Total Pageviews

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis, Chapter 65

Chapter 65

Opening scene:  Shinobu and Arata on the steps of Omi Jingu

Arata stares at her for a moment.  "....."
"Who...are you?" he asks.
She grins at him.
"Oh, you're Shinobu!  (I just recognized you by your mole.)  I saw you on TV and you were so completely different, I didn't even recognize you...  Suddenly fat, suddenly thin, what the heck are you doing?"
Tears come to Shinobu's eyes and she throws her torso over the side of the stair railing.  "My tears fall like rain..."
"Wh-...huh?  What's wrong?" asks Arata cluelessly.  "There's nothing to cry about, right?   Shinobu...  You are still an exceptionally strong Queen!  (Regardless of whether you're fat or skinny.)"

"Thanks to you...these four years I've never lost to anyone..." says Shinobu.   (TN:  there is an image here suggesting that Arata is the only person to ever beat Shinobu)  "But, I am still lacking," she says with a grin.
"Even if I face you, who hasn't touched karuta due to a sudden hiatus... perhaps I may even easily lose, you never know."

This is...the Queen's pride!  And also... a Kyoto woman's obstinate nature!  What she really means is, "I will not lose to someone who took a sudden absence from karuta! Idiot--!"

Arata smiles back in response, which makes Shinobu pause.
"Shinobu, what are you doing here?  The individuals tournament is tomorrow, right?  Although the distance from here to Kyoto is certainly close."
"What are you talking about?  Every year on this day, after I come to the shrine, I go to Lake Biwa to watch the Bird Man Grand Rally as my usual routine." (TN: WTH? here, look.)

"..... "  He stares at her for a moment.
"Since you're already here, why don't you go watch the team matches?" he asks.
"The team matches?  But that's... something that people who don't really like karuta do," she concludes.  "So you won't be going either, right, Arata?"
Without another word, she walks away towards the shrine.

Arata thinks back to when he was younger, going to a tournament with his grandfather

"It's really unbelievable."
"Why is it every year the very first match I have is with her? I don't care if she's in fourth or fifth grade."
"Arata," said his grandfather.  "Shinobu will be the next Queen.  This year, you must win against her once more!"

He muses over Shinobu's words.  "Team matches are for people who don't really love karuta."

Cut scene: back inside, at the national tournament, cameras are rolling

One of the coordinators questions why there is a video cam rolling.  Another responds that it belongs particularly to Chiba's high school's private broadcast channel.  They remark that the Chiba players are really noticeable, foreigners in Japanese traditional clothing.  They conclude that it would be great propaganda if the Chiba team could become the champions.
"But who are their opponents?"
"Aren't they the representatives from Tokyo, the runner-up team?"
"The organizers are a little bit clever...  filming the "blond haired karuta warrior with the quick handed draw"... this sort of content---"

Announcer:  "There are two minutes remaining in the memorization phase."

Kana is concentrating very hard.  I can't see past it.  Her kimono collar is tucked in at the wrong side, I can't get over it...

Meanwhile, Chihaya is confused by what she sees in front of her.  This guy's formation.... Is exactly the same as my formation when I first started!  From the "a" syllables onward, all fifty syllables are placed in order!

Taichi is also having a difficult time.  His opponent has placed all the latter verses in syllabic order and he's in a bit of a panic. It's too innovative!  It's actually hard to memorize...

Meanwhile, the karuta reader recites the first card.  Tsubuka is alarmed at the guy he's facing, who successfully (and loudly) takes the first card.  Tsubuka cowers.
He's huge... and scary....  There just aren't any black people in Hokkaido.  I don't think I can win against him--

At the same time, Meat bun is puzzling over what kind of person (nationality) his opponent is.  He notices that his opponent has put much thought into the arrangement of his cards.  He notices that next to his opponent, there is a guide book entitled, "How to be Victorious in Karuta Competition."

"Everyone," Meat bun announces.  "Calm yourselves.  They're merely Western karuta lovers."  Taichi, Kana, Chihaya and Tsubuka are surprised at his words.

But how?! thinks Tsubuka in a panic.  It's so difficult and frustrating....  Foreigners just can't love karuta.  (TN: yes, this does seem a little racist, but then a lot of Japanese are actually a little bit racist due to their exclusionist policies in the past)

Those same words also apply to shoe who are born Japanese.  Growing up in Japan... and then very naturally falling in love with karuta...

Very naturally...  Chihaya smiles.

When the next card is read, Chihaya uses her lightning speed.  The cameraman, her opponent, the onlookers are all shocked.
How fast!
How fast!
Shockingly quick!

This is...competitive karuta!  thinks her opponent.

