi previously adapted Waki Yamato's manga interpretation of The Tale of Genji, KOEI's Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time 4 game, and Gō Ikeyamada's Suki Desu Suzuki-kun!! manga.
Chihayafuru won the second Manga Taisho (Cartoon Grand Prize) in 2009. The manga also won the shōjo manga category in last year's Kodansha Manga Awards, and topped the female category of Takarajimasha's Kono Manga ga Sugoi! book listings the year before.

The manga inspired a 25-episode television anime season from October 2011 to March 2012, and the publisher Kodansha revealed last month that there will be a new anime season. Crunchyroll streamed the first season into several countries as it aired in Japan.
Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chihayafuru Vol. 13, Chapter 69 Synopsis


I am back!  Con season is really hectic.  We have the AM2 and then AX and then Comic-con all around the same time!!!  (A nerd's paradise) Although, Los Angeles hosted the X Games as well in the same location at the same time as AX and downtown was super crowded!!  What were the city planners thinking?  What did the buff sporty skaters, bikers, boarders think of all them ninja, pokemon, sailor girls, knights, gaming heroes, reapers, pirates, and random karuta players walking around?  Haha, ok, maybe there was just one karuta player walking around, but I got recognition from random vendors, AX staff and fans I ran into on the street!!  KARUTA LIVES!!!  That's the best part of cosplay you know, costume recognition.  ^_^v  

I had the most in depth discussions with these true fans  (strangely enough, ALL of them were Chiharata fans, no joke!  That's like the first question they asked me!)  My friend whom I always go with was rolling his eyes saying, "Here we go again..." every time, hahaha.  FYI: wearing an obi under a hakama REALLY forces good posture on you.

Due to personal obligations I MISSED THE STUDIO MADHOUSE PANEL!!!! (I wanted to ask about season 2 of Chihayafuru!!)..... but I caught up with the Production I.G. panel very early the next morning and found out more about the new Blood movie CLAMP is creating.  I'm not sure about CLAMP, after what they did to Cardcaptor Sakura's characters in Tusbasa RC, I've lost confidence in them.  AND THERE'S NO HAGI!!! WTF??  I found Blood C to be a disappointment, but to obtain closure, I must watch the movie.

My camera has tons of cool pics.  Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my connector cable.... ha.  (sigh)

Ok, here starts my last volume of Chihayafuru (I'm not up to date on my purchases) so enjoy!

Chapter 69

Opening scene:  Everyone is silent as they stare in shock at what Meat bun just said.

["I think we should keep going with the same members we have in play."]
["I think keeping Desktomu out of play would be best."]

"Ah..." begins Chihaya.  "Meat bun-kun, why do you say--?"
"Why?" demands, Kana-chan, interrupting her.  "Why would you say something so offending?  Do you think that Desktomu being eliminated in the competition is just a natural conclusion?"
"Kana-chan..." says Chihaya.
"Compared to the already worn out Tsubuka-kouhai, Desktomu is the better candidate for competing!"  (On the sidelines, Tsubuka is in shock for being found out)
"Why did you say that--!" Kana demands again.

"No, Kana," interrupts Desktomu, raising a hand to calm her.  "I think it's better this way... from here on it's better if Tsubuka continued to play.  Now about Kyoto's Shoyo High School...  Since I went to see Fujisaki's match... I didn't have time to analyze their competition tactics... But, I did interview every player from teams that lost against them--" he says, holding his notes in front of him.  "My conclusion--" he begins, but Meat bun takes his notebook out of his hands.
"Why?" asks Meat bun quietly.  "Why don't you say it?  [I am a true competitor who is meant to compete]."  His hand, still holding Destomu's notes, starts to shake with his emotion.

"Why?" he demands.  "All this time we've worked our butts off to come here, right?  Why are you forfeiting to a kouhai?"
Meat bun continues, "Since the freshmen joined, we've had some breathing room, but this can't go on...  It just can't!  Once you start thinking that you don't have to stand up in front..."  He has a brief flashback of his tennis playing days.
"Your resolution leaves you from the moment you first run into trouble... then it becomes more difficult to rely on your actual strengths."

