TN: Man, I have been waiting to translate this chapter for a long time. It makes me think that Chihaya is really in love with Arata, but just doesn't know it yet. She is a clueless girl when it comes to anything not karuta. This really is turning out to be a "josei" as opposed to "shoujo" genre, even though the mangaka won a shoujo award for Chihayafuru.
Scene: Mizusawa High, Karuta Club meeting room
Meat bun-kun and Kana-chan bow and mutually exchange thanks after their practice duel. Lost by 14 cards, thinks Kana. Meat bun-kun is really strong.... She notices that Taichi and Chihaya are still dueling. Taichi is down by one as he has 7 cards left and Chihaya, 6. They are both intensely dueling as Desktomu-kun reads the next card. Meat bun and Kana watch in surprise as Chihaya takes the next card but Taichi was close.
Damn! How unfortunate! Taichi thinks.
That was close! thinks Chihaya. Taichi's style has become really keen. He's not easy going at all.
As Meat bun and Kana leave the room, he comments that he feels those two have changed since the last competition, their auras have become quite alarming--not just Chihaya but also Taichi.
"Meat bun-kun, at the East West Conference, our karuta society celebrated Yumi-san's win as if it were our own, and joined in her happiness. It must have been the exact opposite at the Shiranami Society. Even if they themselves were not the ones defeated, Chihaya and Mashima-kun must have felt dissatisfied. And so, they want to become stronger."
Cut scene: Chihaya and Taichi completing their match
I can't accept it!
Caption: "It's good that we felt dissatisfied that day" -- is a phrase I hope we can say with a smile someday in the future.
Cut scene: Chihaya's homeroom, the students are checking their report cards
"Chi-chan!" says her friend, Michiru. (TN: I'm not sure about that name, but I vaguely recall reading Sailor Moon in Chinese, and Sailor Neptune's name was also 満. So, Michiru it is!) "I'm worried about you!"
"Michi-chan, it's not a big deal!" she exclaims. "The second semester I've risen to 290th (in rank)! I'm working my way up!" Chihaya waves the report card in her friend's face.
"I'm not talking about school," says her friend. "Chi-chan, you're so passionate about karuta! But is that really a good thing?"
"I don't understand what you're trying to say..." Chihaya says honestly. Michiru exclaims that she wants her to broaden her horizons and hands her a flier. First year, class 2 is hosting a party for Christmas Eve.
"You don't have any plans anyway," insists Michiru.
"I do!" Chihaya insists. "I'm gonna practice karuta!"
"OK everyone!" Michiru announces to the class. "Ayase Chihaya will participate!"
Cut scene: the karuta club door; a sign that reads, "New members are VERY welcome"
Taichi comments that his class is also planning a function that night, though he doesn't want to go. Kana-chan says class 6 is going to put together a hot pot dinner. Meat bun-kun says his class is planning a bowling night. Everyone goes silent.
"So I guess, we'll take a break from karuta on the 24th."
Cut scene: during Class 2's get-together
Everyone is stunned at how stylish Chihaya looks (100% donated from her sister's wardrobe).
"Ayase-san, your outfit is cute! Super cute!
"Can I take a picture?"
"It's so lucky that I decided to come!"
Chihaya is embarrassed by all the praises.
"You're so cute!"
"Your legs are so long!"
"You're so cute!"
"Your face is so small!"
"Come join us inside!"
She makes a dash for Tsutomu-kun, and the other guys are a little annoyed. "Desktomu-kun! Let me sit with you!"
"That would defeat the purpose!" he says as he pushes her far away. "Go away!" (TN: Cold, Tsutomu...really cold). And so, Chihaya is forced to sit with other classmates.
"Ayase-san, I hear your sister's a model? You don't have those kinds of aspirations to try it too, do you?"
"I never really thought about it...." Chihaya responds truthfully.
"That's too bad," says another (male) classmate. She proceeds to stuff her face (TN: to avoid talking?).
"But you're really hard working at karuta," comments another (male) classmate. "Certainly the club is small and unnoticeable, but every time I see the karuta club I can't help but think you're all doing your best. I'm a member of the rock climbing club myself."
"The rock climbing club has it's own speed competitions, they're always practicing in the courtyard," chimes in another.
"That sounds really fun," says Chihaya.
"It's not fun at all! And, it turns you into a monster."
"Speaking of monster, isn't this guy the only male member of the ceremonial tea club?"