In his shock, he reflects back on his past.  It didn't matter if it was tea ceremony, calligraphy or flower arrangement.  Because my outer appearance was 100% foreign, I thought learning more about Japanese culture would help me make more friends---  

And then I stumbled onto karuta, the game where one had to memorize one hundred poems, an intellectual and seemingly fun game!  But...

The more I fell in love with karuta...the further my Japanese friends kept their distance from me---  He starts to tear up at his misfortune.  (-_-;)

He shakes off his princely blonde hair.  It doesn't matter!  I know that nobody here takes us seriously...  But that's all right!

When the next card is read, Kana loses it to her opponent.
"All right!" her opponent cries out triumphantly.  "I took it!  It took it---"
She beams at the card in her hand.  "It's my absolute favorite poem."
Kana is touched by her words.  "It's...also one that I like..." she says in response.
"How annoying!" her opponent says cheerfully.  "I also like this one, this one and this one.  I won't let you take any of them!"

Next to Kana, Tsubuka's opponent is decimating him because Tsubuka is too timid to react.

Next to Tsubuka, Meat bun is having a fair match with his opponent.  His intuition is pretty good.  Aside from Japanese (players), foreign players can have the same "innate talent"!  But compared with the feeling of not being able to move during a karuta match, this is by far not at all like that.

Just "take it once you can hear it," is a very simple talent.  Since his hearing is so good, if he's able to master the tactic of sending cards and combined with upper and lower attack tactics, he'd have even more---


Taichi comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what their opponents are or what they do, they all share the same passion for the Hyakunin Isshu.

"One card," Chihaya says to her teammates.  "Attack, one card at a time!" she shouts.  "Mizusawa!"
"Yes ma'am!" her teammates shout out in unison.  Their opponents are taken aback by their fighting spirit.

The cameraman thinks it's unnecessary for them to rally since his interest is in filming the team from Chiba.  But as the next cards are read, Mizusawa finally snaps out of it and shows their true colors.  Card after card, Mizusawa's team sends them flying before their opponents can even move.  Everyone breaks out into a sweat at how good they are.

"Incredible.  How wonderful...  Even though they are playing at such high speed, all their members shoulders are all in sync---" says the man standing next to the camera.

This is... what's 'natural' for us!  thinks Chihaya

One day at a time, the 'natural' that everyone's accumulated (through hard work)!

"Ah... it's so beautiful," says one of the onlookers, "when karuta becomes this awesome--"

Cut scene:  Arata walks into the competition center when the Chiba team is being interviewed on camera

The team looks disconsolate and teary eyed as the broadcaster tries to ask them how they feel (about their loss).  Their team captain begins to respond that it is difficult to describe, but it was a real eye-opener for them.  Then, he realizes some commotion at the opposite end of the room.

Apparently, the Mizusawa team has commandeered a dry-erase board with random information concerning the tournament (as they get yelled at by one of the overseers).  Under Taichi's direction, Chihaya and the others write a message to Chiba's team in English.

"We want to play with you again."  

On the side, Kana scribbles that next time, she'll come in a hakama.

Chiba High's team captain smiles warmly.  "Playing karuta is really fun... But competitive karuta is really cool...  A strong team has shown us what real competitive karuta is like!  We're going to grow our ranks back at school, become strong, and work hard at becoming a team that can come back and play again next year!"

Chihaya and the others are grinning in the background, moved by his words.  Arata looks on silently.

Afterwards, the Mizusawa team learns something surprising about their Chiba opponents.

"WHAT?!  They're all freshmen??"

Caption:  Mizusawa High...  breaking through their first competitive match!

---End Chapter---

Hahaha, I'm sorry this is so late!  I've had a rough week (something a client did led me to drink at lunchtime, even!) and so I've been busy and watching the K-drama "Yi San" to escape into the Joseon Period.  I love the Joseon Period!  I'm on Episode 58 of 77 episodes!!!  Wow, this thing is long!  But I'm loving every minute of it as I shout, laugh, cry and make faces at my screen like a deranged person.  This...this is the joy of K-drama!!  LOL.  I'll come back to my senses soon.

I think the interaction in volume 12 between Arata and Shinobu is very interesting, and I think it might be a little one-sided on Shinobu's part since Arata recognizes her mole but not her face....  but I'm quite frustrated throughout this volume for a myriad of other reasons (including the lack of "Chiharata.")  Bear with me.  I'm going at a slug's pace.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis Chapter 64, Vol. 12.1

TN:  Not that it matters but the cover to Volume 12 is very pretty.  Shinobu looks good in a kimono and hakama.  The language gets more complicated when they are competing.  I'm not very fond of this volume, but I'll do my best for the sake of continuity.