Everyone watches him silently.  Meat bun wipes his eyes and pushes Desktomu's notes onto Taichi.  "I think the optimistic fool who would secretly change the playing roster to enter the competition...," says Meat bun, (shock from Tsubuka standing behind them) "has already learned how to read the game's atmosphere since the preliminaries..."
He passes Taichi, "I leave it to the team captain to decide!"
"Meat bun-kun..." says Kana, reaching out to him.

Taichi is speechless.
The roster... the roster... how should we arrange the roster....
Whom should to leave to play and whom should I take off?
I understand what Nishida was saying... but...

It's always this atmosphere right before we're eliminated from the finals...

What to do?! Taichi thinks fervently.

"Taichi," interrupts Chihaya.  "Let me borrow that for a bit," she says as she takes Desktomu's notes from his hands.
"Kyoto's Shoyo High team..." she says as she quietly studies the pages.

She begins to recite the names of the players.  "They are all right handed... two girls, three guys..."

Taichi and Miyauchi stare at Chihaya for her sudden seriousness.
"Everyone," Miyauchi-sensei interrupts, "those who want to each lunch have to eat it only have 30 minutes left.  Since we couldn't use the vending machines, I just got this tea for you--" she says, rummaging through her bag.

An advisor should be a little more capable... she thinks.  Deciding the playing roster really should be an advisor's job--- especially in times of internal struggle...
Ayase-san is reliable only in terms of being a competitor... that places a great burden on Taichi.

"Mm... that's right!" Chihaya concludes.  "The playing roster should... exclude Desktomu-kun and keep the same five players as before!"

HUH??   Everyone stares at her.

Cut scene:  In the dinning commons of the Omi Jingu Center

What to do?  Two plates have piled up.

What to do?
What to do?  Six plates have now piled up.

While we were still in the preliminaries I actually said those kinds of words!  What do I do?

"Another plate please!" shouts Meat bun, ordering another round of curry rice.
"You still wanna eat?" demands the cafeteria lady.  "Aren't you going to go compete soon?  Aren't you going to regret it?"

But I don't regret it!

If I didn't say it now, then Tsutomu...will make the distinction between us as players and assistant...

Meat bun hangs his head low.  He'll no longer be a competitor.

But... what to do?  The cafeteria lady tells him to do his best to finish it all as she hands him another plate.  (-_-;)

If no one else opposes, and Tsutomu-kun really does get put onto the wayside as a non-competitor....  Meat bun puts his plate down.  Across the way he notices a familiar sight.

Also, if that girl with the curly-cue pig tails over there really is my older sister....

Suddenly his train of through is interrupted by someone shouting at him.
"Meat bun-kun!" shouts Chihaya, barging into the cafeteria.  "What the heck are you doing?  I've been looking for you!  The competition is about to begin---"

They both hurry out back down the stairs towards their competing hall.  "I never thought I'd find you in the cafeteria...  Ah!  Wait, that probably was the most likely place...." she says on second thought.  "But you bought three obento, so I thought you may have gone outside to find a place to eat...  You're the only one who wasn't able to make it back on time for the competition.  Oh!" she adds, "We've all decided to maintain the same 5 players as the prior round."

Meat bun stops short as he sees Desktomu standing outside with Sumire and Ms. Miyauchi.  A competition overseer calls in the remaining stragglers into the competition hall for the next round of preliminaries.

What is this? Meat bun thinks as he looks at Desktomu silently.  What... did you really not want to compete?

"Meat bun-kun," begins Desktomu.  "When you face the player Kawabe you need to keep your cool,  just face him head on."

I don't care about that!  Meat bun turns his back and the door slams behind him, without a word exchanged between them.

I don't care about that!

