Opening scene: the dining room of the Ayase household, Chitose scrolling through a movies review blog on her laptop
Chitose gets more and more irritated as she scrolls down the comments of the blog. Everyone is commenting on her last acting performance in a drama. The comments are pretty much in line as the critics post harsh reviews saying things like she can't act, she should stay away from acting, she's better off being a model only. Others are commenting that she not actually that tall so being a model isn't suited for her either.
She looks away from the screen and turns to the corner of the room, where her younger sister Chihaya is lying in defeat on the wooden floor, legs hoisted up onto the settee along the wall. There is an unusually grim look on her younger sister's face.
"Mom," calls out Chitose to her mother, who is washing the dishes nearby. "What's up with Chihaya?"
"Ah, ah, at yesterday's regional tournament she couldn't claim victory."
"Karuta again?" remarks Chitose.
"Even though they took second place...and can still enter the national tournament...." says her mother, also befuddled by Chihaya's reaction.
"So it's not a problem, right?" asks Chitose. "Whatever...just because she couldn't claim the regional victory she becomes that depressed...." Chitose then clicks on the TV and the face of a very rotund Queen Wakamiya fills up the screen. Chihaya grabs the remote and turns it off.
"What...what the heck? Chihaya. You watch that roly-poly girl's DVD everyday? If you're not watching it, just take the disc out and turn off the player!"
"....." Chihaya slumps over on the floor as she thinks back on the tournament.
I watch it almost everyday.... I wish I had movements as exact as Shinobu's....
She thinks of Hokuo's Amakusa. Could I apply that (technique) against powerful players too?
I wanted to know.... She shuts her eyes.
(But) that wasn't a single player competition...that was a team match! My loss became everyone's loss!
Chihaya slumps over in self-pity and resolves to remain in a very dark place in her mind. Chitose watches her quietly.
"Everyday you're giving it your best effort without results, isn't it because you have no capability, Chihaya?"
"Chitose, don't say things like that," insists her mother.
"Mom, I'm exactly the same," says Chitose resolutely. "Mom, this summer I'm going to take less jobs and I'm thinking of taking the college entrance exams. It's possible that I'm better off going to college after all.... It's likely that I have no talent to become an actress." She too slumps over onto the dining room table and her mother watches in dismay as both her girls wallow in their misery.
Just then, their father comes into the room. "Ah, Chihaya! There's a little bit of news about you in the paper!" he declares happily. He shows his daughter and as Chihaya reads the recap of the match her misery doubles over.
("Oh, are you still upset about it?" asks her dad on the side.) Her mom takes a peek at the page and looks intently at the snapshot of Chihaya and her teammates in traditional garb. As Chihaya turns to go to her room, her mom calls out after her.
"Chihaya! Are you going to practice karuta today? Or do you have some free time?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Let's go shopping!"
Cut scene: At the Shiranami Society
Sumire has just won over one of Tsubuka's little brothers.
I won! I've beat Tsubuka's little brother #4 and little brother #3. (TN: Ages 9 and 10 -_-;) And it was a bitter battle between brother #2. But against Tsubuka...I've still a ways to go!
His little brothers swarm around him, praising him for beating Sumire.
"When fighting against Sumire, my victory came really easy!" comments Tsubuka.
"If it's just Sumire, I'm going to catch up to her fast!" says another brother.
"I'm going to win!"
"You guys, don't just casually use my name like that!" shouts Sumire in irritation.
"Those kids really did enter our society," remarks Hiroshi.
"It's really great!" declares Harada-sensei. "In one instant our society has been infused with new life!"
Taichi is speechless for a moment.
"I never thought...Hanano-kouhai would actually join a karuta society."
"Eh?" She blushes from the sudden attention. "That's because learning karuta is fun, isn't it?" she says with a broad smile. Taichi has no immediate response.
Tsubuka is rather impressed, however and he strikes up conversation with her as she grabs her water bottle.
"You said it. Learning karuta is really fun," he adds. "I'm the same as you, really, when I watched our senpai-tachi playing yesterday, it really stirred up emotions in me, so I've really wanted to become stronger...."
"What? Learning karuta is fun? It's hot, and it's grueling and it's tiring...and when you don't win it makes you feel so disappointed.... Those words I uttered just now were pre-scripted for Mashima-senpai's ears only!" she exclaims in agitation.
"Ah..." responds Tsubuka in shock. "You actually...don't care...."
"That's right!" Sumire snaps.
Sumire thinks back at what Kana said to her once. "To convey...to express...are the rules of the game."
The rules of love probably dictate...that I must take karuta seriously.
And the same rules apply...when Mashima-senpai is watching Ayase-senpai...
Waiting to convey (his feelings)....
Her reverie is broken up by another player announcing the next round's match ups. Her opponent this time is Harada.
