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Friday, March 30, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 10.4 (Chapter 57)

TN:  Ok, since I was last here I've been busy working, I've been quietly watching the revolution I seem to have started amongst my team members against our most incompetent team member (and my nemesis) at the office whose shoddy work product has been continuously brought to my boss' attention; then I got sick and had to go to the doctor @_@, and otherwise have been reading shoujo manga/manhwa (even re-read Sarasah vol. 1 - 5 'cause I think it's hilarious) and eating green tea flavored pocky snacks to my heart's content while recuperating!  

But here is another (very technical and difficult) chapter of Chihayafuru (and a very adorable Chihaya-Taichi moment). ^_^v

Chapter 57

Opening scene:  we last left off with Taichi in a very dark place

......  Taichi glances over in Chihaya's direction.  He wonders if she is still having problems with the inexperienced karuta card reader since she seems unable to pull ahead of her opponent.  He looks over to Nishida and notes that Meat bun has overcome the reader's inconsistencies and pulled apart by 10 cards, which is expected from Nishida.  Taichi remembers Hiro's words.

"Meat-bun kun, you're such a good person....  In terms of competitive strength you've already surpassed Mashima and yet you still let him (order you around) as club President."

"Forever B rank."

Which card is my opponent fixated on?  I need to take a really good look and confirm the cards she's sent over to me.....

Natural talent.  He thinks of Chihaya, Shinobu, the Meijin.

The 'blank' card "kako" hasn't been read yet, I have to be careful--
"Kazesou" and "kasewo" also haven't been....

Natural talent.  He thinks of Arata.

Ah...this won't do!  I have to concentrate!
Repeat, memorize, inspect....

It's so hot! he thinks.  Handkerchief....  Taichi reaches over next to him but unfortunately all he finds are the two talisman's his female club members gave to him before the match.

His female Shiranami Society members in the audience are thinking, The air conditioning above Taichi has stopped?  Why now?  Why here?  Taichi is so unlucky...

Whether it's through memorization or through hard work....

Again, his opponent shouts, "IT'S COME AT LAST!!" as she takes another card.  Taichi is starting to really sweat.

What's the use in building it up? he thinks in a very defeatist manner.

Meanwhile, Tsuboguchi is watching his student in awe, thinking she's exceeded his expectations.  Harada-sensei whispers to Hiroshi-kun as an aside, "Your high school is very hard working, isn't it?  Eyebrows-kun's opponent is quite the acrobat.  What karuta society is she from?"  (TN: Harada uses the term 高竿 in the Chinese version to describe her, which is a term associated with acrobats.  Literally, it means "tall pole." I'm totally guessing...)

"No," laughs Hiroshi.  "She's a self-taught karuta lover.  But she easily adapted to Harada-sensei's methods."

Harada looks puzzled.  She's reciting, "this card will be read" while waving her hands around!

True enough, Taichi's opponent is chanting in her head, "Kasa" come come come come come come come come come come come come come come come come...  (TN: O_o;;)

Even if the card she's focusing on isn't read, all she's does is takes the correct card first, and shouts really loudly, faking out her opponent as if she's somehow miraculously taken the card she was focusing on!  thinks Harada.

"I KNEW YOU'D COME--!" she shouts again, but Taichi takes the correct card this time.  (TN: ^_^)
She mutters that it wasn't an important card to take anyhow.

"Certainly it's so simple, but it's also so stupid."  (TN: I think this is Harada still speaking, since it's a play on words (in Chinese, anyway).  He describes it as "純" or cun, which means, simple or pure, and he describes it as "蠢" -- which is also cun, to mean idiotic or stupid.  But you're kidding, right?  Taichi is losing to this kind of girl?  Seriously Taichi??)

He monitors his opponent.  Moving towards the card that is implied...while the tendency is to not give away the true card.  (TN: literally, the Chinese translation says "走向过来的暗示...走向不来的暗示" which means "going over what is implied, while the trend is not to imply.")

"If he continues to act in the capacity of club President, perhaps he will be defeated..." says Hiroshi-kun as he watches.  Harada thinks about what he's said.
"You're really enthusiastic aren't you!" Harada chastises.  "Among our society's A ranked members, you've been ranked there the longest--"
"Ahahaha..." Hiroshi-kun laughs.  "Even if you don't take my efforts into consideration, I still want to say it.  Because I couldn't do my heart truly regrets it--"

Harada thinks back during the Meijin competition qualifying tournament that Hiroshi lost.

Eyebrows-kun!  Perhaps compared to what you were last year, the game has become more simple...

He recalls the conversation he had with Taichi before Taichi joined Chihaya's karuta club.

"Even if you bet your whole youth on it, you can't become strong?  Wait until you've actually tried it before saying that again!"

Because you've already spent an entire year...that's why you're suffering!

"If he continues to act in the capacity of club President, he may actually be defeated..."

Don't let them say that about you, Eyebrows-kun! thinks Harada.

As they continue, Meat bun and his opponent are thinking how hot it is.  Desktomu is thinking, "Shoot!" as his opponent takes another card from him.  Even Kana is thinking, "Mistake!!?" as she takes the wrong card.  Chihaya struggles on.

Tsubuka notices that everyone is bitterly engaged in their own battles.  The president, my senpai all seem like they can't pull through.  And it's so hot...  Even Mashima-senpai is falling behind...

"Bro, Bro!" one of his little brothers whispers to him.  "That pretty onee-san, when she takes cards, it looks a lot like you, Onii-san.  Just "boom" and she touches it lightly, was that something you taught her, Bro?"
Tsubuka thinks about it and says, "Of course!" with a thumbs up sign.  Tsubuka, his little brothers, and Sumire all watch Chihaya.  Looks just like~  

Sumire sighs as she watches.  "What can I do so that Mashima-senpai will date me?" she thinks aloud.
"Ah, ah!  What the heck are you saying?  Senpai is bitterly doing battle right now!"
"Because it's so busy," says Sumire, looking extremely bored.  "The only thing I can do is succumb to my wayward thoughts."
Tsubuka looks at her warily and thinks, "This is the composition of love..."

I've joined for two months, thinks Sumire, that's how I know...  Mashima-senpai is in love with Chihaya-senpai.  (Someone like Tsubuka wouldn't know...)  She thinks about what he told her on the train.

"I want to be the one who chooses...and then give it my all!"

Why?  Ayase-senpai...really doesn't even see Mashima-senpai!

Meanwhile, Miyauchi-sensei comes across one of the building's repairman and coordinators who is trying to explain that the far air conditioning unit has malfunctioned.  The repairman says they will have to wait until this match is over since it will take some time to fix.  Miyauchi peeks in at her team and is shocked that they are the only ones who are entirely hot and sweaty since they are dressed in kimono and hakama.

It's so uncomfortable that I'm sweaty from heat to toe, thinks Taichi.  I don't want to use a rented kimono to wipe my sweat.  But a handkerchief....

His opponent loudly takes another card, triumphantly crying out that she's broken her opponent's defenses.

"Ex...Excuse me!" calls out Taichi.  "Can anyone lend me a handkerchief?"

In an instant, he is covered with 5 handkerchiefs.  Apparently, his female karuta society members have been watching him keenly, as have Ms. Miyauchi, Sumire, and Mrs. Oe.  (TN: quite a popular guy...)  But the one he takes is the one offered by Chihaya, as she reaches out (awkwardly across Desktomu-kun) and offers it with a broad smile.  For a moment, Taichi looks confused, and hesitates before taking it.  But he then bows and thanks the others politely and folds their handkerchiefs neatly next to him.  Everyone notices.

At the very least, it's embarrassing to lose, so I quietly go alone to participate in the big tournaments.  I know I'm not alone...but...even if it's just me I still want to become stronger!

He takes a card from his opponent and calls out, "Yes, one card taken!"  His opponent is dumbfounded.

As soon as he let out his voice, his eyes haven't left the cards.  He's not even paying attention to his club members anymore, thinks Hiroshi-kun.

That's right, Eyebrows-kun, thinks Harada-sensei.  A team match is an individual match.  Face the cards...believe in your as a separate individual!

As Sumire watches in anticipation she has an epiphany and proceeds to get up.
"Ah? Where are you going?" whispers Tsubuka.
"I'm going to investigate the other teams competition, to prepare for the next round!" she whispers back, angrily.  "I'm going to investigate the players we have to face in the final round!"

She thinks about what she said to Tsubuka earlier and regrets her words.  I'm an idiot!  There's actually much more than I can do.  I'm a member of the club too...
Sumire thinks back to when Kana helped her with her hakama and kimono, saying it was standard attire for every club member.  I'm a member of the Mizusawa High Karuta Club!

It's come to 1 card vs. 6 cards.  In one breath, the distance has been pulled close-- thinks Hiroshi-san.  He realizes the first half of the match was really about "intuition" and fighting spirit, but the latter half...

Taichi's opponent raises her hand to allow herself time to rearrange her cards.