Cut scene:  The next round

The competition agenda posted on the board shows Mizusawa against Shoyo (翔耀) High.  Chihaya and the others face a group of students wearing T-shirts that say, "Show You!" (TN: which obviously is an attempt at a play on English words with the name of their school)

Caption: The decisive preliminary matches---  For the group competition it's how the weaker among the remaining 8 teams are weeded out and eliminated... those who lose are kicked out of the preliminaries!
(TN: among the remaining teams are Fujisaki, Hokuo, Mizusawa, Shoyo, etc.)

Cut scene: big sweat drop

Meat bun and the others are reading their opponents' T-shirts to themselves (TN: and I'm not sure they get it right away)

Show you!....? thinks Tsubuka and the others.
Shyou you.... thinks Meat bun, ruminating on the proper phonetic spelling.
[翔耀], thinks Taichi.

ARE THEY JOKING?  they all think collectively.

Caption: Kyoto representatives from Shoyo High... the players all have the appearance of being poor nobility ...which is completely accidental.  (TN:  I think the players all happen to have stoic and refined, traditional-looking faces, contrasted with their T-shirts of questionable taste. They are not lower rank nobility but they have the appearance of it.  I think this is what the author is trying to get across.  Kyoto, as you know, was once the capital and is known for its deep roots in culture and old family bloodlines.  This sentence however, was a nightmare to translate: 長著一副公卿貴族的模樣完全是偶然 -- waaaah, so many big words...)

Kyoto... thinks Meat bun.  Wakamiya Shinobu's home town....  He examines his opponent.  This poor lord seems rather capable...  (TN:  Here, Meat bun uses the word 公卿大人, which means "Sir/Lord poor aristocrat" in literal translation, both praising and demeaning -- like giving a title to a peasant.  I couldn't really think of an English equivalent that contained the full meaning, so I just used "poor lord.")

As the reader pulls and reads the first syllable of the first card his opponent is able to take it, much to Meat bun's astonishment.

How fast! he marvels.  What the hell?  Are all Kyoto players blessed with that kind of speed?  Just like Shinobu Wakamiya----

He snaps alert.  If we lose, it's all over for us...  the preliminaries!

But he isn't the only one with troubles.  His other teammates, Chihaya, Taichi and Tsubuka alike lose the second card to their opponents.

How fast! Chihaya thinks, wiping the sweat from her face with a towel.  He snatched it...  But... I need to calm down...  She takes a breath.

Harada-sensei told me once...  before a match, don't study other people's matches too seriously.  To watch a match whole-heartedly is even more tiring than actually competing in a match.  That's why I knew after reading Desktomu's notes...  right now, the person who is the most exhausted...

Outside, Desktomu has passed out, uneaten onigiri still in hand.

... is Desktomu-kun.  That's why I kept him out of this match.  (TN:  Banzai!  Banzai!  Chihaya is starting to redeem herself and stopped thinking like a karuta-nut and is thinking like a Captain!)

Meanwhile, Meat bun is still having a rough time of it.

Damn...  I'm unable to keep up with this guy's pace...  There's no way for me to attack!  This Kawabe guy is really strong---

He pauses and recalls what Desktomu said to him.

"When facing your opponent Kawabe, you just need to calm down.  Just face him head on."

His opponent is able to take the next card as well.

Is his speed the genuine article? thinks Meat bun.  Ordinarily, I would casually protect the card in my lower left quadrant, "ini." Before I hear the decisive syllable "ni" I can even claim the card.  Those with intuitive strengths or natural ability--- he thinks, sizing up his opponent again.  No! I'll just wait for the right opportunity to strike...

Meat bun takes a deep breath as if he were going to attack and his opponent takes notice.  At the next card, his opponent makes a mistake.

If he really was a natural talent, he wouldn't have been baited into a mistake like that.

"Just face him head on."


Meat bun takes the next card.

Meanwhile, Kana-chan is following Desktomu's tactics.

"Tashiro-kun likes to stand up in the middle of a match."

"Sorry," says Kana's opponent as he gets up.  He stands up to maintain his own muscle agility.  When he looks down at her, Kana is making her cutesy-pouty expression as if to ask how much longer he's going to stand up.

