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.
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.)