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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 8.1 (Chapter 42)

Chapter 42

Caption:  Even if it's just one card...I don't want to let someone who's already given up take a single one!

The room is getting hotter.  Yumi looks beyond the players towards her sensei where the shadows of onlookers stand behind the windows. Outside her sensei complains that he can't see through the glass anymore, since the condensation has fogged up the windows.  His karuta society members tell him to calm down, and he tells them to go to hell.

Yumi looks towards her opponent, whose ferocious aura is quite apparent now.  The next card that is read is an "empty" card, and Chihaya moves to attack, but averts when she realizes there is no need to take a card at this time.  Yumi wonders why Chihaya even bothers moving when she knows it's an empty card.  Chihaya's eyes are full of determination.

"Autumn wind--"

While Yumi is still distracted, Chihaya takes the next card.  Meat bun notes that this is Chihaya's fifth card in a row.  Even Yumi notices that she's actively attacking now.

Why is that?  Before she was so cautious... It's as if she knows....

She knows she's going to win...

Going to win...?

This strikes a nerve and Yumi rallies against Chihaya as she presses and cracks her knuckle against the tatami mat.

Outside, the peanut gallery is commenting how all the glass in the competition grounds have fogged up at this point and how the difference in temperatures inside and outside must be significant enough to do that.  Someone asks if they could possibly crack open a window.

Tsutomu comments to Kana that he didn't know A rank competitions were this scary.  There movement and speed is on a whole other level.  Kana agrees, but also comments that it's also beginning to feel a little uncomfortable because everyone inside the tournament room has a "killing aura" about them as they listen to the next poem in that unbearable heat.  Tsutomu has to agree with her there.  But, Kana can still hear the card reader so clearly, resounding, as if there was no window barrier between them.

Yes, this is poetry.... It's not that she's reading it aloud...she's chanting it. (TN: in its ancient form, "poetry" is not just "詩" but also "詩歌" which literally means "poem song."  In ancient times, poems were sung, hence Kana's reference that she is connecting to the poem in its original, purest form)

Tsutomu notes that the card readers are really something.  Not only is the selection process stringent, they must also take tests.  Those who are qualified to read during the Meijin contests are only about 10 people in all of Japan.  Kana gets an awestruck look on her face and comments how difficult it must be to become one... (TN: perhaps she aspires to be one...?)

Chihaya...Listen even more carefully to these 'songs'! Kana thinks.

I can win!  I can win!  Chihaya thinks.

Yumi notices how Chihaya's aura has become formidable, comparable to even Wakamiya Shinobu.  This pisses Yumi off as she recalls the look on Shinobu's face when they dueled.  A look of satisfaction that came naturally after attaining one's own momentum.

I've lost that sort of thing a long time ago! Yumi thinks irritably.

At this point Yumi comes to some realization that she can see clearly now, and challenges herself to make a comeback from here.

Chihaya makes a mistake with a "chi" card, and Yumi takes the correct one, which is incidentally on Chihaya's side.  Yumi starts her attack and everyone is surprised (except her mentor, who still can't see past the glass)

Yumi thinks how pathetic it is that the "former Queen" of karuta should score a point only because her opponent made a mistake.  She's gone from being 7 cards behind, to only 4.  Because she's dueled hundreds of times like this before, she decides she will make her comeback starting from here.  Meanwhile, Chihaya is berating herself for making a mistake in hearing "chihaya" incorrectly.

Just as Yumi wonders if she can begin from here, her mentor throws open one of the windows. She wonders if his actions have helped Chihaya snap out of her funk more than anything.  He gives her words of encouragement,  (And also letting some fresh air into the room!) to steady herself and "firmly grasp" her own way of karuta.  Everyone in the room takes his advice to heart.

My own own...the karuta that I've practiced with everyone, Chihaya thinks as she takes a deep breath.

At the next card, Yumi and Chihaya take the card at the same time, but Yumi verbally contests Chihaya's claiming the card.  (TN: apparently they are quite verbal in their karuta club about card disputes)  With her vocalization, Yumi has found her own strength again, remembering that she was once the champion. She starts to intimidate Chihaya by telling her to stay behind her boundary.  Chihaya quickly apologizes.

Even if it's become hard to compete, Chihaya thinks, I must calm down and take the cards I am able to take.  She notes that the cards she can take (TN: single syllables?) are all lined up next to her opponent.  But as the next card is read, Yumi attacks and takes it.

Did I get something wrong? Chihaya thinks.  Taking the single syllable cards are like second nature to me, but...

She recalls what she said towards the beginning of the match.  "Even if it's one card, I won't let her take it."

What was I thinking? My opponent is the former Queen of karuta!  What was I thinking?

--End Chapter--

TN: Lame.  Really lame.  For her to lose to Yumi like super lame!!  We don't even know what Yumi's strength is.  We don't know how she can be better than Chihaya except we know she grows a backbone again.  Very discontent with the story arc!  Everything about Kitano and Yumi annoy the hell out of me.  Yumi wins by pulling her weight with intimidation and Kitano's disruption should have disqualified his players immediately.  It almost feels like they were cheating or something...and to have Chihaya lose after all this is just so dissatisfying.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 7.7 (BONUS)

TN: Ok, now that I've vented about how awful the last two chapters were (really felt just like filler)-- nothing gained/nothing lost, kind of like episode 16....(There are only 25 episodes, people!  Why are you wasting precious cels and resources on FILLER??)  Let's end vol. 7 on a high note.

(click here to see, read from right to left)

Panel 1:
Caption: Actually, when the store manager isn't around...Arata will sneak a peak at the porn section.  -__-;
Arata, blushing and closing his eyes: "Ah!  What a shocking photograph!"
The manager (who didn't actually leave): "Heh, I thought so, Arata!"

Panel 2:
From a long time ago, Chitose and Chihaya had made a very, VERY important promise...
Chitose: "Chihaya, I'm going to give this to you, since it's so last season I'm not wearing it anymore...besides I already bought new clothes."
Chihaya: "Oh, thank you!  Sis, I also bought new clothes!  It'!"  (She shows off her new Daddy Bear outfit)
Chitose (grimacing): "...That's not bad...if you only wear it at home..."
Caption: The sisters' loving promise to one another -- Unless it's something Chitose gave to you, DO NOT leave the house wearing any other clothes.

(TN: This is why Chihaya is always so well dressed when she is not in uniform.)


Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 7.6 (Chapter 41)

Chapter 41

Cut scene:  Chihaya sitting with her mouth open, astonished at the card layout

Caption:  Dueling with Yamamoto Yumi, former Queen of karuta.

Apparently, on Yamamoto's side, there are 5 single syllable cards, 7 three syllable cards, and the remaining are all two syllable cards.

Is this just inviting me to attack (her side)?

My luck is really good! Chihaya thinks as Yamamoto places the "chihayafuru" card down at the left end, in an easy position for Chihaya to reach for it.

Chihaya pauses to think of a telecast she watched of when Yamamoto-san won the title of Queen.  She was in her last year of college.  When the interviewer asked how she felt, all Yamamoto-san could say among her tears was, "Kitano-sensei..." as she wiped her tears with the back of her hand.  Chihaya had been watching with Harada-sensei and the others at the Shiranami Society, at which point Harada had both hers and Hiroshi-kun's heads in a lock, saying, "Kitano is one annoying bastard, but he is his disciples' number 1 fan!  (TN: the translation says 曲範, which means music fan? I'm not sure how to translate that...)  Everyone!  When you become Meijin or Queen, don't forget to sing my praises!"