Was really them just going neck and neck to take the cards....

I haven't given up hope!  I want to win!  thinks Taichi's opponent fervently.  Taichi loses the next two cards to his opponent and his female karuta society members lament that all he had to do was take one more card but his bad luck is really getting in his way at the very end.

Taichi then proceeds to recite every single card that has been played thus far in his mind, from numbers 1 - 95 (TN: OMG...) and immediately concludes which card he must take to win.  He takes it and his opponent is in total shock.  She can barely utter the "thank you" phrase and cannot bow to him.  Taichi wipes the sweat form his face and sees that his team members are all smiling at him.  He was the last to finish.

Has everyone won?  How many have won? How many lost?  Ha, it's come to the point where I don't even know the answer to that... I'm not fit to be their leader.  He bows and thanks his opponent.

Announcer:  "4 wins, 1 loss, Mizusawa is the victor..."

Taichi's opponent sobs into a soggy mess on the tatami mat, apologizing profusely to her teacher, while Tsuboguchi-san tries to console her.

"Eyebrows-kun, in the end how many cards were left?" he asks Taichi casually.
"They've already read 95 of the cards, in the end there were only five cards left and no blanks cards.
He even knows this...? she thinks in disbelief.  Hiroshi-kun proceeds to explain to her why she lost.
Certainly she is talented when it comes to taking a card on the first syllable, but for example, when it comes to "a" cards, there are so many of them, so it's impossible to take the right card straight away.  If she can remember which cards have already be read, then in the latter half of the match it will help her take the remaining cards.

He adds, "Although it's quite disgusting-- how some people can remember the cards read through the entire match!  He practices memorization every day, it's quite disgusting--"  Taichi nearly falls over in annoyance.

"But that type of strength, really is something that I admire."

Taichi returns the handkerchiefs to his female fans in the audience and thanks them.  Meanwhile, all the male karuta players are looking at him darkly and envying his popularity.  He separately thanks Sumire for her handkerchief.  She says it's no problem but concludes that she cannot think too much of it.

Actually, also watching Mashima-senpai....

But in actuality, Chihaya is watching Hiroshi-san with a sparkly and glittering aura as she clenches a fist tightly.  It's still a mystery as to why.... (TN: lol)

Chihaya slaps herself on both cheeks to focus again.

And now we face Tokyo's strongest high school karuta club, Hokuo Academy.  They will definitely give it even more strength so we have to give it our all to be victorious!

Meanwhile, the Hokuo Academny karuta club captain, Nayuta Amakasu(?) tells his club members that since the two remaining finalists can both compete in the upcoming tournament in Omi Jingu, they needn't give it their all to be victorious.  Hiro is shocked at the statement.
"What are you saying, Captain?  Have you forgotten last year's disgrace?  We need to overturn Mizusawa and take back the trophy!"

Nayuta reluctantly agrees, and targets whom he thinks to be the weakest members of the Mizusawa karuta club (Taichi, Tsutomu and Oe) and decides they will win by pitting their strongest members against the opponent's weakest ones.

--End Chapter---

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 10.3 (Chapter 56)

TN:  Monday went really well but now, I just want to relax!  Client actually told me, "You've accomplished what five others before you couldn't; I'm going to tell your boss to give you a raise."  I was laughing on the inside.  A part of me really wanted it to end badly though, just so I could expose my junior to show the client what a real moron she is.  My boss is just lucky I'm a responsible employee! lol ^__^v  (yeah, yeah, I know, it's the responsible ones who always get stepped on...)  

But here's another chapter, to celebrate the end of Monday, and to celebrate the return of Arata!! :-D

My goodness, this was a looooooooooong chapter... had to break it up in a couple of nights to complete!

Chapter 56

Caption:  Fukui Prefecture, Ashihara (?) (TN: 芦原)

Arata is praying quietly in front of his grandfather's grave tablet in a cemetery with his parents and other associates of his grandfather.

"How quickly time flies, it's already been 3 years, has it?"
"I think, even now, I can hear Wataya-sensei's voice (in my head)!"

"Arata," says his dad, munching on the tribute food. (TN: ^_^; an extremely rude thing to do, since the food is left there for the spirits until you're done) "Don't just  keep praying (for such a long time).  The weather's getting hotter, let's just go home early!"
Arata's mother is in shock at her husband's attitude.

"D-dear!"  She complains that he's eating the food they had just laid out in tribute to the dead, and it was Arata's grandfather's favorite food.
"It's OK--" her husband responds nonchalantly.  "We were going to take it back with us anyway."
Arata is quiet throughout this exchange until he finally says, "I can now understand why Grandfather and Dad's relationship wasn't that great...."

"Your grandfather was annoyed that I had absolutely no interest in karuta," retorts his dad.
"After the two of you got into an argument you ran off to Tokyo to look for work, which caused Arata to have to transfer schools...." protests his mom.
"(That was so long ago)  But, but...," his dad sulks.  "That wasn't a bad experience for him."  He turns to his son, "And you also made friends in Tokyo."

Arata has a quick flashback of when Chihaya jumped out of a tree and tackled him and Taichi to the floor.  A smile spreads across his lips.

 "Now that you mention it," continues his mother.  "The High School Chapionship in Tokyo is taking place today, isn't it?  Your friends must also be doing their best, right?  Did they text you?"
Arata opens his (pink) phone to check.  "No.... Lately, I haven't been inundated (with mail) like last time.  (The amount of mail I got this time last year was really shocking!)"  (TN: see Chihaya's OCD-ness in Chapter 18 - 19, vol 4.1)

"If you don't seriously make the effort to communicate with them, won't your friends in Tokyo forget about you?" asks his dad.
"Really?  I don't think so...." responds Arata.
"Now you're just flaunting it--" retorts his dad.
"It's so rare that you actually bought a cell phone!" comments his mom, interrupting the two.

Arata smiles as he looks at the blank screen of his phone and thinks back on the (brief) conversation he had with Chihaya on Christmas Eve.

"Cell phones are really cool...really just like magpies!"

His mother walks to one side and notices the ocean view beyond the cemetery shrubbery.
"You can see the ocean from here!"
"Dad, you don't know, do you?  The phrase "和田之原" refers to the ocean!  (TN: literally, "peaceful field of wilderness."  The caption above the panel indicates "In waka poetry, the ocean is always referred to as "和田之原")
"First tell me what the phrase "和田之原" means again?" asks his dad, still munching on the tributary food for the deceased.
"...."  Arata gives up lecturing his dad.  Instead he thinks back to the two cards that refer back to the Ox Herder/Star Maiden folklore, as the poets describe their longing to see the ones most dear to them.  (TN: see Chapter 45)

Chihaya!  It isn't cell phones....  To me, the 'magpies' are really....

"Dad, Mom....  If... if I win the high school championship that time I hope you will grant me my one wish."

Cut scene: Semi-finals at the National High School Regional Championship

The semi-finals pairing on the board shows that Mizusawa is facing Houmei while Hokuo Academy is facing a fourth semi-finalist.

I didn't hear anyone say anything about it!  Who'd have thought our opponent in the Tokyo National High School Championship would be...  last year's Mejiin tournament qualifying winner and Eastern Conference's representing champion...the superior A ranked contestant...  Tsuboguchi-san... who became a high school mentor--

"Chihaya!  Did you know that Tsuboguchi-san was Houmei High School's karuta--" begins Taichi, but he stops short when he sees her expression.  She is blushing furiously with sparkles all around her, as if she's watching a movie star she adores.

I...just don't get it...that something like this would make her heart pound and beat so quickly....

"Everyone!" announces Hiroshi-san.  "Up to now, you all have done really well!  14 wins, 1 loss, Sensei is really amazed.... These two months past, you guys really put forward your competitive strength and a lot of other things."
"Sensei what you've said is true--" says the team captain, Takei Eita-kun (sophomore).  "All we have to do is change posture and we can straighten out our arms!"
"Me too, me too!"
"Since you gave me tips on which cards to send out, my opponent made 4 mistakes after that...sensei!"
"I...." says another voice, belonging to an extremely spooky girl who mumbles like she's cursing people. "I can take it! I can take it!  I can take it!" mumbles sophomore, Sasaki Suzuka (?).  "Miyo and Kono, Tachi and Arashi, Natsu and Wasura, Akika and Yuu...."
"Sasaki, you're really too dedicated!"  (TN: and creepy...)

"Mizusawa's really strong," continues Hiroshi-san.  "But from this spring onward we've been continuously practicing.  Perseverance...will not forsake you.  Take Sensei to Omi Jingu!"
"YES SIR!" they all respond in unison.

The Mizusawa team watches in astonishment. 

Spring... the springtime of youth.... they all think collectively. 
"Too passionate," says Sumire in a small voice.
Chihaya's heart is about to beat out of her chest.

Taichi goes over to the front table to ask to see Houmei's playing rosters.  He notices that each of the names have been strategically placed for each match.  His eyes meet with Hiroshi-san's and Hiroshi smiles at him.
"You can borrow our chests to cry on, when Mizusawa loses its last year's title."

