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
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 it...so 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 teammates...play 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, Ayase-senpai...is 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.