Those tears when she was saying her mentor's name...  Chihaya notices that those same calloused hands that were shown on TV are the same hands in front of her now--a product of habitually placing her knuckles against the tatami mat year after year.  Someone who kept trying harder and harder until finally, she realized her dream.  She recalls Harada-sensei telling her that Yamamoto was a formidable opponent.

"But, I think you are ready to tell yourself, 'Go for it!'" he said.

Even if my opponent was the former Queen, we must both, still go through this competition!

Desktomu-kun wonders who Chihaya's opponent is, and Kana responds that she's seen her at their karuta society before, but she's never seen her play.  Taichi asks Meat-bun for his opinion, but Nishida is crouched on the floor counting...ants?  (Apparently he is still recovering from his match with Sudo, where he lost by 20 cards...)  He's petrified because the skill level of the A ranks far exceeds his own and so he lost all confidence.  When Taichi asks him again, who Yumi Yamamoto is, Nishida is shocked to hear that Chihaya is playing her.  Taichi is shocked by his reaction.  Nishida says her karuta playing, one could say, is tenaciously strong, like a tightly wrapped coil. But, suffice to say, ever since she's donned the Queen's title, she's been overly cautious.

"But the real Yumi is--"  Nishida is interrupted by his mentor.  He is forbidden from sharing any of their society's secrets with non-members and orders Nishida, Kana and Tsutomu to go cheer for Yumi and that they're going to watch her reclaim the title of Queen.

Cut scene:  Wakamiya residence

Shinobu is busy scribbling away on stamped envelopes.  Apparently she is entering a Snow Snow contest where you send in xx amount of proofs of purchase in order to claim Snow Snow special commemorative memorabilia (TN: a purse and something else I can't make out b/c the scan is fuzzy)

The phone rings.

"Wakamiya residence," she answers.  "...Hello?  Hello?"
"How are you?" asks the voice on the other side.
CLICK.  She hangs up on the caller.  The phone rings again.
She picks up, demanding, "What do you want, Suoh-san?  My ice cream is melting."
"What a coincidence, I'm eating taiyaki right now."
"If you're eating taiyaki right now, then I must be in your way.  Even though it's a pity since you just called, but we'll chat again another time," she says in a scripted tone.
"Don't say that," says Suoh.  "Because today is the day of the Eastern and Western Conferences.  So I was just wondering what you were doing, Shinobu."
"I just told you!  I'm at home eating ice cream!"
"I went to check out the Eastern Conference," says Suoh.
"What a cold response!  Everyone is giving it their all just so they can compete with us."
"All the more reason why (I think) you're boring."
"If I don't see that kind of determination, I won't get worked up for my match.  Aren't you the same?"
No response....
"...My qualifications are still shallow.  At the last Queen's competitive match I was fortuitous, I barely picked up a victory."
"There you go again!  Your first match was a major win." (TN: can't read the rest of what he says here b/c the scan is crappy.)

After a pause, he adds, "I...want to duel with you."
"Well then that's easy, just enter the (Takamatsu) Society Cup Championship held the day after the Meijin competition. If you enter, so will I."
"No, I don't wanna duel karuta for two straight days!  Besides, before I even face you I don't know how many duels I have to complete!  I don't wanna!"
Shinobu hangs up on him and walks away pissed.

I want to duel with you...

Shinobu walks out of the house to deliver her post.  Upon meeting the post box, she prays fervently to win her prize.  A kid and her mother pass by and the kid says out loud, "Mom, the post box isn't a shrine."  Her mom tells her to hush.

I want to duel with you...

She pictures a young... <GASP> Arata in her mind??  (TN:  Wha--? When did they ever meet??)

Cut scene:  Back at the Western Conference

Shinobu Wakamiya definitely...hasn't thought of me since.... thinks Yumi.

Caption: In her (Shinobu's) arsenal she had such a inhuman strength about her. When the noon hour came it became really hot,  and they had to find an opportunity to air out the room so the competitors wouldn't pass out.  (But even in that condition) That fifteen year old kid made it impossible for me to defend my own karuta cards.

Caption:  Pressed close...she's distanced herself, like her body's been shackled to one spot. (Chihaya observing Yumi)

It's so hot, Chihaya thinks.  Even the air I'm breathing is sweltering!  This part of the duel is like being raked across the coals! You were so right, sensei! (TN: there was no way she could get away with wearing a hakama)

Most people wouldn't be able to come here.  Everyone here is A rank.  They would notice even the slightest noise.  Everyone here understands the importance of being able to listen carefully.

Caption: The competition where the Meijin and Queen challengers are chosen...even the person reading the cards is a steady stream. (TN: I don't know what 趕一流的 means; I'm not familiar with that phrase. It literally means "catch one flowing of" and that means nothing to me, so I'm guessing it's a comment on the quality of the one reading the cards)

Another card is read.

It's come to the "Oyama" card!  And my competition is the former Queen!  I'm really satisfied!  I'm really having fun!

The onlookers think, Yamamoto is being overtaken...
Her challenger is the same girl who beat Lilia Tachikawa?
She's a real beauty!
Is she the same age as the current Queen?

The onlookers think that it would be interesting to watch if Chihaya continues to plow thorugh her opponents, one by one.  They also think that the former Queen is "past her prime" and her peak was actually back when she was still in college.

Her teacher thinks, The first half of the duel isn't important, idiot.  You have to win, Yumi!

Chihaya takes another and her teammates note it's been a few consecutive points for her.  It's even a 3 syllable card, Chihaya's weakest point.  Taichi notices that she hasn't made a single mistake and it's looking good for her.

Meat bun and his teacher look anxious.  You can still do it, Yumi, says her mentor.  Just start attacking relentlessly now!

Chihaya takes the next one and with every small victory, Yumi sinks deeper into despair.  Chihaya notices and takes the next card as well.  Meat bun feels sorry for Yumi, having lost 4 cards in a row now to her opponent.

Yumi gives a weak smile and Chihaya is reminded of a time when she was younger and ask some inexperienced friends to play karuta with her.  They were shocked at how karuta was actually played and they lost even though it was 3 against 1.  They gave her the same defeatist smiles.

"How annoying! It's impossible, Chihaya....We could never learn to play that...."

Why are you smiling like that? Chihaya wonders.  You who have callouses from the tatami?  Your waist is never off the ground, your hand is not reaching out straight...  The prior Queen?  Why are you like this?  You who once realized your dream....?

"Not yet!  Not yet!" says her mentor stubbornly. "She can still start now!  Now!"

TN: Yumi's past is characterized by the next three panels.  Her teacher seems really pushy and equivocal in his praises of her.  He's not satisfied with her performance in every panel! You can't really tell if winning is something she wants, or if she's been pushed to uphold the glory of her karuta society because her pushy teacher demands it of her....

Meat bun thinks that Yumi is losing to the pressure of battle, but the truth is, she's afraid of facing the queen again.  She  has been so demoralized and has no way of going back to being in a position where she can win against Shinobu.

Meanwhile, everyone in the competition room is dying from the heat.  

Even if I win, she'll be waiting for me in the end.  I can't win against her.

Chihaya wonders why there's such a cold aura around Yumi when it's so freakin' hot in there.  She recalls what Harada-sensei told her.

Chihaya, you've come to the point where you can just tell yourself, "GO!"

Chihaya gets fired up.  Harada sensei, I'm not letting someone who's already given up take a single card from me!

---End Chapter, End vol. 7---

TN:  Ok this was by far the lamest chapter to translate for many reasons.  The translation was fully difficult.  This story arc is lame, and slow.  The scenario and the situation are just so ridiculous.  