Taichi says nothing.

Ever since I was little, Tsuboguchi san has been at the Shiranami Society... I'm quite familiar with everything about him....

Above anyone else, he received Harada-sensei's strongest attack techniques.  He plays to win!

What's his roster going to be this time?  Which one is the strongest?  Taichi thinks as he flips through the pages of Houmei's past rosters.  So we don't waste our 3 consecutive wins, how should we arrange our roster?  We can't be careless!

Then, Harada's assistant and one other female member of the Shiranami Society come over to give Taichi lucky charms (from a shrine) that they bought especially for him.
"Don't worry! The only thing you're lacking is luck!" says the assistant with tears in her eyes.
"You have strength!" cries out the other.
"? ?"  Taichi doesn't really know how to respond to that.  "Sorry!  I have to redo the team's roster right now..."  In the background, Harada is also eyeing him.

Chihaya has been in complete competition mode since the very beginning... No matter how you look at it, our strength is Chihaya.  Nishida shouldn't have a problem either...  The issue is whether to use Oe or Tsutomu? thinks Taichi.

Announcer:  "All participating teams, please turn in your player rosters to the front!"

Shoot!  I don't have any more time....

Just then, Harada-sensei places a hand on his shoulder.  "Eyebrows-kun!  Individual competition is the same as team competition!  Team just like individual competition!"  He walks away.


Announcer:  "Mizusawa High please assemble!"

What is that supposed to mean?

The announcer then begins pairing the competitors in the next match.  Nishida vs. Minami (?); Oe vs. Nakamori (?); Ayase vs. Takei; Tsutomu vs. Toda; Mashima v. Sasaki.

Chihaya watches Tsuboguchi san and marvels at how he's turned C ranked players into such a strong team.  She wonders if they became strong only after his tutelage.

"If you want to be a school with a strong karuta team, you need to have an equally strong mentor to lead it."

While she is deep in thought, her opponent tries to catch her attention.
"It's no good.  I really like you.... After the competition is over, give me you cell phone number!
HAH?  HAH?  Chihaya panics.  In the background Hiroshi-san smiles victoriously (TN: the mind game is all a part of his sneaky plan)

I've known Chihaya since she was young.  I know she is completely clueless when it comes to male-female relationships... and so I attack this way.  But I also know that as soon as the competition starts she will turn into an obsessive karuta nut--

"OK, I've said it.  Promise!" says her opponent.

All I have to do is look at Chihaya to know....  (Her head is actually filling with useless thoughts, like "What if I never hear those words again in my life?" and "What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?")

Taichi sends a murderous look in Tsuboguchi-san's direction.

That's low!  To the point of using Chihaya's personality to your advantage, I know this is your tactic, Tsuboguchi-san! he thinks angrily.

Tsuboguchi is smirking at Taichi.  ...that the real person who will be affected is Eyebrows-kun.  (TN: SOOOO sneaky...Chihaya isn't the target)

Tsuboguchi knows that even though Chihaya is the team's trump card, Taichi is the team's strength.

You're too easy to read....  Is this OK, Eyebrows-kun!  Is that the direction you should be looking at?

In front of Taichi, his opponent (the creepy one) is giving off an murderous air of her own while he is busy fussing over Chihaya's situation.

Cut scene:  The mentor for the Hokuo Academy kartua club rushes over to Harada sensei

"Harada!  Harada!"
"Ah!  Machida-kun," (?) (TN: 持田) "This year Hokuo's also coming out on top!"
"Harada-sensei, you noticed?  With the lessons of training learned last year, this year's team has continuously been victorious in every match.  But, finding five people for the competition who could read waka poetry clearly was very difficult!"  (TN: Not really sure what he means by he one of the coordinators of the competition?...)

"Well isn't that awesome?" says Harada rhetorically.
"It is awesome, isn't it!" exclaims Machida.

The next reader reads the Nanimono Bay opening poem, and pauses nervously before continuing.  But as he continues, his rhythm is totally off.
"Stop...the stopping point between phrases is so awkward, isn't it?" comments Harada-sensei.  "Machida-kun, this reader is not from Kanto?"
"No!" says Machida in horror.  "This reader has the experience...."

The next card is read, but the second verse stumbles behind the first a little too quickly.  Apparently, this reader just graduated from reading at B ranked competitions and is probably nervous.  He hasn't been able to grasp the rhythm of the poetry, dividing the verses by 4 - 3 - 1 - 5 counted syllables.

The two members of the Shiranami Society watching in the audience lament that only experienced competitors would notice the irregularity of a reader's mistakes, and it would definitely affect the Mizusawa players more than the Houmei players.  They lament that Taichi's luck is really awful.... -_-;

Kana-chan is about to have an aneurysm because of the way the reader is blundering the flow of the poetry. The poem should flow like an Odori dance (TN: a dance of the Edo Period that stems from Noh drama)  If it isn't properly read, the poem doesn't dance beautifully.

"Oe-san!" calls out Taichi to Kana.  She suddenly breaks out of her lapse of concentration when he tells her to snap out of it and focus.  She takes a deep breath and regains her composure.
"Yes!" she replies.

They all continue to play and Taichi continues to observe them.  Chihaya and Nishida are fine.  And Tsutomu?  Have his cards been taken continuously?

"Tsutomu, you have to attack next!" he rallies.
"Got it!" Desktomu responds.

Chihaya focuses on her game.  Because it's Tsuboguchi-san's--
So looking at the actual configuration (of the cards), it's really just like the Shiranami Society style's attack formation.

Her opponent tries to distract her by saying, "Having a girlfriend who loves karuta isn't bad.  You're really my ideal...."

But Chihaya is entirely focused now.  It's the same as my attack style.  So I am well aware of the enemy's vulnerabilities in the lower right segment!  She takes the next card exactly in that quadrant.  (TN:  She says, "意識在敵陣右下段" which means literally means she is aware of the enemy's position in the lower right segment -- so I'm guessing she knows exactly where the vulnerabilities of the defenses are)

Harada and Hiroshi-san observe her silently.'ve gotten stronger--

Even though it's me, there's no way I can defeat Mizusawa's two A ranked players.  But...

At that moment, Chihaya and Meat bun simultaneously lose a card to the opposing team.

"I broke the opponent's momentum!" says Takei-kun.
"So did I!" chimes in Minami.
"Good, really awesome!" cheers Toda-kun.

Takei proceeds to give Chihaya a penalty card.    Chihaya, Meat bun and Taichi notice that their opponents have taken cards that they were not focusing on and are actually giving them a card they want to take.  Tsuboguchi has taught them even these little annoying nuances.

Taichi then loses another card to his opponent.  He realizes he was too slow to react and he should focus on his own problem at hand.  His opponent is making an extremely creepy face as she waves her arms over the cards and repeatedly chants, "Come to me, come to me, come to me...."  Taichi feels a bit nauseous. (TN: hypnotic effect?)

She successfully takes the next card and cries out "I KNEW IT WOULD COME--"

What is up with this girl?  Taichi thinks, puzzled.  Not only are her actions completely different from Tsuboguchi's style, so is her card formation.

Cut scene:  flashback to creepy girl's past

Apparently, she's always had aspirations to be the Queen, but she never had the courage to join a karuta society and so she was predominantly self-taught. When she reached high school, she finally thought she would be strong if she joined a karuta club.  But it predominately became a social, tea-drinking club.   Then Tsuboguchi-san joined the school faculty.  He taught everyone that karuta was actually very interesting, or rather, "challenge" is very interesting.  (TN: The Chinese version uses the phrase"拚命" which means "difficult" or "desperate."  Not sure what Hiroshi-san was trying to get at here, but maybe what was interesting about karuta is the challenge?)

It was really shocking for me to hear....that the person who really wanted a challenge was me....  That really surprised me!

Cut scene:  back at the competition

Creepy girl is able to take the next card from Taichi as well, crying out, "YOU'VE COME AT LAST--!"

She's able to continuously take the cards she's focusing on!

The ladies from the Shiranami society are weeping at Taichi's bad luck.  One of them is stating the obvious, that he's continuously having cards taken from him.  The other knows that Taichi wants to start his attack, but the momentum of the game is against him, and she is cursing his bad luck.

"GOOD, COME--!" calls out the creepy girl to the cards.

There she goes again...

Eyebrows-kun, thinks Harada, doesn't believe that what he lacks is good fortune.  But instead, what he thinks he lacks is strength!

Why.... thinks Taichi.  Tsuboguchi-san has only taught them for two months, and they've already become this adept at taking cards?  So well that they can discern the flow of the game right away?  I've been working so hard all this time....

Harada quietly observes Taichi.  But once you start thinking that you lack the strength, you lose the will to take command.  Then you laugh off all your hard work and conclude with thoughts like, "I have no talent"--

Taichi has fallen into a dark place. (TN: poor Taichi...)