"WHAT?" exclaims Sumire. She imagines a giant bear waving a clawed hand at her saying "Yoroshiku onegaishimas!" (TN: I used Japanese here since it seemed more fitting.)
"I don't want to!!" cries out Sumire. "I don't want to be killed! I don't want to be eaten!"
"Don't worry, relax!" says Harada-sensei. "I'll start off with my 40 vs. your 10 cards."
"I want to play with weak players! IIIIEEEEEYYYAAAH, NOOO!!" she screams as Harada drags her away. "At least let me play against Mashima-senpai!"
"What are you saying? Eyebrows-kun is really strong--"
("Sumire, ganbatte!" Tsubuka's little brothers cheer on from the sidelines.)
It's so easy to see through you, Hanano-san, thinks Tsubuka. But... don't you understand?
"It's so hot, so grueling, so tiresome... And when you don't win it's so dissatisfying!"
You already... love karuta.
Cut scene: Hiroshi and Taichi shuffling their cards between them
"Truthfully, the reason for Ayase's defeat yesterday--" says Hiroshi to Taichi. "I think it was because of her state of mind during the first half segment of the game... What do you think about that, Eyebrows?
"If she placed importance on correctly focusing above all, then just like in the second half of the match, she would have immediately started attacking and set the pace, then she might have won--"
"I know," responds Taichi. He thinks back to when she cried after receiving Arata's text.
"She knows...so please don't chastise her."
"Is Chihaya not coming today?" asks Hiroshi. "Is she still feeling bad?"
("You just won't let it go, will you?" mutters Taichi on the side.)
"This...well, she contacted me and told me she had something to do."
"How difficult!" exclaims Hiroshi as he thinks of Chihaya. Just when she developed a new weapon... No matter how much you've accomplished, there are still temporary set-backs. Even though it's like this, you still want it, right? Or will you concentrate and hone the skills you've first acquired to your advantage--
Cut scene: Chihaya making an awful face (as if her spirit was leaving her) as she walks down the sidewalk with her mom
"Mom...." says Chihaya as she lags behind. "I...guess I'm not in the mood...to go shopping after all...."
"Nonsense!" says her mother. "All you have to do is come with me. (Why are you acting like you're barely alive back there?") (TN: In the Chinese version, she describes Chihaya as, "有气无力" which means "feeble.")
"But there's nothing I really want to buy..." begins Chihaya when she looks up and notices the store where they've arrived. It's Oe's Kimono Emporium.
"Irasshaimase!" says Mrs. Oe as they walk in. She is dressed impeccably in a kimono and bowing slightly.
"Oh! It's Kana-chan's mom!" says Chihaya. Her mother has brought a gift for Mrs. Oe.
"How is that a proper greeting, Chihaya!" admonishes her mom. "I'm sorry! We've come to bother you," Mrs. Ayase says politely. "Here is a small token of our appreciation."
"Not at all!" answers Mrs. Oe. "You needn't be so formal! You even gave us gifts for New Year's and Midsummer's holidays...."
"It's no trouble," says Mrs. Ayase bowing in polite response. "You're always looking after our daughter, after all...."
"Mom! You sent gifts for New Year's and Midsummer's holidays? Wow... (Just like a grown-up...)--" exclaims Chihaya suddenly.
"CHIHAYA!" says her mother, appalled by her daughter's lack of etiquette. "Of course I did! (It's because I am a grown up!) Mrs. Oe is always lending you kimonos to wear... Do you even realize how much you've imposed on other people?"
"Oh, no!" protests Mrs. Oe. "It's nothing of that sort.... Our store has also used Chihaya as a catalogue model... " Mrs. Oe grins wickedly. "Suffice to say, because Mizusawa uses traditional kimono when they enter into major competitions, from last year until now, our profits in Japanese style clothing have grown, this summer's sales are likely to expand as well...."
Chihaya and her mom smile a little uncomfortably at this woman's sales prowess.
"All right! Come and let's have some tea..." says Mrs. Oe.
"No! Well, today... I think it's about time we bought Chihaya a kimono."
Chihaya looks at her mom in astonishment.
"Oh! It's Chihaya after all--" exclaims Kana-chan coming out from the back of the shop as she sees who their customers are.
"Oh, Kana-chan!" says Chihaya as Mrs. Oe is bringing out the good fabric stock for Mrs. Ayase to see.
"M-M-Mrs. Oe!" Chihaya's mom stutters. "There's no need to bring out the expensive textiles, just show us set of ready-made ones and that's fine... (Because our budget...)"
"Ara! Just a peek won't hurt!" explains Mrs. Oe. (Really knows how to do business)
"Mom, you don't have to break the bank to buy one for me...." says Chihaya.
"But, Chihaya you're still going to continue with karuta, right? You're going to wear it more than once, correct? At times like this you should really let your parents come forward." Chihaya thinks about what her mom said as her hand falls on one particular sakura pattern.
