TN: <GASP> Goofy looking guy asking Chihaya out? Blech.
"So...um...I see you every morning at the station, Ayase-san. I always think, "Wow, she's really cute!" If it's OK with you, why don't we go out?" (TN: Get in line, buddy!)
Chihaya: ..... <too shocked to speak>
Cut scene: back at the club room
"YOU SHOULD HAVE TURNED HIM DOWN ON THE SPOT!!"
"But Kana-chan, how can you be so quick to make that decision?" asked Chihaya, confused.
"Of course!" responds Kana matter-of-factly. "He's just someone who pays attention to outer appearances and doesn't know the first thing about you."
"But! BUT!!" Chihaya interjects. "This is the first time someone has told me 'Let's go out.' If I make a misstep here, this may be the very last time anyone says that to me for the rest of my life!"
"A noob at first confessions?" asks Meat bun (TN: eating a meatbun...cannibalism?). "She really is a 'wasted' beauty."
"Well, ever since I got to know her, I haven't considered her beautiful," says Desktomu honestly. (Although in the beginning, he did)
"I get the feeling that people at our school don't like her because Mashima-kun is always by her side, that's definitely a huge factor," says Kana.
"What? Why?" ask Destomu and Meat bun at the same time. (TN: apparently they haven't noticed Taichi is gorgeous)
"Isn't it great?" asks Taichi without looking up from his seat at a table. "You should go out with him," he adds casually.
"Taichi..." says Chihaya.
"If you don't experience it for yourself you won't know," he concludes, "that it absolutely won't work out. Going out with someone who is totally unaware that you play competitive karuta will only end in disaster." Chihaya is shocked by his words.
"Is...is that so?" she asks. "But there are so many missed calls from him already."
"YOU GAVE HIM YOUR CELL NUMBER?" demands Kana. "You have to tell him you refuse!" Before she can continue, Taichi snatches the phone away from Chihaya and hastily texts something and sends it.
"I've sent a refusal for you," he says calmly.
"Starting tomorrow you're going to get up early and start taking the same train with me to school," he concludes. Kana blushes at his words (understanding their meaning). His words remind her of a pair of poems written in 960 A.D. Ancient poems about quiet love that could no longer be hidden. (TN: the Chinese version says "隱藏不住的暗恋和歌," literally "hidden no longer quiet love poem," so I think my translation is accurate to a degree)
In the background, Meat bun-kun says he's never had to screen his calls before and Tsutomu says neither has he. Certainly, our dopey team members don't get it, but I understand, President! Kana-chan thinks enthusiastically. (TN: here, Kana says "糊塗蛋" to describe her teammates. These words together can mean "dopey." Literally, they mean "paste," "smudge" and "egg" but it could also translate to "paste for brains" (Nishida) "smudge for brains" (Tsutomu) and "egg for brains/idiot" (Chihaya). See for yourself. Kana is pretty harsh -_-;)
Chihaya checks her address list on her cell phone (which is pathetically small), but focuses on the two last entries, "Wataya Arata: cell" and "Wataya Arata: home."
I can't communicate with him...even though Taichi went out of his way to give his contact information to me....But Arata lost in the 4th round of the Western Conference...
Arata...how is he feeling right now? How much regret is he feeling?
There are too many things I want to say to him.
Cut scene: Arata giving out a dark vibe in class
Other classmates go to his neighbor, Yu, who is also apparently in his class.
"Yu-chan, did something happen?"
"Why has Arata-kun been making that sort of face lately?"
"Arata!" says Yu, going up to him. "Was the Western Conference that dissatisfying? It's the first time you entered and you still ended up in the top 8. Isn't that good? And now you have a rest period. You just have to do better next year..." Yu stops as she realizes her words are falling on deaf ears. Arata is steadily playing karuta in his head, apparently not listening to a word she says. He is reliving the cards of his last match and is very far away...
Cut scene: Arata riding his bike home
It's not enough!
Doing my best...
Making spare time...
I can't be away from it! Not even for one day!
I can't be away from karuta!
Cut scene: Arata practicing at the Nagumo Society
He exchanges bows and thanks to his opponent. He recalls his opponent who beat him at the Western Conference, (Takesaka/Takesaku?)-san, who will go on to compete against the (male) champion of the Eastern Conference. Certainly, his wasn't a highly sophisticated form of karuta but he's won 4 titles just this year. And, he had the stamina to go through all 6 levels of the Western Conference to win.
Every duel should be taken seriously. I should treat practice as if it were a real competition, and feel the real stress of competition. Even if it's just practice, I have to earnestly compete.
The practice coordinator calls out to Arata and says his 3rd round sparring partner is...a C rank little boy...
The little boy is shocked and claims Arata-nii san is too scary to duel with. Arata duels him seriously and the whole time the kid is crying out, "Scary!"
The other society members are talking about how Murao never comes to practice anymore. No one has seen or heard from him since the November competition. Their other top player is busy trying to graduate (from college) so he hasn't been practicing either. There are certainly not enough skilled players to duel with Arata.
Arata thinks back at what Mr. Murao told him. Listen, just do your best and that's it.
Cut scene: At the Murao residence
Murao comes home to a lively atmosphere. Arata is apparently being force fed by his family's hospitality (heaping bowl of rice) as they sit around the tonkatsu and have hot pot. His mom berates him for being so late, since Arata has waited for a while.