"Come on! Don't say stuff like that now! The ceremonial tea club is really cool. And you learn how to make all sorts of desserts, it's really interesting!"
"We should've invited the Empress so she could treat us!"
"Impossible! We'd be the ones to end up treating her!" Everyone laughs. Chihaya smiles at the lively scene.
Cut scene: Kana instructing her classmates the order in which the ingredients for hot pot should be boiled in order to get the optimum flavor.
Cut scene: Meat bun-kun making a perfect bowling strike.
Cut scene: Taichi looking incredibly bored since the female students of his class tricked him into coming to their karaoke party, but he's the only guy invited. Liars!
Cut scene: back at class 2's party
Everyone toasts cheers for the 5th time. Tsutomu tells Chihaya with a blush that he talked a lot to a girl for the first time. Even though she was mainly asking about Taichi, he really enjoyed it.
"That's awesome!" Chihaya cheers.
"Ayase-san, you look surprisingly happy too."
"I know we're all in the same grade, same class, but there are so many people I've never spoken to.... But if the club members were here, that would be even better!" she smiles. Her team members are all probably thinking the same thing.
"I've read about this in a book once," Tsutomu comments. "To think 'if only they were here, that would be great' about someone, really means that person is 'family' to you. It has nothing to do with dating or the depth or shallowness of the relationship."
If only you were here.
Cut scene: the members of class 2 leaving the restaurant
"OK, stage 2! Those who want to go to karaoke--"
"It's Christmas Eve, so it might be really crowded."
In the background: Hahahahahaha!
Chihaya steps aside on the sidewalk and dials a number on her phone. Riiiiing. Riiiiiiing. Riiiiiiing~
Someone picks up.
"Hello? This is Wataya."
Chihaya stands alone, silent and staring at the sky. In the background, her friend calls out, "Chi-chan! Let's go!"
"....? Who is this?"
Chihaya is unable to answer.
A blush rises to her face.
Cut scene: Arata's karuta society members partying like it's 1999... (TN: I just aged myself again, didn't I....)
"I'm...I'm sorry! I'm at the Nagumo Society's Christmas Eve party," Arata says hastily. He turns around and scolds, "You guys are so loud!!"
"Ah, sensei's doing his belly dance," someone in the background says. Arata goes somewhere quieter.
"It's Chihaya, right?
Split scene: Arata and Chihaya on their cell phones
"Chihaya?" he asks again. Chihaya thinks of a karuta card where the poet is distanced from his loved ones, and compares the vastness of the 'heaven's river' (Milky Way) to their separation.
Chihaya finally speaks. "Arata." Chihaya thinks back during one of Kana's "lessons" about this particular poem.
Magpies used their wings to build a bridge, so that the Star Weaver Girl and the Ox Herder could meet again over the Silver River (Milky Way). When you read the words "ferry" and "bridge" together, it means "to meet." In the background: "Chihaya, hurry!" calls out Michiru.
"Arata, cell phones are really the best--just like magpies."
"To hear your voice is really the greatest! See you again!" CLICK.
"Ah--!" Arata is unable to get a word in before she hangs up. "....Magpies?" he wonders.
Cut scene: Taichi's house
Caption: The new year, the second Saturday of January, the Meijin and Queen competitions will take place at Omi Jingu. We would be watching it as it broadcasts through satellite programming.
Taichi stares at her on his front porch. "Hah? So...why are you here at my house?"
"Of course it's because your house has a 60 in. TV!!" Chihaya says, exasperated. "Of course I could watch it at the Shiranami Society with Harada-sensei and the others, but Kana-chan, Desktomu-kun, and Meat bun-kun aren't with the Shiranami Society and Kitano-sensei would put up a such a ruckus if he found out (once Harada-sensei looks after them).
"That I understand, but right now...."
"I'm sorry for the intrusion!" apologizes Chihaya. But what Taichi meant is that his mother was home.
"Oh, Chihaya," says his mom. "Come over to play? I haven't seen you in a while." Chihaya freezes in shock. (TN: Goodness, girl why don't you ever think ahead?)
"Well, I thought my play was scheduled for the afternoon, but it's actually for this evening. But, since you're here, it's a good thing I'm home." (TN: total double meaning here... -_-;)
"Ah! N-no..." Chihaya stammers, leaning against the door in fright. "I was just leaving...."
"Why is that?" his mom asks with an evil glare. (TN:Ah! I'm scared!) "Since you've come inside, why don't you take your time and play? It must have been because of your influence that Taichi's joined the whatever karuta club at school," she says menacingly. Chihaya does a pose comparable to Edvard Munch's "The Scream" painting.