Chapter 64

Caption:  The National Elite High School Hyakunin Isshu Competitive Tournament begins!

Opening scene:  Chihaya marches through the competition preparation halls with her face covered in fever reducing patches. -___-;

"Why...why do have I have be like this?" asks Chihaya.
"You still need to ask, Chihaya?" says Kana-chan.  "Don't tell me you've forgotten what happened last year?"
"Last year you collapsed from illness, and that was so obviously a result of a fever due to over-excitement," lectures Desktomu.
("That's right!  That's right!" says Kana on the side.)
"Over-excitement..." repeats Chihaya, not entirely convinced.
"This year we had to at least come up with a plan to counter-effect a fever!" finishes Desktomu.
"Don't worry..."starts Chihaya.  "We're not even wearing hakama this year!"
"But--" interrupts Kana.
"Besides, it's the second time I've come to Omi Jingu," reasons Chihaya.  She looks around and takes in the atmosphere.

I've come again... My second time to the nationals.  What kind of matches will we have to go through in order to succeed?  How strong will the opposing teams be?

Cute scene:  In the preparation hallways

"Hey, Tsubuka!" yells Sumire.  "Don't sneak pictures of Akita Girls' High School members!  You're going to get caught!"
"How rude!" declares Tsubuka.  "Even though there are members of the Akita Girls' High School in my pictures...  but I'm taking pictures of the karuta competition grounds!"  The girls in the back overhear him -__-;
("So loud and shameless!" comments Sumire.)
"Every year the Meijin competition is held here.... Where will the TV stations broadcast from?" says Tsubuka examining the hall from every angle.    "Ah...I've seen this corner before."
"Hey, don't go overboard!" chastises Sumire, trying to get him up off the floor.

This is the first national championship for the freshmen!  thinks Chihaya, watching them fondly.

"Ok!" says Meat bun, joining their party.  "Everyone gather round and put on your uniforms!  These are the new T-shirts I had my sister make for us!"  He proudly displays a t-shirt with the word "victory" in bold black letters across the front.
"Waaah!  How cool.  It really has presence!" everyone exclaims.
"How superb!" expresses Desktomu.  "The color isn't bad either.
"What a beautiful watercolor blue," exclaims Kana.
"Ah...what are these black dots in the corner.. There are letters here, but they're hard to make out..." begins Desktomu.  As he examines them closer, they do the same and they come to realize that the two circles hide the phrase "Second Place."  Naturally, this is coming from his sister who is a fan of Hokuo Academy.

They all stare at the shirt, speechless.  "I'm sorry everyone..." Meat bun says gloomily.  "Let's just wear our usual shirts."
"All right then!" says Chihaya as they all get dressed.
"I'm sorry everyone," sulks Meat bun. "I had no idea she'd add that kind of curse to it."
"It's all right! Meat bun kun!" smiles Chihaya.  "Wearing our practice shirts will better help us gather our spirit."
"Hanano!  Come take a picture!" says Tsubuka.
"For heaven's sake, now what?" asks Sumire.
"My little brothers at home are waiting for the text," smiles Tsubuka.  He speaks aloud as he texts "At the nationals, naturally I'm going to be the champion.  Big Bro is going do his best in his matches!"
"Geez, what nonsense are you spouting!" comments Sumire from behind him.

Tsubuka looks down on his screen.  It reads: I'm at the Nationals, naturally I'm going to be selected as a real team member now!  I'll do my best during my matches!

Giving up 'latter verse' karuta....  From Spring forward, I've been vigorously practicing Kanto-style karuta... and at the Shiranami Society I've learned quite a lot.

This time... I'm going to be successful in writing in my name on the players roster... and establish myself as a bona fide team member!

"Ah, the competition playing rosters are up," says Desktomu.  "You five have to win!"  Chihaya, Tsubuka and Meat bun stare at him, speechless.
"Are you saying that you have no intent of entering the competitions?  Is that really all right?
Tsutomu--" asks Meat bun.
"Hanano..."says Desktomu.  "You're also going to be an investigative member with me.  You go investigate competition hall H."
"Ah---" exclaims Sumire.  "Ah--- really.  I got it."  She holds up a pen and note pad.  "I can't believe I even brought my own pen and note pad."
"Well then, about the competition hall I asked you to go to..." begins Desktomu.

Meanwhile, Tsubuka is admiring his teammate with shining eyes.  How cool...  

Desktomu really did his best and practiced hard.... thinks Chihaya.  If it were me, would I be able to say the same things?