He blushes in embarrassment.  (TN: kekekeke....)  "Ah!  Sorry..."
When I do that, Tashiro-kun is too embarrassed to stand up and stretch, thinks Evil Kana.
("I'll get to stand up in a little while," he says with an awkward laugh.)

First I'll strike hard and break up his rhythm.

At the same time, Tsubuka is being challenged by his opponent regarding the card he took.
"That last card was clearly mine," she remarks.
"Excuse me?"
"If I didn't swipe it, it would've never have been sent to your side.
"Ha ah ah?  That last card was definitely..." he begins furiously, but recalls what Tsutomu told him.

"Concerning your opponent, in order to make herself calm down, sometimes she will pick a fight."

"Are you really certain?" Tsubuka asks threateningly.  "I took the card...I'm sending over a card in return."
His opponent has no retort.

All this time I thought that in karuta you had to only rely on yourself.  I never thought outside information could be so important.


"Sanada-kun is the team's Big Papa."  Chihaya also faces her opponent head on.

"When striking a card, he will over-exaggerate his force on the tatami mat, but don't be alarmed by him."

She takes the next card.

From the mouths of those who just lost to this team, to ask them this many things was rather difficult, wasn't it? she thinks empathetically towards her team mate.

[Cut scene flashback: while Desktomu was asking other players about the Shoyo team, he was rebuffed many times.]

"Why should I tell you about the Shoyo team?" asks one girl.
"I would still ask you to help..." begins Desktomu.
"Hoping the team that beat you continuously wins throughout, you understand this feeling, don't you?" asks another girl.  (TN: b/c that would mean you lost to the best team)
"Just go! Go away!" says the other girl.
"For... For your own teammates, in order to help them in any way, you'd do anything," he says, bowing down to them.  "This kind of feeling, you understand, don't you?" Desktomu asks humbly in return.  "Please, I beg of you!"

[End cut scene flashback]

Desktomu-kun... stood in the front lines! (TN: i.e. the line of fire)

No matter what... he wants to lift Mizusawa into the title of Japan's Number One!  

Cut scene:  Someone has placed a jacket over him while Desktomu sleeps

His notebook says it all.

He comes out of his slumber slowly, but then shoots up.  "Ah... I fell asleep?"
Sumire is shocked by his sudden movement.  "Senpai, you scared me!  Because of your glasses, I couldn't tell if you were sleeping or awake!"
("Well sorry for that" he mumbles.)  "How is the match going?"
"They're still in there," she answers.
"Is that so..."
She pauses for a moment before adding, "I thought it was all right..."
"Not everyone is meant for competition, I'm certainly more well suited for reconnaissance."
"Competing is really frustrating?" he asks.
"That's what I'm saying!" she emphasizes.
"Yeah," he says.  "It's tiring and it's frightening.... What Meat bun-kun said...  woke me up."

Suddenly, Meat bun throws open the door  to the competition hall and startles them both.

"WE WON!  MIZUSAWA WON!" he announces loudly.  He looks at Desktomu.

"Next time, you have to join us!"

"Next time, you have to join us!" he repeats.  "We'll go into competition together... Desktomu!"  In the doorway, a sweaty Chihaya and her teammates rush out behind him.

Desktomu runs up to them.

All this time we've been doing our best together...

Miyauchi, Sumire and Tsubuka are touched as the group embraces Desktomu.

I hope as players... we will always be together... competitors!

[End chapter 69]

TN:  Was it just me, or were other readers tearing up a little bit at the end there?  I don't usually, but I got kinda choked up over that beautiful camaraderie that is a prevalent theme in this manga.

Due to the Universe really raining life issues on me, I didn't get this chapter out as quickly as I wanted.  I'm afraid it will be this way for this last volume of mine.  If this keeps up, I don't know if I can continue translating.  :-(  I'll do my best, through this volume, for the love of the manga.  I don't know after that.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Too busy with Cosplay costumes and AX 2012; No posts this week, sorry! :-(

Hi ~!

