TN: aaaaaahhhhh....this volume is so painful to translate!! I'm not feelin' the new characters AT ALL... Please, please let volume 10 be far more interesting....
(no spoilers! I just got it in the mail and I haven't read it yet! :-p)
Scene: It's introduction day for freshmen, the itinerary includes a presentation and introduction from all campus clubs at Mizusawa High; the opening scene is filled with the excited chatter of girls.
"Ah! That cell phone strap is really cute!"
"Where is it from?"
"Our student ID is pink, isn't that cute?"
"Our lapel pin with the school emblem isn't bad either."
"Isn't that make-up bag limited edition? It's so adorable!"
Caption: We love all things adorable--
Someone taps her on the shoulder.
"Hey, our ID numbers are really close. You're...Hanano-san, right? I'm Hinako, what's your name? Your mascara is really awesome."
Caption: What I love most is the adorable me.
"Hanano Sumire," she responds as she scopes out the crowd.
Caption: I am looking for someone who will also love the adorable me.
"W-what are you doing?" asked Hinako (w/ sweat drop).
"You could say I'm searching for something," Sumire responds, taking notes. Oh, class 1 has some lookers!
On the side, Hinako says, "Her name is supposedly cute sounding." (TN: Pansy) "But she's more like a hunter," comments Hinako's companion.
The only reason he dumped me was because we weren't going to the same high school, but I'll show that bastard...I'm gonna snag myself an exceptionally good man!
Then she spots Taichi, who, as club President, is introducing himself while dressed in traditional hakama.
An exceptionally good man! Sumire and the others jaw-drop at his exceptionally good looks.
When Chihaya, also dressed traditionally, introduces herself as Captain all the guys in the auditorium jaw-drop. In the background, Kana is patting herself on the back for her tactical decision to have them dress in hakama. Those in the audience are praising the traditional garb, especially when donned by such beautiful models.
Before they have reactions like, "Karuta? What the heck is that?" or "I'm not interested," they will first be impressed with their radiant outer appearance. As long as they're Japanese, anyone one of them can have the aspiration of donning a kimono! And we will have the hearts of the freshmen within our grasp! [In the background, the mangaka notes that Kana has instructed Chihaya to stand behind Taichi and be quiet and act elegant.]
Kana makes a scary pose as if she's grasping someone's heart... -_-; (TN: Mwuahahahahahahaha...!)
"Wow, Hanano-san, don't you think that guy is totally hot?" asks Hinako, peering around from behind Sumire. "Hana--?" Hinako notices Sumire's aura has become that of a hunting hawk as it spots its prey... O_o;
Chihaya is thinking back at the conversation she had with Kana-chan about the introduction to the freshmen. She wanted to do a karuta demonstration in front of them, but Kana nixed the idea saying that tactic would explode in her face. It was quite a blow to Chihaya and she's still tearing up about it.
Taichi then makes the mistake of handing the microphone to Chihaya, to introduce the team Captain. She then blurts out, "E-even though I don't have many friends to speak of, I consider all 100 poems of karuta to be my friends...and I hope I can have 100 more kouhai (TN: male/female juniors)."
That creates outbursts among the audience.
"100 more? The karuta club is really ambitious!"
"She said the karuta cards were her friends."
"Were you serious when you said you didn't have a lot of friends?"
Taichi smacks her on the head, mumbling, "Idiot."
Sumire is annoyed and takes this queue as Taichi liking girls who are cute but have little wit. (TN: *sigh* Chihaya can be such an embarrassment to women, generally) But, she writes it down in her notebook.
But, at least I found it (him)!
Cut scene: At the club room
"Are the freshmen going to come?! Are they not going to come?!" Chihaya blurts in frustration. "Because we really gave it our all yesterday, do you think they might come?"
"If they don't come it will be another headache for us. We at least need 5 more members to keep the club room," comments Kana.
"The audience's reception was warm, though," adds Desktomu-kun.