Doing your best... Doing your best after you've done your best...  Even like this, there will still be a time when someone comes up from behind to surpass you... Could I be like Desktomu...and say the same?

Meanwhile, Taichi is recalling a conversation he had with Tsutomu.  "If Ayase's dream is to be Japan's number one... then we can't just randomly compete, we need to use the really capable members."

Taichi, Meat bun, Tsubuka, Kana and Chihaya steel themselves before the competition while Sumire and Desktomu race to their respective competition halls.

Hiro, standing with the Hokuo team, notices them.
"Ah, Eyebrows-kun...  You're so close, aren't you nervous?" he asks as he pats Taichi on the shoulder. "Tomorrow's competition that could raise you to A-rank should be more important, right?"

Taichi is silent and Hiro pauses.  "Even if I lose in the first round of tomorrow's competition..." he begins.  "I will win every match of today's tournament!"  Hiro is taken aback.

I want to win!  I want to win!  With everyone---

Caption:  I can't believe it-- Everyone wants to be Japan's number one!  Is Chihaya's aspiration contagious?

"Haven't they posted first match's line up yet?" asks Meat bun.  Just as he says it, a coordinator posts another team's line up below Mizusawa's roster.
"Ah, it's here," comments Kana.  "Is it Chiba's Prefectural High School?"

Cut scene:  the Mizusawa team facing the team from Chiba; they are all foreigners


Cut scene:  at Competition Hall C

Sumire has snuck in successfully and is partially hiding behind a wall.

"The C Hall competitions will take place on the second floor.  What I need to pay attention to is..." she mutters under her breath.

"You need to pay attention to a girl who is Akashi's first ranked female player!" Desktomu's voice sounds in her head.

"Ah, right, right," she answers (herself?).  "At most I've got to keep an eye on a third year girl named Oosaka Megumu (TN: whose name I can't translate for the life of me.  Feel free to help)

"I know he said that, but..." she says under her breath.  I can't tell them apart?  Who's who?

Sumire thinks, From this point of view, all of them are not very good looking....

Just then, a bespectacled, freckled girl bumps into her.
"Oh, excuse me!" she says.  She then proceeds to bump into every single person on her way back to her teammates.
"Megumu, did you buy it?" asks one of her teammates.
"Yeah, I did. "  She presents her team mates with batteries in one hand.  "But what did you want with batteries?  Do you have something that needs to be charged?"

Her teammates stand there speechless, looking at the batteries.  Apparently they had asked her to go buy sodas, and she came back with batteries.  (TN: The translation in Chinese suggests that she somehow mistook the carbonic acid in soda as the battery acid in batteries...)

Megumu Oosaka...homely looking, but also of very small brain, and a sought-after player... Sumire concludes.

Meanwhile, a bunch of otaku-looking guys are snapping shots of her.
"Today, Megumu looks really cute!" one of them says.  "I just took a really premium shot!"
"Oh, is that the new model Olympus camera?" asks another.
"Hehehehe, I'm going to use this to take pictures of Megumu's beautiful karuta (style)!" the first one responds.

...a homely looking, small brained sought-after player? (Who has her own fan club, to boot!) thinks Sumire in shock.

"Megumu," says one of her teammates, "they're here again!  The four-eyed, camera-toting trio."
"Recently we've been lucky enough to stop them from taking pictures during the competitions with their noisy cameras!  It's frustrating enough!"
"That's right," says Megumu with a sweet smile towards her stalkers.  "It would be best if you burned (in Hell)---"  But her words only make the three blush more deeply.

She's a a homely looking, small brained sought-after female player...who utters death threats! thinks Sumire in shock.

Megumu then proceeds to tie a white band around her head.  This causes Sumire to pause and Megumu's fan club to flush in awe.

"Ok, ganbatte!" shouts the captain.
"Yes, Ma'am!" the others respond.  Megumu remains calmly silent.

I'm not really sure what's going on, but...the women of the world of karuta (especially thinking about how strange Chihaya is) are really unfathomable! Sumire thinks as she scribbles into her notebook.

Cut scene: Tsutomu running around Competition halls E and F, on his most important mission

Tsutomu stops short when he runs into the players he was looking for, Fujisaki.

Last year's national competition victor, Fujisaki High School---
Thus far on a winning streak of 13 consecutive victories...

Their membership overflows with 50+ people and they are a super elite traditional school, and our biggest obstacle.  I have to carefully evaluate them...