I am preparing for Convention season down here, and I'm afraid I don't have time to post this week.  Not only am I recovering from some god-awful viral contagion that landed me on my back for 3 days (yuck, wouldn't wish it on anyone) and made me feel like I was swallowing barbed wire every time I tried to eat, I've got to put on the finishing touches on my costume!!!  Hahaha, hakama and kimono complete!  I totally forgot how to tie an obi... (See below)

What do you think of the pattern?  Chihayafuru-ish enough? LOL

This time of year is the highlight of all cosplaying nerds so I hope you understand.  First off, this weekend (most likely July 1 - 2) I will be strolling the exhibit halls at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles, CA, and maybe even catch Studio Madhouse (production team for Chihayafuru anime) during their forum.  If I visit the maid cafe this year I will be sure to post pics, and I'm contemplating buying tix for the Lisa concert. much $$ do I want to spend...?  I might have to defer it until my boss says I get a raise this week (crossing fingers -- CROSS YOUR FINGERS TOO! LOL).

 Hope to see some of you down there!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis, Volume 12, Chapter 68

[TN:  I almost forgot about this blog and my usual update! LOL...  I've been so busy playing the "new game+" for Supergiant Games' "Bastion"-- downloadable on XBox Live.  Where was I in 2011 when this first came out??  This game is the best!!  Sure, it might promote underage drinking but the art is really bright J-RPG style and the game was so addicting I went right into the new game without coming up for air....  It's playful and serious (think chibi J-RPG character meets nuclear holocaust). There's something about it that's reminiscent of Joss Whedon's "Firefly"...  Must be that darn catchy music (that I downloaded -- well worth it).  Now, where was I?

Chapter 68

Opening scene:  the stormy day continues at the National Championship at Omi Jingu

Sumire pauses under the covered front steps of the competition hall while others are complaining about the rain.

"What is up with this bout of super heavy rain?" someone nearby asks.  "It was clear skies this morning---"
"Ahh..." laments Sumire, looking up towards the rain.  "What to do?  Now I can't investigate the matches in the other competition halls."

"Did anyone bring an umbrella?" somebody else asks.
"Everyone is obviously prepared for the fact that they will get wet if they run out into the rain..."
"But that little four-eyed frog..."

Just then, amid the scattered people running out in the rain with anything they could find to cover their heads, Desktomu is walking slowly with a small group of people huddling under his umbrella.

"Ah, Hanano-san," greets Desktomu-kun.  The others thank him for his trouble of lending them some shelter from the rain.
"Never thought you'd bring an umbrella..." comments Sumire.  "But sure the chances of it raining were really low!"

"Huh? Well that's--" begins Desktomu.  "Even though the barometric pressure reading and humidity reading were 0, the national weather bureau reported there might be the chance of rain."
His explanation escapes Sumire's understanding.  He skips over her reaction.

"How was the competition with Akashi Girl's Academy?"
"They're really strong!" she exclaims.  "Even though it was the second round of competition, they ended it early as well.  These are my notes."  She hands over her notepad.

Desktomu reads her finely printed notes on how ugly they were, what brand names their bags and purses were, the length of their hair, they type of decorations they put on their hand phones etc.
"But, I did sit a little far from them so I didn't have a way to really observe their playing very clearly...(not like I'd understand what I saw anyway)."
"Haaah..." says Desktomu, completely speechless as he stares at the pages.

"How was our competition?" she asks, changing the subject.  He's still puzzling at how she even got down the color of their _________.  (TN:  I can't read the word, it's too small in my comic...)
"There are too many people," she comments about the crowd in front of her.  "I can't squeeze into the competition hall..."
"Thank you, Hanano-san," says Desktomu, with a big sweat drop.  "You've written down even the most minute of details...."