Taichi remains quiet, but adds, "It might be a problem if too many--"
"Yes?" asks Chihaya excitedly.
"Never mind...." He looks away. "Even if the freshmen come, we need to make a decision now. Who will be the one to train them?"
Immediately, Chihaya raises her hand to volunteer. The others' jaw drop in shock.
"Why?" demands Taichi. "You are clearly the one least suited for it, why do you want to do this?"
"What about your training?" insists Meat bun.
But Chihaya only stubbornly declares, "I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to!! I want to do it!!"
Cut scene: Chihaya thinking to herself as she picks out the things she'll need for training
I wonder...how many freshmen are going to come...?
She pulls out a box of karuta cards admiringly. All new cards...purchased with our club money budget increase. Even the backs of each card are numbered....
I hope they...can learn to love karuta. And then...
It would be great if our karuta club can continue on like that....
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of footsteps. A large group of students (mostly female) appear on their doorstep and greet them. Chihaya doubles over in shock when she opens the door. She collects their entry forms immediately. Chihaya looks down at the form and reads her name (incorrectly) as "leek" instead of "pansy." Sumire looks like she's about to pop a vein. Again, Taichi berates her.
"Moron, Chihaya! It's Sumire!"
This woman is my enemy!
The natural idiot beauty...is the enemy of all women! Sumire thinks. But...you couldn't tell at first because she was wearing a hakama...her body is really perfect.
The club members line up (in the order of their Mi-zu-sa-wa Go! t-shirts) and Chihaya begins the introductions. She is suddenly interrupted by Sumire raising her hand boldly asking if Taichi has a girlfriend. Everyone laughs. Taichi is annoyed.
"She really asked!" comments Meat bun.
"Hanano-san is pretty ballsy," says Desktomu.
Kana chan then clapps really hard to break it up. "Your senpai is currently speaking! It isn't your turn to talk right now," she says threateningly. (TN: *_* <3 I luv you, Kana-chan...) Everyone is shocked by her authoritativeness. Sumire is taken aback. [In the background, Miyauchi, who needs to go check on the tennis club, tells Kana to take care of the rest.]
Childish face, big boobs...Enemy! Sumire thinks.
"Who in this crowd has played karuta before, raise your hand...." says Chihaya, changing the subject.
"Whomever can recite one poem of the Hyakunin Isshu, please raise your hand...? she continues.
"Don't worry," says Chihaya nervously. "Every one has to start somewhere. These handouts prepared for you are the syllable identifiers of each card of the Hyakunin Isshu poems." [Prepared by Kana]
"Everyone please take one to memorize them." There are mixed reactions from the crowd.
"We have to memorize them?"
"It should be fine to just have them partially memorized, I guess."
Kana is staring daggers at them. "We're going to quiz you in a week. Those who cannot memorize the 100 will not make the cut, but will be eligible for a make-up test."
"K-Kana!" exclaims Chihaya nervously, taking her friend aside. "Why are you being like that? It's impossible to do in one week!"
"They are high school students," responds Kana sternly. "They are at least capable of that. You need to be direct with them."
"B-but...well...I'm sure everyone isn't clear on what competitive karuta is all about," she says hastily, grabbing Meat bun along the way.
"W-hat? Me?" stammers Meat bun as he's pulled along.
"So let us demonstrate a bit," she says as she and Meat bun are positioned on the tatami. "Competitive karuta is one against one, 50 of the 100 poems are in play, the remainder of the poems are included in the reader's stack. Each player gets 25 cards, you have 15 minutes to position and memorize the cards. It's like a mini test."
What? "We only have 15 minutes to memorize the position of all 50 cards?" Everyone starts murmuring amongst themselves.
"Today, since this is just a demonstration we'll only take 3 minutes to memorize the cards," says Chihaya.
"One minute will do!" grins Meat bun-kun. "So they can see how cool I am."
