TN: So I've been listening to my Chihayafuru OST CD 1, track 7「ちはやふる」メインテーマ (main theme, Chihayafuru) and it's really sweet! There's also a piano forte version! It makes me glad that there is an anime even though I'm not really following it at this point. Now I have a soundtrack to listen to while I translate. Still, it was really slow going translating this chapter because there were so many archaic and technical terminology having to do with kimonos, broadcasting, government and karuta.... -_-;
Since I have a very busy work schedule this week, I don't know how much time I can put aside for this special project of mine. I'll be on vacation next week so you won't be hearing much from me afterward either, so, here's one more chapter before I put this down.
Broadcast: "Welcome to our viewers to the Omi Jingu competitive karuta championship, Meijin's tournament and Queen's tournament, to determine this year's Meijin and Queen. The Meijin tournament consists of 5 matches in total, the first to win 3 matches claims the title. The Queen's match consists of 3 consecutive matches and the first to win 2 matches claims the title. Once the opening poem is read, the 2nd Queen's match will begin."
"Eeeeeek! Even the broadcasters choked at the sight of her! Isn't the Queen a little too fat?" Kana exclaims. (TN: in the Chinese version, Kana says 轉播的人吐槽一下, which literally means the broadcasters spit...)
"You can't even see her neck anymore!" Meat bun-kun exclaims. (TN: pot calling kettle....)
"Why?? Shinobu! What's happened to you?? You were still skinny last summer!" Chihaya exclaims, clutching the TV screen.
Kana looks horrified and sits shaking. "That...Why....Why is she wearing that type of....She's wearing that type of garment to the competition?? That's 'kuroda' embroidery... 'Kyotomo-zen' style, harmonious floral pattern....The dyeing technique is also very beautiful...definitely the work of a renown fabric house! She's wearing a one-million yen outfit (TN: Roughly $13,000 US) to a competitive karuta competition!"
"What the heck is Kana-chan looking at?" ask Meat bun and Desktomu simultaneously.
But then Chihaya notices as Shinobu reaches to take something out of her purse and poses with her handkerchief and purse for the TV cameras.
Oh! The Kansai limited edition Snow-Snow 'Super Lucky' commemorative hand bag and handkerchief!
"What the hell kind of funky accessories is that girl toting?" asks Meat bun making a weird face.
Aw-AWSOME! Chihaya thinks. (TN: obviously, Kana-chan and Chihaya's tastes are VERY different)
"But, under these circumstances, isn't this bad for her?" asks Taichi. If she's gained almost 10 kilos (20 lbs) and her body's changed significantly, then it's going to affect her main weapon, which is her speed.
Broadcast: "During the last match, Queen Wakamiya won by a difference of 5 cards."
"Oh, the 1st match is already over?!" exclaims Chihaya.
"Yumi lost the first match by a difference of 5 cards? She must be trying really hard," comments Meat bun.
Broadcast: "Here are some clips from the first match. From the beginning, the challenger was backed into a retreat, but by the 6th card, Yamamoto maintained her pace to prevent a wider gap."
She's not as impressive as she was during the high school championship? Is it because she's become weaker? Shinobu--!
Broadcast: "The former Queen has returned to Omi Jingu in hopes to reclaim her title. Ordinarily, she's already a working woman for 2 years now, at age 24." The footage shows Yumi working at her job at the bank as a teller, and someone comments that it's impressive they have clips of that. (As expected of the NHK)
Broadcast: "On the one hand, a worker of Tokyo's (Ogata Gyoko), on the other hand she finds time to practice karuta, looking towards reclaiming her seat as Queen."
Until I actually sat here again, thinks Yumi, I was afraid of Shinobu Wakamiya. How she so forcefully rendered me useless in the competition last year is still fresh in my memory. But what the hell happened? This year she's all rotund and roly-poly?? I'm not afraid anymore. She's also human. Someone who doesn't even carefully train her own body before coming to the Queen's tournament...is just a child.
Broadcast: "In the field of competitive karuta, Wakamiya Shinobu is the youngest person to claim the title of Queen. In fact, she's still a high school student in Kyoto. She doesn't have a karuta club in her school. From the 6th grade, she's learned karuta from Kyoto's Myojo karuta group. From there, she practiced by herself at home, where she honed her skills and developed that overwhelming speed of hers."
"So it was like that," comments Desktomu-kun.
Chihaya notices that Shinobu is moving even on the "empty" cards. During the high school competition she never did that once. She wonders if Shinobu's situation is really that dire.
This outfit is really heavy, Shinobu thinks. Wearing this particular robe was not her idea. Obaa-sama doesn't even watch TV, so it seems really pointless to wear it now.
Broadcast: "The Queen's kimono is really a sight to behold. I believe it was lent to her by the grandmother of a sitting member of the House of Parliament. Oh, it really is beautiful!"
She remembers the first time she met her grandmother, when her mother came back to her home to tell her she was getting a divorce. Her grandmother said it was a huge deal and so she and Shinobu (age 5) would have to come live with her. However, if Shinobu was to live with her, she insisted the child obtain some talents.
She was awful in ballet (no coordination), and was kicked out of calligraphy class (she couldn't concentrate). She had an affinity for a deck of playing cards though (because of the pictures), and while her mother was visiting a friend's house and complaining about how Shinobu had no talent, her friend's children pulled out karuta cards. She thought the pictures were really cute.
After a while, her mother became very angry at Shinobu, telling her to stop playing with karuta cards and start acquiring some accomplishments, otherwise she would continue to hang her head in shame because of her. But, her grandmother suggested if she really loved karuta cards that she learn how to play from a karuta society.