OK, first: Why the hell would you put people in an air tight (but not sound proof?) room with no circulation?  Are you trying to suffocate them??  Why not find better facilities to hold this competition?  Why not air out the room and turn on the A/C in the ten minutes to spare between sessions?  Why not build special (soundless) ventilation?  Japan, you are a technologically advanced country!!  Your toilets have sophisticated control panels!  I think you're capable of building silent air vents!  

Second of all, who let the grade schooler into the event?  Doesn't she have an age appropriate event to join?  Shouldn't there be an age limit to who can enter the competition?  What a waste of time that was...

Third, what the hell is wrong with Yumi?  Does she even have her own personality apart from what her sensei wants from her??  If she's already graduated college then why isn't she working and doing something useful with her life?  She should take pride in that she was Queen once and stop letting her sensei force her into chasing former glories.

Finally: Well, you know that it takes Chihaya 2 years (6 years from when she first met Arata in the 6th grade) to get to the Queen's competition where we first see her in Chapter 1, Volume 1, so.... since it's only the first year in High School, I don't have to tell you how this is going to end....  It's just so dissatisfying since she was doing so well!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 7.5 (Chapter 40)

Chapter 40

Scene:  At the end of the first round, Chihaya victorious. The peanut gallery is chatting away.

Tachikawa Ririka lost?

Ayase Chihaya?  Who is she?

I heard she's from the Shiranami Society, Harada-sensei's new weapon.  From the beginning of the year, I heard she's been making great progress.

Her speed was quite alarming during the latter portion of the game!

I heard during the high school championships she even been Hokuo Academy's Sudo.

What?  She's a bishoujo?  Her face is really small...

Could she be this year's dark horse?

In the background: Sudo is pissed about that part where they heard she beat him....

As she leaves the room, Ririka catches her shirt.  "Chihaya nee-san, please wait."  She asks for Chihaya's hand and draws the outline of a four leaf clover in Chihaya's palm.
"This is Lilia's good luck charm....Good...good luck!" she stammers before she heads out.  On their way out of the competition room they hear the peanut gallery speaking ill of Ririka.

So this year Ririka couldn't do it?

Even though she is supposed to be (Wakamiya Shinobu's) successor, her talent hasn't really reached that far.

The words are clearly making Ririka feel bad, but the crowd doesn't notice she's right behind them.  This pisses Chihaya off and she takes a deep breath and calls out, "CHOCOLATE!" to make their presence known.  Even Ririka is taken aback.  The peanut gallery is bit ashamed for talking about someone behind their back like that, especially since the little girl was right there, and Chihaya's crew comes rushing to her with precious chocolate.

Ririka gives her a grateful look before going back to her mom.  She traces a four-leaf clover into her own hand and clenches her fist to give herself courage.  Chihaya smiles and knows that Ririka will be fine.

While stuffing her face with chocolate her thoughts turn back to young Arata, when they first played karuta together.

"I think Ayase-san has a natural talent for playing karuta."  She recalls how his words made her feel.

Ririka must have been the same...from the very beginning, she must have had someone say something similar to her....

"You have talent."

Those words must have been supporting her all this time...  Chihaya looks down at the palm of her hand.  Good luck charm....  She clenches her fist.

Don't move me so easily....  (TN:  Chihaya's words "碰觸" can mean "touch" or to "move" someone on an emotional level, not just physically)

Taichi watches Chihaya and excuses himself to go to the bathroom.  In reality, he's texting on his phone.

Text:  Chihaya made it through the first round of the tournament.

While texting, he overhears Sudo talking with his mentor (Morita?), who apparently lost in the first round.  The victor was saying how close the duel was, and how he only has 10 minutes to recover until the next round.  Sudo rudely asks if his mentor is simply glorifying his retreat, but his mentor tells him it's not true.  It is rare to have so many A rank players gather, so obviously, he had the Mejin in his sights.

Text:  Chihaya made it through the first round of the tournament.  Do your best, Arata.

But I don't want  you to do your best...  I really don't want you to do your best!

"You are... an A rank?" asks the man in sunglasses who was outside eating Taiyaki.  Taichi stares at him as he offers him a Japanese snack.

Apparently, the guy speaks really softly so Taichi leans over to understand him.  "What? Can I help you with something?"

"Are you participating in the competition?" the man asks quietly.
"Ah, no, I'm just here to cheer people on," Taichi responds.  The guy in sunglasses takes the snack back.
"Then, none for you," he says quizzically.  He eyes the participants behind Taichi, beyond the double doors.  Then he gets this really odd expression on his face... and proceeds to pass out snacks to every A rank player he comes in contact with, saying odd things like, "Oh, you lost? Better luck next year," or "Are you an A rank player?" and "Here's some good luck for you."  He hands one to Harada-sensei who turns him down.

"To eat something like that while competing will make me sleepy, and that would be bad, Suoh-kun."

Taichi and the other players freeze in their tracks at the sound of his name.


Taichi recalls a broadcast of the last Meijin competition where the interviewer was congratulating the winner, but also asked him to speak into the microphone because they could barely hear him.  His name, was Suoh.

Hisashi Suoh.

The current Meijin!!

Suoh offers him something to drink instead, which Harada-san takes.  He comments that all Hisashi has to do is change his appearance a little and no one notices him.  Besides, he doesn't ever participate in the lower competitions, even though there are tons of people who want a piece of him.  (TN: to duel him).  In the background, Chihaya is looking for Harada-sensei.

"Are you only going to play in the Meijin duel?" asks Harada.  Suoh mumbles something that only Taichi, Chihaya and Harada-sensei are able to hear.

Sorry, but I only want to duel the strongest players.

As soon as the administrators catch wind of his presence, they immediately chase him down (to which Suoh high tails it outta there!) and asks him to join the national karuta society as a promotor or an official, saying that he's going to graduate (from college) soon anyway.  They also say things like "Stop running!  You're an adult!  Act like one!  Why did you grow stubble?"  -_-;

Chihaya and Taichi are shocked to have met the current Meijin.

Harada sensei on the other hand crushes the cup that Suoh gave him.

"I'm pissed," he grumbles.  "Just thinking about how everyone here is giving it their all so they can have a match with that guy..."

He crumples the cup into a ball.  "Shinobu Wakamiya I can at least understand.  Ever since she was little she's had the aspiration.  But Suoh-kun only started playing karuta in college, and 3 years into it, he became the Meijin, claiming 3 consecutive titles in a row."

"Wouldn't this make anyone (who works hard at karuta) dissatisfied?"

Harada-sensei turns away.  "This year, I'm definitely gonna be (his) challenger."

Chihaya and Taichi are surprised at his determination.

You need weapons....

In order to not let a genius defeat you....

"Sensei--" Chihaya says, a little moved.  "That's not important.  This is not the time to be talking about that!  What should I do?  Should I continue my strategy with speed?"

"It's 'not important'??" Harada demands, almost insulted.

"I'm going to duel next with Ms. (Yumi Yamamoto)!"


Taichi looks down at the phone in his hand and notices that his text still wasn't sent in all that hullabaloo. He types something else and sends it.

"Yumi Yamamoto-san?  Really? Just go sit down!"
"It's really bad! Really bad!"
"Why are you so unlucky?  I'm going to leave, then."

Our weapon is having Harada-sensei with us.  He never orders us to participate, but he lets us participate...

Taichi sends the message.

Cut scene:  back at Omijingu, the Western Conference...

