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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Too busy with Cosplay costumes and AX 2012; No posts this week, sorry! :-(

Hi ~!

I am preparing for Convention season down here, and I'm afraid I don't have time to post this week.  Not only am I recovering from some god-awful viral contagion that landed me on my back for 3 days (yuck, wouldn't wish it on anyone) and made me feel like I was swallowing barbed wire every time I tried to eat, I've got to put on the finishing touches on my costume!!!  Hahaha, hakama and kimono complete!  I totally forgot how to tie an obi... (See below)

What do you think of the pattern?  Chihayafuru-ish enough? LOL

This time of year is the highlight of all cosplaying nerds so I hope you understand.  First off, this weekend (most likely July 1 - 2) I will be strolling the exhibit halls at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles, CA, and maybe even catch Studio Madhouse (production team for Chihayafuru anime) during their forum.  If I visit the maid cafe this year I will be sure to post pics, and I'm contemplating buying tix for the Lisa concert. much $$ do I want to spend...?  I might have to defer it until my boss says I get a raise this week (crossing fingers -- CROSS YOUR FINGERS TOO! LOL).

 Hope to see some of you down there!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis, Volume 12, Chapter 68

[TN:  I almost forgot about this blog and my usual update! LOL...  I've been so busy playing the "new game+" for Supergiant Games' "Bastion"-- downloadable on XBox Live.  Where was I in 2011 when this first came out??  This game is the best!!  Sure, it might promote underage drinking but the art is really bright J-RPG style and the game was so addicting I went right into the new game without coming up for air....  It's playful and serious (think chibi J-RPG character meets nuclear holocaust). There's something about it that's reminiscent of Joss Whedon's "Firefly"...  Must be that darn catchy music (that I downloaded -- well worth it).  Now, where was I?

Chapter 68

Opening scene:  the stormy day continues at the National Championship at Omi Jingu

Sumire pauses under the covered front steps of the competition hall while others are complaining about the rain.

"What is up with this bout of super heavy rain?" someone nearby asks.  "It was clear skies this morning---"
"Ahh..." laments Sumire, looking up towards the rain.  "What to do?  Now I can't investigate the matches in the other competition halls."

"Did anyone bring an umbrella?" somebody else asks.
"Everyone is obviously prepared for the fact that they will get wet if they run out into the rain..."
"But that little four-eyed frog..."

Just then, amid the scattered people running out in the rain with anything they could find to cover their heads, Desktomu is walking slowly with a small group of people huddling under his umbrella.

"Ah, Hanano-san," greets Desktomu-kun.  The others thank him for his trouble of lending them some shelter from the rain.
"Never thought you'd bring an umbrella..." comments Sumire.  "But sure the chances of it raining were really low!"

"Huh? Well that's--" begins Desktomu.  "Even though the barometric pressure reading and humidity reading were 0, the national weather bureau reported there might be the chance of rain."
His explanation escapes Sumire's understanding.  He skips over her reaction.

"How was the competition with Akashi Girl's Academy?"
"They're really strong!" she exclaims.  "Even though it was the second round of competition, they ended it early as well.  These are my notes."  She hands over her notepad.

Desktomu reads her finely printed notes on how ugly they were, what brand names their bags and purses were, the length of their hair, they type of decorations they put on their hand phones etc.
"But, I did sit a little far from them so I didn't have a way to really observe their playing very clearly...(not like I'd understand what I saw anyway)."
"Haaah..." says Desktomu, completely speechless as he stares at the pages.

"How was our competition?" she asks, changing the subject.  He's still puzzling at how she even got down the color of their _________.  (TN:  I can't read the word, it's too small in my comic...)
"There are too many people," she comments about the crowd in front of her.  "I can't squeeze into the competition hall..."
"Thank you, Hanano-san," says Desktomu, with a big sweat drop.  "You've written down even the most minute of details...."

Sumire looks at him bashfully.  "Whah, this is great!  I don't have to compete this time around.  I was so nervous during the Tokyo Regionals!  I have no interest in competing at the national level!  A person like me, just leave me to help with the investigation, that's enough!"  She exclaims in a rambling fashion, holding up her hand.  "I'm not like everyone else, I don't have the determination to be a champion contender."

She catches her words and Desktomu looks back at her blankly for a moment.

"I'm going to go over there and sort the notes," he says.  "You'd better utlizie this time to go have lunch, Hanano-san."
She watches him silently.  I thought, aside from me, all my team members wanted really badly to go out and compete...

Perhaps.... Tsutomu-senpai is not the same....

That's right!  Isn't this sort of thing annoying to me?  That world of perfection and absolutes! (TN: the literal translation is the "world of victory and defeat, excellence and weakness/pros and cons")

Cut scene:  Mioka's teacher grins as his team is pulling through

"It's such a brilliant match, don't you think?" he turns to Miauchi sensei to ask.  "Our club has at least half its membership participating in the decathlon... Our real goal is the decathlon in August."

Nakayama, I applaud your fighting spirit... he thinks approvingly.

Flashback: Chihaya's opponent, Nakayama Manabu's difficult training past

In order to train for the decathlon, he trained his reflexes to be the fastest person to push the answer buzzer (TN: my sincere apologies to all nerds everywhere, but my God, this is a lame....I'll stop here.) by training in karuta.

He actually used karuta as a jumping point to train for the decathlon, and he's excelled to this juncture! his teacher thinks with tears in his eyes.

