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.
Opening scene: Mizusawa High School, Modern Language (homeroom)
"Well...um...then," 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..."
"So, if we treat other (clubs) well...it 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 circle...it'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!"
"It's really awesome that the karuta club can make it into the nationals!"
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.
"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."
"FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN! GO TAKE OFF YOUR MAKE-UP!" replies Ms. Miyauchi.
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.
"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---