Ah man, I've got to work this weekend, but before I do, let's get this chapter over with, shall we? The intro illustration is so cute.
This chapter was super challenging with its strategies, but I think I got it right and hope nothing was lost in translation.
Caption: The Mizusawa High School Karuta Club caption is in a bit of a conundrum...her four team members are battling each other!
A very confused and agitated Chihaya sits next to Hyoro-kun (who lost the B rank competition) who is watching intently as Taichi and Meat bun-kun play.
I never thought this would happen...! Which side should I root for? As team captain, what should I do?
Just as Chihaya is about to step out for some fresh air and relieve some of her inner conflict, she notices Hyoro-kun's intense expression and shaking form. (TN: apparently she didn't notice him before...) She asks if Nayuta and his other teammates of Hokuo High's team were also playing in this tournament.
He blurts out painfully (TN: even though they're supposed to be quiet during the tournament?? Maybe they are still in the memorization stage...) that he lost to Taichi in the first round by three cards. Even though the tide of the game was in his favor... The other Hokuo Academy players left when they lost, but he tells Chihaya he wanted to stay to watch and steal some techniques of the guy who beat him.
As Taichi memorizes the cards he thinks that because the Eastern Karuta Conference is next month, this is perhaps his last chance to raise his level to A rank before then, so he must take this championship title. Meat bun-kun knows exactly what Taichi's thinking, but even though losing to a titled champion is not really a big thing for him, he is definitely determined not to let Taichi surpass him.
Meanwhile, Desktomu-kun is thinking that he really admires Kana-chan. Her karuta form is delicate and obstinately strong. But he knows he's going to have a hard time trying to attack the adorable Kana-chan. He understands Kana, which is why he knows he can win.
Chihaya knows that when it comes to the issue of moving up the next rank, this is a rare occurrence for her team to have to fight one another, possibly the only time they will test their mettle against one another. She is determined to watch it all closely.
The opening poem is read...
Even though she says that, Chihaya cannot watch both matches at once and understand who is winning/losing. She really wants to watch Kana play but asks Hyoro-kun what just happened in Taichi's match. Hyoro-kun tells her to just watch quietly. Her attention is drawn to Kana-chan, as she realizes Kana's hips are above the ground. She concludes it's not a result of the training but a result of Kana wearing a hakama (so she doesn't wrinkle it). She notices Kana-chan's movements are entirely changed when she's wearing cultural clothing. Even as Kana takes a card, she gets up gracefully and moves to retrieve the card almost ritualistically. She apologizes the the audience member who was closest to the card as she picks it up and everyone is awed with her polite manner of speech and her graceful movements.
Chihaya, slumped lazily where she sits, straightens up right away in a more dignified manner. She realizes this is the first time she's watched Kana-chan play while in costume. Chihaya is completely in awe of her. When she thinks about how she acts while dressed in traditional clothing, she flushes in embarrassment. She notices Mrs. Oe, standing in the room in her kimono. Wearing an obi definitely makes one stand up straighter.
Kana-chan's hand falls on her waist belt.
Like putting a board along your abdomen...
She thinks back at the times others told her traditional clothing was such a pain to put on, and the obi was too tight. Kana-chan doesn't understand why people dislike it so.
She takes another card from Desktomu-kun. She's decided to attack...!
Kana thinks, Obi, support me. Let my straightened form become strong!
"After the Autumn wind blows..."
Taichi takes a card from Meat bun-kun, finally taking the offense, thinking he was finally able to take a card smoothly and faster than his opponent. But still, not as well as Chihaya. To his dismay, he notes that Chihaya isn't even watching his match! (T_T)
Hyoro-kun mistakes Taichi's glance in his direction as a form of communication to him, thinking Taichi's telling him that he's gonna win this match, and that all this time, he's considered Hyoro-kun to only be second best. (TN: Hyoro-kun is misunderstanding something here... -__-;) Hyoro-kun waves his arms wildly at Taichi, thinking, Don't be so cheeky! If anything, I should be ranked as champion! (TN: still sore over his first round loss...)
Chihaya watches Kana's delicate form in awe. Even the audience members are thinking maybe traditional clothing can make them look just as good and how wonderful traditional clothing is after all.
Ms. Oe watches her daughter with pride. Even though Chihaya is admittedly the prettiest, and she'd look good in anything; Kana may not be pretty per se but she knows how to wear traditional clothing and use it to her advantage. She is the ultimate advertisement for the Oe's business!
"As a woman, you must show you have beautiful posture and grace with each movement. Even when you're doing battle!" Kana once said.
Both Chihaya and Desktomu-kun notice how graceful her movements are, even when she's arranging her cards. He makes a mental note that when she's in full costume her battle strength increases by 100%.
He thinks it's really great that even though they practice together every day at the club he is still able to see another strength of his teammates during competition against them. Ordinarily, Kana-chan must have been holding back. Even so, Desktomu-kun is determined that there are certain cards he must take from her.
"Overtaking Mt. Oe..."
Destomu-kun is able to attack and take this card. Everyone is shocked. He knows there isn't any logic in it, but just as Chihaya has taken a personal affinity towards the "chihayafuru" card, Kana has an affinity for this card. So, for him to take was certainly a crushing blow to Kana. More importantly, he knows that after the "Oe-san" card is taken, out of habit Kana-chan quickly investigates the whereabouts of another poem written by the prior poet's daughter as she associates the two cards with one another. This distracts her from taking the next card.
Chihaya thinks how very calmly Desktomu-kun broke up Kana's beautiful momentum.
Desktomu-kun knows the way that Kana-chan recognizes poems is different that the way the others do it when listening to the syllables. She recognizes them by author. (TN: Wow.) She associates the cards with one another based on who wrote them and memorizes their positions; brothers, father-daughter, mortal enemies. But the true way to play karuta is to recognize the cards by syllables. Everyone is listening to the syllables and nothing else, which is why no noise is permitted while a game is ongoing.
Unfortunately, by listening to the syllables, he is unable to differentiate between the "kono" card and the "konu" card, and takes the wrong one. He laments that his ears aren't be as sharp as Chihaya's.
Kana-chan gives him the "tago" card as his "penalty." Chihaya once asked Kana why she always chose this card to send before the "tachi" card which is easier to differentiate. Kana responded that because she doesn't have Chihaya's ears, all of the "ta" cards are the same to her. But there are some cards that draw her in.
Out by boat past fields along the shore, a glimpse of a silver world I see; snow atop the limitlessly high mountain. (the "tago" card)
"The strength of the limitless mountain draws me in..." Kana takes this as her next card.
Chihaya thinks Kana's movements perfect, soundless, without excess movement and ramrod straight. She thinks back at what Hyoro-kun told her at the beginning of the match.
Not rooting for anyone....Not acting as their Captain....
"I want to stay to watch and steal the techniques if I can..."
I'm the same.
Caption: On the other side, an intense battle is waging. Even though Hyoro-kun is just watching, it's as if it was a battle between three people.
TN: So what's happing in this chapter except Chihaya continuing to learn how to be a really skilled karuta player, who plays from all angles, moves with grace and not a single wasted action, and whose hand is automatically drawn to the cards not just because of their syllables, but also their meanings...a Queen!