TN: I wanted to post this earlier but then my Macbook died... and it died a horrible death. Macbooks and juice just don't mix... Who knew? I've dropped that thing from various heights and some of the plastic border was coming off but still, it lived. One little drop of juice (ok, it was more than a drop) and it dies a horrible death....::sigh:: I hate using this tiny notebook backup. My hands always feel so giant and clumsy.
Love the back cover illustration to vol. 11. Oh, beautiful picture of Chihaya and Arata on the back flap illustration....
Through Chapter 62 will be the epic match between Hokuo and Mizusawa for this year's regional high school title. And so it begins...
Opening scene: The two teams face off on the tatami mat while Sudo is the next reader (TN: I think there should be a "conflict of interest" rule here if one team is used to the reader's voice, or if the reader is not neutral and knows one of the teams -- he shouldn't be able to read for his former team during a match... it's an unfair advantage, you know? Just my thoughts)
Caption: The National High School Regional Hyakunin Isshu Karuta Championship, Tokyo Regional...Final match! Hokuo Academy against Mizusawa High School!
There is a lot of tension as the members of the Mizusawa Karuta club face off their respective opponents.
Caption: Just as the air conditioning in the room failed. ("I'm sorry! I've done my best!" says the repairman in the background) But, it's not as hot as it was before. Sensei, thank you! It doesn't matter if it's stopped. What we need to listen to is...
"Su--" Immediately Chihaya and Aamakasu's hands move simultaneously over the cards with incredible speed.
"--mi no e no--" With lightning speed, the two two players sweep out their arms in the same direction, sending cards flying. Everyone, except for Harada-sensei and Tsuboguchi-san, watch in utter shock.
Too...To quick! Both of them are just too fast! thinks Sumire in wide-eyed astonishment. That card just now, which side was able to take it? Was it Hokuo's little round-eyed guy (Amakasu)?
Chihaya hesitated over her opponent's "se" card, thinks Harada. It was still an "s" card... Is it because she isn't familiar with the reader's habits so she's investigating and taking stock (first)?
But, thinks Chihaya to herself, I could have taken that last card. If just a little more...just 3 more lines (on the tatami)... My fingers only had to stretch (unbiasedly) towards that angle.... (TN: In the Chinese version, the phrase 不偏不倚 is used, which means "impartial" or "unbiased" -- but I'm not sure what the translator means here)
Here! thinks Chihaya, adjusting her finger position. And here! she thinks as she adjusts her upper arm position.
Get this down! Get this down! she insists, willing herself to remember how to do it.
All of this is taking place while Amakasu still has his arm raised, all the while, clearing his voice, pausing the reader until he is done rearranging his cards. (In the background Sudo is muttering he should hurry up) Amakasu finally sends Chihaya's penalty card and Sudo recites the remainder of the poem as he reaches for the next card.
Amakasu is able to take the next card as well, as the onlookers marvel at his speed.
Chihaya...good cards have been continuously taken, observes Harada-sensei. That kid's "sense" (intuition) is also very good. (In the background, Amakasu skips happily to retrieve his card, while Sudo is annoyed at him, mumbling that he should get back to his place) It's not so much "sense" as it's better described as good motor reflexes.
Supple shoulders and an agile elasticity....
Chihaya continues her inner battle. I have to be sharper! Here, and here! At this point! I have to connect it here... It has to be more exact!
"Are you looking down at me?" asks Amakasu with an innocent expression. "During an actual match you're reflecting on which cards you weren't able to take? Are you treating this like a practice match?"
Chihaya looks at him in sudden realization.
Harada, Tsuboguchi and Hoku's teacher are surprised by the statement.
Aah! - Harada.
Well said. - Tsuboguchi
That's my student! - Hokuo's teacher.
"If I only did that correctly..."
"All I have to do is this to take the card..."
I should stop regretting the cards I lost, turn around and change my thinking and focus on the cards in front of me.... concludes Chihaya.
But this, thinks Harada, is something I've already taught Chihaya long before. (Because she is my student.)