But at the same tim, his student is thinking: Teacher, is probably thinking that, but actually, that's not quite right.  No matter how you look at it.... Manamu's thoughts differ from that of his teacher.

It's for karuta that I've progressed in the decathlon to become a diamond---  (Manabu sparkles and in the background his teacher says, "Huh?!  It's like that??")

I love...this ambiance!  Manabu beams.  After setting down the cards and memorizing them, that tight, anxious feeling...  That feeling when you can even hear the sound of your own breath----

Just then, Chihaya takes a DEEP breath.  "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh......"
"?!"  Manabu is bewildered for the moment.  Just as strangely, she exhales until the very last bit of air is pushed out of her, Chihaya's entire body trembling.

She's expelling all the air in one breath.....  It's long.... It's an alarmingly long pulmonary capacity.

Caption:  Chihaya, you...

Just breathe and you will win!

Flashback on a discussion between Chihaya and Taichi

"Speaking of breathing, most people use a lot of energy breathing in, but the most important is to first breath out!  Calmly exhaling ... spit it all out!"

Scene: Back in the competition

If that's the case...

"Sorry!" Chihaya says as she gets up, raises her head and breathes in again.  Her team members are silent as she does so.

Just like this we can regain our composure....

She looks down at the cards.

And I can see it all!

Manabu notices his opponent for the first time.
What a beautiful girl!  If I were to compare her to a constellation, it would be Vega... the star maiden weaver....  To have her look down on me isn't bad at all (TN: uh...what are you thinking...?)

No, I can't.  I can't fill my head wish such useless thoughts!  he thinks.  Looking over to his team members he is shocked at what he sees.  Aside from the last match on the end, three of his team members seem to be faltering against Mizusawa.

Meat bun's opponent announces, "I'm going to rearrange the cards."
"Is it that time again?" Meat bun asks casually.  I don't really care, he thinks.  Why can't he figure that out?  He thinks back at what he learned from his karuta society, from Yumi and his sensei.

Certainly it's about attacking...but no matter how you see it, it's defensive karuta.   It doesn't matter how his arrangements change.  All I have to do is protect my 25 cards from being taken, that's all! 

I just have to embrace that thought and play...  What's more inconceivable to them is that I can also attack their cards (at the same time)!

Meat bun strikes at just the right moment.

Beside him, Kana wipes her brow as another "empty" card is read.  She even remembers that it is authored by a monk named _______.

I've got to investigate! she thinks with conviction, recognizing that there are 6 cards authored by monks in play.  As the next card is read, she takes it quickly, again, recognizing it by its female author.  Again, she looks and finds 4 cards in play that are written by women, 2 on her side and 2 on his.

Meanwhile, her opponent is sweating as he thinks, No matter how I change them, she's able to follow me.  This girl is really incredible!

Since his way of karuta is rote memorization, this is her weapon and her way of memorization.

Next to Kana, Taichi is able to take the next card even before his opponent moves.  Even Mioka's teacher is impressed by his speedy, athletic version of karuta, constantly moving, forcefully striking.  Taichi thinks that even though his opponent's memorization skills are strong, for someone who only moves his arms and isn't as fit as he is, even Taichi can keep up with him.  Taichi recognizes how he was just like his opponent at one time.  He remembers Meatbun's lecture about how karuta is a union of both mind and body and how Meatbun only memorizes about half the cards before he plays.

What Nishida was trying to teach me... was that my body must also compete.  Manabu is shocked as he watches Taichi play.  (TN:  Shouldn't you be focusing on your own game, dude?)

Both mind... and body....

Manabu focuses on his game again, think he cannot let the opposing team enjoy their karuta like this, and he employs his weapon.
"I'm going to change my cards," he announces.  But as he looks up, Chihaya's expression throws him off.  Apparently she is having a crisis.  Beside her are the God of War and a Bhudda (TN: Could also be the Goddess of Mercy who is androgynous)

Again? How many times has he done it, HOW MANY TIMES??  KILL!  KILL!  How incredible, incredible!  He can memorize it just like that? How amazing---

No, really... there is no other way, the Bodhisattva next to her says.  I cannot keep up appearances any longer.

That's right, thinks Chihaya.  There's just no way I can memorize cards like the other team members.
Once I've made this realization... I feel completely relaxed.  (TN: the epiphany.)

Don't worry!  Don't worry! she forces herself.  This is the first time I've played against someone who relies so heavily on moving his cards.  Don't worry!  Just keep up!

An evil look overcomes her.  Just watch....all of the remaining cards have become single syllable cards!

He moves his cards again and she notices that his remaining six cards are pulled back and in an odd formation.

Beside her, the God of War and the Bodhisattva cry, GO!!

When the next card is read, Chihaya strikes with her speed even before her opponent can move.  As she runs to retrieve it, Manabu is still in shock.

At the same time as the sound.... No, even faster than the sound!!

She takes the next card.

I can't even move... he sits back in shock.

[Believe in your innate ability and attack...] and my ability...  

Blows the mind, Manabu concludes

But she... surpasses even the ear...  Her fingers connect----

Chihaya sends a card flying against a wall, much to the shock of an innocent bystander.

She isn't the star weaver maiden.  This sharpness...  the death hunter Bellatrix...  (TN: no relation to Harry Potter)

Bellatrix Orionus! 

Cut scene:  Arata and his "team" are undergoing their "punishment" for their folly during the last round

Arata fills out the first few words of the essay he has to write to the overseers.  ["Karuta and Me" by Wataya Arata.]  His "team" members are profusely apologizing to him with tears for involving him and causing him to do this sort of punishment.

