Oops! Sorry I skipped some pages from Chapter 27, but I made the correction and added them into the prior post for that chapter as opposed to translating them here.
So now, it's Taichi's turn to battle... Well, he is the main male lead character thus far and Chihaya's trusty side-kick so I'd be surprised if the mangaka left out his battles/personal battles as well. When will Arata come back into play? At the rate this manga is gong (REALLY SLOWLY)... But at least she sprinkles some Chiharata moments here and there....
Josei genre really pisses me off sometimes because romance isn't always the main focus. The fact that Arata is just a carrot dangling in front of Chiharata fans is a bit annoying. But, regardless, Taichi is still a really good guy and a looker, so no harm, no foul.
It's just that the main guy character who has the most interaction with the lead female is almost always her main romantic match. That's a tried and true shoujo manga formula. But, Josei formula is different.
Anyone ever read Saver? Hotaru no Hikari? Or Absolute Witch? Or Ciel~The Last Autumn Story? The main male romantic lead is not necessarily the one who is always with the lead female character. I.e. the main female character goes through a long period of self-discovery on her own. (So I don't care what anyone else says with all their spoilers!!) You can't argue with my obsession. :-P
(It's best that no one give out any spoilers less the scanlators lose the interest of half their readers....duh.)
But, if the mangaka is smart, she'll/he'll realize that her fan base may be divided between two main male characters, and to increase sales, the mangaka will dangle both carrots in front of us.
Chiharata forever! FTW!
For some reason Chihaya is shocked that Taichi is actually competing... (TN: Girl, didn't you know that beforehand?)
Taichi is sweating and out of breath as he plays his opponent. Meat bun-kun waves them over and whispers that they are so late! Also, he's saved a seat for them up front.
The team starts noticing Taichi's strange behavior and mistakes. Desktomu-kun comments that he's lost a point. Meat bun-kun said he must be suffering from mental fatigue. For every match Taichi has to memorize the cards positioning and then play, and then wipe the memory clean for the next match. He's gone through 6 matches already, and probably is confusing the order of the cards with the prior match. No matter how well rested you are, you would still make mistakes under these conditions.
It's not a problem...
Start again from the beginning...
It's not a problem...
The "hanano" card has already been played. So "hanasa" is left. All I have to do is move when I hear "hana."
The "tsuku" card has already been played. So, the "tsuki" card is left. All I have to do is move when I hear "tsu."
The "mikano" is to the right of the "mikako" card so both have yet to be played. The same with the "michi" card and the "mise" card to its left.
And so one, and so forth. Taichi is amazingly strategizing the entire current playing field in a matter of seconds. As the team watches nervously, Desktomu-kun notices how tense Kana is and holds her hand. (0_0;) Chiyaha reaches out and holds Desktomu-kun's hand as well. Taichi begins to feel his mental exhaustion but to his right, he sees his team quietly but intensely watching on a united front.
I can do this....just face forward...!
Even so, his opponent takes the next card, and then the next. Taichi wills his arm to move faster, but it's obviously not happening. He rallies his brain and body to work harder, but eventually he loses. His opponent's team cheers the victor and Mizusawa's team falls silent. The competitors bow and exchange thanks.
His opponent was a Junior in high school, and there were only 3 cards difference between them. Taichi smiles and thinks he is content with his title of 2nd place among the B ranks. He looks over towards his team with a smile but they are all slumped over in utter tears and devastation for him.
"I can't accept it...It's so unsatisfying!" Meat bun-kun (wearing a "Naruto" T-shirt) exclaims. "Second place is not enough!"
Taichi realizes how much faith his team had in him and they are all utterly devastated and grieving for him that he took second only by 3 cards. He tears up and covers his face.
Don't cry! I still haven't exerted enough strength and effort to cry over a loss. I should just be content with the feeling of being "unsatisfied."
Cut scene: after the closing ceremonies
Ms. Miyauchi notes that even adults would find such defeat hard to take, but her students she notes haven't had the need to console one another either. She rushes the team out to make their train schedule. While leaving, Chihaya looks back at the entrance of the competition grounds towards the Omi Jingu shrine and bows deeply. The others watch her in surprise, but then follow suit. (TN: They have deep respect for the place and are humbled by what their experiences here have taught them)
Cut scene: Some time later, back at Mizusawa High
A student notices a group of club members early in the morning. They are jogging laps as part of their endurance training, something they have been doing since last year. He wonders what club they're from (track?) but to his astonishment recognizes them as the karuta club! He is shocked.
In a flashback, Taichi told the group that after the nationals, he had assessed some of their problems, one of which was physical endurance. When competing, even when they're tired, they still need the strength to push on. If they want to gamble on winning, they have to have the strength to last at least 10 hours. (TN: Wow.)
His words have inspired even Meat bun-kun to be stronger. He loves to eat and hates to diet but even so, as he watches Kana-chan and Desktomu-kun surpass him, he eyes Taichi up ahead. He couldn't believe that Taichi had surpassed him last time. He isn't going to let Taichi take the lead and is determined to at least keep up. Chihaya is surprised by his sudden burst of energy. Meat bun-kun asserts Taichi as a rival.
Meanwhile, while practicing (and passing out) Chihaya has nightmares about crazy "Snow-snow" girl (Shinobu Wakamiya). She asked Kana-chan if she passed out and finds out she's been out for 10 minutes. She's tired because Meat bun-kun was chasing her during jogging practice (TN: I think Chihaya misinterpreted something here... -_-;)
Meat bun-kun comments that he watched their match in the recording Ms. Miyauchi took. She was a damn scary opponent. Chihaya agrees, which is why she calls her "Shinobu." Chihaya says that she knows she also saw Arata during the nationals, but she wonders why Arata wasn't anywhere to be seen in her dreams. Taichi falls silent at this point, and Meat bun-kun wonders. Speaking of dreams, Kana-chan suddenly changes the subject to karuta cards once more.
Kana-chan goes into her historical diatribe about the "Sumi River" card.
"Just as the rushing waves of the Sumi River, be it brightest day or blackest night I want to see you. But even so, there is neither sight nor sound of you in my dreams." (TN: I think that's what it said...)
"OMG That's SO ROMANTIC!!" exclaims Chihaya. "I've never thought of anything so romantic before!" Kana-chan is perplexed... (TN: you mean you weren't thinking of Arata like that...?) Taichi starts to choke in one corner of the room.
Kana says that certainly she doesn't have much experience in romance, but "I want to see you" is a key element, she surmises. One day she wants to understand these feelings from a first person perspective and that's why she uses poetry for reference. (TN: Ah, the life of a single otome...brings back memories *sniff, sniff*)
"That's so romantic!" Chihaya exclaims again.
I want to see you...
Cut scene: Arata looking down on another box of Fukui delicacies in his hands
But not just in my dreams...
An old bald guy grumbles at his wife, "Yeah, yeah, you say someone's come to see me, but who...." He sees Arata waiting outside. He smiles broadly, "Oh, so you've finally come."
The old man is apparently the (Mr. Kuriyama) director of the Fukui community karuta center. Arata wishes to join.
So that our destines can cross again...
Cut scene: Shinobu practicing karuta alone but very intensely
Cut scene: The Mizusawa High karuta club practicing with one another in their club room with their goal set clearly in front of them (TN: and a very pretty picture of Arata...)
Caption: During out sophomore year, the autumn season of karuta drew near