I am back! Con season is really hectic. We have the AM2 and then AX and then Comic-con all around the same time!!! (A nerd's paradise) Although, Los Angeles hosted the X Games as well in the same location at the same time as AX and downtown was super crowded!! What were the city planners thinking? What did the buff sporty skaters, bikers, boarders think of all them ninja, pokemon, sailor girls, knights, gaming heroes, reapers, pirates, and random karuta players walking around? Haha, ok, maybe there was just one karuta player walking around, but I got recognition from random vendors, AX staff and fans I ran into on the street!! KARUTA LIVES!!! That's the best part of cosplay you know, costume recognition. ^_^v
I had the most in depth discussions with these true fans (strangely enough, ALL of them were Chiharata fans, no joke! That's like the first question they asked me!) My friend whom I always go with was rolling his eyes saying, "Here we go again..." every time, hahaha. FYI: wearing an obi under a hakama REALLY forces good posture on you.
Due to personal obligations I MISSED THE STUDIO MADHOUSE PANEL!!!! (I wanted to ask about season 2 of Chihayafuru!!)..... but I caught up with the Production I.G. panel very early the next morning and found out more about the new Blood movie CLAMP is creating. I'm not sure about CLAMP, after what they did to Cardcaptor Sakura's characters in Tusbasa RC, I've lost confidence in them. AND THERE'S NO HAGI!!! WTF?? I found Blood C to be a disappointment, but to obtain closure, I must watch the movie.
My camera has tons of cool pics. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my connector cable.... ha. (sigh)
Ok, here starts my last volume of Chihayafuru (I'm not up to date on my purchases) so enjoy!
Opening scene: Everyone is silent as they stare in shock at what Meat bun just said.
["I think we should keep going with the same members we have in play."]
["I think keeping Desktomu out of play would be best."]
"Ah..." begins Chihaya. "Meat bun-kun, why do you say--?"
"Why?" demands, Kana-chan, interrupting her. "Why would you say something so offending? Do you think that Desktomu being eliminated in the competition is just a natural conclusion?"
"Kana-chan..." says Chihaya.
"Compared to the already worn out Tsubuka-kouhai, Desktomu is the better candidate for competing!" (On the sidelines, Tsubuka is in shock for being found out)
"Why did you say that--!" Kana demands again.
"No, Kana," interrupts Desktomu, raising a hand to calm her. "I think it's better this way... from here on it's better if Tsubuka continued to play. Now about Kyoto's Shoyo High School... Since I went to see Fujisaki's match... I didn't have time to analyze their competition tactics... But, I did interview every player from teams that lost against them--" he says, holding his notes in front of him. "My conclusion--" he begins, but Meat bun takes his notebook out of his hands.
"Why?" asks Meat bun quietly. "Why don't you say it? [I am a true competitor who is meant to compete]." His hand, still holding Destomu's notes, starts to shake with his emotion.
"Why?" he demands. "All this time we've worked our butts off to come here, right? Why are you forfeiting to a kouhai?"
Meat bun continues, "Since the freshmen joined, we've had some breathing room, but this can't go on... It just can't! Once you start thinking that you don't have to stand up in front..." He has a brief flashback of his tennis playing days.
"Your resolution leaves you from the moment you first run into trouble... then it becomes more difficult to rely on your actual strengths."
Everyone watches him silently. Meat bun wipes his eyes and pushes Desktomu's notes onto Taichi. "I think the optimistic fool who would secretly change the playing roster to enter the competition...," says Meat bun, (shock from Tsubuka standing behind them) "has already learned how to read the game's atmosphere since the preliminaries..."
He passes Taichi, "I leave it to the team captain to decide!"
"Meat bun-kun..." says Kana, reaching out to him.
Taichi is speechless.
The roster... the roster... how should we arrange the roster....
Whom should to leave to play and whom should I take off?
I understand what Nishida was saying... but...
It's always this atmosphere right before we're eliminated from the finals...
What to do?! Taichi thinks fervently.
"Taichi," interrupts Chihaya. "Let me borrow that for a bit," she says as she takes Desktomu's notes from his hands.
"Kyoto's Shoyo High team..." she says as she quietly studies the pages.
She begins to recite the names of the players. "They are all right handed... two girls, three guys..."
Taichi and Miyauchi stare at Chihaya for her sudden seriousness.
"Everyone," Miyauchi-sensei interrupts, "those who want to each lunch have to eat it now...you only have 30 minutes left. Since we couldn't use the vending machines, I just got this tea for you--" she says, rummaging through her bag.
An advisor should be a little more capable... she thinks. Deciding the playing roster really should be an advisor's job--- especially in times of internal struggle...
Ayase-san is reliable only in terms of being a competitor... that places a great burden on Taichi.
"Mm... that's right!" Chihaya concludes. "The playing roster should... exclude Desktomu-kun and keep the same five players as before!"
HUH?? Everyone stares at her.