"No, I'm the one who needs to apologize to you.  I'm constantly borrowing T-shirts from you guys."  Nearby, Shinobu is changed into someone's pants and a T-shirt, still damp, and surfing the web on Arata's phone looking for information about the failed Birdman Rally.  "And pants too for that soaking wet Queen in the corner."
"Don't worry about stuff like that.  We could even donate those clothes to you," says his friend.  "Unless that would give you guys more troubles?"

Arata thinks back to when he was bowing before the overseers.
"Wataya-kun," asked the head overseer.  "What is your purpose in coming here today?"
"Ah, well I came to support my friends who are the Tokyo Regional representatives."
"Well then, as part of your punishment I won't let you go watch them.  Go into the other room and write your essay.  Then, tomorrow, go compete in the individuals tournament!"

Taichi, Chihaya... are working hard in their team competition, aren't they?

Meanwhile, in the corner, Shinobu is lamenting that she wants to watch the Rally tomorrow, but it interferes with the timing of the individuals tournament.  She laments that the tournament can't be the day after the Rally.

Why is it...

In the background the others are asking how many times they have to write the essay.

...I decided that I'm only going to concentrate on the individuals tournament...  is the only way in order to see them again?

Cut scene:  The aftermath of the Mioka - Mizusawa match is posted on the wall, 3 wins (Taichi, Chihaya, Meatbun) and two losses (Kana-chan and Tsubuka)

"Kana-chan, that's regrettable.  Only lost by two cards!" consoles Meatbun.  ("I'm so unsatisfied!" she cries)
"I'm the same way," says Tsubuka.  "I'm so dissatisfied!"
"But you lost by 12 cards!" Meatbun retorts.
"Chihaya, don't stand and sleep at the same time!" Taichi calls out, shaking her as she drools.
"Ah? Mioka?  that school that excels in the decathlon?" one bystander comments.  "No wonder they arrange the cards so randomly like quiz questions---"

At the same time, Mioka's teacher is praising his students.  "Well done, everyone!" he says.  "Certainly it's dissatisfying to lose but use this experience as a turning point for next time's preparation."  His teacher concludes they can use it towards the decathlon that's coming up.  But Manabu cries as he concludes that it doesn't matter.  This loss is a loss for karuta and they have to win back their cards.  It doesn't matter if it has nothing to do with the decathlon.  Chihaya and the others are shocked to hear his response.

His teacher is speechless for a moment and then smiles.  "Mm," he agrees.  "You guys exceed execellence, and exceed stupidity."  Everyone bursts into tears at this point and their teacher gives them a group hug.  Chihaya watches on with tears in her eyes.

Then, Sumire and Destomu appear.  She presents them with a box of cookies, which Taichi turns down immediately (but Desktomu looks like he wants to eat...)

Taichi is all business.  "Tsutomu, how's it going with the other teams' investigations?  Was it difficult with all this rain?"
"It wasn't a problem," Desktomu responds.
"Ah, speaking of the rain..." Sumire perks up.  "The Queen was really frightening!  Her entire body was soaked.
"I saw that as well," says Chihaya remembering the figure in the window.
"Soaking wet she came in..." Sumire continues.  "And spoke for a guy who was wearing a "Fukui" T-shirt... begging for them to let him play in the individual's tournament because she wanted to go up against him.  I guess the Queen also has need of a rival!"

Chihaya goes quiet.

It's Arata----

Arata and ....  Shinobu---

["Because she wanted to go up against him"]

"Sumire," Chihaya says gravely.  "What is that all about---"

"IS RIGHT NOW THE TIME TO BE GOSSIPING NONSENSE?" Taichi shouts, bringing everyone, especially Chihaya, back to attention.  He shouts that certainly the've passed another round but there are a lot more foes to consider from this point forward.

"Tai-Taichi!" Chihaya cries out.

That's enough!

The words "Queen" and "Arata" are enough to break Chihaya's concentration...  I hope she's able to come around and focus back on the team competition.

So you've actually come... Arata---

"If we're talking about the playing roster...." chimes in Tsubuka.  "I think it's best to let Tsutomu-senpai come back as an actual competing member...."
"What's wrong with you?" snaps Sumire.  "Just because it's desperate you want to back out?
"That's not it! (That's it...)," he snaps back.  "I just think Tsutomu-sempai's strategies would be of use during the competition..."
"That's true!" says Kana-chan.  "I also think that replacing me or Tsubuka would be best...  What do you think Desktomu-kun?"

Meatbun watches silently.

"That can be true," says Tsutomu.  "I'll--"
"Wait!" says Meatbun.  "In the next round, I think we should keep the roster as is...  It's best if Desktomu stays out of the game."

(TN: Da- da- DUUUMMM!!  <-- dramatic sound effect for a dramatic turn of events!)

---End Chapter, End Volume---

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chihayafuru Chapter 67, Vol. 12 manga synopsis

TN:  Chapter 67 was really LOOONG!  WTH?  Some more developments this volume, albeit slow developments....  I just want to see Mizusawa kick butt and I have a feeling the mangaka will never satisfy me in this respect.  There seems to be a recognizable pattern to this mangaka's formula that is a little...well, worn out.  

For example, 1) enter a bunch of weirdoes, 2) there is something about these weirdoes that throws the Mizusawa team off center and they lose before they start winning, 3) Chihaya and friends make one or two epiphanies that they have never EVER thought of before, 4) just before the game ends, we flashback into the opponent's pasts, 5) Mizusawa wins, 6) the opposing team challenges itself to meet Mizusawa again (if they can) or else, this match has opened their eyes to a life truth and there are tears, rainbows, flowers or a combination of these.  