"Murao-san lost?" asks Arata incredulously.  His karuta group members explain that he lost to a (Nishinari) high school freshman, which is quite unbelievable since he is their group's strongest player.  Two years ago, Murao-san challenged the Meijin.  But recently, he hasn't even been practicing.  During break, Arata goes out to see him.  He is smoking a cigarette outside the center.

Murao congratulates Arata on his first round victory.  "It's really good that you came back (to karuta)," says Murao.  "Certainly, the Nagumo Society's membership is high, but among them, only a handful perhaps are capable of becoming Meijin.  All of that expectation was placed upon my shoulders.  But from here on, you can carry that torch, right?"

He extinguishes his cigarette butt.  "But, so what if you become the champion challenger....  You're never going to beat Hisashi Suoh."

Arata looks at him steadily as Murao walks past him and recalls the younger Mr. Murao he used to look up to as a child.

"Mr. Murao!  Mr. Murao!  Duel with me!  Duel with me!  I've becoming stronger!"
"Arata, before you surpass me, I guess I'd better become Meijin."

He rests his forehead against the back of his hand.  Then his phone rings.  He receives Taichi's message.

Text:  Chihaya made it through the first round.  Becoming Eastern Conference champion is definitely now my goal.  So, you have to become the Western Conference champion!

Announcer:  "The second round is about to start.  Please review your tournament entry cards to locate your next assignment and find your seating."

Arata closes his phone and heads off to compete.

Cut scene:  Chihaya's next challenge.

Miss Chihaya Ayase...

"P-pleased, to m-meet you!!" Chihaya bows nervously.

It's just like people have said...she's a pretty girl.

Chihaya bows her head nervously while blushing.

Her name suits her face, unlike me....  (TN:  Chihaya means "a thousand mornings" whereas Yumi means "charmingly beautiful")

How annoying!  Why are her eyes so full of light?  It's really hard to keep comparing the two of us....

Announcer:  "Let us begin the 2nd match of the day.  You have 15 minutes to place and study your cards.  The game will begin at 11:17."

Oh, for goodness' sake, how annoying!...Why did I even enter this competition?

Caption:  Yamamoto Yumi, 24.  Former Queen of karuta.

---End Chapter---

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 7.4 (Chapter 39)

TN: My goodness, this chapter was booooooooring.....  And difficult to read!  And poorly scanned!  The worst of all worlds....  I'm so glad I'm not a scanlator.  It would have been awful to clean all that up!  Bear with me, since I have a tendency to avoid and move at a sloth-like pace over things that bore me....It's a miracle I'm still employed... -_-;  And I've already read through vol. 8... so I'm just doing this to preserve continuity.

Chapter 39

Caption:  (Tachikawa Ririka?)--the 6th grade rising star!

"Well..." says the little girl shyly.  "Someone told me that Ayase-san is someone who takes cards very quickly.  So today, I am in your care!"  Chihaya is shocked by her cuteness.
"Please," says Chihaya with a bow, "I am the one who should--"  She is interrupted by a woman sitting behind her repeatedly mumbling? (into a handkerchief) at her.  (TN:  Warding off evil?)  The woman is Ririka's mother, who is subsequently called away by a tournament administrator as the players are supposed to be in the room without an audience.

"Ririka!  Do your best!  Mama will be watching you!" says her mom before the door shuts.  Chihaya is a little envious of this little girl's upbringing.  She recalls bringing her parents to a karuta tournament for the first (TN: and last?) time and they didn't understand a word that was said.  Ririka on the other hand is being watched by her mother, her mentors, the media, and others who are interested in her talent.

Genius Ririka...compared to a nobody like you, people expect a lot from her.

I expect much of you...!  thinks Harada-sensei.  "GO FOR IT, CHIHAYA!" he cheers.  Taichi asks what Harada is doing there, since he is also competing, but his first match is a forfeit so he's got some time on his hands. Apparently, it's the same for Hiroshi-san, who is surprised that Chihaya's first opponent is Tachikawa Lilia.

Desktomu and Kana get a bit nervous.  "What's the matter?  Ayase isn't going to lose to an elementary school student, is she?"

Hiroshi doesn't have an answer.  He turns to Harada-sensei and asks, "Sensei, last time didn't you tell Chihaya to stop trying to be faster than the Queen?  Wasn't that a bit too early, on your part?"

"It doesn't matter how you look at it," says Harada.  "Chihaya's weapon is 'intuition' first and foremost. Since she's only beginning to cultivate it, I didn't want her to just throw away something she worked so hard to get...especially when she's facing someone like Tachikawa Ririka."

The group watches in wonder as Ririka grabs the first card.  She is a spritely little thing.  She takes a second card.

How light!  Chihaya observes.  Even if her entire body is in a stationary sitting position she's so light!  And fast!  She's not afraid of making any mistakes.

Harada notes he understands why everyone has such high hopes for this little girl.

Caption:  Her listening ability is quite good--

Lilia's mother recalls a time when her daughter was teased for her large ears and kept her hair down.  But when she discovered karuta she started wearing her hair up so that she could hear better.

It doesn't matter what you it karuta or can do anything!

Taichi and the others are nervous for Chihaya, who is starting to sweat.  It can't be...she's faster than Chihaya?  He then notices that Chihaya has backed away from the cards.

She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes.  When the next card is read, even though they move at the same time and Chihaya is further away, she is still able to take the card first by the third syllable.

Ah..! I did it!  I synchronized with the reader's breathing!  She holds the card up in triumph.

It's not just about being's moving at the right moment to take the card.  To those who can actually do it, it's probably quite a simple thing.  But to me....

Chihaya takes another card.

It's progress!  I'm progressing forward!  The playing field is now even.

Ririka is stunned, and then mutters something inaudible under her breath.  (TN: not cute anymore, brat!)  She says something else, that's just barely audible.  (TN: I can't read it, the scan is too awful)
Then she says something that she makes sure Chihaya hears, "Even though she took the card, that wasn't fast at all!"

Chihaya grits her teeth.  Well excuse me!

But because we're so similar, I can understand Lilia's feelings.  She must be really happy to be able to compete among adults.  Whenever she hears anyone praise how fast she is, she must feel exuberant.

As they play, those who were watching Ririka notice she's having a hard time gaining the upper hand.  In fact, they start to notice her opponent, Chihaya, and wonder which karuta club she hails from.  Harada-sensei watches with quiet pride.

Ririka stares at a card, and then warily watches Chihaya, and in her urgency makes a mistake as the next card is read.

The card Ririka struck by accident...I should send it over, and begin my attack.  Ririka won't take a card she hasn't been staring at.  Steady now, steady... 

Chihaya thinks back to what Sakura-san and Harada-sensei once told her.

"To be playing against a kid who only knows how to be fast, how lucky."
"Don't try to be faster than the Queen."

I finally understand what those words mean now.

Ririka fans watching are wondering if she's in danger.  Her opponent doesn't seem all that strong, but they wonder if Chihaya is also a "genius."

Meat bun-kun thinks as he stands next to Taichi, as long as Chihaya is careful, then she should be fine.  If she takes it steadily, then her opponent will eventually make mistakes.

Taichi and the others suddenly notice his presence.  (TN: apparently, he lost to Sudo...-_-; so much for defending her hair...)

"Go for it, Ayase!" Meat bun-kun cheers.

Chihaya notices Harada-sensei waving at her from behind the glass.  He mouths the words, "It's OK to use your speed now.  GO!"

Huh?  I can use my speed now...?

Chihaya retreats a little further back.  Ririka watches her curiously.  The look on her face is entirely different now, and the little girl watches in wonder.