Cut scene: In the dinning commons of the Omi Jingu Center
What to do? Two plates have piled up.
What to do?
What to do? Six plates have now piled up.
While we were still in the preliminaries I actually said those kinds of words! What do I do?
"Another plate please!" shouts Meat bun, ordering another round of curry rice.
"You still wanna eat?" demands the cafeteria lady. "Aren't you going to go compete soon? Aren't you going to regret it?"
But I don't regret it!
If I didn't say it now, then Tsutomu...will make the distinction between us as players and assistant...
Meat bun hangs his head low. He'll no longer be a competitor.
But... what to do? The cafeteria lady tells him to do his best to finish it all as she hands him another plate. (-_-;)
If no one else opposes, and Tsutomu-kun really does get put onto the wayside as a non-competitor.... Meat bun puts his plate down. Across the way he notices a familiar sight.
Also, if that girl with the curly-cue pig tails over there really is my older sister....
Suddenly his train of through is interrupted by someone shouting at him.
"Meat bun-kun!" shouts Chihaya, barging into the cafeteria. "What the heck are you doing? I've been looking for you! The competition is about to begin---"
They both hurry out back down the stairs towards their competing hall. "I never thought I'd find you in the cafeteria... Ah! Wait, that probably was the most likely place...." she says on second thought. "But you bought three obento, so I thought you may have gone outside to find a place to eat... You're the only one who wasn't able to make it back on time for the competition. Oh!" she adds, "We've all decided to maintain the same 5 players as the prior round."
Meat bun stops short as he sees Desktomu standing outside with Sumire and Ms. Miyauchi. A competition overseer calls in the remaining stragglers into the competition hall for the next round of preliminaries.
What is this? Meat bun thinks as he looks at Desktomu silently. What... did you really not want to compete?
"Meat bun-kun," begins Desktomu. "When you face the player Kawabe you need to keep your cool, just face him head on."
I don't care about that! Meat bun turns his back and the door slams behind him, without a word exchanged between them.
I don't care about that!
Cut scene: The next round
The competition agenda posted on the board shows Mizusawa against Shoyo (翔耀) High. Chihaya and the others face a group of students wearing T-shirts that say, "Show You!" (TN: which obviously is an attempt at a play on English words with the name of their school)
Caption: The decisive preliminary matches--- For the group competition it's how the weaker among the remaining 8 teams are weeded out and eliminated... those who lose are kicked out of the preliminaries!
(TN: among the remaining teams are Fujisaki, Hokuo, Mizusawa, Shoyo, etc.)
Cut scene: big sweat drop
Meat bun and the others are reading their opponents' T-shirts to themselves (TN: and I'm not sure they get it right away)
Show you!....? thinks Tsubuka and the others.
Shyou you.... thinks Meat bun, ruminating on the proper phonetic spelling.
[翔耀], thinks Taichi.
ARE THEY JOKING? they all think collectively.
Caption: Kyoto representatives from Shoyo High... the players all have the appearance of being poor nobility ...which is completely accidental. (TN: I think the players all happen to have stoic and refined, traditional-looking faces, contrasted with their T-shirts of questionable taste. They are not lower rank nobility but they have the appearance of it. I think this is what the author is trying to get across. Kyoto, as you know, was once the capital and is known for its deep roots in culture and old family bloodlines. This sentence however, was a nightmare to translate: 長著一副公卿貴族的模樣完全是偶然 -- waaaah, so many big words...)
Kyoto... thinks Meat bun. Wakamiya Shinobu's home town.... He examines his opponent. This poor lord seems rather capable... (TN: Here, Meat bun uses the word 公卿大人, which means "Sir/Lord poor aristocrat" in literal translation, both praising and demeaning -- like giving a title to a peasant. I couldn't really think of an English equivalent that contained the full meaning, so I just used "poor lord.")
As the reader pulls and reads the first syllable of the first card his opponent is able to take it, much to Meat bun's astonishment.
How fast! he marvels. What the hell? Are all Kyoto players blessed with that kind of speed? Just like Shinobu Wakamiya----
He snaps alert. If we lose, it's all over for us... the preliminaries!
But he isn't the only one with troubles. His other teammates, Chihaya, Taichi and Tsubuka alike lose the second card to their opponents.
How fast! Chihaya thinks, wiping the sweat from her face with a towel. He snatched it... But... I need to calm down... She takes a breath.
Harada-sensei told me once... before a match, don't study other people's matches too seriously. To watch a match whole-heartedly is even more tiring than actually competing in a match. That's why I knew after reading Desktomu's notes... right now, the person who is the most exhausted...
Outside, Desktomu has passed out, uneaten onigiri still in hand.
... is Desktomu-kun. That's why I kept him out of this match. (TN: Banzai! Banzai! Chihaya is starting to redeem herself and stopped thinking like a karuta-nut and is thinking like a Captain!)
Meanwhile, Meat bun is still having a rough time of it.