"The opening poem is not from the collection of the Hyakunin Isshu. During Heian Period, you could say that there were none were not aware, or not familiar with the poem of Naniwa Bay, and thus it was chosen as the opening poem for competitive karuta," explains Kana dilligently. But she only draws blank looks from the audience.
"Kana, let's end the history lesson here," says Desktomu on the side.
Kana reads the opening poem and the mock match begins. Everyone is in shock.
What are these people doing?
"That's what the feel of competitive karuta is about. Memorize all 100 poems, and then memorize the identifying syllables for each card, learn to memorize the positioning of the cards, and then taking the cards as fast as you can. With the national competition as your goal, everyone, do your best!" Chihaya says cheerfully.
The crowd is in doubt.
"Well..." starts Sumire. "I don't think any of us really want to do such an inexplicably tedious thing." Everyone bursts out laughing. "What if we just wanted to play 'pump the monk' in the corner?" (TN: she might be referring to a handphone game, and I don't know if this is from the Japanese version or an equivalent translation in the Hong Kong version, but Sumire says, "只想在角落玩抽和尚" which is pretty much what I said; suggesting that they want to join but not play competitive karuta)
"My, Hanano-san, you're too blunt," says Hinako.
"It's just too darn hard," laughs another student.
"Ahahahahahaha! How annoying!" remarks another.
"Right?" joins another.
"Speaking of 'pump the monk,' I don't even know how to play that!"
"Well, let's just start with memorizing the Hyakunin Isshu, shall we?" suggests one of the freshmen. "From next week onwards, please take care of us, karuta club!"
Cut scene: at the club room, in the aftermath of the freshmen barrage; Chihaya is sitting defeated under a dark cloud on the tatami mat.
"Heh...hehe...." mumbles Chihaya. [She wanted to think of something meaningful to say...but lost the effort] "It always starts off like that," she says to the others. "But, there were at least 20 people," Chihaya adds, trying to pump herself up again. "All we have to do is help them understand...right?"
The others don't look as optimistic.
"Chihaya," says Taichi. "You don't have the time to teach that bunch of unwilling freshmen kohai.... You only have six months until the next qualifying tournament for the Queen's match."
"If you really have the Meijin/Queen's match in your sight, then putting aside club activities and going to practice at the Shiranami Society would be better, don't you think?"
Chihaya is silent. Meat-bun picks up on Taichi's meaning.
"What the heck are you saying, Mashima? What about the Meijin/Queen's match? Before that we have the High School National Competition, right? There's a year's gap between competitions, isn't there? You think everyone's else's problems are more important? It's true that you haven't been able to raise yourself to the A rank, so you've become anxious, but--"
Kana stops him there, and even Meat bun catches the callousness of his own words. Taichi looks a little pissed.
"Let me teach them," volunteers Kana. "We don't need all 20 people. We just need to keep those who can play."
"What? What do you mean, Kana-chan?" demands Chihaya.
"I agree that's best," says Desktomu. "We only need the 5 of us to compete in the High School Nationals. We don't really need the freshmen for that...they can just play 'pump the monk' in the corner."
"E-everyone! Why...?" Chihaya says, confused. "If we don't teach them how to love karuta, the karuta club won't be able to continue!"
"Ayase," says Meat bun. "What do you expect from the freshmen? The ones who need to win the competitions are just us, right?"
Before the freshmen came, I didn't even know....
So completely different!
Everyone's way of seeing things was so completely different!
TN: Whomever is annoyed by Sumire, please raise your hand? Anyone? Lol, hope she drops the attitude soon. I dislike her enough to consider not translating whatever she has to say word for word and just summarizing it (briefly)--to just breeze over her as quickly as possible.... Her name means flower and it means pansy, which is a bit redundant--but I guess the mangaka wanted her to have a pretty, demure name, since she is really the opposite of that.
Please, please tell me there is more Chihaya x Arata to come otherwise, I stand here completely demoralized.... :-(