Broadcast: "It's time to begin."
The opening poem is read. The first card in play is a four syllable card and it seems that Yumi is the one to guard the "oyama" card from Shinobu. The broadcasters comment that Yumi is an experienced player. They have instant replay in slow motion and sure enough there was no way Shinobu could even touch the card before Yumi's hand blocked it.
Desktomu comments that instant replay is really convenient, and Meat bun-kun forces Chihaya to observe Yumi's method of guarding, which, compared to her, Chihaya's method is more like a bamboo basket (full of holes).
Shinobu... Chihaya thinks.
Yumi takes this opportunity to stand up and lord her success over Shinobu. Meat bun, Kitano and the entire Midorikita Society's (20+ member cheering squad in the background) eyes are gleaming as they watch. Apparently this is a tactic of theirs, to break up the rhythm of the long game for the less experienced, and lengthening the time of the game, and thus giving time for Yumi to strengthen herself. Apparently, Kitano's motto for playing karuta is "I don't give a @#$% how long it takes."
Our success in the first round was coming up with a solid strategy. If Yumi were to claim the 2nd match then all she would have to do is take the 3rd match then victory will be ours! Kitano thinks. You can still claim these victories, Yumi!
Yumi bows and apologizes to her opponent for the interruption. In her head, Shinobu is apologizing to the card she was unable to take.
When the next card is read, Shinobu is certainly the faster of the two. Viewers mistake it for Shinobu's win, but in reality, Shinobu missed the card entirely.
"The fact that her body's changed so much definitely plays a part in altering her performance," explains Taichi. "The Queen's strength lies in her natural talent and intuition, but her power was also in her body's ability to keep up." Meat bun comments that Yumi's sending a "penalty card" is like a psychological blow, just like in real warfare, sending the enemy in disarray.
"You can do it! You can do it, Yumi!" cheers Meat bun.
You can do it! You can do it, Yumi! thinks the 20+ member cheering squad silently.
"But," says Kana. "Just now, the queen's motions almost look like she's sharpening the blade of a knife against a sharpening stone."
"Don't say things like that Kana-chan," says Meat bun. "What kind of ominous words are you saying? Scary."
"I'm--I'm sorry! But her arm movements right now look as though she's sharpening a blade."
"It's actually true," agrees Deskotmu-kun.
It's so heavy, thinks Shinobu again. But it's not my kimono...it's my body! (TN: Duh, didn't you figure this out in the first round??)
I ate too much ice cream.
Sorry, sorry! she thinks again as she looks at the cards she was unable to take, sitting next to Yumi.
This is becoming annoying! thinks Shinobu as she exudes a dark aura with a glint in her eye that even Yumi notices.
"Like she's sharpening a blade..." Chihaya and the others watch silently at what comes next.
That's not it, thinks Chihaya.
Cut scene: flashback into Shinobu's past
"Wakamiya is really wierd!" comments a classmate.
"Even after class she's aaaaaaaaaaalways staring at karuta cards!"
"Is she memorizing them?"
"She's already memorized them, but she's still just staring at the cards. It's kinda gross." The boys in her class then proceed to play a trick on her and while she isn't looking, they steal her karuta cards. When Shinobu notices they are gone after school she proceeds to look for them. No matter where the boys hid them (under flower pots, in other people's bags, even up in the ceiling lights) she was able to find them. They were astonished.
I don't know why it is. But just like how I love karuta cards...karuta cards...love me as well!
Picture: Shinobu reaching for a karuta card high above her (TN: it reads, "人人皆探问吾心之爱恋/Everyone asks wherefore is my love ")
Cut scene: in the match, the other part of that same poem is read
"Love is hidden within my heart--"
Shinobu is able to take that same card from Yumi. Everyone is surprised that she could overtake Yumi.
Broadcast: "So fast! Thus far today, that was the fastest move I've seen her exercise over the 'hidden love' card. Let's watch it again in slow motion. As you can see, she only touched the rim of the card and pushed it out from its position. That is her signature move, and we were finally able to see it!"
All this time, thinks Chihaya, I thought Shinobu just touched a corner of the card to push it away. But that wasn't it at all! It's not like a blade! It's the thin edge of the card! Her fingers push forward the thin edge of the card...as if they were connected to her fingertips with strings...!
TN: I was listening to Arata's character song on the CD, 夢への地図 (Map to my dream) and his seiyuu can totally sing. I could get used to this voice waking me up in the morning! (On my iPod plugged alarm clock--get your minds out of the gutter, people! :-p) Too bad he doesn't have much speaking parts in the anime...but this is a very suitable voice for him! Totally smooth and sweet! Like chocolate! XD I've become a fan!
So, in terms of learning more of her arch-nemesis, the mangaka finally explains why Shinobu is so formiddable. But, that explanation...is kind of unsatisfying because it's almost...supernatural -- like ESP or something. This chick walks right through the gods' "holy wreath" at Omi Jingu as if she's snooty enough to think herself at the same level of a deity, and her affinity for the cards and strength for karuta can be explained by saying the cards themselves (their spirits?) favor her as well?? So Chihaya getting sick at Omi Jingu was a curse of the gods? That's just really unsatisfying-- to me anyway.
So going back to what Harada said, what the heck kind of 'weapons' are a normal human like Chihaya supposed to have in order to beat a "tensai" favored by the gods of karuta?? (Besides pushing her in front of a moving bus?) I want to see a Shinobu beat down by Chihaya!!