Chiyaha moves at amazing speed and takes the card.

"--no--" Only after the second syllable does everyone else in the room move.  Ririka is shocked.  Chihaya holds the card in her hand.

"OMG!  He didn't even read 'shino' yet and she moved!" said Meat bun, clutching onto Tsutomu.  Everyone watching is in complete astonishment.

Card after card, Chihaya is relentlessly attacking.  Suddenly, Ririka makes another mistake and Chihaya slides over a "penalty" card.

Ririka... her mother worries.  She can't work any harder than this...  Ririka looks like she's about to cry.  But, she is able to triumphantly take the next card.  Chihaya is happy for her.

It doesn't matter it karuta or not...Mama hopes that you have something that you truly love.  Mama wants you to truly love and appreciate yourself.

The match is over, and they exchange bows.  Ririka and Chihaya both start to tear up, caught up in an emotional bond.  Ririka's mother is also tearing up.  Outside, her teammates are slumped over in relief that Chihaya has passed the first round of the tournament.

"Hiroshi-kun," says Harada-sensei, still watching Chihaya.  "I don't just want to train her 'intuition'...but also the ability to read the playing field...the correct method of breathing....I hope to give Chihaya many weapons.  In karuta, the most important thing is natural talent."

Cut scene: A young man in sunglasses sitting on a park bench smoking with a bag of Japanese taiyaki next to him.

"But that can have it's own pitfalls.  To only have one is not enough.  She needs many weapons!"

Announcer: "The second round of the tournament will begin shortly."

Cut scene:  The same, unshaven young man in sunglasses sitting on a park bench, eating his taiyaki. "Noooo...don't eat me!  Ahhhhh...!" says the taiyaki... -_-;

"Not just to be Queen," Harada-sensei continues, "but more importantly, just like the current Meijin, to topple the current prodigy Queen!"  (TN: this last part was difficult for  me.  In Chinese, the script says, "天才给击垮" which literally means "to defeat the current genius(es)," or "tensai" in Japanese.  So in part, I suppose Harada is saying those two have taken up those seats long enough and must be overthrown?)

"Finally...the second round starts now...right?" says the young man in sunglasses.

---End Chapter---

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 7.3 (Chapter 38)

-->>Cutest inset comic: "Oops! It's a blank card.  I'm sorry!  Sorry!"
Kana-chan taking a "blank" card.  Caption reads: when playing karuta and a blank card is read, when only one person reaches for that card, it's extremely embarrassing...


Hah, more squinting at the letters...I'm going to be held back in releasing the rest of this volume...since the chapters are long and I'm squinting through most of it... -_-;  Oh, shipment!  Ship faster!

Chapter 38

Caption box: Last day of finals.  Three days before the Eastern Conference.

Scene:  Chihaya and her classmates are scribbling away at their test answer sheets.  Some might be checking their answers.  Ms. Miyauchi calls time.

Cut scene:  Meat bun-kun, Taichi and Kana-chan are walking down the hall towards the club room.

"This time, I really got a handle on the English long articles," says Meat bun-kun.
"Um, were you by chance fooled by the word traps?" asked Taichi.
"Traps?" asks Meat bun.
"It looked like it was asking you about the time, but really, it was asking you the speed," responds Kana-chan.
"Ah..."   (-_-;)

They hear a recorded voice singing out a verse of the Hyakunin Isshu and notice that Chihaya and they see Desktomu-kun have already started playing without them.  They wait outside as to not disturb the two of them.

"Ayase is being really impatient," whispers Meat bun-kun while they watch from outside the club room doors.  "Poor Tsutomu-kun, to be in the same class as her..."
"Could it be she hasn't eaten lunch?" asks Kana.
"You can hardly blame her," comments Taichi.  "While she was preparing for the exams she didn't even speak of karuta.  She's been holding it in all this time."

Desktomu-kun is breathless as he tries to keep up with her.  While playing Chihaya recalls the feeling of watching Arata play--as if she were submerged in water.

Take that true flowing movement...and take it into myself.

Chihaya then gets lost in her thoughts and Desktomu-kun is able to take the next card. She barely notices.  He looks at her and thinks that if this was the usual Chihaya, she'd be a bit more energetic about losing a card to him; such as making wierd faces and looking up, or looking to the side and cursing silently.

Her eyes haven't left the cards at all...

When they finally finish, Meat bun-kun throws the doors open and berates them for being so slow and not waiting for the others before going into a match.  Chihaya does her usual collapse onto the tatami mat but Meat bun-kun orders her to get up and demands that she play against him.

In return, Chihaya wakes up again and shouts she wants to play.  Desktomu-kun comments that Kana is out on a break having lunch.  Taichi comments that it's his turn to read the cards.

As they position the cards for the next game, Chihaya's thoughts wander again.

I really love karuta...  Arata's image appears amid the cards lying on the tatami.

Once again...I've brought Arata back with me...

A smile spreads across her face.

Taichi notices the change in her.  Since the (Natsuri) nation-wide competition and forward, when she practices karuta she has this kind of anxious feeling about her...Is it because she saw Arata again?  Taichi shuffles the cards roughly, berating himself for thinking those types of things.

I can change too...!

Taichi announces that they begin.  He starts reciting the cards, one after another.  Chihaya is the only one who doesn't notice but the others suddenly look aghast.

When the match is over, Meat bun-kun pulls Taichi aside, crying, "It doesn't need to come to that!  As a person, you don't need to be that perfect! Though, it was really perfect!"  Taichi asks if he recited them incorrectly (missing the point).  When Chihaya wakes up (after collapsing again) she asks what the uproar is about.  Kana-chan explains that Taichi recited all of the cards (50 - 100?), randomly, by memory without actually reading the cards.

Chihaya is shocked.  Taichi says he read in a book once that he should commit the cards to memory as a form of training.

Meat bun-kun asserts that Taichi's brain is full of the Hyakunin Isshu, which is both a blessing and a curse. Though it is important to know the cards, when one is competing on the tatami mat, one cannot rely on memory alone, but must use his/her eyes to depict them.  Playing karuta is to harmonize the mind with the body.

Taichi recalls the time he lost where he willed his hand to move faster, but it wouldn't listen.  He has a revelation.

Meat bun-kun recalls the words of his teacher, reminding him that he would not have gotten so far without the help of his friends.  Now it's my turn to help Taichi.

I want to help you become strong.  I want to compete with you at the Eastern Conference.

Cut scene:  The group on their way home

So in the end, Meat bun explains, it's best if you don't memorize all of them when you play.  Of all the cards, he perhaps has only committed 50% to memory.  When Taichi asks how to win without memorizing the cards, Meat bun continues to explain his tactic to him.  Chihaya watches them from behind the group and smiles (at their unity).

Then, from a classroom window, Ms. Miyauchi calls out to her.  She tells her that she's just made an inquiry with the test grader, and this time around, Chihaya passed her tests.  Kana comments that the Empress is being too loud, but Ms. Miyauchi continues and wishes her good luck during the competition to become Queen.  She waves goodbye.

Chihaya turns around and clasps Desktomu-kun's hands in gratitude.

I....really love karuta!  

All of her team members gather round to pat her head and ruffle her hair in congratulations.

I really love it!

Cut scene:  The Eastern Conference

Caption: October xx, 20xx.  The finalists who will move on to challenge the current Meijin and Queen will be selected through the ranks of the Eastern Conference.