---End Chapter---

TN:  Geez, I hate it when we are left guessing.  Couldn't you at least finish the thought, Arata?  Do I really have to buy up through volume 16 to figure out what he meant?  Let's help him complete the sentence:

Chihaya!  It's not cellphones.  To me, the "magpies" are really ___________.

(a)  stupid.  What kind of girl makes a "magpie" reference to a guy?
(b)  karuta.
(c)  not the best (or safest) method of building bridges.
(d)  all of the above.

Ok, I've been thinking this for a really long time. So, what do you think Arata will ask his parents for?

(a)  a new cell phone that isn't pink;
(b)  to give their blessing and let him marry Chihaya;
(c)  that his Dad stops eating the tributes to the deceased;
(d)  that his parents let him attend university in Tokyo.

Yeah, if what Sudo-kun said was true at the last competition, then I'm guessing it's (d).  OK, I'm done having fun. 

(v^_^v Go Arata!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 10.2 (Chapter 55)

TN: Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!  (^_^)v  Life is tough, right?  But we have to keep on going!!  I've done my best to prepare for Monday's project!  I'm trying to catch up with my own work now, but before I do that, here's the next chapter.  Doing the translation really relaxed me again, and put things into perspective.  Like a kind of meditation? lol

Chapter 55

Caption: Go!  Mizusawa Karuta Club!

"Nishitaka!" cries out the opposing team captain.
"Win!" responds the team players in their rallying cry.

"Mi--" calls out Taichi.
"Zu--!" answers Desktomu-kun.
"Sa--!" calls out Meat bun.
"Wa!" cries out Chiahaya.
"FU GO FOR IT!!" finishes Tsubuka.  Everyone looks at him a little strangely.  (TN: the Chinese version says "噗" which means "puff" or taking a puff of air")

"Fu?" asks Meat bun to the side.
"He actually said 'fu go for it...,'" says Sumire to Kana in the audience.  "Seriously--that idiot Tsubuka didn't even do the rally correctly."
"He's really nervous," remarks Kana.

I'm OK!  I'm OK!  thinks Tsubuka as he constantly wipes his sweat and adjusts his kimono collar.  My little brothers are watching.  I...have to be the hero no matter what!

But Nishitaka takes the first card with Tsubuka's opponent doing the first strike.
"Ha, Nishitaka's first card!"
"Senpai you're so awesome!"
"We have to take the next one as well!" she rallies.
"Yes, ma'am!" responds her team members in unison.

She takes the second and third cards from Tsubuka as well, and Tsubuka starts to sweat even more.  Tsubuka then makes a stupid mistake.

He actually got it wrong.  It's something that's hard to get wrong! thinks his team members looking in his direction.

My first move was an's just my habit from playing "latter verse" karuta, thinks Tsubuka in horror.

Even his opponent is quietly laughing at him.  Only a simpleton would make such a mistake.  How funny!

Tsubuka's opponent is the team's captain, thinks Taichi.  She is Nishitaka's sole A ranked player.  Strategically, not letting her go neck and neck with one of our own A ranked players was really lucky, but Tsubuka's really having a hard time--

(Knowing) latter verse karuta is actually a hindrance.... thinks Tsubuka.  And I even went so far as doing such a disgraceful thing just so I could play.... I was so confident....

I've only ever had confidence in playing karuta--

Cut scene: back at school, the old classics teacher is sipping tea in the teacher's office as Ms. Miyauchi comes in noisily.

"Oh, Miyauchi-sensei," says the old teacher.  "Didn't you have a tennis competition today?"
"Ah!  Fusaku-sensei.... This year's tennis team is also really strong.  They were able to break early because they won so quickly.  The tournament is still going on, though.  Next is the karuta regional competition..."
"Heh, heh.  Ah...that reminds me, regarding the membership in the karuta club....  Did they add five more members yet?"
"....Of...OF COURSE!  Just look at the stack of 20 applications to join the club!"
"Ahhh-- How amazing.  Certainly, I expected no less from you, Miyauchi-sensei."

But 18 of them ended up leaving.... thinks Miyauchi in dismay.

"Speaking of the karuta club," says Fusaku-sensei, coughing, "concerning Ayase Chihaya, her second year future goals form is still blank...what's wrong?"

 Miyauchi looks a little disconsolate. "...Time.... Just give her some more time.  That girl...looks as though she hasn't given it much thought, but she has thought about it...probably."

She races off to catch up with the karuta competition as Fusaku-sensi watches from the window, smiling.

Cut scene: back at the match

Chihaya leans over and pats Tsubuka's shoulder.
"You're so lucky, Tsubuka-kouhai!  In a real competition, to be able to play against an A ranked's so very fortunate!"  Tsubuka thinks about what she's saying.

Of course it is! If this were a ranked individuals competition, your opponents would never be ranked higher than you....  The experience and opportunity to do so only arises with team competition. that considered lucky? thinks Sumire to herself.
Certainly something only the Captain would say, such cool encouragement, thinks Kana.

That's not it... thinks Desktomu-kun and Taichi.  That girl's just jealous that she's not playing against the team captain.

At that moment, Chihaya is enviously thinking:  So lucky.  If I could, I wish I could play against her.

But how am I fortunate?  I want to win!  I want to play against someone I can win against!  I don't want to continue losing my confidence like this! thinks Tsubuka.  I don't want to continue....

As they continue playing, Tsubuka continues to lose cards to his opponent.

Of course I can't do it...damn!  It's really such a pitiful feeling--

Pitiful-- thinks Tsubuka.  He observes his opponent.  This person is an A ranked player.... But Ayase-senpai is clearly much faster than she is--

Nishida-senpai is much stronger than she is--

He looks over to his team and reminisces to a time he spent with his siblings in Hokkaido at their local karuta club.

Cut scene: flashback to a winter in Hokkaido

"Oh, Big Bro's here!" cries out one of his siblings.
"Bro!  Come help me!  Karuta! Karuta!" calls out another.
"Akihiro onii-san!" cries another (TN: I think his name is 秋博, which is "aki" for autumn, and "hiroshi" -- so Akihiro is the best I can manage until someone tells me different :-p)
"Are you guys being crushed by the opposition?" he laughs.
"We're not worried now that you're here, Bro!" says his little brother.

"Just relax!"

Cut scene: back at the competition

Tsubuka observes his more capable team members and comes to a revelation.

Just relax!

Ah, I can just take it easy and claim this victory, thinks the Nishitaka team captain as she smiles and wipes her brow.  But then she is shocked when she notices the scary expression on Tsubuka's face as he cracks open his eyes and stares at her intently.

Wh-what the-- she thinks.

"Just make that expression during the match and you're sure to win!"
"Being loud can also be a weapon during this competition!"

"I-I WANT TO WIN!" declares Tsubuka in a sudden outburst.  "JUST WATCH OUT!!"

His opponent is taken aback and everyone else just stares at him in silent astonishment.  Meat bun lets out a little cough, as he thinks back to their training sessions.

"I will make you stronger."

Cut scene: flashback at the karuta club

"Tsubuka, You'll also have your own cards that will make you stronger."  Meat bun presented two cards to him in particular.  They are both "tsu" cards.  "Because your name is Tsubuka Akihiro."

"....  (There are only two "tsu" cards)," interrupted Tsubuka.  "But---because I'm called Akihiro, there are only 8 waka poems that begin with 'a' in latter verse karuta--"
Meat bun looked annoyed.  "Always butting in (while I'm talking)--"
"In upper verse karuta," interjected Desktomu-kun, "there are 16 cards that start with 'a'!  There aren't actually a lot people who can claim the 'a' cards as their own namesake cards.  You're very lucky, Tsubuka-kun!"

Cut scene: back at the competition

There are 2 'tsu' cards... And then there are 16 'a' cards, thinks Tsubuka.

"Even if it takes a while, you have to make them your own signature cards."

Tsubuka takes the first "tsu" card quickly, much to the surprise of his opponent.

Next I'm going to take the 'a' cards!

But, unfortunately, his opponent takes the next "a" card.

Ah, ah!  I can't!  There are "a" cards over here, over there, they're all over the place--  

My brothers are watching. senpai are also here!

Chihaya takes her last card as everyone watches in awe.

How, how strong! thinks Kana.  Chihaya and her opponent exchange bows.
Another 25 card annihilation? thinks Tsubuka.
Even if her opponent's ranking is lower, Chihaya didn't make one mistake or receive a single penalty-- thinks Kana.
Ah-- she seems kinda cool-- thinks Sumire.

"Mashima, Meat bun, Ayase...we're counting on you!"

Kana realizes that Chihaya is holding up the team and Desktomu's expectations.

"MIZUSAWA, ONE WIN!" she cries out.
"YEAH!" responds Taichi, Meat bun, and Desktomu in unison.
"Y-yeah!" says Tsubuka.

It must be because...if we didn't have the freshman...we wouldn't be this strong, thinks Kana.

