Opening scene: Sumire, out of breath, following Taichi from the station (TN:...stalker...)
Where is he going? Study group? Part-time? Meeting up with someone?
I want to know everything--
She stops short when she see where it is he's gone. The sign outside says "Shiranami Society Karuta Group." She falls to her knees in defeat.
Not again...with the karuta...!
Scene: inside the Shiranami Society
"Oh, Taichi-kun, it's rare to see you at this time of day."
Taichi notices Tsuboguchi in the corner of the room.
"Tsuboguchi-san...?" he asks tentatively.
"I was tricked," Hiroshi-kun sobs. "Because it was public, I naturally thought it was a co-ed campus. But from this year and continuing they've created a separate school for male students, so it's just as though it was an all male school...if I knew this was going to happen, I should have decided to take one more year of college courses..."
The club assistant explains to Taichi, "This year Tsuboguchi-san, got a job as a high school teacher after a lot of difficulty. But as soon as he took the job at this school, the campus was down to 8 female students...."
"You can't be held back a year in college! You have to at least be better than Suoh Meijin in that respect!!" Taichi shouts. His words pierce through the heart. 0_0; Hiroshi-kun turns around and sees Taichi bowing low on the tatami in respect.
"You--!" twitches Hiroshi-kun in anger.
"Please allow me to be your first opponent today." Tsuboguchi smiles at the look of determination on Taichi's face.
Sumire, who, like a true stalker, is peeking at Taichi from a sliding door at the far end of the room, thinks to herself, I don't understand any of it, what the hell are they doing? Oh! She (Chihaya) explained it to me once. They have 15 minutes to study the positioning of all 50 cards. Is it possible to remember all that?
There's no chart to identify them, and they're all in Hiragana! And, the opponent's cards are upside down!
As they play the recording and begin to play, Sumire is amazed. She takes her karuta chart out and thinks, How can they take the cards so quickly? That's right, there was something called "decisive syllables." Not only do the players have to memorize the poetry, they have to memorize them by their "decisive syllables?"
Sumire continues to watch in shock and amazement as Taichi continues to play.
I don't understand! Why the heck would someone like him choose karuta of all things?
While playing, Taichi realizes how strong Tsuboguchi-san is. He completely broke my defenses. He's also really calculating when sending over 'penalty' cards.
"I'm going to rearrange my cards," Hiroshi-kun announces, as he holds one hand up in the air to pause the recording.
Damn! I have to memorize them all over again! Taichi thinks in frustration. He remembers what Meat bun told him once about only memorizing half of the cards, approximately. So that really is the better method? Damn!!
I want to become stronger!
I want to become stronger!
Let this second...not be just an ordinary second!
Meanwhile, Harada-sensei suddenly sneaks up behind Sumire.
"EEK!" Sumire exclaims in surprise.
"What? Are you here to participate? Do you want to join our group?" Harada-sensei asks excitedly as he clutches his kneeling cushion.
"Ah? No! Um..." says Sumire. Harada pulls her aside.
"We'll disturb the players here, let's go over there and talk!"
"Uh, no! I'm not--"
They continue their conversation a bit further away from the door. "Ka-" she begins. "Karuta. What's so fun about karuta?"
"That sort of thing," grins Harada-sensei, "you won't know until you play!"
"But," continues Harada, "the more you play, you still won't understand!"
"Take it from me. I've been playing 45 years and I still don't understand."
"All this time, I still don't understand. It's because I don't understand that I continue to play."
? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Cut scene: Kana-chan running to the club room (her class is the closest) to do her daily duty
Kana comes into the club room to see Chihaya cleaning the mats.
"Chihaya! You're here early. What are you doing?" asks Kana.
"Ah--" smiles Chihaya in response. "Kana-chan always comes early to tidy up, right? I figured I should at least do the same. I'm so sorry I haven't noticed until now."
Kana-chan is touched and starts to tear up.
"It's OK, Chihaya! I only do what I notice needs to be done.
"Well," says Chihaya shyly. "I was only cleaning up a little bit."