As he sits down, Tsutomi notices the time and wonders if he teammates are doing all right.  Their first opponent will be Chiba International High School, a newly established karuta club...  I couldn't find any data on them----

Chiba isn't really the type of school to produce a karuta club... they all should be able to defeat them readily----

Cut scene:  The Mizusawa team is mostly in shock about facing gaijin ... (TN: or as they say it in the old country, "gwai-lo" [鬼佬] -_-;)

What should I do?  This is the first time I've seen a foreigner.  What do I do??  Tsubuka asks himself in a panic in a panic.
Do we really have to play with them?  Do these people even know how to play karuta? asks Meat bun, also shaken.

Foreigners wearing hakama...while we're wearing T-shirts... thinks Kana, devastated from the loss of face. This is probably the most shameful moment of my life....

What do we do? Taichi wonders.  Everyone is clearly shaken by this.  But....

He looks over to Chihaya.  She is holding a handkerchief to her mouth while her tears are overflowing.

The most puzzling reaction is from her... thinks Taichi, wondering why she's crying at all.

In English: "I'm so impressed there are so many people who can play karuta," says one of Chiba's members.
In English: "No one else is wearing hakama but us, but it's great we're so noticeable."
In English:  "Without wearing hakama, we'd be noticeable anyway, right?" asks another.
In English:  "Let's make a bet on who gets the most cards!" exclaims the girl on their team.

Karuta....defies borders and race.... thinks Chihaya emotionally as she sobs emotionally.  It's now an international sport!

Taichi hurriedly thinks of a way to calm his teammates (especially Chihaya).  In English: "Forgive me, but your pronunciation is inaccurate.  Perhaps you can speak Japanese more easily than English, right?"

The members from Chiba fall silent...And then break out into Japanese...

"Aw, how embarrassing, we got caught---" exclaims one of them.
"Who was it?  Who was it who said speaking a foreign language in front of the opponent would give them more pressure if we're foreign looking....but all we know how to speak is the English they've taught us (at school)."
"We can't help it," says the girl.  "We've never been outside of Japan!"
"Our English is still better than yours!" exclaims another.

The announcer then comes by and tells them to be quiet because the cards are being distributed.

Their captain then says, "Studying in Japan, we've just grown to love karuta.  Please, take care of us today!" as he bows deeply over the tatami.

The Mizusawa team is touched by his words.

Cut scene: Arata arriving at Omi Jingu

"Arata, are you going to come tomorrow to watch?"
"You're only interested in the individual player tournament?"

"I was kidding when I said those words..." says Arata, getting out of the car.
"Arata, I'm going first," says his friend who gave him a lift.  "After you're done watching your friends compete, give me a call--"
"Thanks, uncle," says Arata, waving goodbye.  He looks at the time on his phone.  The first match has already started.  I'd better go pray at the shrine first before going to see Chihaya and Taichi--

But before he gets to the shrine, a dark hand approaches him from behind and touches his shoulder. He turns to see Shinobu, veiled in shadow,  smiling at him.  (TN: She looks uber creepy, to me.  You can be the judge.)

---End Chapter---

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chihayafuru manga synopsis, Vol. 11.5, chapter 63

TN:  Ha, sorry I'm late with this chapter.  Had an uber busy week at work with assignments every day nearly, and now I'm finally able to relax a little.  I've also been losing sleep (and loving it) over Korean dramas...hehehe.  The Moon Embracing the Sun was really a decent period drama, a little overdone with the torture scenes, but overall a good story about love, politics and karma.  I watched it on Viki so the fan commentary really cracked me up and made the depressing/boring scenes fly by faster.  

I'm currently watching Lie to Me, Love Rain, Rooftop Prince and I'm a Flower Too! but since the story lines are just beginning (and rather boring), I can take my time with those.  Needed more sleep anyway...

Finally, we've come to the end of volume 11 and my second favorite telephone conversation, LOL.

Chapter 63

Opening scene:  Mizusawa High School, Modern Language (homeroom)

"," begins the old spectacled teacher as he coughs, "there's also the Classical Literature's scope---through page 89--
"Among our class, our students who score 70 points or lower must write 20 ballads over the summer as make-up."
"70 points??" one student laments.
"20 ballads?!" another student cries out in desperation.
"Everyone, *cough, cough* do you your best."
"70 points..." says Chihaya laying her head on her desk and looking like she's about to go into convulsions.  Impossible!  Impossible!!

Her teacher takes notice of her and directly addresses Chihaya, "Speaking of ballads, Karuta Club Captain!"  Chihaya tenses up immediately.
"According to my suggestion, of the 20 names submitted for membership into the Karuta Club, how many remained?"

Chihaya's friend, Michiru, Chihaya and Meat bun all look like deer caught in the headlights.

"If you haven't succeeded in gaining 5 new members then, the issue of your forfeiting your meeting room to the Band Club-- you know about it, right?"