(TN:  I didn't know this before, but the Meijin and the Queen don't duel one another.  The Queen only duels women, and the Meijin only duels men. Their opponents are chosen from the strongest male and female players of the Eastern and Western Conferences.  The current Queen actually attends the lower competitions and dominates her opponents.  The current Meijin likes to keep a low profile and only duels once a year when his seat is being challenged)

Cut scene: in the waiting rooms for the Eastern Conference (TN: only A ranked players need apply...)

Kana and the others have come to support her and Kana hands her a hakama in a wrapped package.  In commemoration of today's event, Kana had prepared a special outfit for her.  Unfortunately, Harada-sensei stops her right there (calling her "pretty forehead" girl) and indicates that hakama and other stifling clothing are not permitted.  This is a casual event only.  Other competitions are in open forums, but these competitions are held in stifling rooms and windows are not open for ventilation in order to support optimum sound quality.  Combined with the fact that it's (still) October, it's just really hot.

Kana asks where Meat bun is and Desktomu responds that he's with the (Midorikita) karuta group.  Taichi asks if Kana and Tsutomu are also her on behalf of the Midorikita group and they say they are, since they received their training there.

Just as the two groups converge, their leaders stand like gang bosses, sizing one another up, and turn up their noses at one another without a single greeting.  (TN: they are apparently rival Tokyo karuta groups)  Both Taichi and Kana have an awkward moment watching their mentors and think, There's definitely a history there...

Meanwhile, Taichi notices Chihaya staring out the window, conserving her energy.

Caption: She seems like she's OK.  Just like this, she'll go into the first round of the competition...

"Well, well.  If it isn't the one who lost by 20 cards to the Queen," Sudo says when he spots her.  The second she sees him, she turns to run, but he grabs hold of her ponytail and tells her not to run.  Chihaya asks what he's doing here, since he's a high school senior he should be prepping for college entrance exams.  He says he is, which is why he's aiming to be champion of the Eastern Conference.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have worked so hard to be second in the high school individual competition last time.

Chihaya asks what that has to do with college, and he calls her an idiot.  Apparently she doesn't know that if you win the individual high school competition or place 2nd, you get special privileges to enter one of 2 prestigious universities in Japan.  Chihaya is shocked. Needless to say, if she becomes Queen, she can obviously choose from any number of prestigious universities.

Oh crap... her teammates think simultaneously, her brain is now full of yet another extraneous idea.... That guy's personality is the worst!  Chihaya's brain is currently sparkling with aspirations to go to college using this route.  (TN: apparently Sudo intended to distract her so her mind would be too preoccupied to otherwise win)

"But," Sudo continues, "it's impossible for you, no?  The current Queen Shinobu Wakamiya is probably stronger than the current Meijin.  You've seen it in your dreams, haven't you?  The Queen's smile.... You don't even know how you're supposed to beat her."  (TN: Now he's just messing with her! Jerk!)

Chihaya withers.

"Let's have a bet," Sudo announces.  "During today's competition, the first one to lose will have to SHAVE THEIR HEAD BALD!"

"I accept!" Chihaya shouts hastily.

"YOU IDIOT!" her teammates shout out as they pounce on her.

"That bastard's bald head and your bald head are absolutely two different things!" Taichi says.  "That bastard's not the type to let you just say, 'Oh, just kidding!' and let you off the hook so easily!"

"I...wasn't...careful," Chihaya laments.

"And because you weren't careful, you carelessly wagered a woman's pride," scolds Kana.

Her teammates send worried looks after her as she holds her head in her hands and walks into the main hall for the opening ceremony.

And in that mindset she goes into the fray....

Eastern Conference chairman's speech:  "Well, today's event is a very auspicious day in competitive karuta.  Simultaneously, the Western Conference is being held at Omijingu.  In November, the champions of the Eastern and Western Conferences will compete..."

Cut scene:  The players getting ready for the tournament at Omijingu, Arata is among them.

Inset: Chihaya and Arata when they were young.  "To be first in Japan, is to be the best in the world!"

-->>Main panel: Chihaya and Arata, present day

"Let us begin!"

Caption: It's starting!

Announcer: "Once you've checked your placement cards, please move to your assigned seating."

Apparently, Sudo's first opponent is Meat bun-kun.  Sudo gives him the evil eye and says, "I'll skewer you."  Meat bun-kun gets nervous.

"A-Ayase!" he says nervously.  "Let me be the one to protect your hair.  Do your best!  Even though your first opponent is challenging."  When Chihaya asks what he means by that, she finds out that her opponent is a young prodigy, (Tachikawa Lilia).

"Lilia-chan?  Can we take a picture?" asks a member of the press corps.  Apparently, she is quite popular.  A lot of people are fussing over her.
"Are you thirsty?"
"I'm OK."
"It doesn't matter if this is a grown-up competition; at last summer's competition in Chiba you took an award."

Meat bun-kun continues, "Lilia became A rank when she was in the 4th grade.  She is (Wakamiya Shinobu's) successor, and the youngest competitive karuta player today...People have quite different expectations of 'Genius Lilia,' compared with a nobody like you."

She's the shooting star 6th grader!

---End Chapter---

TN: Ok, that's it.  This chapter was a horrible scan!  I'm going blind!  Need to rest my eyes....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where is Arata when Chihaya needs him?

Where is Arata when Chihaya needs him...? This is how I see it; of course my own opinion:

Wherever she goes, he is with her. She's been connected with him and he's been with her all this time. So when they actually do meet, it feels as though they have a deeper understanding, as if they were never apart. That's what I think. Very little words are actually exchanged between the two when they see one another or when they have an opportunity to speak to one another. You'll notice that pattern too.

I want to believe that's love too. Something deeper than just "dating a handsome guy" who is readily available. Something that resembles the beautiful longing of the karuta poetry itself. Meeting and parting...meeting and parting... 

Notice how Chihaya's hand is always drawn to the "chihayafuru" card no matter where it is on the playing field? Notice how whenever she sees Arata, her hand automatically attaches itself to his shirt? (see Chapter 37 summary) LOL. 

Also, whenever Chihaya prays to a shrine, she ends up seeing Arata....

My answer: Arata has always been with her....

[:-) Old romantics die hard, I suppose ;-P]

So close! (Chihayafuru Vol. 7.2 (Chapter 37)

There is a saying in Chinese: Using one foot to board two boats. I have to wonder at what Chihaya is thinking sometimes. Or maybe she doesn't think before she acts... -_-; You can't have BOTH of them, girl. You just can't....

Chapter 37 (TN: this is one of the sucky scanned chapters...sorry if the translation is incomplete/inaccurate in some parts.  Anything in parentheses denotes a name/place that I'm not sure if that's how you pronounce in Japanese, b/c it has no meaning in Chinese)

Scene: Arata plays against (Tsuboguchi Hiroshi)-san, Hiroshi is down to only one card


So strong...

Tsuboguchi Hiroshi-san of the Shiranami Society....

Hiroshi-san thinks, There's only one more. There's only one more card!  Come on, kiri card! Let it be kiri! It's definitely kiri! Kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri..!

Arata looks at his opponent. Behind him, he imagines Harada-sensei.

Sure enough the next card is the "kiri" card, on Hiroshi-san's side. Both he and Arata touch the card at the same time and the card goes flying against the window.


Arata acknowledges his loss and bows.

This is great! This is great! But just then...that was all luck. I really wanted it to be that card, so I was focusing on it to begin with, Hiroshi-san thinks.  But his hand caught up with mine...If it had been one of the other two remaining cards, he would have taken them for sure....

