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
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 error...it'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 player...it'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.
Is...is 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.
Cut scene: back at the competition
Tsubuka observes his more capable team members and comes to a revelation.
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.
But...my 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.
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 tournaments...so 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 competitions...but...how 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.
"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
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 mentor...is Hiroshi-san.... Taichi and the others stare in shock.
P.s. There's a beautiful cover of Taichi for the next chapter!