Predictable?  Yeah, probably.  But I'm emotionally invested in the characters now, so I'll continue.

Ah, well...  Please enjoy it!

Chapter 67

Opening scene: a stormy day at the Birdman Rally

Announcement:  "Today's originally scheduled Birdman Rally programming, the competition between the Skeleton Crew and the ________ will be postponed until tomorrow due to inclement weather.  I will repeat.  Today's orginally scheduled Birdman Rally programming..."  (TN: I am totally making up those team names...)

In the audience bleachers Shinobu stands alone, without any cover from the rain.

Cut scene:  The Mizukawa team about to start their next competition

Just watch, Arata! thinks Chihaya with determination.

Caption:  the scheduled second round competition against Yamaguchi Mioka High School's karuta team

In the audience, Miyauchi-sensei is surprised that they are facing Mioka High.  Meanwhile, Chihaya and the others marvel that all of the Mioka players shuffle their cards first and then randomly lay them out from left to right in the order of the stack.

There's no pre-determined strategy? they all think in bewilderment.  (TN:  That is a loose translation, I have yet to find an accurate description for the phrase "自阵" which literally means "own speed/momentum")

Miyauchi continues to be shocked as she realizes her students are facing the the number 1 ranked school among the top tiered schools.  A shining star among public high schools!  (And she, a public school teacher)

The scatter the cards in the order of their random shuffling, thinks Kana-chan in disbelief.  Do they trust their own memorization abilities that much?

Also, every team member wears glasses, thinks Meat bun and Tsubuka together.

But...not only that, thinks Taichi.

I've seen three of these guys before!   It was in this Summer's High School Academic Decathlon broadcast.  These guys were last year's champions!  (He watched it because he likes that sort of stuff)  (TN:  the translation actually suggests they were involved in a quiz show, but decathlon seems more impressive)

Why are the Academic Decathlon winners here to compete in karuta??

Why are we always up against the weirdest teams??

He thinks back on Tsutomu-kun and the sacrifice he made.  "You guys have to win!"

We have to win!

We must win!

It doesn't matter if it was an even more magnificent high school...  It doesn't matter how strong the decathlon players were...  We've also built up our competitive karuta abilities!  Everyone...should be fine.

He looks over to Chihaya, who looks as though she's become a nervous wreck.  He waves a hand frantically in front of her.

Hey!  Captain!!

Announcer:  "Begin the competition."

The reader begins the opening poem.

Hey, hey, hey--!!  Captain--

Cut scene:  Arata waits quietly in a lounge for his sentencing as he thinks back at what his sensei told him might happen to him

The sign on the door reads, "Authorized personnel only, no admittance."  Inside the nearby office, the referees and judges are having a heated debate on what to do with him.

"What do we do?"
"Bringing in an unauthorized player into a team, simply doesn't have any precedent, so what sort of outcome should we set.....?"
"I asked a friend of mine who's a baseball coach..."
"No, no....  Even for something like this, Takano-san would be very strict," says another overseer.  "Why don't we reference the rules and interpret them loosely to fit this situation?" (TN: a little loose interpretation on my part.  I can't think of an exact translation for: "參考規則鬆一點項目")

Caption:  The overseers are basically good people

"This type of conniving for a student is definitely not a good thing..." says an older gentlemen.  "A violation is a violation!  If that student's purpose is really to enter the individuals competition, then only stopping him from entering that competition would be considered a fair punishment!"  This overseer is the head of the overseers, a 6th level A rank.  (TN:  Whose name I am too lazy to translate, gomene! -__-)  The others voice some small resistance, but they are all minor ranked overseers of the same level (including Murao-san)
"How do I say this?" asks another overseer.  "Wataya Arata-kun is a special case!"
"Are you saying it's because he's the honorary life-time Meijin Wataya-sensei's grandson?  You can't forgive him just based on that.  (That should be even more reason to punish him...)"
"No, that's not what I meant..." the sole rebutter states.  "That boy in the future may not only be the national champion...  You could say that in order to topple Suoh Meijin... we can only rely on Wataya Arata-kun, and wait for him to mature--"

The head overseer envisions the slightly smiling face of Suoh in front of him ("Hey there, everyone!") and nearly goes into shock.

"Suoh Meijin is certainly strong..." says the overseer.  "But we cannot possibly let other students say towards this weirdo Meijin [I want to make him my goal] any longer...  We must properly punish Wataya-kun... but let us National Championship Karuta League overseers not be called excessive, correct?"

Arata-kun, you're just really lucky!  thinks his sensei holding hand over his mouth.
Suoh Meijin, thinks Murao, you're just really hated.

The head overseer breaks out into a sweat as he thinks, Certainly, Suoh Meijin is the karuta world's problem child---  Truthfully speaking, I want him to hurry up and lose soon.  (In the background he thinks of Suo's nonchalant attitude when he says, "This year I also don't know if I'm going to graduate...")  TN: (-_-;)  

But, if only for just this reason...  he hesitates.  Suddenly, Arata's friend and "team" members burst through the door of the office where the meeting is being held.

"Sorry!  But Arata is not at fault!  I was the one who begged him to just sit there and do nothing---  He gave us a memory of actually playing in the National Championships...  We never even planned on using him to claim a victory...  Sensei!"  Arata steps up and tries to restrain his friend.

