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Monday, September 24, 2012

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis; Chapter 72, Vol. 13

Chapter 72

Opening scene:  Chihaya retrieves the card she just took from Megumu after a sudden counter-attack.

The single-syllable card that I wasn't able to get before... I've finally broken through her defenses! triumphs Chihaya.

Her teammates watching the match, as well as those sitting beside her are aware of her breakthrough and sit in astonishment.

Sudo-kun, who has given up holding the Hokuo banner to their school principal (visibly irritated as he stands next to Sudo) analyzes Chihaya's match.  The enemy's speed for single syllable cards, compared to any other player, is definitely special;  she typically takes them while rejecting her opponent's attempts as if slapping them in the face.... That is so awesome!  The flow of the game is finally moving in Ayase's favor.

Even Mioka's club captain is in the audience watching in awe.  That sort of speed is really flawless!  Bellatrix's nerve synapses must directly connect her ear to her fingertips!  (He's already decided this nickname for her)  (TN: OMG, Chihaya has a growing male fan club of her own...LOLOLOL....)

If it wasn't for her speed she wouldn't have been able to take that card.  Also... her opponent's lower left quadrant harbors all her "s" syllable cards where the "se" card was, but she distinctly attacked the "su" card.

How much courage was needed for that move?

That feeling just now... beautifully striding forward... to that far corner!  Her manner of hurtling forward towards the cards she was previously unable to take....

As Chihaya retrieves yet another card she took from Megumu, Kana-chan looks at her and smiles.  "Chihaya... NICE..."

In response, Chihaya gives her a glowing thumbs up sign.  Kana-chan foresees the outcome of Chihaya not looking down at her cards. (TN: Then don't distract her, Kana!!)

Right as she's smiling as though she's saying, "I did it!"... in that moment... she will lose her concentration!

True to Kana's prediction, in the midst of her newfound triumph, Chihaya loses another card to Megumu.  (-_-;)

What a waste... think Sudo-kun and Mioka's captain at the same time.

Meanwhile, Megumu's teammates are thinking positively that she will pull through it.  One member of the team notices Megumu's paparazzi waiting silently on the sidelines.

Even though she lost her own single syllable "namesake" card, she didn't let the flow of the game turn against her.... as expected of the Western Conference representative! concludes the chief overseer.

Akashi's wild card is also their cheering squad... thinks Murao-san.
Osaka Megumu's situation is all or nothing, thinks Sudo-kun.

"All right," Megumu rallies.  "One card after another!"
"Right!" her teammates answer in unison.

Chihaya studies her opponent's expression after she rallied her team.  What a calm demeanor for a player to's the first time I've seen it.  What can I do, to grasp it...

Just as she's pondering this, both she and Megumu take the next card at the same time.

(TN: this next part is so lame, I'm mentally face palming as I type it, so I will just summarize....)  Chihaya recalls the words that Meat-bun said to her before this match started, that she needed to be more aggressive when contesting cards (Yumi-san style).   The other party only needs to find her annoying, and then will relinquish cards to her this way.  She then timidly asserts to Megumu that it was her card because she touched it first.  But this method goes against every fiber of Chihaya's being and she mentally apologizes to her opponent.  (Because in truth, she really thinks it's Megumu's card).

When Megumu relinquishes the card without a fight, Chihaya is so shocked that her concentration is all messed up and she forgets to send a card to Megumu.  Meanwhile, Megumu takes the next card while Chihaya sits frozen.

(TN: All of her teammates are mentally face-palming with me.  Moving on...)

Team Mizusawa's Meat bun, Taichi and Kana think suddenly in unison, "I've gotta step it up."  They all realize they must win to take the pressure off of Chihaya.

Desktomu-kun is a bit conflicted.   I...

This atmosphere... this crowd of onlookers...  my body just can't move arbitrarily.

As the next card is read, Desktomu is relieved that it's just a "blank" card verse.  He looks over and notices Sumire watching him intently.  Desktomu recalls the notes she took for him.

Hanano-san...I'll follow Hanano-san's notes....  His photographic memory recalls that his opponent has last year's popular limited edition Ryuji (a pop singer) handkerchief.  He notices it on the floor beside his opponent.

That girl, she really described it exactly...

So this means my opponent is a nostalgic girl who doesn't let go of her feelings.  Then it would be these cards....  Automatically Desktomu concludes there are four cards of sentimental poetry (written by guys) she would particularly be attuned to.

...that I need to break through and take!  (TN:  In order to break her confidence)

When the next card is read, his logic proves infallible and true enough, his opponent is extremely annoyed that he takes one of her favorite cards.  It's difficult to display my abilities when competing with this guy, even though I heard he was a C rank...  It's so hard... she thinks.

Desktomu thinks hard on what he can do for his team.  Let me be the first then... the me who began competing today just with this match...

"Defend!" he shouts out to his team.  "We need to take the next one too, Mizusawa!"
"Right!" his teammates shout in unison.

Sumire watches him, quietly impressed as she realizes he must be using her notes as reference.  She remembers what he told her earlier.

"Hanano-san you really wrote it down to the last detail.  Thank you!"