"MIZUSAWA, SECOND WIN!" calls out Taichi.

President, and Meat bun-kun also...

"ALL RIGHT!  MIZUSAWA, THIRD WIN!" calls out Meat bun.

Tsubuka at that point realizes it doesn't matter if he wins or loses, and he feels a little sorry and annoyed by it.  His brothers are watching as well, surprised he's having a hard time.

I'm sorry!  I'm not a hero...I'm actually kinda weak.... But, right now, all I want is to take another card.

One card!

One card!

His sentiment is shared by the others in the room who continue to play to the end.
In the end, Tsubuka loses by 13 cards, and Desktomu by 2.

"Desktomu-kun, that's really too bad!" says Chihaya.
"I even caught up with her---" he laments.
"Against a B ranked player that's already a pretty impressive record and a good enough outcome," encourages Meat bun.

Nearby, Tsubuka looks as though he's about to collapse.  His little brothers rush up to him.
"You guys," says Tsubuka, opening his arms to them.  They run right past him and swarm Chihaya.
"Ah, hey!" cries out Chihaya as she's stampeded.

"Nee-san, you're so COOL!" says one of them.
"Beautiful and also strong--" says another.
"So strong--" says the third.
"Totally, totally awesome!"
"Th-thank you," says Chihaya.  Tusbuka starts to tear up under the possibility that his siblings have found another hero/heroine.
"But, my Bro will quickly catch up to you," says one of the boys.
"We only play with wooden karuta cards at home, but from now on we've decided to play with paper cards instead..."
"That way, Bro will become stronger more quickly!"
"My Big Bro is really powerful!"

Chihaya gets a devious look on her face.  "Well then, starting from this Tuesday, why don't you all come  to the Shiranami Society!"
("How sneaky!" says Meat bun on the side.)

I'm bringing new members, Harada sensei!

Cut scene: Harada walking down the street with two of his society members

Harada is really excited to be watching the high school championship, and hopes they will be in tim to watch the final decisive competitive match.  His assistant assures him then they will make it in time.
She adds, "Mashima-kun hasn't texted to me that they've lost."
"Eyebrows-kun?  What's up with him...  From a training standpoint, he's already as strong as an A ranked player.  He's certainly diligent and his focus is good, why is it that he can't win any competitions....."
"...."  The others think about it for a bit.  "Sensei," says his assistant.  "I saw Mashima-kun at the Kyoto and Takushima I wanted to go over and cheer him on (since I lost so quickly, myself)...."
"Ah! You mean Eyebrows-kun snuck out there without telling us...." says Harada, surprised.
"Well, as soon as he says anything, we'd all pack up and go watch, so he wanted to keep it a secret!" explains his assistant.

"He certainly does his best during the can I put this...." she hesitates.

"He's just really unlucky.  At the most critical moments, he just...lacks good fortune....."

Cut scene:  during intermission of the competition

"Mashima-senpai!" says Sumire cheerfully offering a box of handmade, fresh cookies.  "Please try some!"
"I'm sorry," he apologizes.  "I can't have carbohydrates during a competition."

"What, you copying Harada-sensei or something?" interjects Meat bun as he gratefully takes some from the box, and then offers the rest to Tsubuka's little brothers.  Sumire is annoyed, but looks a bit disheartened as Taichi continues to ignore her.  Kana and Chihaya (munching on chocolate) notice her expresssion, but Taichi is busy mentally preparing.

Don't think too much about it...
Loosen up.... Clear your mind....
Just erase the first three matches from your memory and throw it away.  

Even if I've done every single preparation imaginable, if there's a chance of losing, I always lose...but even so, I must still prepare. 

He looks down at the next division match roster.  In the next C division matches, the one we really have to win is Houmei High (TN: 朋鳴).  They're actually a no name school, but their track record is really good...

They are suddenly interrupted by Harada and company.
"Chihaya!  Eyebrows-kun!"
"Harada-sensei!" greets Chihaya.
"Looks like you all made it this far into the final round.  That's great, great!"  He walks over to Taichi and grips him by the shoulders. Then he proceeds to check his temperature and check his appearance.
"Of course, I've come to cheer for Chihaya and everyone else...but this year, I guess that's not all?  Certainly I'm very happy but I'm also conflicted--"
"Hah?" asks Chihaya, not understanding his meaning.
"I bet you guys still don't know?  The undefeated Houmei--"

Cut scene:  the Houmei High players

So exciting!
So exhilarating!
Teaching high school is so awesome!
Being a mentor is awesome!

"Let's go everyone!" shouts Hiroshi-san.  "The ones to topple last year's dark horse Mizusawa will be this year's dark horse, Houmei!
"YES SIR!" his students shout in unison.

Their Hiroshi-san.... Taichi and the others stare in shock.

---End Chapter---

P.s. There's a beautiful cover of Taichi for the next chapter!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gomenasai! (no new updates)

TN: I really wanted to post more this week, but all sorts of things happened (in real life) that took the time/energy and mindspace away from CHIHAYAFURU!!!!  It was so bad I had to go to an emergency happy hour with co-workers on Wednesday (and came home too buzzed and tired to work on translations) just to drown my sorrows in cocktails.... D-:

OMG, I was so mad this whole week, I was practically staring daggers at my boss.  Not only do I have to cover for a co-worker (whom I really dislike - totally b/c she is condescending and my junior) I have to do a major project for her file on Monday!  (She is on maternity leave) That means I will have no life and cannot work on my favorite CHIHAYAFURU because I come home late to finish my work and hers!  And she such a moron that her work is done so haphazardly that I feel as though I should just do it over so I don't look like a moron too in front of the client!!  And the boss loves her and treats her like a daughter because she has family connections with him... SIGH....

I had a MAJOR confrontation with my boss today and I told him if she were a competent worker, our team wouldn't have to scramble to clean up after her messes, and his playing favorites is lowering team morale.  I called her a selfish, unprofessional, condescending, lying nitwit and he just looked at me like I had gone insane....SIGH....

Somehow I feel like some of my co-workers indirectly set me up to be the one to tell him b/c they don't have the balls to do it....SIGH....

Being a grown-up is hard *sniff, sniff*  I may need to look for another job....  SIGH....

So sorry, I'm not in the mood for Chihayafuru right now  :-(  I hope I will be in the mood for it again soon, because I miss karuta!!  The real world stinks.  (boo hoo hoo)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 10.1 (Chapter 54)

Chapter 54

Opening scene: a piece of paper that say's "You're it."

The members of the class are drawing lots to see who will go as their class' summer school trip representative.  Chihaya stares at the piece of paper in her hand with dismay.
"Who drew the paper that said they have to go as the class rep?" asks a class member.
"Thank goodness, I'm clear!" cheers another.
"I heard this year the reps are required to go to three meetings every week in the council room."
"What a load of crock," laughs another.
"Who is it?
"C'mon, be honest and get up here!"

"Ah," says Meat bun turning pale.  "Ayase...don't tell me--"
Suddenly, her friend Michiru snatches the paper out of her hand and calls out, "It...It looks like I'm it!"
"!"  Chihaya looks at her friend in shock.
"Ah, Michiru! The right person for the job!"
"I'm going to need everyone's cooperation," says Michiru.
"Mi...Michi-chan!" says Chihaya, trying to take the paper back.  "I'll go ahead and do it!  It's OK!"
"It's fine, Chi-chan!" insists Michiru, keeping the paper away from Chihaya.  "The karuta competitions are fast approaching, right?  Right now isn't the time for you to be class rep, right?"
Chihaya is speechless.
"In return," Michiru continues, "during the school's summer trip, you have to forget about karuta and come with me to make fun memories.
"Good luck in the regionals."

Chihaya begins to tear-up.

Meat bun, who is blushing while he coughs, pulls her aside and says, "Lately, I've been noticing that all girls aside from you, are really good sort of women...."
"(I know!)  I've been thinking the same thing, Meat bun-kun!" says Chihaya.

Cut scene:  Everyone stares as the beautiful Chihaya dressed in hakama and kimono returns the High School Regional Championship trophy to the overseers of this year's tournament.

Caption:  The season has come.  June... The National High School Championship, Tokyo Regional Tournament!

"Mashima-kun!" cries out Oe-san.  "I've missed you!"
"It's been a while, Mrs. Oe....Ri...Rieko-san," says Taichi rather uncomfortably.
"That's right!" says Oe-san.  "I'm Rieko!  You're getting more and more handsome!"  (TN: ...cougar...?)
"What is that Oe baa-san doing?!  (And what's with all those floating hearts?)" asks Sumire in disdain.
"Hanano-san, why are you still standing there?" demands Kana-chan.  "I still have to help you dress.  Go into the changing room now!"
"But, I'm just the alternate...."
"What are you talking about?" demands Kana.  "Hanano-kouhai, you're still a member of the Mizusawa Karuta Club, and all members of the club must wear traditional attire."