"Please let Arata participate in the individual tournament---" he tearfully begs.

"Oh really?" asks one of the overseers, clearly relieved.
"If that's the case," begins the head overseer, but Arata cuts him off.
"Don't use that as an excuse.  Using someone to take the place of a registered player is indeed a big violation...  For them to not disqualify me from competing simply cannot be done..."  (TN: *another face palm moment*)

Everyone breaks out into a sweat.  <-- b/c they were just about to let him off gently....

"But, Arata--" pleads his friend.

He thinks back to the words he said to Chihaya last night.

"I only want to enter the individual competition."

"I have no interest towards team competitions."

Arata recalls the emotions running through him when he finished his match with Fukui's team and how grateful they were towards him.

"Arata, if you had a team, that would be great."

I probably... felt a little envious?  he realizes.  Towards the ones who have a team, Taichi and Chihaya.  He remembers the note he left them on the box of pastries the first time they came to the Nationals.

"I'll see you again next time when we compete.  Arata."

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry!

Cut scene:  Back at the competition hall where Mizusawa and Yamaguchi Mioka are competing

Miyauchi-sensei approaches the opposing team's mentor (Oikawa Tomonari, age 36).

"You are Yamaguchi Mioka's teacher, correct?" she asks.  "I am, at present, the teacher who is overseeing the team competing against your honorable school, Mizusawa High's Miyauchi Taeko."
"Oh, how do you do?" says Oikawa-sensei.
"It's really amazing," says Miyauchi.  "All of Mioka's players are 3rd years, thus they are testing students...  But they have purposefully made the time to participate in the national competition."
"Well, yes," replies Oikawa.  "That's because karuta will also help my students test well."
"Oh?  Is that so?"
"Using a game to hone and strengthen their memorization skills.... I couldn't ask for anything better," says Oikawa.
Miyauchi is shocked.

"Even though they have no interest in being the champions....  it would be a bonus if they could come away with the title and make the school well-known for karuta as well, hehe."

Miyauchi becomes annoyed at his response.  She laughs politely and says, "Oh, how frightening."

Just give them what-for and teach them a lesson, everyone!  thinks Miyauchi spitefully.  Especially you, Ayase!  <-- (the anointed karuta representative)

But Miyauchi recognizes that Chihaya is having a tough time from the get-go.

What do I do?  I know I have to attack... she thinks frantically.  I know I have to attack behind enemy lines ...  But the way this guy's organized his cards... I've never seen this pattern before!  Making a mistake is really easy in this situation....  I have to properly memorize it... I have to properly memorize it!
"I'm going to rearrange the cards," her opponent says suddenly.
"Aaaargh!" Chihaya verbalizes.

It's... it's all changed!!

I need to calm down, she instructs herself.  All I have to do is focus my concentration and I can memorize them---

The next card is read, but unfortunately it's a "empty" card.  Chihaya moves when she sees her opponent move and makes an error.  Taichi is worried about her.

Originally I thought they were just a bunch of book worms who momentarily took up an interest in karuta... but, their understanding of karuta... is really strong!

Caption:  Chihaya's opponent (Manabu Nakayama) is the team captain and the captain of the school's decathlon team.  His is a third year and his chosen major is astronomy.

Chihaya's opponent recognizes her card formation and concludes that she is having a rough time of it because she is used to seeing standard card formations.  A year ago, a member of the school's karuta club came to his class for a visit. He told him he wanted to participate in the decathlon's practice runs because he thought it would be useful towards karuta.  When he saw the DVD of the Meijin/Queen's match he realized the benefit of practicing karuta.  He could utilize the syllabic timing of karuta towards speedily answering quiz questions.  It came to a point where they wouldn't even need to listen to the entire question before answering correctly.  (TN:  on this panel, the answer during the decathlon in this panel is the star in the Orion constellation, "Betelgeuse.")

He came to the realization that his method is also what they call "natural ability" in competitive karuta.  (TN:  This took several panels for the mangaka to illustrate, but in short, this is what the flashback was a single sentence)

This guy's "natural ability" is really good?  Just after the first word he was able to take the next card.  That can't be right, can it? thinks Chihaya.

"Sorry, I'm going to rearrange the cards again," he announces.
"Aaaah!" verbalizes Chihaya, once again.

I have to memorize them all over again! she laments.

Actually, my 'natural ability' isn't all that good.  I just made a decision, nothing more, he concludes.

The next card is read and Manabu takes it as well.

My "intuition" has been canceled?

"I'm going to rearrange the cards," he announces, yet again.
"Aaargh!" exclaims Chihaya.

Meanwhile, the Mioka team's sensei is looking favorably at his team.

You've even made me, your teacher, want to shout, "Metamorphosis!" (at your) intelligence and rote-learning ability.  (TN: a very literal translation, and I'm not sure what he means here.  The phrase the Chinese translator uses is 都想罵"变态"的智力及背诵能力.  I know that "变态" can mean "metamorphosis" or "anomaly" but either way, I have no idea what he means)

And--- your intuition!

If you don't press the button, you won't get the right answer, Manabu thinks.  Believe in you innate talent.  Attack!

And also, his teacher thinks, more importantly, your courage!

Chihaya is as a loss for words.  As the next card is read (the "Oyama" card which shares the first five syllables with another card, and so it depends on which player is faster once the 6th syllable is read) she successfully takes it.

It was actually because I defended the card I had and took a breath to loosen up...

This is... my karuta----

When the next card is read, Chihaya strikes it, and sends several others flying in the same direction.