Megumu and the others are silent.  As the next card is read, every Mizusawa player is able to take it, because it is the "Oe" card.

They did it! Sumire beams excitedly.

Everyone was able to take the "Oe Mountain" card, the flow of the game is in Mizusawa's favor.  You can't mistake it!

The flow of the game....  thinks Chihaya quietely.
The flow of the game is something....

.....we must continuously grab hold of!

But even as Chihaya makes this revelation, Megumu takes the next card.  As her opponent is retrieving it, Chihaya silently praises her opponent, Such a sense of stability...

Then, the quiet is interrupted by Meat bun loudly contesting a card.  His opponent is speechless.
"That's all right," calls out Megumu.  "One card after another--"  But she gets a disjointed response.
"R-right," says the girl.  "Sorry, Megumu."

The Akashi team captain observes Megumu and marvels that Megumu can remain so calm in a big competition like this.  Despite the fact that they've been together in a team this long, she still can't figure her out.  Even though "letting Megumu be Queen" is their team's mantra, but she wonders what Megumu's real heart's desire is.

Does she even want to be Queen?

Meanwhile, the Mizusawa president, Taichi, notices that Chihaya is unable to continuously take cards from Megumu.  When he looks at the number of cards they both have left, she and Megumu are almost evenly matched.  He thinks back to when he told Chihaya to just win fair and square before the match started, and starts to regret the words he said so carelessly.  But still, he concludes that Chihaya isn't the same girl she was last year when she took Taichi's orders to win to heart and became nervous to the point where she couldn't play.

It's already been a year.

One year!  he thinks nostalgically at everything that's happened so far to their club.

As the next card is read, Megumu strikes first, but as soon as they realize it's another "empty" card verse, Megumu retracts just as quickly.  The audience members notice how fast Megumu is, but she is equally fast at controlling her movements.  One Akashi classmate in the audience notes, Her speed isn't hindered at all. 

Chihaya stares silently at Megumu's right hand, curled up in a fist in front of her.  Suddenly, Megumu's head band falls to the tatami mat.
"Sorry," says Megumu as she picks it up again.  She looks down fondly at the words, "Ganbatte, Megumu."

Her teacher fondly how Megumu came to have that headband, and how it's become her trademark item.  (He mentally shouts, "Oh, the springtime of youth!")  But for this competition, Megumu also made headbands for her teammates and he marvels at how beautiful friendship is.  (TN:  Sorry for the summary, but this guy's so long-winded...)

The reason why we admire Megumu, her stalkerrazzi club thinks unanimously, is because there's such a huge gap between her and other players.  Our camera lenses tell all.  

It's so cool!  It would be too cold for her to wear a headband alone... It's good that she was able to pull everyone into the depths of her world. (TN: literally, in the Chinese translation the guys were saying it was too "cold" for her to be the only one wearing the bands, thus it was good that she was able to pull everyone "under the water" with her... *shrugs*)

But just as the next card is about to be read, Chihaya waits, listens and takes the next card -- even though she wasn't the first to strike.

She attacked from below... and took the card, Megumu marvels as she sits dumbfounded.

From the very beginning she was able to take the "A" level cards, but it wasn't until now that she was able to execute it beautifully, watches Sudo-kun quietly.

Is she already able to grab hold of that something she was missing--? 

Meanwhile, Megumu is still in shock.  Just now... that was....  Her teammates are dumbfounded by her reaction.  Suddenly Megumu remembers she is the team's rally member.
"OK...continue," she says.  "Keep on taking just one more card."
"Yes ma'am!" her teammates cry.

This is supposed to be a team competition... thinks Megumu.  Why am I the only one rallying?

Queen? she thinks.  That sort of title isn't even important!

Just then, Chihaya raises her hand to hold the reading.  "I'm..."she begins solemnly.
"I'm sending over a card."

Curiously, she sends over the 'asaborake' card, nicknamed the "big mountain" card.  this makes her teammates and the audience members buzz with speculation as to why she would pass over such a difficult card as it is usually kept and guarded by most players.

It comes to be that the next card read is the 'asaborake' card.  But surprisingly, and in an amazing way, Chihaya moves right after Megumu guards it, breaks the defense and takes the card at an angle from underneath Megumu's hand.  Both the chief overseer and Sudo-kun are amazed.

She... broke through the defense!

There are many people who have the speed to quickly take a good card... Sudo assesses.  But really, what separates the wheat from the chaff, is the ability to take a card regardless of how difficult it is.

Cut scene: a flashback to pre-nationals practice days at Mizusawa High

"That's why I said your defenses aren't worth squat!" Meat bun chides a dejected Chihaya.  "You guard like this!" he emphasizes as Kana holds the card.  "How many times do you need me to say it?  If you can't even overcome a difficult situation, how can you even hope to be Queen!?"

"Actually, the method of attacking the card after you hear it is more suitable for you, Ayase," Desktomu chimed in with Taichi standing by.

"We'll help you practice."

End scene:  back to the game

How much time did she spend practicing that move? Sudo-kun ponders.  That rascal...

Megumu is at a loss for words.  Her heard is beating loudly in her chest.
"Megumu?" her teammates ask in concern.  There is no rally cry now.