Arata sits on the tatami, exhausted and looking at the ceiling. He thinks about his loss and gets up. Suddenly, there is a dark, threatening aura around him (as he is exceedingly pissed).

Announcer: "Next match is in 10 minutes. Players please be ready."

Arata, still looking grim and dissatisfied spots Taichi, who is just wiping his face against his sleeve. (TN: apparently still a little weepy from the last chapter...)

"...Really slow!" Taichi remarks. "Hiroshi-san is our Shiranami Society's 'king' of karuta. He wouldn't lose to a freshman noob like you." Taichi can't look Arata in the eye and he's still tearing up a bit. He grips Arata's shoulder.

"Yeah," responds Arata. (TN: I think he understands that Taichi is trying to console him...albeit clumsily. Or maybe this is payback from what Arata said to him earlier? *shrugs*)

"Chihaya!" Taichi says, remembering her presence. "You too--" He stops short at the crumpled Chihaya mumbling to herself on the floor while scribbling notes in a note book. (TN: creepy OCD vibe...)

Chihaya talking to herself: "Why can he take the card like that? Why didn't he touch the "blank" card?...Why? Why?...Does one simply count on luck when handing over a 'penalty' card? What? Why? Why is that...?"

"Oi! Chihaya! Oi!!" Taichi smacks her over the head. She looks up at Arata. Immediately her hand gravitates to his shirt and she clutches it tightly.

"Huh?" asks Arata. "What is it?"

"Sit down," Chihaya commands. She bows deeply to him, as if they were about to enter into a match. She imagines Shinobu in front of her. She looks up with a wary grimace.

And somehow, as if warding the evil that Shinobu represents away, she superimposes Arata's face onto Shinobu's. (TN: remember that time after she lost to Shinobu she said she only dreamed of Shinobu, and no longer of Arata? I think she's trying to get that back. She's trying to get Arata back as her inspiration/goal)

"What?" smiles Arata. "Before you compete, do you also wear that scary face?"

There are no other words exchanged between them, but Arata brings a refreshing (TN: purifying?) presence to her mind. Shinobu's face and the dark, left hand slowly disappear, and all she sees is Arata.

Taichi remains silent.

Suddenly someone calls out Chihaya's name angrily. It's Kana-chan, who came to the competition to take notes and to cheer Taichi on (in cognito). She's shocked that Chihaya selfishly came to the competition herself, even though the others also wanted to go support Taichi but had to stay behind because of helping her study.

Then, Arata's mentor calls him over to meet some other karuta players. Taichi asks him if he'll be leaving now. Arata mentions that he has to go wherever and whenever the Nagumo Society players go since they carpooled together. Even if they leave now, it will be late at night when they reach Fukui.

Taichi is silent for a moment. "Then, you give this to her." He hands over the paper Arata gave him earlier.


"Tell Chihaya your phone number yourself. 'If there's a need,' what the hell is that? You're putting me in an awkward position too."

[In the background, Kana-chan is pulling a reluctant Chihaya away, forcing her to go back to studying.]
"But..." Arata says, a little unsure of himself. "After I moved...I had no idea...whether you two were dating or not..? I had absolutely no idea."

"No!" responds Taichi quickly. "Gawd, no. I had no idea you'd be thinking that far."

Arata laughs a little, and Taichi notices he looks a little relieved.

Cut scene: Kana and Chihaya

On the bus, Kana tells Chihaya not to be lazy. Every second she has should be devoted to studying and she forces her to open her quiz notebook. When Chihaya opens it to the wrong page, Kana tells her to turn to page 92, where the testing material starts. The poem from Arata's earlier competition comes to mind.

How long it's been since I last saw my friend...

"How long it's been since I last saw my friend..." Chihaya repeats. When Kana asks her about it, Chihaya says that it's almost as if it's describing Arata, and how she only always sees him for a short time.  Chihaya states it almost sounds like a love poem to her, but in reality it's just the feeling of a little girl longing for her childhood playmate.

Kana stares at Chihaya. ...Like a love poem? (TN: b/c it's not a love poem)

Chihaya has this beautiful expression on her face as she thinks of Arata.

Just like rushing water....

Her arm moves automatically, as if trying to emulate him.

"Put that down! Don't practice your arm swings on the bus!" insists Kana, grabbing her arm.

I will drink it down in one big gulp....

That murmuring, flowing water...

Cut scene: Chihaya sneaking back into the library with an expression of dread on her face

When Chihaya sees her friends, she apologizes to Desktomu-kun for sneaking out. Desktomu pauses before speaking. He tells her that the results of Taichi's efforts were already reported by Kana-chan earlier. Meat bun-kun asks if Taichi looked really defeated by it, but Chihaya can't respond (TN: she wasn't paying attention to Taichi at the time...)

Destomu said that Taichi continues his best to be the first in his freshman class, despite all the effort he puts into karuta. If he isn't first in his class, he would be forced to quit the club. In order to do what he wants to do, he forces himself to do things that are less appealing to him.

Chihaya realizes her mistake, understanding Taichi's efforts all this time, and declares that she will do her best from this point forward, and she will catch up to the parts she missed while she was gone.

At that point, the librarian is about to stop them since it's time to close up, but Ms. Miyauchi stops her and says she will watch over them as they study and she'll be the one to lock up.

While she is studying, Chihaya is thinking about Arata and what she saw today.

Cut scene: Harada sensei, Hiroshi-san and Taichi leave the competition grounds later that night.

Apparently all three have not triumphed today. -_-; Harada sensei is annoyed and demands to know why Hiroshi-san has such a tranquil expression on his face when during his last match he lost by 11 cards. Hiroshi responds that his last match was quite fulfilling, and therefore he feels no regrets.

Harada demands to know when his pupil feels dissatisfied (if not during such a time).

Hiroshi responds that it's just his personality. Taichi asks Hiroshi how it was to play against Arata.  Hiroshi responds "that bastard was really annoying. REALLY annoying. I clearly had no idea what he was thinking but he was able to put quite a lot of forethought into everything."

"But that type of player, the current Meijin, Suoh-san wouldn't even think twice about, I suppose...."

Taichi is surprised by his words. The winner of the A rank competition will eventually get to play the current Meijin. The Meijin's name is finally mentioned at this stage.

Hiroshi-san thinks that even though he said "it's just my personality," he really does feel dissatisfied since the opponent he lost to today will be able to play against the Mejin.

Taichi thinks, If I just could've watched the match with Arata and Hiroshi...that would've been great. If only I could've just watched it from the start.

Harada-sensei is noticing Taichi's mood. He says, "Eyebrows-kun, I've thought it over. If you can rank 2nd among the B rank competitions at least twice this summer, I can promote you to an A rank.... Even though it isn't consistent with our Shiranami Society standards, don't you want to participate in the Eastern Conference? Chihaya and Megane-kun are waiting for the A rank."

Taichi thinks about it, and laughs. His reaction startles Harada. "Sensei, please don't say anymore. I will become an A ranked player...But more than anything, I also hope to become someone who doesn't run away." His words move Harada-sensei.

Cut scene: Kuriyama-sensei and the others driving back to Fukui

His fellow society members notice how Arata is sleeping so soundly, and how cute Arata is when he sleeps.  Kuriyama says that perhaps Arata was nervous about the competition, or about meeting his childhood friends again.  They comment that he's probably also feeling quite fulfilled at this point.

Cut scene:  Chihaya hard at work studying...

I will drink it down in one big gulp...

In one big gulp!