I struck a bunch of them... she thinks in frustration.  To enter the enemy's defense and attack his cards shouldn't be this unrefined----

As she goes off and picks up her card, by chance, she looks up to see a dark, shadowy figure dressed in school uniform against the glass window, watching her intently.  (Shinobu)  Her wet, bedraggled figure against the stormy back drop, as a flash of lightning illuminates her, is shocking to everyone who beholds her  (TN:  In genuine "Sadako" style).

Everyone is scared speechless and frozen until the girl's hands drop from the glass and she slowly meanders away, wet and hunched over.

"What...the heck was that?" asks one of the players nearby.
"I was scared to death!" answers another.
"Was that... the Queen?" an overseer asks.
"So the news that she actually lost weight is true...." says another girl.

Shinobu.... thinks Chihaya, has already more or less changed back into the one I faced last year.

Have I progressed any?

Cut scene:  A bedraggled Shinobu slinks her way into the competition center slowly, hair wet and head down (TN: creepy...  I hated the movie "Ringu"!  I couldn't look at my shower drain the same way after that..!)

"What are you doing?" asks Arata as he notices her come in.  "Shinobu!  Why is your entire body soaked through?  What happened to the Birdman Rally?"

She looks up at him and smiles.  Suddenly remembering what he said to her earlier, she breaks down in tears and covers her face.  "My tears fall like rain...."

"Ah????  What's wrong?  (Here it comes again.)" he asks.  "Shinobu.  I don't think I'll be able to compete in tomorrow's individuals competition....  I might have committed a little violation."
"Do your best tomorrow, Shinobu."  She looks up at him blankly.

Cut scene: Shinobu dragging Arata by the hand back to the overseers

"Sensei," Shinobu declares.  "If Wataya Arata isn't competing in the tournament...  then I will also back out."
"HUH?"  everyone stands with mouths agape, in shock.
"What are you saying, Wakamiya-kun?" asks the head overseer.  "As the Queen, you cannot just not play, right?"
"That's right!" insists Arata.  "Don't joke around with stuff like that!"
"I don't really know what happened..." she continues as she bows, and uses one hand to force Arata's head down in apology as well.  "But... stop pretending to be cool and lower your head now!  I want you to say, 'Please let me play in the tournament tomorrow.'"  She turns to the overseer.  "I will also entreat you, Sensei!"
"Shi-" starts Arata.  "Shinobu...  Why...?"
"The Birdman Rally has already gone up in smoke---" she insists.  "So don't ...  disappoint me any further!"

After a pause, she asks, "Don't you want to... compete with me again?"

Arata looks over to her in surprise and she takes her hand away from his head.  Thereafter, Arata bows on his own towards the overseers.

Cut scene: back to Chihaya, claiming the card she had sent flying earlier

What will I be able to show Shinobu....

And Arata....

About me...?

I'm no longer the me that I was my freshman year...  I'm no longer the me that I was in the 6th grade....

---End Chapter---

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chihayafuru Chapter 66, Vol. 12 manga synopsis

TN:  OK, needless to say, it's difficult to translate while watching Korean drama...LOLOL

I've watched Yi San, finished Rooftop Prince (totally loved it!!), contemplating if I should continue watching Chuno and Midas for the ever so talented Jang Hyuk (dude kicks butt in fight scenes).  The most emotional I've been was when Secretary Hong met his end in Yi San (I really loved that character and the actor and my eyes were watering with my quivering lip).  I don't want to finish Yi San because I know what happens in history to King Jeongjo and his concubine, Uibin.  I've suffered with them enough.  I can't watch!  TT__TT  

I have to say, despite the ending, Tree with Deep Roots was worth watching.  Soundtrack isn't as great as Yi San, but the title song "I'll Remember" is very touching.  So far, nothing beats the title love song for Yi San, "Promise."  I melt whenever I hear it.  <3

But I think I'm coming to an over-saturation point.  Life is not K-drama (thank goodness, otherwise I would have been backstabbed, murdered, heart broken, reincarnated, abused --mostly by in-laws who are Chaebol or royalty-- and suffered from amnesia a thousand times over by now)  BIG SIGH....  Big project due Friday, kinda procrastinating here...hehehehe....   So many things to think about.  But here's Chapter 66 in case you were wondering where the heck it was.   Enjoy!

Chapter 66

Opening scene:  after Mizusawa's first win at the Nationals, Taichi is talking on the cell phone with Tsutomu

"Yeah, we've already won our first match.  Tsutomu-kun, how are you doing over there?  What are your thoughts on this year's Fujisaki team?"

Desktomu-kun goes silent, and turns a bit pale.

"What's wrong?" asks Taichi over the line.

Taichi stands still after hearing the news from Tsutomu.  Among the 8 people who came as a team, five of them are ranked in the A division.  Starting from the first round onward, they're continuously using these members to play?

5 A-ranked members...!

Cut scene: Back to Tsutomu-kun

"I will continue to watch the second round for my investigation...  Ah! Sorry..." he says, suddenly cutting off as the Fujisaki team walks past.

"What kind of investigation is he doing?  During the match, he was constantly taking notes!" says one member of the Fujisaki team.  A guy (?) with mid-length, cropped hair and long lashes takes his notebook away from him.

"Hey!" exclaims Tsutomu.
"If you're a spy, then write this down," he commands.  "What there is to fear most from Fujisaki is its female players."  He begins to walk away.

Huh?  But aren't you a guy? thinks Desktomu.