"It's OK! It's OK!" exclaims Kana. She looks down and notices the cloth Chihaya is holding is damp. Kana is about to pop a vein.
"Tatami mats need to be wiped down with a dry cloth! Otherwise, you have to use a cloth that's wrung so dry you can't wring it anymore dry! Don't underestimate the effect of water!" Chihaya nearly collapses under the wight of the lecture.
"If you want to help clean, then I have to teach you starting from the basics."
"O-kay!" stammers Chihaya.
"It's time to go. The freshmen are already gathered. First do the work that's designated to you!"
"I'm going!" says Chihaya in farewell.
Kana remembers what Desktomu-kun said about Chihaya. "I think Ayase-san's changed a little."
Chihaya... thinks Kana. She looks down and sees a piece of paper Chihaya dropped. On it she's scribbled new designs for the team shirt. The shirts have themes like "strength" and "Japan's No. 1." Kana closes it hastily.
Cut scene: Chihaya making an awful face at how the number of recruits has dwindled (4 left)
She is in complete shock.
"It's probably because the first week is really dedicated towards finding a club to join. The others probably went to see what the other clubs were like," says one recruit apologetically.
"Right! That must be it," joins another.
It's because I took all 100 cards during the demonstration... thinks Chihaya in defeat.
This is so hard...I really wanted to show everyone how fun karuta was....
But it turned out to be really hard....
Cut scene: Sumire after school
"Hanano-san?" calls Hinako. "What's wrong? Are you still thinking about karuta club?"
"Ah--" responds Sumire, "no, absolutely not."
"You're right about that," says Hinako. "Today we'd probably be separated from Mashima-senpai again. Besides, I already found someone else of interest. Class 2's Tashima-kun is really cute."
"You mean you guys weren't all that serious about Mashima-senpai?"
"We were just going with the flow, you know? He's certainly cute, but karuta is just so hard. There's just no way I could work that hard."
"S-so it was like that," responds Sumire.
See? This is what you'd call normal. There's no way a normal person would choose to obsess over a person involved in such a tedious thing.
As they sit down and eat at a fast food place, Sumire and the others do their own thing.
These are friends I just made in high school, and yet already we've run out of things to chat about. If I don't join a club, is it always going to be like this? How scary! I have to get a boy friend as soon as possible. Although, I can't insist on getting the most handsome guy in school now...
In a tiny voice, Sumire begins to recite the "hanano" card.
"The color of sakura blossoms...."
"Huh?" asks Hinako.
"What was that?" asks her other friend.
"N-nothing," says Sumire hastily. She suddenly receives a text from her phone. It's her ex-boyfriend saying hello and asking if she has some free time if they could meet. Sumire goes pale and starts shaking.
"A-are you OK?" asks Hinako.
This guy on the one hand tells me he wants to break up with me...and now on the other hand, without even an apology, is asking to meet with me...
Selfish beyond belief....
I finally see right through you!
Suddenly she remembers what Harada and Taichi told her.
"All this time, really, I still don't understand."
"I want to be the one to choose, and then give it my all."
I want to know!
Cut scene: ...and then there was one....
Chihaya is shocked beyond belief. She drags the remaining guy to the club room.
"Huh?" asks Meat bun.
"There's only one left?" asks Kana. By this time, Chihaya is in tears and is still clutching the recruit desperately by the wrist.
"This is 1st year Class 10's Tsukuba-kun," she sniffles. "Since there was only one left, I just brought him here.
"T-there's no helping it, Ayase," consoles Meat bun, patting her on the shoulder. "Once you get rid of all the Taichi fans, this is what happens."
"I'm so sorry, everyone!" Chihaya apologizes.
"It didn't matter who was the one to train them, it still would have ended up this way," Meat bun continues.
"I'm sorry!" she cries. "We...should really be the strongest karuta school...."
Don't worry about that! We don't have that kind of aspiration! the others think in unison.
As he watches her cry, Taichi makes a fist. This is why I didn't agree...to Chihaya being the one to teach them.