Sumire looks at him bashfully.  "Whah, this is great!  I don't have to compete this time around.  I was so nervous during the Tokyo Regionals!  I have no interest in competing at the national level!  A person like me, just leave me to help with the investigation, that's enough!"  She exclaims in a rambling fashion, holding up her hand.  "I'm not like everyone else, I don't have the determination to be a champion contender."

She catches her words and Desktomu looks back at her blankly for a moment.

"I'm going to go over there and sort the notes," he says.  "You'd better utlizie this time to go have lunch, Hanano-san."
She watches him silently.  I thought, aside from me, all my team members wanted really badly to go out and compete...

Perhaps.... Tsutomu-senpai is not the same....

That's right!  Isn't this sort of thing annoying to me?  That world of perfection and absolutes! (TN: the literal translation is the "world of victory and defeat, excellence and weakness/pros and cons")

Cut scene:  Mioka's teacher grins as his team is pulling through

"It's such a brilliant match, don't you think?" he turns to Miauchi sensei to ask.  "Our club has at least half its membership participating in the decathlon... Our real goal is the decathlon in August."

Nakayama, I applaud your fighting spirit... he thinks approvingly.

Flashback: Chihaya's opponent, Nakayama Manabu's difficult training past

In order to train for the decathlon, he trained his reflexes to be the fastest person to push the answer buzzer (TN: my sincere apologies to all nerds everywhere, but my God, this is a lame....I'll stop here.) by training in karuta.

He actually used karuta as a jumping point to train for the decathlon, and he's excelled to this juncture! his teacher thinks with tears in his eyes.

But at the same tim, his student is thinking: Teacher, is probably thinking that, but actually, that's not quite right.  No matter how you look at it.... Manamu's thoughts differ from that of his teacher.

It's for karuta that I've progressed in the decathlon to become a diamond---  (Manabu sparkles and in the background his teacher says, "Huh?!  It's like that??")

I love...this ambiance!  Manabu beams.  After setting down the cards and memorizing them, that tight, anxious feeling...  That feeling when you can even hear the sound of your own breath----

Just then, Chihaya takes a DEEP breath.  "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh......"
"?!"  Manabu is bewildered for the moment.  Just as strangely, she exhales until the very last bit of air is pushed out of her, Chihaya's entire body trembling.

She's expelling all the air in one breath.....  It's long.... It's an alarmingly long pulmonary capacity.

Caption:  Chihaya, you...

Just breathe and you will win!

Flashback on a discussion between Chihaya and Taichi

"Speaking of breathing, most people use a lot of energy breathing in, but the most important is to first breath out!  Calmly exhaling ... spit it all out!"

Scene: Back in the competition

If that's the case...

"Sorry!" Chihaya says as she gets up, raises her head and breathes in again.  Her team members are silent as she does so.

Just like this we can regain our composure....

She looks down at the cards.

And I can see it all!

Manabu notices his opponent for the first time.
What a beautiful girl!  If I were to compare her to a constellation, it would be Vega... the star maiden weaver....  To have her look down on me isn't bad at all (TN: uh...what are you thinking...?)

No, I can't.  I can't fill my head wish such useless thoughts!  he thinks.  Looking over to his team members he is shocked at what he sees.  Aside from the last match on the end, three of his team members seem to be faltering against Mizusawa.

Meat bun's opponent announces, "I'm going to rearrange the cards."
"Is it that time again?" Meat bun asks casually.  I don't really care, he thinks.  Why can't he figure that out?  He thinks back at what he learned from his karuta society, from Yumi and his sensei.

Certainly it's about attacking...but no matter how you see it, it's defensive karuta.   It doesn't matter how his arrangements change.  All I have to do is protect my 25 cards from being taken, that's all! 

I just have to embrace that thought and play...  What's more inconceivable to them is that I can also attack their cards (at the same time)!

Meat bun strikes at just the right moment.

Beside him, Kana wipes her brow as another "empty" card is read.  She even remembers that it is authored by a monk named _______.

