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.
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 do...be it karuta or otherwise...you 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 fast...it'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 what...be 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.