When Kana is done dressing her, Sumire marvels at how beautiful the clothes are and comments that this is her first time wearing traditional clothing.
"It's very beautiful.  I'm really happy," she blushes.  Sumire immediately pulls out her compact to check her hair and makeup.

At the start, I didn't think I'd get along with her...but feels like this is the first time a girl has joined the ranks of our karuta club.   (Chihaya is like one of the guys)  Kana proceeds to tell her to watch her sleeve when she raises her arm.

Cut scene:  Tsutomu, their strategist, checking the lists of participating schools and players ranking

This year, there are 14 participating schools.  We are in group A, along with Nishitaka and Hidetatsukan.  Awesome!  Last year's notes can still be used!  Tsutomu thinks.

He turns to Chihaya to start discussing the player's line-up when they are suddenly stampeded by Tsubuka's younger brothers exclaiming that she's a beautiful person.  They look exactly like him.
"W-what??!!  Genjitsu?  Dopplegangers?" Chihaya exclaims in surprise.
"Oh, I'm so sorry---" says Tsubuka, coming towards them.  "My apologies.  My family's motto is 'no matter what, when you see a beautiful person, you've gotta hit on them'...."
"Are you serious?" says Desktomu-kun on the side.
"T-triplets?" asks Chihaya.
"Nope," answers Tsukuba.  "They're each separated by one year! (11, 10 and 9 years old)"  (TN: O_o;)
"We're here to cheer on Big Bro!" they all cry out in unison.
"Bro! You look really cool!"
"It's like you're really handsome when you wear a hakama!" exclaims another.  Tsubuka proceeds to make his signature scary face, which all this brothers thinks is really cute.
"Just like the Ox Herder!" exclaims another.  (TN: In the story of the Ox Herder and Star Maiden they were said to be very handsome and beautiful individuals)
"So that expression is from the folk tale!  It looks just like it!" exclaims Chihaya.  (TN: ...WTH... O_o;)
"You've gotta be joking!" exclaims Desktomu-kun.
"Bro, will you be competing in the tournament?"
"Of course he is!" insists another sibling. "In latter verse karuta our team is undefeated and Big Bro is the attacking trump card!"
"So does that mean he's strong at Kanto style karuta as well?" asks the third.
"Of--Of course!" states Tsubuka.

Tsubuka then states he will use his strength in wooden karuta cards and transform it into power to win every single match.  His brothers look at him in awe since he is their hero.

He actually said something like that! thinks Desktomu-kun.  While practicing he never once beat any of the sophomores!

All the while, Tsubuka is thinking, There's no way they're going to let me participate!

Chihaya remembers Tsubuka's words, saying he wanted to become strong.

Cut scene: Meat bun and Taichi going over this year's competition rules

"What?  This year they're letting the top two regional schools represent Tokyo in the Nationals?"
"It says so right at the top that as long as they surpass 10 teams in the regionals they're eligible.  Last year 12 schools participated," comments Taichi.
"Wow!  That's good!  Now we can play a little easier!" says Meat bun.

Suddenly, Hiro-kun pirouettes in their direction (TN: O_o;;) and says, "It doesn't matter if it will be one or two representing Tokyo, Hokuo Academy will be victorious!" (sparkle, sparkle, shine, shine)

"........"  Meat bun and Taichi are speechless.  They decide to ignore him.
"I can't help but think that this year's Tsubuka-kun has an uncanny resemblance to Hiro-kun," says Meat bun.  "But I think Hiro-kun is still way weirder."
"That would be an insult to Tsubuka-kouhai," says Taichi.
"Hello! I'm right here and I can hear you!" says Hiro.  "Meat bun-kun, you're a good person.  You've already beaten Mashima-kun and yet you continue to let him be the club President.  This perpetually B ranked 'eyebrows-kun,'" says Hiro, talking smack.

Taichi twitches in annoyance.
"Perhaps he's been hiding it from you but this sorry bastard's participated in the Takushima and Kyoto tournaments!   Yet STILL, he remains a B rank!"
Taichi's about to pop a vein. He grabs Hiro by the collar and shakes him wildly.  "Aren't you the same!  Regardless of whether it's Takushim or Kyoto, you were also there as well....  Not being able to get into the A rank, we're the same, right??"

Hiro pushes him away.  "But, when it comes to team competitive karuta, we will obviously be the victor."
"Stop joking around!" says Taichi.  "Frankly, after Captain Sudo graduated, Hokuo's team is nothing to be afraid of."
"Yeah, yeah!" says Meatbun to the side.
Hiro smiles mischievously.  "If you're going to say things like that, wait until you see our final weapon before you say anything else."
Final weapon? Taichi and Meat bun-kun think simultaneously.
"I'll see you in the competition!" says Hiro before he leaves.

Cut scene: Chihaya returning the trophy in her hands

We fought together...and this was our very first prize.  At that time, we gave it our all...just looking straight ahead...

Announcer: "Last year's champion school is returning the winner's trophy."

She closes her eyes and lets it go.

Come back to us...and after that we'll walk towards the nationals.... Next, our dream is to become Japan's Number One!

Cut scene: Taichi going over the roster with the others

"I hope we can in our first match against Hidetatsukan attack from the onset; Tsutomu-kun came up with this playing order since he's pretty good at it...
"That's true," comments Meat bun.
"I have no problem with it," says Kana.
"Ah..." says Tsubuka.  "Then, I'll just go hand it to the overseers."
"Thank-Thank you," says Taichi, a bit surprised.

Just as Meat bun is feeling apologetic for comparing him to Hiro-kun, he notices Tsubuka changing the roster behind everyone's back.  He calls him on it.
"Tsubuka-kouhai?" Meat bun asks, putting a steady hand on his shoulder.  Tsubuka flinches.  He takes the roster and sees that Tsubuka has scratched out Tsutomu's name and put his own in slot #4.
"HAAAH?  What the hell do you think you're doing--that's completely outrageous don't you think?" Meat bun demands.  "You actually changed the roster!"  The other team members notice.
"What?" asks Kana.
"If you have a problem with the playing order, then voice your opinion!"  Tsubuka trembles.
"Be-beacuase when I played Tsutomu-senpai I once lost by only three cards!  In terms of competitive power, I've already caught up!" he shouts.

Taichi smacks him on the forehead with a firm hand.  (TN: Go, Taichi!!)

"Cool your head," he says calmly.  Everyone is silent.  "If you can't do that, then go home."
Tsutomu considers Tsubuka's situation and what he told his little brothers for a moment, and then announces, "Let's redo the roster, then!"  Everyone is shocked.  "In our first match against Hidetatsukan, let someone else...take my place...."
"Hanano Sumire!" he calls out.
"Hah?" asks Sumire, still checking herself out in her compact.

What!? everyone thinks in shock.

"Then in the second match against Nishitaka," he continues, "let Tsubuka-kun take Kana's place.  Just then, I actually went over to take a look and their game timing is still the same as last year."  (TN:  In the Chinese version, he says "比賽時機" which means exactly that, but I'm not sure what it means in terms of the match or why that's beneficial...)

"If we go by their roster last year, they take no prisoners when it comes to challenging men, but they're rather accommodating to girls (because they're an all boys high school)."
"Wh-when you put it that way..." begins Kana.
"Putting 3 girls in the center of the row would be a more brilliant plan," he states.
"This year, Nishitaka formulates their game plan around core female players...they also do rallying shouts during competitive matches; that sort of serious competitor doesn't change, right?"  He turns to Tsubuka.
"Tsubuka-kohai, open your eyes wider for moment."  Tsubuka does his signature creepy look.
"Like--Like this?"
"That's it, that's the look," Tsutomu says, grabbing him by the shoulders.  "As long as you use this expression during the match, you're sure to win.... Being loud can also become your weapon.  (Don't stick your tongue out.)"
Tsutomu lets go and Tsubuka notices a few tears fall before he turns around, his back facing the others.  "Aside from us, the other three will have to compete in every match.  Meat bun-kun, Mashima, Ayase...we're depending on you."

Cut scene:  And so it begins.

As Chihaya plays seriously, everyone is watching in awe, especially Tsubuka and his brothers, who think she's dazzling.  To the side, Tsubuka asks Tsutomu a question.
"Why...Why did you want to give me a chance?  Even after I did something so disgraceful...."
"Sh!  You're too loud!" says Tsutomu.

He thinks back to his first competition with the club and how he wanted to leave early if he wasn't going to be of use.
"Because...I was the same.  Once, I was also give a chance....
"Don't be impatient, Tsubuka-kouhai, you will quickly become strong...don't worry!  You have the attitude and the innate ability...don't worry."

At Tsutomu's words, Tsubuka begins to tear up.  In the background, the three brothers are admiring Tsutomu and declare him to be dazzling.

Cut scene: Sumire is about to have a heart attack in mid-match

Why the heck am I competing??  I didn't hear the reason.  I certainly don't want any 'opportunities.'  As the reader recites the next card, Sumire is looking around wildly for the card she's supposed to take.  Her opponent points it out for her.
Oh, right!
She looks up at her opponent in confusion.  He blushes and smiles as he whispers, "It's so good that you got that one."