"Don't back down, Ayase!" Meat bun is whispering furiously into her ear.  "It's true that 20 people applied to join the club during this one semester, you can't back down!"  But of course, Chihaya is incapable of telling a lie, or even a half-truth.

"S--" she begins, sliding down her chair until she is curled up on the floor in a prostrate position.  "Sorry..." she shakes as she begs forgiveness.  "But coming up next is the national tournament, before that happens, please let us use the spare classroom...  Even though only 2 people joined, their combined efforts are really like 5 people.  I would still beg you to be merciful....please be merciful, please be merciful!"  (TN: lol, it's like she's a criminal begging for mercy in sentencing, or begging for her life in front of a Daimyo or something....)

Her teacher stares at her for a bit.
"Regarding Natsume Soeseki, he once said something notable from his work, 'Gubijinsō' (TN: The Poppy.  Soeseki is a major literary figure from the Meiji Era who understood English Literature, Chinese and Japanese classical poetry very well, and my favorite among his novels is "Kokoro.")

"What is amiability is a gentle weapon that defeats something greater than one's own gentleness." (TN: wow, this took me forever to translate.  In Chinese, he quotes: 所谓爱嬌是杀死比自己更强大的东西的柔武器軟 - which probably means you can defeat others with an amiable disposition.  Kill them with kindness, that sort of thing.)

"The remainder of the time will be self-study."

Meat bun bops Chihaya over the head with his note book.  "So he's saying that you're amiable, and that quality is what will make him turn a blind eye this time then?  Whoa, that was dangerous!"

Cut scene:  Chihaya walking with Meat bun and Desktomu in the halls

"That was not clever at all; Ayase, you're too honest!" reprimands Desktomu.
"I know, right?' chimes in Meat bun.
"It's not like the band doesn't have anywhere to meet, right?" asks Desktomu.
"They do!  Look!" says Meat bun.  "This year's membership has grown...making space sparse for their music equipment, so they actually use the back hall as storage space.  But those who are afraid of their stuff getting stolen have to carry their equipment back home every day.... (but it's not really a big deal!)"
"......"  Chihaya says nothing but the look in her eyes says she feels bad for them.  (TN:  Well, we all know what she's thinking since we're familiar with Chihaya's sense of "fair play" by now, aren't we? ^_^)

Cut scene:  Chihaya and her club members in the teacher's lounge with Ms. Miyauchi

"HUH?" asks Ms. Miyauchi incredulously.  "So you want to use the second level spare classroom to give to the Band Club to use?  Why are you brining this up again?"
"What are you saying?" demands Ms. Miyauchi.  "You guys can't practice with any extraneous noise, so you even close the windows in the summer right?  (Even though there's no air conditioning!)  If the Band moves in upstairs then there's no way you guys can practice!"

"What you're saying is true," begins Chihaya, "but if they only use it as storage space, then it shouldn't be a problem...."
"But, there isn't any opposition now even though the Karuta Club couldn't enlist 5 new members, you all have nothing to worry about now," insists Ms. Miyauchi.  (The Band teacher is standing right next to her but she is the Empress and can say what she wants whenever and wherever she likes.... -_-;)

"But..." says Ms. Miyauchi.
"The Band is facing a hardship, so I think we shouldn't just consider the Karuta Club's well-being..." Ms. Miyauchi suddenly looks at her in shock, like she's about to faint.  Oh my, I never thought the day would come when Ayase utters words like these...  (TN: remember, she's a karuta nut who eats, breathes and sleeps while thinking only of karuta)  

This is the most beautiful moment of my teaching career....

"In other words, I obtained an epiphany when I was competing in the tournament.  Recently we've used karuta... to "compete...."  I'm not sure if I'm saying this clearly, but just like it was during our last 'sudden death' match, at the crucial moments we need the best sort of luck..."

This is...

"So, if we treat other (clubs) could result in good karma for us!"

The extent of our captain's greed... everyone is thinking with a big sweat drop on their face.

Going full's still all about karuta--

"I--" stammers Ms. Miyauchi with a severely disappointed expression.  "I understand."

"We bid you farewell," says Chihaya and she and the others bow in respect before closing the door.
"Ah, Ayase-san is a very interesting child," comments the Modern Literature teacher.
"In what way?" demands Ms. Miyauchi, slumping down into her chair in defeat.  "Is she simple or is she calculating...."
"Well," he says, "I...ah, think that child is an unpredictable gambler."
"What the heck are you saying...?" asks Ms. Miyauchi.
"At the very least, in the midst of competition you are not the one who can determine your fate... to be able to realize this point is very important."