"But," he pauses.  "What you should really, really be afraid of...are its beautiful players."  He brushes his eyelid over with a matchstick.
"Ah!  It came out!" says another player.  "Makoto senpai's matchstick eyeshadow stunt!  Today he curled outg   on 3 roots!"  (TN: 今天擺了三根, literal translation here.  I really don't know what she's taking about.  Why would anyone put a matchstick to their eye?  Doesn't that hurt?)
"This is a good sign!  Senpai!"
"Very cool!"
"GO GO Fujisaki!"

Desktomu watches in horror.  Even though I already knew this early on... but all high level karuta players are a bunch of wierdoes!

Cut scene:  Back to Chihaya and the gang

"Ah, Murao-san!"
Chihaya's ears perk up and she whips around to see who the voice belonged to.
"What is it, Chihaya?" asks Taichi, startled.
".... Did you.... just hear Arata's voice?" she asks.
He looks startled at her question.  "What the heck are you saying, Chihaya?" he asks in frustration.  "He already said he's only going to enter the individual matches, right?"
"That's what he said, but perhaps he did come after all...  I really think I just heard his voice--"
"Chihaya!" Taichi cuts her off sternly, turning his back on her.  "It doesn't matter if he's come or not.  The second round is about to start...  Get yourself together and compete!" he orders.

Everyone looks up at the sound of his irritation.
"I'm... I'm sorry," she apologizes hastily.
"The second round is against Yamaguchi Mioka, (TN: 山口美丘), an all male team, all of them beginners.  Our roster will be---"

Fujisaki has 5 A-ranked members... How do we successfully challenge them?  And there are other strong teams out there.  Right now, there's no time to think about Arata.

But... if he really came, then what do we do?  If Arata came to participate in the competition---

Cut scene:  Arata hiding with Murao-san behind a wall.

"What... what's the matter, Arata!  You're the one who called me out, why are we suddenly hiding?"
"So-sorry!" Arata apologizes.  "Murao-san, you're a coordinator this year for the competition."
"There's also other people from the Nagumo Society here... (they've volunteered to help).  I had to get up at 5 a.m. this morning!"
"That's rough!"
"Also...when we were students, there were also members who came to support us.  I guess you can say it's a showing of gratitude?  This sort of thing is reciprocal..." smiles Murao.

Arata is moved by his words.
"What are you doing, Arata?  You only signed up for tomorrow's individual tournament, right?"
"Well, that's..." he begins.  "I came over to watch my friends play...."
"Oh, Fukui's debut competitive high school team?"
"Ah, no!" says Arata.
"Well, they're in a tight spot right now.  Only three people signed up to compete and at this point it's not certain how long they can last.  Team competitions are high school karuta's focus, but... to hone your strengths there is only the individual competition."
"Murao-san!" calls out another organizer from behind.
"Arata," Murao-san says before leaving, "in order to prepare yourself for tomorrow's competition you'd best head home!"

As Arata contemplates his words, nearby, a member of the Fukui team who was also his junior high classmate, is talking on the phone frantically.

"Ah!  Phone!  I finally got through.  Sensei!  Sensei, where are you right now?  Is Tajiri-kun there with you?  We were held back as a 3 member team, so we're just getting started in the second round.  But the competition is about to start now..."  He collapses in shock at the words coming out of his cell phone.
"You got into an accident and now you can't start your car... You're still in Kyoto proper...  It's gonna take you at least another hour to get here...."
He and his remaining team member hug each other in despair.  "I'm so sorry, Masaki!  For this national competition, you even moved your laser eye surgery!"

Arata calls out his friend's name.
"Shouji, it's you, right?  It's me, Arata.  We were class-mates in middle school."  (TN:  He's the one who got into a fist fight with Arata for bringing up his ailing grandfather in a conversation)
"Wataya Arata," he says.
"Right," says Arata.
"Do you study at my school?"  His friend suddenly grasps him by both shoulders, recognizing Arata as his school mate and the strongest karuta player.

Cut scene:  At the H and I group competition halls at Omi Jingu shrine

"Wah, look at this!" says one of the overseers.  "Fukui's team only has 3 members!  Also at the regionals only 3 high schools participated...."
"But I thought Fukui is famous for its karuta...?"
"Seems like everyone is part of a karuta society instead."
"Ah, Fukui's Nagumo Society is really strong, and well known!"

Cut scene: Arata participating in the team event (-_-;)

"Are those three players really strong?" asks someone in the audience as the Fukui team sits down.  Arata coughs uncomfortably behind a hygenic mask.

What happened?
What am I doing?
What the heck am I doing?  Arata asks himself. (TN: Dunno, buddy, you're responsible for what you do and you don't know how you got there?  How are we supposed to know??)

Arata then freezes from shock as his mentor (from the Nagumo Society) calls out that those participating in the H and I hall competitions should start going in for the second round.

"I can't do it!" declares Arata, clutching at his friend.
"What do you mean, Tajiri-kun?" says Shouji between his teeth.  He takes off Arata's glasses.
"Don't worry, without these glasses you aren't Arata.  You're Tajiri-kun."

But... even my glasses are taken away... really, all I can do is sit here...  (and it wasn't easy arranging my cards)...

Arata notices that the two players of the five who automatically win because Fukui's team is short two members remain seated with the rest of the team though they aren't playing.  He notices that they are still quite serious in demeanor.

"Time's up," calls out his mentor nearby.  "Begin the competition!"  Arata twitches in shock.  The reader recites the opening Naniwa Bay poem.