I've got to investigate! she thinks with conviction, recognizing that there are 6 cards authored by monks in play.  As the next card is read, she takes it quickly, again, recognizing it by its female author.  Again, she looks and finds 4 cards in play that are written by women, 2 on her side and 2 on his.

Meanwhile, her opponent is sweating as he thinks, No matter how I change them, she's able to follow me.  This girl is really incredible!

Since his way of karuta is rote memorization, this is her weapon and her way of memorization.

Next to Kana, Taichi is able to take the next card even before his opponent moves.  Even Mioka's teacher is impressed by his speedy, athletic version of karuta, constantly moving, forcefully striking.  Taichi thinks that even though his opponent's memorization skills are strong, for someone who only moves his arms and isn't as fit as he is, even Taichi can keep up with him.  Taichi recognizes how he was just like his opponent at one time.  He remembers Meatbun's lecture about how karuta is a union of both mind and body and how Meatbun only memorizes about half the cards before he plays.

What Nishida was trying to teach me... was that my body must also compete.  Manabu is shocked as he watches Taichi play.  (TN:  Shouldn't you be focusing on your own game, dude?)

Both mind... and body....

Manabu focuses on his game again, think he cannot let the opposing team enjoy their karuta like this, and he employs his weapon.
"I'm going to change my cards," he announces.  But as he looks up, Chihaya's expression throws him off.  Apparently she is having a crisis.  Beside her are the God of War and a Bhudda (TN: Could also be the Goddess of Mercy who is androgynous)

Again? How many times has he done it, HOW MANY TIMES??  KILL!  KILL!  How incredible, incredible!  He can memorize it just like that? How amazing---

No, really... there is no other way, the Bodhisattva next to her says.  I cannot keep up appearances any longer.

That's right, thinks Chihaya.  There's just no way I can memorize cards like the other team members.
Once I've made this realization... I feel completely relaxed.  (TN: the epiphany.)

Don't worry!  Don't worry! she forces herself.  This is the first time I've played against someone who relies so heavily on moving his cards.  Don't worry!  Just keep up!

An evil look overcomes her.  Just watch....all of the remaining cards have become single syllable cards!

He moves his cards again and she notices that his remaining six cards are pulled back and in an odd formation.

Beside her, the God of War and the Bodhisattva cry, GO!!

When the next card is read, Chihaya strikes with her speed even before her opponent can move.  As she runs to retrieve it, Manabu is still in shock.

At the same time as the sound.... No, even faster than the sound!!

She takes the next card.

I can't even move... he sits back in shock.

[Believe in your innate ability and attack...] and my ability...  

Blows the mind, Manabu concludes

But she... surpasses even the ear...  Her fingers connect----

Chihaya sends a card flying against a wall, much to the shock of an innocent bystander.

She isn't the star weaver maiden.  This sharpness...  the death hunter Bellatrix...  (TN: no relation to Harry Potter)

Bellatrix Orionus! 

Cut scene:  Arata and his "team" are undergoing their "punishment" for their folly during the last round

Arata fills out the first few words of the essay he has to write to the overseers.  ["Karuta and Me" by Wataya Arata.]  His "team" members are profusely apologizing to him with tears for involving him and causing him to do this sort of punishment.

"No, I'm the one who needs to apologize to you.  I'm constantly borrowing T-shirts from you guys."  Nearby, Shinobu is changed into someone's pants and a T-shirt, still damp, and surfing the web on Arata's phone looking for information about the failed Birdman Rally.  "And pants too for that soaking wet Queen in the corner."
"Don't worry about stuff like that.  We could even donate those clothes to you," says his friend.  "Unless that would give you guys more troubles?"

Arata thinks back to when he was bowing before the overseers.
"Wataya-kun," asked the head overseer.  "What is your purpose in coming here today?"
"Ah, well I came to support my friends who are the Tokyo Regional representatives."
"Well then, as part of your punishment I won't let you go watch them.  Go into the other room and write your essay.  Then, tomorrow, go compete in the individuals tournament!"

Taichi, Chihaya... are working hard in their team competition, aren't they?