"Oh, that's a ready-made one. Chihaya, do you want to try it on?" asks Mrs. Oe.
"What? You know how to put on on, Chihaya?" asks Mrs. Ayase incredulously.
"Even if it doesn't look flawless, I think I can..." says Chihaya.
"Because you've worn one so many times, right?" smiles Kana.
"Well, first you put on the kimono...." starts Chihaya as Kana assists her. "Followed by the obi..." Then Chihaha slips on her hakama. "The belt strap starts in front, right?" she asks.
"Then on goes the hakama--" says Chihaya as she loops the belt straps from front to back, securing them around the bow of her obi, and then finally pulls up the back flap of the hakama.
"Ah, Chihaya, it really suits you!" exclaims Kana excitedly.
"And then you tie it...like that!" The belt straps slip through the back flap and wrap around to the front again in a neat bow.
Chihaya's mom is still in awe. "Before I even became aware, she can already do these kinds of things...." Mrs. Ayase explains to Kana's mom, "It's really embarrassing to say, but I know nothing of karuta... I've only ever gone to watch her compete a handful of times... The first time I ever watched her, I thought in my heart, 'Well, she'll be all right...as long as she practices karuta, Chihaya will be all right.'" Chihaya listens to her mom's words intently.
"Even though...." Mrs. Ayase continues, "her grades had once fallen to the 5th from the bottom in her high school class, and even though she is in high school, her room is filled with strange things concerning that awful looking bear; and even though she hasn't once thought about her future.... she'll probably be all right." Chihaya grimaces at her mother's view of her.
("She sees right through me!" laments Chihaya to Kana. "Not only about my future, but also my grades too!")
"I'm actually more worried about her sister, Chitose, because her first step into the real world has been unsteady... so that's why we've been slow to buy something like this for Chihaya. We've been neglecting her all this time... I really feel bad for Chihaya...."
"Mom," says Chihaya, truly grateful for her mother's words. "It's not that you've been 'neglecting me,' rather, that you believe in karuta, right?"
"Chihaya," interrupts Kana-chan. "You want to see some of our new stock? It just came in this morning. There are some really pretty colors." (TN: I'm too lazy to translate what products she's going to show Chihaya) While Chihaya is enticed by other products sold by the store, Mrs. Oe and Mrs. Ayase stay behind to chat.
"Isn't it good this way?" asks Mrs. Oe. "In the process of raising our children, I think...from the perspective of parents... some neglect in moderation...will lead to how many difficult and important things...." They both watch quietly as the girls head over to the store front.
Cut scene: Chihaya walking home with her mom
"Really, you don't have to. Mom! And there are much cheaper kimono!"
"It's all right!" says her mom, walking in front of her. "Besides, we can pay in installments."
"That one really suit you the best, so it's all right--"
"But since it's competitive karuta, you really can just buy any generic one...." explains Chihaya.
"But Chihaya, perhaps--" begins her mother when she has a sudden revelation that Chihaya might wear her kimono in front of the media's lenses while the entire nation watches. Her mom marvels at the possibility.
"Mom...perhaps you've forgotten," interrupts Chihaya with a sullen look on her face. "There's still the national tournament's entry fee and hotel expense.... You really didn't need to buy me a kimono now..."
"AH!" exclaims her mother, who did forget. (-_-;) "Don't-- Don't worry about that! That little bit our household can still handle! Your dad can pay it!"
"Dad can?" asks Chihaya hopefully.
"It's not a problem!"
As long as Chihaya has karuta, she'll be all right.
They both grin at one another ear-to-ear.
Cut scene: Back home at the Ayase household
Chihaya is going through her DVD of the Queen's Tournament with renewed determination. Her sister Chitose comes into the room with a packet in her hands. She is surprised as Chihaya practices striking the karuta cards lined up on the floor.
Announcer: "The Queen is really fast!"
Chihaya goes through the motions while mentally battling to acquire Shinobu's ability in her head.
Exactly touching that one point!
Don't let that match with Captain Amakusa... don't let that loss go to waste!
I want... to surpass Shinobu!
Chitose watches her younger sister in shock. Completely reverted back to the old Chihaya....
".... Really..." says Chitose in exasperation. "Are you an idiot or what? Just for something like karuta!" She looks down at the packet of college entrance exam materials in her hand and tosses it in the waste basket.
I want to be strong! I want to be stronger! thinks Chihaya as she practices furiously.
Chitose dials up her agent to tell him that she intends to continue with her work.
Because my victory... is everyone's victory! (TN: I think here, Chihaya and Chitose's thoughts are aligned)
Cut scene: Mr. and Mrs. Ayase in another room
"What? Money to spare? Savings? No, no (we don't have any)," says Chihaya's dad as he clips the article of her from the newspaper. Her mother looks rather distressed at this point.