Cut scene:  the door of the club room with a sign that says "Competitive Karuta Club, new members welcome"

Caption reads: Karuta club, final exams study period

I need at least 70 points in both Modern Literature and Classics....   Impossible!  Impossible!  thinks Chihaya, clutching her head in one hand.  In all my subjects...I cannot get red marks (failing grades)....

Meanwhile, there seems to be some loud commotion upstairs on the second floor where the Band Club is using its storage space.
'The second floor sure is noisy," comments Desktomu.
"Once the Band finishes arranging their stuff, it will be more peaceful," Kana-chan suggests.
"Desktomu-kun!" cries Chihaya in desperation, opening up her text book.  "This portion I don't understand!  Teach me!"

"YEAH!" comes a shout from upstairs.
"Are they practicing their rallying cries?" asks Taichi, looking up at the ceiling.
"Why is it different from what was promised?" complains Tsubuka.
"And they're doing it so poorly," comments Meat bun.
"Instead of saying 'chihayafuru' we might as well call it 'araburu,'" comments Kana.

"Kana-chan, what do you mean by that?" asks Chihaya.
"You're still asking me what this means...?  Well, 'chihayafuru' and 'araburu' are..." begins Kana.
"I think I know what 'chihayafuru" means, but what about 'araburu'?" asks Chihaya.

Don't tell me...we're at Chapter 63 in this manga and you still don't fully understand the meaning of Chihayafuru?? thinks Kana in shock  (TN: lol)

Kana then does a tragic heroine pose and covers her mouth as she thinks, This is my responsibility...I can't show my face...

Sumire joins in and says she doesn't understand the meaning of the card either.  Meat bun even goes on to say the latter half doesn't really have any meaning.

"Listen well!" demands Kana.  "The phrase 'chihayafuru' can be written in multiple ways, even though pronounced the same."  She writes the variations on paper as she explains.  (TN: OK, this is where it gets hard and I spent a long time with these difficult words figuring out what she was trying to say... -_-;)

"I think the easiest way to remember is to take 'chihayafuru' and 'araburu' together side-by-side into a phrase."
"I've heard of that phrase before too," comments Meat bun.  "Both are supposed to represent the power of the gods."

"If you say 'araburu' is the negative energy of a god, then 'chihayafuru' is the gods' positive energy.  Even though they both represent the same thing, they really are completely different.  For example, if you don't spin a top properly, the top will bounce back in uneven motions.  Consider 'chihayafuru' as spinning the top directly on its point.  When you consider the world spinning on its axis, it seems very steady, but from almost all sides it collects its energy into a single state--"  (TN: the difference is 'order' and 'chaos' I suppose.  Why couldn't she say so in the first place??)

That is, 'chihayafuru'--

Just then they hear a tap on their window.  They turn to see the band standing outside, instruments at the ready.
"What's going on?"

The band proceeds to play the school's alma mater theme song.  "MIZUSAWA KARUTA CLUB...WE HOPE YOU DO WELL IN THE NATIONALS!"

(TN: I'm not going to translate the sappy lyrics to the school's theme song--it's pretty much in line with most school songs; so if you can think (back) to your high school alma mater fondly and remember it's theme song, it's kind of like that.  Go Dynamiters!)

"Oh my god, there's a second verse?" says Meat bun in surprise.
"There's a third verse?" asks Taichi in surprise.
"There shouldn't be a fourth," says Desktomu cautiously.
With tears in his eyes, the Band Club teacher cries, "Thank you for letting us use the second story--"
"Thank you!" other band members chime in.
"We will use it quietly!"
"Thank you!"
"It's really awesome that the karuta club can make it into the nationals!"
"Ganbatte ne!"
"Claim victory!"

They all bow and then leave.  The karuta club members stare out the window in a state of quiet surprise and shock, followed by a burst of laughter.
"It gave me quite a shock--" says Sumire.
"I can't believe they played all the way through the fourth verse!" says Taichi.
"The teacher was actually crying.  Probably because it was the first time the Empress gave him what he asked for...." laughs Meat bun.
"So cool, so cool!  Just like the time the baseball club went to the Koshien (high school baseball league)!"
"It's the first time I've received encouragement from people who have nothing to do with karuta!" exclaims Kana happily.
"Really, really cool!" laughs Chihaya as she grips Kana's shoulders.

"They've brought a really awesome wind (in our direction).  The Band Club's performance of our school song is really..." says Chihaya.  Kana notices Chihaya falling silent and tears gathering in her eyes.

"The theme of 'chihayafuru'!"

Caption:  After receiving many auspicious winds in our direction...