Next, the "hanano" card is read.
Oh, it's this one! she thinks as she takes her own signature card.  Her opponent's hand touches the top of hers.
He blushes and laughs shyly, "Oh, I touched you."  Sumire is getting a little weirded out.

She glances over at Chihaya's opponent, who looks like he's having the shock of his life.
"He's lost by 25 cards!" someone in the crowd says in awe.
"Total annihilation!" exclaims another.  The player bangs the tatami in frustration at his loss and curses.

Chihaya-senpai...doesn't even give the chance for her opponent to touch her....It's not simply because she's a woman that she has the advantage.   (Chihaya's being assessed as a man.)

Sumire turns to her own cards.

Remember it!  Remember it!  Remember it!  she wills herself to try and memorize the positioning.
I remember all of the upper verses.  Concentrate, concentrate!  And turn it into action!  Need to be fast! My brain...the portions I've never used before...  Let the blood in my veins flow to those regions!  Next time, I'll be faster!

She remembers Chihaya's words.  "Over time you will become faster and faster, you'll want to take them!  Sumire!"

Even though I deny it, it really has come to this.

But she lost anyway...

"All right!  Mizusawa High's first victory!" cries out Chihaya at the end of the match.

Caption: Onward, Mizusawa High School Karuta Club!

---End Chapter---

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chihayafuru Discussion: No Season 2....

TN: Well, since seiyuu Mamoru Miyano and the others have been working on different projects for release in 2012, I think it's safe to say that there won't be a Season 2 of Chihayafuru anytime soon (-_-;) 

BUT, Hosoya Yoshimasa has been lending his talent to Inu tou Boku Secret Service (InuxBokuSS) as the cotton fabric demon Renshou Sorinozuka (which, IMO is kind of a waste for that lovely, deep voice even tho he does have these very dead pan one liners that totally crack me up).  Generally, a true rendition of Cocoa Fujiwara's manga that stretches the plot out but definitely worth watching if you're a fan of the series for that same reason.  (P.s. I'd add the disclaimer that the material, risqué themes and artwork are suitable for ages 15+)

So, getting back to Chihayafuru, we are now, finally, back into competition season and volume 10.  Taichi, Chihaya and Arata are all advancing, but at their own pace and not a whole lot of progressive interaction among these three through volume 11.  The competitions are intense and the emphasis is on the teams.  I have not yet opened my volume 12 - 13 sitting on my table so don't tell me what happens!  ^_^  

Obviously, I've been busy stitching, but at this point I'm at standstill regarding the hakama.  Purchase one for $65US to save myself from the aggravation of sewing and ironing all those folds, or make one for $35US. (the upper portion gi/kimono is relatively easy -- go to The Cosplay Chronicles if you're remotely interested)

I'm thinking "buy" but, alas, my wallet is looking awfully slim this month <what the heck did I buy??>  ....  :-(

Uploaded by  on Dec 16, 2011
Song:YOUTHFUL by 99RadioService (Anime'Chihayafuru' OP).
English Transration of song : minacchi(

I found this really great AMV with the full version of 99 RadioService's opening theme song "Youthful."  Below is a link to the full version of the "main theme" I keep talking about.  REALLY beautiful.

Uploaded by  on Jan 17, 2012
Chihayafuru Original Soundtrack - Track 7: Chihayafuru Main Theme

From: Chihayafuru
Artist: Kosuke Yamashita

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis: Vol. 9.6 (Chapter 53)

TN: I was trying to find out what makes these new members gel with the older ones.  They actually do fit in because they are all OCD about something.  1) Chihaya is OCD about karuta and Daddy Bear, 2) Kana is OCD about kimono (and waka poetry), 3) Meat-bun is OCD about well, meat buns (and eating), 4) Tsutomu is OCD about note taking, 5) Taichi is OCD about (catching up with Arata?), 6) Sumire is OCD about Taichi/boys/love (and make-up) and 7) the new guy is OCD about being strong (when he's not).  

Now, what the two newbies can contribute to Chihaya or the team to interpretation for now....

BTW, do you think it's considered OCD behavior if, well, someone *ahem* loved Chihayafuru so much they decided to....(whispers) try on a hakama for size?  This someone just wanted to see what it felt like to wear one!  Honest!  LOL!  Some food for thought for the upcoming cosplay season.  I'd love to see a bunch of us going as karuta players.  And even if people don't recognize which anime we're from, I think it'd be fun to wear hakama!

Okay, now where was I?  The chapter where Arata comes back (sigh)... and makes a cameo appearance.... *grumbles*  Arata really doesn't get enough face time....

Chapter 53

Opening scene:  the mascara queen (Sumire) humming to herself in the girl's bathroom as she applies her make-up

Kana-chan and Chihaya come across her as they enter the bathroom.
"Hanano-kohai!" Kana-chan exclaims.  "You're not even changed yet?  Club activities have already started!"
"I'm sorry!" Sumire apologizes.
"Why do you even need to wear that much make up? You're still a high school student," grumbles Kana.
"Ara! I'm only applying mascara--" she says in her own defense.  "You can say it's my battle armor."  (TN: she says it's her 信念, which simply means "belief" in the Chinese version; you can also interpret it as her 'way' or 'style')

Caption: Even if I am thrown into a trial by fire, I will have my mascara!

Kana and Chihaya are speechless.

Caption: This year's freshmen...are really such a headache~~~~~~~~

Cut scene:  Taichi starting at a small, wooden placard with archaic writing on it

"What...What is this?" he asks questioningly.
"It's a karuta card," says Tsukuba.  "Hokkaido style."
"Waaaaaah---" everyone exclaims together as they gather for a closer look.
"I went to Hokkaido when I was in junior high," says Kana.
"This is also known as 'latter verse' karuta style," adds Tsukuba.
"I've heard of this before...." starts Meat bun. "You don't read the first verse and you only read the latter verse of the poem."
"What?" asks Kana.

Caption: the rules of 'latter verse' karuta only reads the latter half of the poem, which leads to the competitors having to use extremely large, (bright) cards (TN: not sure what that's about). The rules are: if you touch any other card aside from the correct one, even in the course of taking the correct card, it is considered a wrong move; the matches are 3 vs. 3 at a time; because the players must take the card before the 'decisive syllable' is read, each card that is read is different (than Kanto style) (TN: he doesn't even know the correct names or 'decisive syllables' for Kanto style, so it's like he's memorized NOTHING and has to learn karuta all over again, which might be even more of a handicap. Not sure if my translation is accurate or if I'm oversimplifying, but that's the gist of it)

"So, even though I only remember the second half of the verses, I always play karuta with my brothers.  We've never lost in the regional competitions," adds Tsukuba.  "I heard in the Kanto region the more popular version of karuta is to read the upper verses, but since it's like this I also want to become stronger."  He gives them all that creepy look again.
"It's called a 'Meijin' right?  I'm gonna make him my goal."  Everyone looks at him, stunned.

This year's freshmen...are really troublesome-- they all think collectively.

"Under-Understood," says Tsutomu flipping through his voluminous notes.  "But no matter how strong 'latter verse' karuta players are, it's completely different from competitive karuta, isn't it?  I will properly teach you the correct method of playing.  These are my notes...."
"Tsutomu-senpai," asks Tsukuba.  "What level are you and how strong are you as a player?"
"I'm a C rank..."
"Then, it's OK, (I pretty much know the general rules, anyway)" waves Tsukuba.  "C ranked players generally don't have much to teach me."  He turns around to Taichi.  "Mashima-senpai, what level are you?"
"B rank," says Taichi.
"Well then," says Tsukuba with a changed, sweet expression, "Mashima-senpai you can teach me!"  Meat bun twitches with annoyance.
"That's enough!  Let's just practice!  Practice!  The freshmen will practice amongst themselves."
"Meat bun-kun," interrupts Chihaya.  "Since he has some level of experience, maybe we should from the onset..."
"Ayase..." begins Meat bun.  "Just how long are you going to spout optimistic and naive nonsense?  What will we do if our competitive level decreases at the next competition?"  Chihaya has no response to that.

Why don't we just call it a day already? thinks Sumire (when she's supposed to be memorizing the cards).  On the way home is the only time I can spend precious moments with Mashima-senpai...

Okay! Let's get this done! (TN: he actually says something like "ganbatte!")  I definitely want to become strong quickly! thinks Tsukuba.

We've been quarreling a lot lately about such tedious topics... thinks Taichi.
This atmosphere is really bad... thinks Kana.
Why is it that Ayase... thinks Tsutomu.
...Wants to support the freshmen so badly?  thinks Meatbun.