Chihaya does a few more practice strikes. Here! Here! And here!
It's all right, Chihaya...just go ahead and do it! You won't turn your back on this competition.
Link it, make the connection! Chihaya thinks fervently as she closes her eyes.
Make the connection!
Sudo picks up the next card to read.
At the same time, Nishida is having a rough time against his opponent. (TN: I'm going to call him "hair clip guy") Meat bun loses another card to him.
What is up with this guy? I get a weird vibe from him. He clearly moves very slowly, but I still can't beat him to the cards. (Even though he's young, he retrieves his cards like an old man.)
Also...those two hair clips he uses are really gross!
Kana is also in the midst of her own battle.
Her opponent tries to harass her by saying, "You seem to have a kind of...heavy chest!" Kana-chan completely ignores him and counts down in her mind rhythmically, synchronizing herself with Sudo's timing.
That previous reader really came up short....but Captain Sudo is really Captain Sudo... is able to integrate the poems flawlessly....
I can trust him....
As Sudo reads the next card, Kana is able to take it.
"Aah! Consecutive takes!" exclaims her opponent in dismay. Sudo also notices and he starts clearing his throat. This is apparently a hint to the Hokuo Academy that he expects more of them and all of the Hokuo team suddenly come to attention.
"Excuse me," says Sudo politely as he finishes clearing his throat.
I take it all back.... Kana concludes.
Harada, Hokuo's teacher and Tsuboguchi-san are commenting on how well Sudo reads the cards, from timing to pronunciation, he is spot-on.
"Has he been reading ever since he was a part of Hokuo's club activities?" asks Tsuboguchi. "He doesn't seem like the type that would have an interest in reading cards. (I'm 100% sure that he's the type to have someone else do it.)"
"Ha ha," laughs Hokuo's teacher. "He's been like that ever since middle school. But recently..." He recalls Sudo telling him he's taken an interest in learning how to read cards after watching the New Year's Meijin match (6 months ago).
Suoh Meijin didn't do the same to study the cards or the opponents...but to study karuta card readers.
Sudo's good trait is...he sets high ambitions. (In the background is an image of Sudo pointing to some unknown destination in the future with the words "I will be the one...to topple the Meijin!" next to him.)
Even if it is inconceivable.... his teacher concludes.
My real pride is that he's doing it to let ordinary players do their best. But his vision is still far reaching.
Meanwhile, back at the match between Chihaya and Amakusa, he had expected her to be far faster and it's hard to believe that she's actually far from being fast.
I'm already 7 cards ahead...maybe I can easily take this victory after all....
But what's with her? This is some kind of neurotic behavior...as if she's in pursuit of some kind of perfection--
(TN: He describes it in the Chinese version as "這種可稱為神經質的確認。 。 。對方正確性的追求" which has something to do with "neurotic" and an "opponent," "chasing" and "correctness" so I'm loosely interpreting that! lol)
He suddenly comes to a realization. The person she's looking at...is Shinobu Wakamiya, then.... He is speechless. That's impossible! Even if it were me, last year I lost by 24 cards! And didn't you lose by 20 cards yourself? Isn't that the type of experience that leaves strong scars on people? (TN: for you maybe, shorty...) There's just such a great disparity (in ability)...
But Chihaya is still immersed in her mental training. Connect! Connect! Connect! This 1 centimeter!
(TN: I think she's trying to learn how to connect to the cards like they were attached by strings -- just like Shinobu)
.... Suit yourself, thinks Amakasu. While craning your neck to see something far away, you will lose the match in front of your eyes!
When Sudo reads the next card, Amakasu is able to quickly take the next card, impressing the onlookers.
That movement was really quick! thinks Tsuboguchi-san. He moved at the sound of "waga" and took the card away with "wagaso."
Hokuo's player is pulling further away, thinks Harada.
Regardless of whether it's the pressure from Sudo's vision (for the team)...or the way he reads the cards...it all began from six months ago, everyday it's been by their side.