Ah, ah!  Already....

I really only came because I wanted to watch Chihaya and Taichi play...  I hope this doesn't all come to naught, and I get caught by an overseer---

Cut scene:  Chihaya and the others lined up on the tatami, waiting to begin their second round

Taichi observes his surrounds and exhales.

Even though I said that to Chihaya... but the person who is most conscious about it is me...

"Taichi, don't be so distracted," says Chihaya.  Kana-chan and Meat bun looked shocked and mutter "You're one to talk!"
"If Arata did come to watch..." Chihaya continues, "I want to show off to him and say, 'This is my team!  We're really strong!'"  Taichi and the others watch her in bemusement.

Even though I don't really get it, thinks Tsubuka blushing, but I want to help Ayase-senpai show off.

We advance into the next round of competition...  You just watch!  Arata, thinks Chihaya.

But, of course that's impossible at the moment.

Cut scene:  Arata looks with dread at the cards in front of him.

I can't win....  I'm not supposed to win the game for the other two players.  But this... this is even more tiring than actually competing.

Meanwhile, his opponent is thinking, What the heck is wrong with this punk?  Does he not want to play?  I'm giving it my all here....  (and his facial expression clearly shows his displeasure)

I'm sorry! thinks Arata.  His opponent sighs.

His face is clearly showing it.  It's not easy to make it into the nationals...  wanting to take more cards as you compete...  wanting to face an opponent who will challenge your skill and help you grow in strength...

Without even thinking, Arata takes the next card, in usual Arata style, and draws unwanted attention to himself.

Wah!  How fast! thinks his mentor, a referee for this game.
Ah!  Shoot! thinks Arata desperately.  I have to be careful.... It was a single syllable card that I usually take and my body just moved on its own....  And I can't even see that clearly.

I remember when that happened before.  Having to take cards without using my glasses...  He thinks back to the times he played karuta with Chihaya and Taichi.

I want... to be a team with you guys! he thinks.

Arata/Tajiri then receives encouragement from his team captain to win.  Arata is surprised.

Even though I advanced to the A rank before Arata...  But in the end in all A ranked competitions I've never won a match.  But... after, I found out there are actually a lot of people like that.  (With this team) even though it was impossible... just with the strength of three, we actually won matches.   Even though being the Meijin isn't our goal...  even if we're not five people, we were able to happily play karuta like that.

Arata recalls what Shinobu said to him at the shrine, and what Murao-san said before.

"Team competitions are for people who don't love karuta."

"The only way to hone your strength is to enter individual competitions."

Arata and his team begins playing seriously.  His mentor, watching them this whole time, marvels at how this team hasn't made one mistake.  (Obviously, he's rooting for a home team)  But as a three member team, they are clearly at a disadvantage.

I'm not satisfied... thinks Arata as his opponent dolefully takes a card Arata has sent over.
I'm not satisfied...
I cannot offer them any help...  There's no way I can help them...

Just as he is thinking this, Shouji loses his match to his opponent, and the opposite team wins this round and the Fukui team has lost.  Just as the opposing team cheers their win, Arata puts on his glasses as his team members watch him in bewilderment.

Murao-san.... what is 'strength'?

Once his glasses are on, his entire aura changes to one of silent determination to play it through.  Even his opponent notices the change.


Arata takes the next card before his opponent can even move.
"He took it!" exclaims his friend.  His other team mate also claims a card.
His teacher is praising how beautiful Arata's movements are (his own student...) and how similar they are to Arata's movements.  (TN: *face palm* b/c they are the same person....)

What a beautiful block, his teacher thinks.  Even though he's behind by 15 cards, it's clear that this is his opponent is hard pressed to turn the momentum around at this point--

Taking the smallest opportunity to send his opponent a card!  That has Arata's signature all over it--

OH MY GOSH! IT IS ARATA!! his teacher finally realizes.

Meanwhile, the audience is extremely impressed with him.
"How fast!"
"What is UP with that guy?"
Can it be... he's going to catch up from a 15 card disadvantage? asks another overseer to himself.

The Fukui team has already lost this round and will not advance.  But... to compliment my opponent by taking him seriously...  I'm giving my team mate the heart to fight to the end!

I want to give them...

I want to give them something...

I want to convey it...


His friend is watching with mouth agape at Arata.  The momentum of the game has changed entirely.  How amazing.  His completely different!

This is... someone who has the title of Meijin as his goal!

In the end, both Arata and this remaining team member win their respective matches, but their team has effectively lost 3 matches, and thus is disqualified.  Teary eyed, his team members hug and thank him profusely as he takes off his mask.  But suddenly, a fist comes down on his head.

"OUCH!" Arata cries out and looks behind him.  To his chagrin, his very angry teacher is standing behind him.

"What the heck are you doing??" yells his teacher.  "Get over here!"

Back at the registration table, he continues to yell at him.
"You're not a member of the Fukui team, are you?  And you haven't even signed up as a member to play in the team tournament."
"I'm sorry..." Arata answers lamely.
"Just what the heck is going on?"
"It's not Arata's fault," chimes in one of his team mates.  "We were the ones who begged him to do it...."

"Substituting an actual team member with an unregistered player is no simple matter--" his teacher lectures.  "I..." he starts to waiver.  "I...I...I...I...."

"Now that I know this, I just can't turn around and pretend it didn't happen.... The fact that Fukui's team will receive a penalty and heavy warning goes without saying...

Arata... You may even be disqualified from tomorrow's individuals tournament...."

---End Chapter---