Damn... I'm unable to keep up with this guy's pace... There's no way for me to attack! This Kawabe guy is really strong---
He pauses and recalls what Desktomu said to him.
"When facing your opponent Kawabe, you just need to calm down. Just face him head on."
His opponent is able to take the next card as well.
Is his speed the genuine article? thinks Meat bun. Ordinarily, I would casually protect the card in my lower left quadrant, "ini." Before I hear the decisive syllable "ni" I can even claim the card. Those with intuitive strengths or natural ability--- he thinks, sizing up his opponent again. No! I'll just wait for the right opportunity to strike...
Meat bun takes a deep breath as if he were going to attack and his opponent takes notice. At the next card, his opponent makes a mistake.
If he really was a natural talent, he wouldn't have been baited into a mistake like that.
"Just face him head on."
Meat bun takes the next card.
Meanwhile, Kana-chan is following Desktomu's tactics.
"Tashiro-kun likes to stand up in the middle of a match."
"Sorry," says Kana's opponent as he gets up. He stands up to maintain his own muscle agility. When he looks down at her, Kana is making her cutesy-pouty expression as if to ask how much longer he's going to stand up.
He blushes in embarrassment. (TN: kekekeke....) "Ah! Sorry..."
When I do that, Tashiro-kun is too embarrassed to stand up and stretch, thinks Evil Kana.
("I'll get to stand up in a little while," he says with an awkward laugh.)
First I'll strike hard and break up his rhythm.
At the same time, Tsubuka is being challenged by his opponent regarding the card he took.
"That last card was clearly mine," she remarks.
"If I didn't swipe it, it would've never have been sent to your side.
"Ha ah ah? That last card was definitely..." he begins furiously, but recalls what Tsutomu told him.
"Concerning your opponent, in order to make herself calm down, sometimes she will pick a fight."
"Are you really certain?" Tsubuka asks threateningly. "I took the card...I'm sending over a card in return."
His opponent has no retort.
All this time I thought that in karuta you had to only rely on yourself. I never thought outside information could be so important.
"Sanada-kun is the team's Big Papa." Chihaya also faces her opponent head on.
"When striking a card, he will over-exaggerate his force on the tatami mat, but don't be alarmed by him."
She takes the next card.
From the mouths of those who just lost to this team, to ask them this many things was rather difficult, wasn't it? she thinks empathetically towards her team mate.
[Cut scene flashback: while Desktomu was asking other players about the Shoyo team, he was rebuffed many times.]
"Why should I tell you about the Shoyo team?" asks one girl.
"I would still ask you to help..." begins Desktomu.
"Hoping the team that beat you continuously wins throughout, you understand this feeling, don't you?" asks another girl. (TN: b/c that would mean you lost to the best team)
"Just go! Go away!" says the other girl.
"For... For your own teammates, in order to help them in any way, you'd do anything," he says, bowing down to them. "This kind of feeling, you understand, don't you?" Desktomu asks humbly in return. "Please, I beg of you!"
[End cut scene flashback]
Desktomu-kun... stood in the front lines! (TN: i.e. the line of fire)
No matter what... he wants to lift Mizusawa into the title of Japan's Number One!
Cut scene: Someone has placed a jacket over him while Desktomu sleeps
His notebook says it all.
He comes out of his slumber slowly, but then shoots up. "Ah... I fell asleep?"
Sumire is shocked by his sudden movement. "Senpai, you scared me! Because of your glasses, I couldn't tell if you were sleeping or awake!"
("Well sorry for that" he mumbles.) "How is the match going?"
"They're still in there," she answers.
"Is that so..."
She pauses for a moment before adding, "I thought it was all right..."
"Not everyone is meant for competition, I'm certainly more well suited for reconnaissance."
"Competing is really frustrating?" he asks.
"That's what I'm saying!" she emphasizes.
"Yeah," he says. "It's tiring and it's frightening.... What Meat bun-kun said... woke me up."
Suddenly, Meat bun throws open the door to the competition hall and startles them both.
"WE WON! MIZUSAWA WON!" he announces loudly. He looks at Desktomu.
"Next time, you have to join us!"
"Next time, you have to join us!" he repeats. "We'll go into competition together... Desktomu!" In the doorway, a sweaty Chihaya and her teammates rush out behind him.
Desktomu runs up to them.
All this time we've been doing our best together...
Miyauchi, Sumire and Tsubuka are touched as the group embraces Desktomu.
I hope as players... we will always be together...
[End chapter 69]
TN: Was it just me, or were other readers tearing up a little bit at the end there? I don't usually, but I got kinda choked up over that beautiful camaraderie that is a prevalent theme in this manga.
Due to the Universe really raining life issues on me, I didn't get this chapter out as quickly as I wanted. I'm afraid it will be this way for this last volume of mine. If this keeps up, I don't know if I can continue translating. :-( I'll do my best, through this volume, for the love of the manga. I don't know after that.