---End Chapter---

TN: If Arata ends up with Shinobu I'm just going to scream really loudly into a pillow...especially after all of the above...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

While I wait...(Chihayafuru Vol. 7, Chapter 36)

Apparently my shipment needs to be ordered from Taiwan before can ship it to me.  They promised 5 - 12 business days.  From there it will take another 12 - 15 days for deliveries over the Pacific...meh.  Sucks to be so far away from the Asian scene.  The only friends I know who live in Taiwan are guys, and I think they'd be too embarrassed to buy that on my behalf...

Anyhoo, I scoped some of the Chinese sites for what other fans are polling.

Some fans are pairing Arata with The Queen (you will know why as you read ahead)...but BLEH!  Seriously?  That frigid witch?  NO.  Absolutely not.  Chihaya x Arata (Chiharata) fans all over the world will cry!

The next popular poll I saw was "Arata! Marry Chihaya already!"  Hahaha.  We are not alone.

Chapter 36 (or, "what I can read that wasn't scanned by a blind person")

I have to go support Taichi!!

Chihaya runs to the train station. On her way, she passes a shrine and zips to the prayer altar.  In her purse she has a ¥500 v. ¥1 coin (TN: Think $6.50US v. $0.01US)  She stands indecisive for a moment.  With tears in her eyes she tosses the more expensive coin into the altar and prays for luck.  (TN: Sad, tough choices.. .)

Cut scene: Taichi stares wide-eyed at Arata

They both are speechless for a moment.  Suddenly Harada-sensei and Kuriyama-sensei greet each other loudly (old acquaintances).  They push their students Taichi and Arata aside roughly.

--old people talking--
"I haven't seen you in ages!  Kuriyama, sure enough you've come to the Kanto region!"
"Oh, my old knee problem. Well, this time the (Nagumo) Society has a lot of participants so I came as their chaperone."
"So once you've cured your knee problem, you can go back to playing karuta, right?"
"Yes, yes!"

A dissheveled Arata tells Taichi that he heard Kuriyama and Harada were consistent rivals from the days of their youth.   Taichi asks who Kuriyama is, and Arata responds he's the current leader of the Nagumo Karuta Society.  Cute, awkward bishie moment follows after they realize they've just spoken to one another.

An announcer calls out that the 3rd round matches for A rank and B rank players is about to start and everyone should take their places.

As Taichi starts to go, Arata pulls him aside and asks him to wait a moment.  He gives him his new contact information on a piece of paper and says, "I guess there was a misunderstanding on my part.  I thought I would be able to play against you today, Taichi."

His words shock Taichi a bit. (TN: b/c that's the showdown Taichi wanted as well...?)

"If there's a need to, you can give that information to Chihaya as well," Arata says calmly.


He came!!

Cut scene:  Chihaya racing through the train station

Announcer: "Please board safely."

Chihaya jumps onto a departing train only to find out it's the train that's leaving right next door that's the one she's supposed to get on.... -_-; (TN: typical bishoujo moment....)

She gets a message from Desktomu/Tsuotmu-sensei: By closing your eyes to your current reality, aren't you running away from what your true purpose should be right now?

OMG, he's so cold when he's pissed!

She pauses and thinks of Shinobu.  Be it schoolwork or karuta...I haven't progressed a bit since then....

But whenever Taichi wins or loses...he's the only one that I'm not sure of what he'd do next!

Announcer: "Yoyogi.  Yoyogi."  (TN: Tokyo, Shibuya North)

"Oh, I've gotta switch trains!"  After a moment's hesitation, Chihaya heads off to fulfill her original purpose.

Cut scene:  At the (Furuno) Competition

"Taichi!" Chihaya calls as she spots him sitting on a bench.  "What happened?  Are you still giving it your all?  Which round is it right now??"

"I lost in the 3rd round," he responds.  Chihaya is speechless.
"Chihaya, Arata is here competing."

(TN: I know this isn't really that much of a shoujo manga, but the mangaka did win a publisher's prize in the shoujo category, so maybe it's borderline shoujo/josei?  This is such a classic shoujo moment...the mangaka obviously knows who the audience is.  I included links to the panels themselves because the sentiment is a bit ethereal. You need to combine the picture with the poetry.)

"Waiting for my lover, my lover doesn't come..." (the poem being sung/read through during a competition, resounding in the halls outside)

Inset:  Arata's entry card lying on the table.  He's won 3 matches by 8, 7 and 4 cards.

Cut scene:  Chihaya silently watches from a corner of the room

"The beach at dusk, shines against the pine sail...The aquatic sea grass exactly reflecting my feelings."

Chihaya stands mesmerized by Arata.

"For so long I've not seen my friend..."

Cut scene:  Harada-sensei (also competing) makes his kill move and wins his match

On his way out, he notices Chihaya, and is surprised that she's there.  Harada-sensei notes how she can't take her eyes off Arata.  In the lobby outside, he sees Taichi slumped in a chair, looking over the contact information Arata gave him in his hand.

Taichi crumples it.

Cut scene:  As Chihaya watches Arata play, she is engulfed by the deep blue waves of the ocean, and being submerged.

"Gazing from afar, the river in the heavens...resemble waves crashing upon the cliffs."

Chihaya likens Arata's style of playing to be like rushing water.  She is completely submerged.

Cut scene:  Taichi brooding

He's mulling over his loss by 3 cards.

I know it wasn't because of what Arata said that made me lose...but...

Taichi walks over to the room where Chihaya is watching Arata play.


Chihaya grabs Taichi's hand suddenly without once taking her eyes off Arata.  "Taichi...Taichi," she whispers.  Her eyes brimming with tears.  "We've done it."  She looks up at him.  "We've done it!"

"Once we've become strong, we'll wait for him to come back...Because Arata...will definitely come back!"

He remembers what she said back then.  Even Taichi is caught up in the moment and remembers why he and Chihaya worked so hard in the first place.  A tear falls from his eye.

Taichi!  We've done it!

Caption: Perhaps the feelings were similar.  In my heart I had kept these feelings as well...
We've done it!  Arata has come back!

---End Chapter---

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reading up through vol. 8 -- More Arata and Taichi

So I'm reading ahead and thinking to myself...there are more people being introduced.  There are some tense Taichi vs. Arata moments, and some really wonderful "Chiharata" moments.... This is still a really good manga.

Even so, it's so hard for Arata and Chihaya to see one another and even talk for very long....The mangaka is doing it on purpose!  It's like the story of the ox herder and the star maiden...

But it feels like...Taichi sees Arata as his rival, but he's also like the trying to be the benevolent friend who's supporting both his friends...?  I think he knows how Arata and Chihaya feel about one another, even if they don't yet -- or at least he understands where it could possibly go between those two.  I feel as though he's not so much "giving way" as "playing fair."  He's certainly not giving up, not when he realizes how he himself feels (finally...). AND it looks like he might make a move soon...

But my head hurts now and I don't know if I can properly translate volume 7 or 8 for you all because the scans are so horrible!!  I have to squint to see the words on some pages!  It's like it was scanned with one hand while blindfolded or something....

I might have to go out and find a bookstore where I can find these darn volumes myself!  I'm going to go blind reading these scans!

UPDATE (1/16): So went round trip 60 miles to the nearest Chinese bookstore I know, and they didn't have it!!  They had a lot of other stuff, but I can't be distracted!!

Then I checked (again), and lo and behold, 2 months after my first inquiry they now have stuff in stock.  So, next update will be when I get the shipment!  (I think it ships from Hong Kong)  I also bought the Japanese latest soundtrack/character album on a whim...hehehe, I need stuff to listen to when I translate.  That's my excuse.