"I didn't come to cheer any of you on!" said Sudo before the match began.
If it's a match with Captain Sudo reading the cards...for us it's just like going back to our origins. (TN: he says the phrase "原點" which means "origin" in a mathematical sense; for example where (x,y) = 0 on a cartegian graph.)
Everyone is still in the midst of their own heated matches. But Taichi notices that Hiro takes his cards with his middle and ring finger bound together. (O_o) Hiro...why do you take your cards in such a strange way? he thinks. Not only is it painful, your fingers are always wrapped with a bandage. Even when you're on the sidelines you still pretend to tough it out. (The background pic is Hiro flinging his hand while his girlfriend fawns over him and says, "So handsome!")
I can win, I can win, thinks Hiro as he plays. I'm going to win!
At the same time, Kana's opponent is having a hard time.
Haah, Busty Girl is really strong! Even though this is already her 5th match, her movements are still so quick!
Just like Mom said, I had to tie my obi higher...and it's so much easier with Sensei's "tasuki" tying back my sleeves... thinks Kana.
For me, wearing a kimono will not make me tired.
Her opponent is thinking, If I lose to Busty Girl I'm gonna get chewed out!
Didn't you know? thinks Kana angrily, looking like she's out for revenge. For Busty Girl, wearing a kimono is the most convenient of all attire!
Ms. Miyauchi is watching in awe. The more I know of karuta, the more amazing it seems to me. This thing called karuta....has no distinction between men or women, makes no distinction between body types or builds, has no age limit, and makes no distinction between intellect.
Starting from reading a single card, which is connected by a thousand years... This sort of competition is hard to come by.
Suddenly, everyone's concentration is interrupted by a pair of players exchanging thanks.
"One win for Hokuo!" says Hair Clip Guy.
"That's too awesome, Naruyama!"
Ah! Meat bun lost by a bunch? thinks Chihaya incredulously. (TN: The word "bunch" or "束" is used to described a loss of 10 cards or more. Here, Nishida lost by 13 cards... O_o)
This is bad! thinks Harada-sensei. In team competitions the first win often decides the direction of the match--
The pressure on the team that's fallen behind is increased and they feel like they need to make up for the player that's lost.
Even if they don't win in the end, the most important thing is to not let the competition end early-- (TN: put up a good fight and don't lose so miserably?) But he up and went losing so quickly!
Meat bun is beating himself internally for having lost to Hair Clip Guy/Naruyama.
It's because I haven't played 5 matches in a row in while, my brain is all messed up; but that curly-queue hair clip totally threw me off, and I couldn't help but pay attention to my crazy sister in the side-lines...
Ah! thinks Meat bun in sudden realization as he covers his mouth. I just said "because" and "but." (TN: Now forbidden by the team president -- see prior chapter)
And here I thought it wouldn't be a problem for Nishida-- thinks Taichi. How is everyone else doing? Oe and Tsutomu's battles are--
Eh? Chihaya's losing by 5 cards?
Are you going to make it? Chihaya!
Just as Taichi is about to call her name, he notices the expression in her eyes and turns away. I'm also competing here. Right now, the words I should be saying aren't "Are you all right?"
It should be, "One win for Mizusawa!"
Chihaya thinks back to Nishida's advice, that she shouldn't be learning how to be more like Shinobu, but instead, she should focus her talent more like Suoh Meijin.
Meat bun-kun, the more I make the closer target my goal...the more I want to reach the furthest target.
But right now my "true nature" isn't enough to even beat Amakasu.
I need to be like Shinobu...becoming strong is really difficult...
Ayase, you have at least 20 cards...that are "single syllable," Desktomu once said to her.
She closes her eyes and listens. Just as Sudo begins with the first syllable of the next card, she claims it even before Amakasu moves. Everyone, including Sudo, notices.
Chihaya, you...want both kinds of strengths? thinks Harada in complete shock. (TN: first she was trying to be like Shinobu and now she's trying to be like Suoh.)