While Chihaya reads the opening card, the two freshmen are a little puzzled.  She notices that Tsukuba is left handed.  But then she realizes that he's playing in a completely wrong way.  Not only is he using both hands, he's using his left hand as a block (unacceptable and subject to penalties in competitive karuta).
"AW YEAH!" he cries victoriously as he raises a ruckus and smacks the tatami mat repeatedly (also subject to penalties).  "I will claim the next card as well!"  Sumire just looks at him with fright.

What to do? thinks Chihaya.  Hokkaido style is completely different--  Chihaya then notices Tsukuba's next movement, pen-straight, and touching only the tip of the card, strongly resembling Shinobu's style.

Next, Chihaya reads the "hanano" card, and Sumire exclaims, "Oh! Oh, I know this one!" and claims it for herself.  Chihaya notices her nails.
"Kana, nail clipper," she demands.  Kana hands it over and Chihaya places the clippers in Sumire's hands.
"It's time you clipped your nails."
"?!"  Sumire is shocked.  "B-but, why...?"
"You've seen how passionately Tsukuba-kun plays, right?  If you really collided with him, you'd break a nail for sure," Chihaya explains.
Break a nail...? thinks Sumire with dread in her eyes.  But then she breaks out laughing.
"Seriously! I'm not even going to play with that sort of gusto!" she explains.
"You will!" insists Chihaya.  "Just now, you took a card that had personal meaning to you, and that made you happy, right?  You're going to become faster and faster, and you'll want to take more and more, Sumire-chan!"  Sumire looks at her in wide-eyed surprise.
"Fine," says Chihaya.  "Right hand!" she offers as a compromise.  "Just clip the right hand."
"Wait..." protests Sumire.  "Don't be like this!  Didn't I say this already?  I'm only playing I can be with Mashima-senpai, that's why I joined the club--"

Everyone looks at her with blank stares.
Shoot! she thinks, covering her mouth.  (TN: yeah, like that was BIG secret...)  How...How annoying!  I've had enough!   Sumire makes a mad dash for the door.
"Su-Sumire-chan!" calls out Chihaya after her.
"Ayase!" says Meat bun.  "Isn't that enough?  She's already made it perfectly clear that she has no interest in karuta.  Just ignore her--"
The others are silent.
"I..." begins Chihaya.  "During last year's national competition, after I got so sick I had to forfeit...every single day after that, I thought...'if only we had one more player.'  I've thought that every day since then."  The others are shocked at her words.
"And now we finally have two more recruits.  I will NEVER just ignore them," she says with conviction.  She suddenly makes a mad sprint for the door.
"Chihaya!" cries out Kana after her.  Unfortunately, Chihaya has a clutzy moment and runs her shin into a chair and collapses into a ball of agony.
"L-Let me go, instead!" Kana offers.
"(Are you OK?)  Ayase-san, calm down!" says Desktomu-kun.  (She can't say anything right now b/c she's in so much pain)
"Have you witnessed Tsukuba-kun's dependability now?"  Tsukuba thinks.  Ayase-senpai is praising me... (TN: not really sure where this thought has sprung from....)

At this point, Meat bun-kun pulls out the beginner's deck from the shelf.   He sits in front of Tsukuba and declares, "Tsukuba-kun, I'm an A rank.  Among the others in the club I've had the most experience in competitive karuta...will you let me be the one to teach you?"
"Mm," answers Tsukuba.  Meat bun gets annoyed.
"It's not 'mm,' it's 'please, I am in your care'"  (TN: it's probably something like 'yoroshiku onegaishimas' and in Chinese, it's 请多多指教 (please tell me where I am deficient), which is the standard opening phrase to your karuta opponent before you play)
"Please, I am in your care!" Meat bun insists.
"I am in your care," Tsukuba repeats.

During last year's competition, Meat bun thinks, none of us blamed Ayase...because we all knew the one who felt the most dissatisfied was her.

(TN:...*thinking back on the 'lap pillow' incident*....  Oops! Let me wipe that drool off the keyboard first....)

"This is a beginners card," introduces Meat bun to Tsukuba.  "The decisive syllables are written in a different color in bold on the face.  Let's start with the basics.  In competitive karuta, you can only use one hand.  Using both is subject to penalty. Tsukuba-kun, you're right-handed, correct?  I'm going to go into the right handed player's starting position.  Just do as I do."
"Answer me!" demands Meat bun.
"Y-yes, sir!" responds Tsukuba.
"Lean back on your right leg, with your hip hovering over the floor.  Yes, just like that.  Your head," he says, pressing Tsukuba's head back, "(you're too far out!) can't go past the center dividing line.  Sit back a little."
"Carefully observe," Meat bun continues.  "You want to be as strong as when you were playing 'latter verse' style, right?"
"I want to become strong," says Tsukuba with that scary face again.  Meat bun grimaces.

"We finally get new recruits...two of them stayed."

"Good," says Meat bun.  "I will definitely make you stronger."

"I won't just ignore them!"

Cut scene:  Kana-chan trying to keep up with Sumire

Yesterday, Hanano-kouhai....

"Hanano-kouhai!" calls out Kana.  Sumire flinches and tries to run, but Kana catches up to her.  "Hanano-kouhai!  It's all right to come back to the club room now."
"No," insists Sumire in tears.  "It's so absolutely have Mashima-senpai catch on...and know my feelings."  She suddenly turns on Kana.
"You think I deserve it, don't you? You think love is vulgar and think so little of me, so you might as well just leave me be!"
"...."  Kana-chan just stares at Sumire as she catches her breath.
"Hanano-kouhai, said the Hyakunin Isshu were all love my heart I know this is true.  The Hyakunin Isshu are 'ballads.' Comprised all together of 31 sounds...they are feelings translated into waka poetry on paper...and that's how they've survived for over 1,000 years.  To 'convey' and 'transmit' were their purpose.  Do you think that your words just then...could really express what you truly feel towards the President?"  Sumire is touched by Kana's words.
"But!  But!" she protests.
"It's OK! OK!" insists Kana-chan.  "So come back!"  Sumire follows her back towards the clubhouse and Kana chan makes a small request that Sumire teach her how to apply mascara, since her eye-lashes are sparse.  (TN: Kana literally says she only has '3 roots' for eyelashes, meaning 3 strands of eyelash)  She also says, "I think a heart that can cry out of embarrassment is beautiful."  (TN: Kana in the Chinese version says, "难为情" which means 'embarrassment'.  I'm at a loss for the meaning here... But maybe Kana is envying that Sumire can be so passionate over her actions as to shed tears over them, whereas Kana has no experience in doing things like that?)

Cut scene: back at the club room

"Are they OK?" asks Taichi, concerned.
"Oh, they're coming back,"says Desktomu.
"She's OK," announces Kana.
"There's still time," adds Chihaya.  "Wanna play?"
"Ah, um..." says Sumire.  "Is it all right if I don't play and just memorize poems right now?"  Everyone stares at her.  She pulls out a chair at the desk and takes out her karuta poetry charts.  She notices her fingernails over the charts.

"To 'convey' and 'transmit' were...their purpose."  With determination, she clips her nails.  Chihaya beams and Sumire's actions even make an impression on Taichi.

Cut scene:  June....

Arata and Murao-san are competing in Fukui's A rank regional tournament.  Murao-san wins over Arata, and Arata places 2nd overall.  The overseers and onlookers are praising the strength of the Nagumo Society karuta players.  One of them comments that even if they are from the same karuta group, what should have been a friendly match ended up being quite competitive as each side was not willing to yield.  It was only because Murao-san carved out his place and didn't give up (his lead) that he won.  Arata looks at his 2nd place certificate and gives off a scary vibe.  (TN: looks just like Chihaya does when she's mad)  He's a little frustrated having lost, especially when his club members are all praising Murao behind him.

But, he smiles (TN: Darn, I've gotta stop drooling...) when he sees his grandfather's name multiple times in succession on the previously recorded winner's wall display.  His reverie is interrupted by an overseer of the competition (the same one he met at Omi Jingu when Chihaya got sick?) who congratulates him on winning 2nd place, even though it was a little regretful.  But, there are many who are keeping a close eye on him to see how he will progress.  Everyone is wondering if Arata will be like Murao-kun and make the Fall season's Meijin competition's qualifying tournament his objective.  The overseer starts to tell Arata to be sure to practice before then, but Arata interrupts him and tells him he doesn't have the intent of entering that competition.

His goal is the High School National Championship, because there are opponents there he wants to face.

---End Chapter---

TN: So I guess the point of this volume, now that I'm reading it again, is to develop a base line for the will-be-someday-in-the-future-a-super-awesome-karuta-team, Mizusawa High's karuta club? It's also a rallying point and call to arms by their Captain (Chihaya) and how her followers fell in line with her and started to share her dream, or at least understood what it was and started to help her accomplish it.

I know I waited SO LONG to see Arata again, but I just lost steam at that point since this chapter (and volume, really) was a bit dreadful to translate.  I feel like the last part was really the crux of the volume too, as it continued the main story line (finally), but alas, I've had a LOOONG day at work and so this was the best I could do.  Now, I sleep.  Zzzzzzzz....