Chihaya and Taichi are sitting at the dining room table but Chihaya can't sit still and her tea cup is shaking uncontrollably. She's mumbling, "She hates me. She hates me. She hates me," over and over, as well as, "She's looking this way! She's looking this way! She's looking this way!" Taichi eventually invites her upstairs to his room. Even though his room is 'small' it also has a TV. With his mom present, there's no way any of them could comfortably watch the tournament.
She remembers what he said once about going to his room. "Don't casually invite yourself to a guy's room. I wouldn't casually invite myself to your room."
Caption: This is a strange feeling...like my heart's beating fast...IT'S BEATING REALLY FAST!! Chihaya can feel Taichi's mom's wrath behind her. (TN: I think I saw this in a horror movie once!)
Cut scene: Taichi's room
"Ah! It hasn't really changed," exclaims Chihaya.
"Why would it change?" asks Taichi.
"I haven't been here since elementary school."
"Originally, I thought your room was big, but somehow it seemed bigger before."
"Naturally, since you've gotten bigger!"
"There were a lot of toys and models before." As Chihaya reminisces about his room in the past, she sits down on the bed, which makes Taichi a bit uncomfortable.
"What wrong?" she asks.
".... Nothing," he responds.
"No, seriously, what's wrong?" she insists.
"Well...when you're in my room, I feel--" he starts. Suddenly his mother interrupts them. She is pissed.
"It's only proper to keep the door open....The rest of your friends are here."
"Yes," responds Taichi immediately.
"Of course," responds Chihaya in kind.
The gang comes into Taichi's room and they are in awe. Meat bun-kun comments that Taichi has described the TV in his room as small, as he touches the screen with both arms out, but if this is small, what does that make the rest of the TV's in ordinary folks' homes? Desktomu-kun says his house still has an analog TV.
Cut scene: Taichi in the kitchen with his mom as he fixes refreshments for the others
"I always thought this before, but your karuta club members are really an unsightly bunch," she sneers. "Isn't it a bit of a stretch for you to be associating with them, Taichi?" He turns around to leave, saying nothing.
"How much longer are you going to play this karuta thing?" she calls out after him.
Cut scene: back in Taichi's room
"Has it started?" he asks.
"Not yet," says Meat bun-kun.
"Ah, Mashima-kun, we've troubled you," thanks Kana-chan taking the tray from him.
"Oh, the program is starting!"
Taichi notices that Chihaya is now sitting on the floor in front of the TV.
Go for it, Yumi! thinks Meat bun. The TV announcer introduces the programming to the audience.
Caption: Our dream...the world of karuta's highest competition! To go head to head with the Queen of karuta...Shinobu's karuta!
(TN: BAM! Apparently, no one told her she didn't have the eat ALL of the ice cream just to mail in the proofs of purchase....She is sportin' that fancy Snow-Snow hair clip, so maybe no one will notice the pounds she's packed on?)
Needless to say, everyone is in shock by Shinobu's appearance.
TN: Yeah, I was totally doing the forehead smack when I first read the interaction between Arata and Chihaya in this volume. But there is another layer to interpret here.
For those who didn't know, the story of the Ox Herder and Star Weaver Girl is a love story. Because she was an angel and he a human, the Emperor of Heaven thought to separate them permanently. The Star Weaver Girl was transformed into a star, and the Ox Herder chased after her, and also turned into a star, but as such they could never meet again.
Once a year, you can see them with the Milky Way in between, and the story goes that a goddess took pity on the lovers and sent magpies to form a bridge between them so they could meet. This day is also known as the Magpie Festival or The Festival of Sevens (b/c it falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar moon in the Chinese calendar). That is why, during a certain season, there is a period when no magpies can be found b/c they are all committed to their yearly duty. The celebration of "Tanabata" in Japan is modeled after the Magpie Festival.
--end of folk tale lesson--
So, combined with what Chihaya was thinking beforehand, "There's so much I want to say to you" and "If only you were here," the magpie reference about two lovers who can only see one another sparingly is almost like...a love confession...??!! LOL, Chihaya, your cluelessness is astounding.
BUT, one thing I can say for sure, if she marries Arata, she'll never have mother-in-law issues.... (Arata's an only child and his mom always wanted a daughter...Taichi's mom freaks me out a bit....) X-[