Meanwhile, in the corner, Shinobu is lamenting that she wants to watch the Rally tomorrow, but it interferes with the timing of the individuals tournament.  She laments that the tournament can't be the day after the Rally.

Why is it...

In the background the others are asking how many times they have to write the essay.

...I decided that I'm only going to concentrate on the individuals tournament...  is the only way in order to see them again?

Cut scene:  The aftermath of the Mioka - Mizusawa match is posted on the wall, 3 wins (Taichi, Chihaya, Meatbun) and two losses (Kana-chan and Tsubuka)

"Kana-chan, that's regrettable.  Only lost by two cards!" consoles Meatbun.  ("I'm so unsatisfied!" she cries)
"I'm the same way," says Tsubuka.  "I'm so dissatisfied!"
"But you lost by 12 cards!" Meatbun retorts.
"Chihaya, don't stand and sleep at the same time!" Taichi calls out, shaking her as she drools.
"Ah? Mioka?  that school that excels in the decathlon?" one bystander comments.  "No wonder they arrange the cards so randomly like quiz questions---"

At the same time, Mioka's teacher is praising his students.  "Well done, everyone!" he says.  "Certainly it's dissatisfying to lose but use this experience as a turning point for next time's preparation."  His teacher concludes they can use it towards the decathlon that's coming up.  But Manabu cries as he concludes that it doesn't matter.  This loss is a loss for karuta and they have to win back their cards.  It doesn't matter if it has nothing to do with the decathlon.  Chihaya and the others are shocked to hear his response.

His teacher is speechless for a moment and then smiles.  "Mm," he agrees.  "You guys exceed execellence, and exceed stupidity."  Everyone bursts into tears at this point and their teacher gives them a group hug.  Chihaya watches on with tears in her eyes.

Then, Sumire and Destomu appear.  She presents them with a box of cookies, which Taichi turns down immediately (but Desktomu looks like he wants to eat...)

Taichi is all business.  "Tsutomu, how's it going with the other teams' investigations?  Was it difficult with all this rain?"
"It wasn't a problem," Desktomu responds.
"Ah, speaking of the rain..." Sumire perks up.  "The Queen was really frightening!  Her entire body was soaked.
"I saw that as well," says Chihaya remembering the figure in the window.
"Soaking wet she came in..." Sumire continues.  "And spoke for a guy who was wearing a "Fukui" T-shirt... begging for them to let him play in the individual's tournament because she wanted to go up against him.  I guess the Queen also has need of a rival!"

Chihaya goes quiet.

It's Arata----

Arata and ....  Shinobu---

["Because she wanted to go up against him"]

"Sumire," Chihaya says gravely.  "What is that all about---"

"IS RIGHT NOW THE TIME TO BE GOSSIPING NONSENSE?" Taichi shouts, bringing everyone, especially Chihaya, back to attention.  He shouts that certainly the've passed another round but there are a lot more foes to consider from this point forward.

"Tai-Taichi!" Chihaya cries out.

That's enough!

The words "Queen" and "Arata" are enough to break Chihaya's concentration...  I hope she's able to come around and focus back on the team competition.

So you've actually come... Arata---

"If we're talking about the playing roster...." chimes in Tsubuka.  "I think it's best to let Tsutomu-senpai come back as an actual competing member...."
"What's wrong with you?" snaps Sumire.  "Just because it's desperate you want to back out?
"That's not it! (That's it...)," he snaps back.  "I just think Tsutomu-sempai's strategies would be of use during the competition..."
"That's true!" says Kana-chan.  "I also think that replacing me or Tsubuka would be best...  What do you think Desktomu-kun?"

Meatbun watches silently.

"That can be true," says Tsutomu.  "I'll--"
"Wait!" says Meatbun.  "In the next round, I think we should keep the roster as is...  It's best if Desktomu stays out of the game."

(TN: Da- da- DUUUMMM!!  <-- dramatic sound effect for a dramatic turn of events!)

---End Chapter, End Volume---