Cut scene:  (TN: from the teacher who let it slide that they didn't gain 5 more members) Chihaya being told by her Modern Literature teacher that she only scored 56 points and thus has to write 20 ballads over the summer as make-up work

Cut scene:  (TN: from the concerned parent who went out of her way to buy a kimono) Chihaya's mom saying, "What?  You're not going to bring your kimono to the national tournament?!  (I just bought you a new one!)  It's because you go sick last year wearing a kimono?  You should have said that earlier!!"

Caption:  The first week of summer break, we headed off to Omi Jingu.

"Ganbatte ne!"
"The karuta club has to win!"

We must win!  This time, we absolutely will not lose even once!  Together with everyone we will be Japan's number one!

If I'm lucky, during this major event I'll finally become a real karuta player! thinks Tsubuka.

If I'm lucky, during this major event maybe I'll finally make some progress with Mashima-senpai! thinks Sumire.

Cut scene:  the hotel where the Mizusawa club is staying

Sumire is humming a little tune dressed in her hotel yukata, while bringing out a cute camisole from her luggage.
"Hanano-kohai," says Kana, "that's a really cute piece!"
"It is awesome, isn't it?  A brought a lot of really cute undergarments with me--" she happily replies. "I mean, you never know if something might happen."

Ms. Miyauchi, who is also sharing the room and is within earshot, has a sweat drop on her brow.  ".....Hanano-san, even though I don't think anything will happen (I mean, tomorrow is the tournament so all you can do is sleep now), but... are you going to go to bed with your make-up on?"
"That's right!" says Sumire brightly.  "Because you never know what might happen."

Next panel: Sumire without her make-up... priceless... ^_^ (TN: click link to see the hilarity)

Kana and Chihaya are speechless.  "In one breath she's changed appearances," says Kana.
"So boring---" says Sumire.  "It's so boring-- In a rare opportunity we are whisked to a Summer resort, and all we do is sleep, enter the tournament, and go home----"
"We're not on vacation here..." comments Kana.
"Something should happen that makes your heart jump and beat faster, right?" sulks Sumire.  "....."
"For a while I've been wanting to ask..." begins Sumire.  "Ayase-senpai, is there someone that you like?"
("Whoa, that's direct!" says Kana from the side.)

"Is there anyone who you, during the night... makes your heart yearn to know what they're up to?  Like, you really want to see him----  that sort of person?"

Chihaya thinks about the question but has no immediate response, while Kana's heart is pounding on the side.
".... But..." begins Chihaya.  "I don't know Shinobu's number...."  (TN: FACE PALM...)
("Just up to that extent?!)  We're not talking about how you feel towards your arch-nemesis!!" Sumire and Kana shout at the same time.  ^_^

Cut scene:  Chihaya thinks about the question Sumire posed

What am I doing?

I really want to see him!

Chihaya goes out to make a phone call on her cell phone on the balcony.  Unknown to her, Taichi is coming out from his bath and overhears her.

"Arata?" she asks.  "Mm...yeah, that's right.  I'm at the hotel by Lake Biwa."  Taichi pauses for a moment.

"Arata, are you coming tomorrow?  Ah?  You're only going to participate in the the individuals tournament?"  Chihaya's expression falls sullen.  "That's right... Arata's high school doesn't have a karuta club.  I forgot...."

Taichi watches her blush silently, and it makes him grimace, before walking away.

"Oh, Arata!"
"Hm?" asks Arata, sitting at his desk in his room at home in Fukui.
"You should create a karuta club then!  If you had a team that would be so great!" she smiles happily.
"...I..." he begins, "have no interest in team competitions," he responds.  "I'm only interested in the individual karuta matches."

His words make a deep impression on her.

"I... I'm also going to claim victory!  I'll win the individual tournament as well," she says hastily.
"Winning both the team tournament and the individual tournament won't be easy, right?  And Shinobu's going to enter the tournament as well...."
"I'm going to topple Shinobu!"
"I heard she lost weight before entering the subsequent contests," he comments.
"Win..." says Chihaya.  "Wah----Shinobu mysteriously turned thin again----" she cries out.  "I'm going to win (anyway)!" she says hastily before hanging up on him.  (TN: Girl, your communication skills...  You too, Arata!)

Chihaya slumps down on the floor and thinks wistfully back to when the three of them were younger and part of a team.

"I...have no interest in team tournaments."

Cut scene:  Taichi walking away with determination

I only want to win the individual tournament!

Cut scene:  dusk at the Omi Jingu shrine

Caption:  The National Elite High School Hyakunin Isshu Karuta Championship... begins!

---End Chapter, End Volume 11---