"Good...good evening!" Arata says as Murao's little brothers try to force feed him meatballs and shrimp.
Cut scene: Arata and Murao outside after dinner
"Sorry!" says Arata. "I took advantage of your family's hospitality and even stayed for dinner."
"Don't be. I can probably guess what happened. Every family is alike, and my mother's the same way. She'll invite anyone inside, so..."
After a brief silence, Murao asks, "Was there something you needed? You probably came to tell me to practice, right?"
"...Right..." responds Arata.
"That's not like you to be such a damn busy body," comments Murao. "Aren't you the last person to be telling me that, since you gave up karuta for an entire year and a half?"
Murao turns to go back inside. "I'm sorry...and it's at a time when you need to practice to be strong, but I can't be your sparring partner. Say hello for me to those at the Nagumo Society, will you?"
"I really..." Arata begins, trying to find the words. "I really regret...."
Murao stares at him.
"I really regret running from karuta...at that time.... We just can't be apart from karuta for too long, Murao-san!" he exclaims. "Becoming Meijin is my goal," he says steadily.
Murao looks at him in wonder and then starts to get the chills. He tells Arata that that way of thinking is quite scary, to want to be Meijin and nothing else. He sighs.
"Arata, I have no way of going back to living by that mentality...but if you want a dueling partner to play with, you can come find me. Good night."
It's not like you to be such a busybody.... Arata thinks back to when Chihaya and Taichi came to see him in Fukui. (TN: perhaps they've rubbed off on him...) Murao watches him leave from the upstairs window.
I will come visit again...
Cut scene: November
Caption: At the Tokyo Karuta Commemorative Society Center, East meets West as the respective champions gather to duel to decide who will be the ones to challenge the current Meijin and Queen.
"You seem really happy, Kana-chan," Chihaya remarks as they make their way into the center.
"Because! Because! I finally get to see a match where the competitors are wearing traditional clothing!"
"Yeah," says Chihaya, her thoughts turning to those they are going to watch.
Caption: Wearing traditional Japanese clothing through 3 consecutive matches. Yamamoto Yumi (24) of the Midorikita Karuta Society, (Akashi) Karuta Society's Saka Megumi (17) (TN: Totally think I'm mispronouncing that one!), Shiranami Society's Tsuboguchi Hiroshi-kun (22), and a member of the High German Court College Karuta Group, Keiichi Takesaku-san (28) (TN: not sure about the pronunciation of this one, either). The first to win 2 matches will prevail, and in a month's time, move up to duel the reigning Meijin and Queen.
The girl from the Akashi Karuta Society trips over her hakama in an unsightly way and bumps into the coordinators. Kana comments that the Western Conference champion isn't used to wearing traditional clothing, and her hem is too long. Harada comments that even though she made it this far with her determination, the focus now is on her lack of experience. He declares that the members of the Shiranami Society are among the most experienced and informed.
Hiroshi-kun is apparently wearing fever reducers to keep his forehead and neck cool. (Apparently, they brought 9??) Just then, someone tells Harada to move his big head because he's blocking the television crew's view.
As Chihaya watches she thinks, I can't help it. I really want to. Will I be able to make it to this stage? Will I be able to sit up there?
As she is thinking, she notices Hiroshi-kun peeling off his fever reducers. Hiroshi thinks back at what he said to Taichi and Harada when he lost his prior competition, when Harada asked how Hiroshi could be so easy going. It's just the way I am!
But the only reason I'm the Eastern Conference representative is because during Harada-sensei's decisive match, he tired out his opponent, and I was able to beat him after that. Just watch, sensei!
Just then, Megumi pauses and asks if she can wear her headband. Inside, there's a sewn inscription "Good luck, Megumi!"
I have too high an opinion of myself. I can't believe I thought that all I had to do was "do my best" and I'd end up sitting up there. Those sitting up there are the East/West Representatives. They represent all of us! thinks Chihaya.
Announcer: "Let the competition begin!"
As the first card is read, Yumi stakes her claim by verbally contesting the first card. Hiroshi is working hard as well. In the next panel we see Yumi taking another card.
Cut scene: Arata's mentor talking on the phone while Arata duels that little kid in the background. "Scary!" the kid cries.
Arata bows and thanks the kid after their match. The boy says he's going to to try hard, become stronger, so he hopes Arata won't be annoyed that he has to duel such an inexperienced player like himself. Arata smiles.
"Everyone!" announces Kuriyama. "The outcome of the match has been decided. The Meijin Challenger will be Keiichi Takesaku and the Queen Challenger will be Yumi Yamamoto."
Shiranami Society's Tsuboguchi Hiroshi-san lost? thinks Arata.
Cut scene: Chihaya, Taichi and the others watch speechlessly as Hiroshi fans himself.
"Oh my gawd, so tiring! How annoying to duel the same person 3 times! On top of that, Takesaku was like a war horse!"
"Hiroshi-san," says Chihaya.
"Ah, I really want some beer!" Hiroshi-kun says. But the minute he sees Harada-sensei his face changes.
Shiranami Society's players...someday one of our own will ascend to the seat of Meijin.
Hiroshi breaks down and collapses, crying into Harada-sensei's lap. Chihaya and Taichi watch silently, also feeling his loss acutely.
Cut scene: Suoh-san walking out of the Center's front entrance.
"Wow, I am flying HIGH!" he says to no one in particular. He dials up a number on his cell phone.
CLICK. (She hangs up on him again)