But Chihaya isn't crying for herself. Poor karuta cards--! Chihaya thinks. You haven't received anyone's affection...you poor things!
Just then, Sumire opens the club room door. Everyone is shocked to see her.
"Because the other classroom was empty, so I thought we're meeting here today?" she explains.
Taichi grabs her hands excitedly. "Thank you so much for coming! Hanano-kohai! Thank you!"
Sumire goes into her own hazy dream at being so close to Taichi.
That's good! That's good! everyone thinks.
Cut scene: the karuta bringing out the tatami mats for practice
"Well, the first years probably haven't memorized all the poems yet, but..." starts Meat bun, "as long as they take it slow it should be fine, so let them practice along with us."
Kana-chan then notices Sumire's finger nails and offers her a nail clipper to clip them short.
"What? I painstakingly grew them out so they could be this beautiful...."
"But if you try to take cards like that, your opponent is going to get hurt," explains Kana.
"Don't worry," smiles Sumire. "I'm not at the point where I can actually take cards fast enough to touch anyone's hands." Kana stares at her.
"I-it's all right!" says Chihaya forgivingly. "When you first start, there isn't any way you could take cards quickly. Let's just start with one match and see."
"R-right!" says Desktomu nervously.
As Desktomu begins to read the opening poem, Sumire blurts out, "How annoying!" She pulls out her compact and adjusts her make-up. "I became a raccoon back then, how annoying." Kana looks as though she's about to have a conniption.
"Hanano-kouhai!" she interrupts. "Let's go outside for a bit!" She pulls Sumire up and out of the club room.
"K-Kana-chan!" calls out Chihaya, following them outside.
Cut scene: Out in the hall...
"Hanano-kouhai, what are you thinking?" demands Kana.
"You're still asking me what I'm doing...can't you see I'm re-applying my make-up?" she says. "What's wrong with making yourself up to be bright and pretty?"
Both Chihaya and Kana recall words said to them (by Oe-san?).
"As a woman, you need to maintain and accentuate your charms."
"That's...that's what some people say, but--" begins Kana.
"Besdies, if you're not cute you won't get a boyfriend," reasons Sumire.
"Hanano-kouhai...." Kana says, unable to take it anymore. "IF ALL YOU THINK ABOUT IS DATING THEN THAT'S JUST VULGAR AND BORING!"
"Really?" Sumire closes her compact calmly. "But all of the poems in the Hyakunin Isshu are love poems, aren't they?"
Kana is shocked by the statement. (TN: I can't imagine why)
"People's minds," Sumire continues, "beginning from the days of old have been filled with 'love' and 'dating'. Certainly, I'm not one to obsess over karuta, but I've already decided to stay for love. Because my objective is Mashima-senpai."
Chihaya is astonished by her words.
What a headache... Kana thinks. It's an unyielding...LOVE IDIOT. (Chihaya is the karuta idiot)
Cut scene: the guys back in the club room -- collective silence
"The girls...are OK, right?" asks Desktomu-kun nervously.
"Don't mind them," grumbles Taichi. "In those types of situations, men best not interrupt."
"No kidding," adds Meat bun-kun. "Scary...." He notices the new guy.
"Oh, you're Tsukuba-kun, right?" Meat bun thinks he really resembles Hiro-kun. "Sorry about that. You just started and had to witness a fight."
"Have you memorized all the karuta cards?" asks Desktomu-kun.
"I-I've only memorized about 20 of them," the new guy responds.
"Really? Well, just take it slowly and you'll be fine," encourages Meat bun.
"But," Tsukuba-kun adds, making a scary face, "I'm really strong."
The guys collectively think: ??!!
TN: So there you have it. The Mizusawa Karuta Club has officially picked up a pair of wierd characters and weak players....I'm really not sure what the mangaka was thinking here...but I guess it makes it interesting? ^_^ One's a certified stalker and the other is just...*shudders* creepy looking when he opens his eyes.... Put him in a starchy black and white uniform and he could be one of the Arrancar...creepy.
One more chapter left and we can get back to the competitions! Yay!