Becoming Queen was never important!

But... this Queen... 

I must defeat her here! she concludes solemnly.  With that look, her stalkerrazzi fan club goes wild and starts snapping shots, one after another.

---End Chapter---

TN:  What an odd chapter. It's exciting, certainly, as it leads us by the nose into the conclusion.  (It's not going to end with this volume...)  But really, my favorite parts are still when the team moves, thinks and feels as a solid unit.  That camaraderie is really something.

How long can the mangaka stretch this out? How many secret weapons does Chihaya have at this point?  Is it me or does Sudo and that Mioka captain have front row tickets to the Chihaya fan club? When will the the chief overseer and everyone else recognize Mizusawa's worth?  Is there something going on between Sumire and Desktomu?  WHERE in the world is Arata Wataya? (Oh, right, he's been banned for now... -_-;)  

So many questions... not enough answers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chihahafuru Manga Synopsis, Chapter 71 Vol. 13

TN: Had a chance to pick this up again.  Wah, this match goes on and on... but enjoy!

Chapter 71

"Megumu has become faster," comments one of her fans as they watch behind their camera lenses in awe.
"I got it," Megumu says with a smile as she walks back to her position.  "All right... One card, one card!" she rallies her team.
"Yes, Ma'am!" they respond.  Chihaya remains silent and at this point she realizes the type of opponent she's up against.

In the crowd, Sumire notices a girl in uniform watching one end of the room and then turning back to watch them.

Isn't that a fan from Akashi First Girl's High School?  Mizusawa is Tokyo's 2nd ranked representative, and in the B Hall we haven't come across any significantly strong opponents.  It doesn't matter if it's the semi-finals team or the finalists, Akashi is definitely more favored.  If one were to compare, the real competition to watch...

Would be the match against Fujisaki and Hokuo!

Cut scene:  Both teams on Fujisaki and Hokuo are embroiled in their competition.  Hiro-kun and his opponent are still baring their teeth at one another.

As the chief overseer observes the matches, he recalls Arata's explanation as to why he came today. "I came to support my friends from Tokyo in their competition..."

Even he discounts Mizusawa and thinks that Arata actually came to support Hokuo.

Cut scene: Hokuo's teacher stares intently at the game.

Last year, because Mizusawa snatched the opportunity away from us, we weren't able to enter the national championship.  Only Amakasu and Takuma actually have experience in the nationals... This year we were able to bring the freshmen and sophomores with us.  All the members of Fujisaki are third year seniors...  If we can strike them down now, next year they'll be even less of a threat.

Hang in there, everyone! he thinks fiercely.
But I...  he breaks out into a sweat, I'm really scared of Fujisaki's teacher, Sakurasawa-sensei!  As she is sitting beside him, he hides behind his program while Sudo looks on in question.

Next to her is Akashi First Girl's High School teacher.  "All of the members of Akashi appear to be doing well, Minami-sensei," she comments casually.  "Osaka-san is especially outstanding."

"Of course, Sakurasawa-sensei!" Minami-sensei comments in his booming voice.  "Our entire team's status is excellent!"  He gives a thumbs up grin as he guffaws in Sakura-sensei and Hokuo's teacher's direction.  "Please be gracious to us in the finals, whether it's Fujisaki or Hokuo...."  (Big sweat drops from them both at his lack of etiquette)

Someone whispers to a girl in a Fujisaki shirt seated behind him.  She silently watches the Akashi and Hokuo players retrieve the cards they claimed.

Meanwhile, Chihaya stares down at her still very full card arrangement amid the bustle.  I distinctly recall last autumn when I watched her play, I didn't exclaim, 'Wow, she's fast!' or anything like that.

With this advancing speed she attacks... Even the difficult to attack "Awaji River" card... Was she just guessing?

Megumi hands Chihaya a "penalty" card.  Chihaya takes note of which one it is.

The only "ya" card in the entire collection... she's giving it to me... as a target.   Even Sudo notices that Chihaya has tucked it away in her lower right quadrant and he hands over his corner of the Hokuo banner (to the Hokuo school principal in the audience) to take a closer look at Chihaya's match.

When the next card is read, he notices that Chihaya is struggling.  How unlucky!  She was guarding the "oku" card with her right hand but the "ogu"card was read.

There was nothing I could do about the "ogu" card, Chihaya rallies herself.  That's all right!  The match has just begun.  I just need to take one card...

"One card," Megumu says, "is coming your way."
"....."  Chihaya notices the card she sends over as the only "so" card in the entire collection.

How she takes karuta cards is entirely different from how she seems on the outside, muses Sudo-kun.  "Yasu" and "sono" were both cards Ayase would use to enter her opponent's territory.  By positioning them to the forefront she is forcing her opponent to maintain the defensive.
"...."  Chihaya seems to be at a loss.
"All right," says Megumu, almost taunting.  "One card, one card."  Chihaya is startled by her words.

She's trying to force her opponents to feel like they need to attack!

Meanwhile, Ms. Miyauchi is having a hard time believing what she is seeing.  They all seem like a bunch of delicate girls but they all appear really strong.  This sense of unity among them.... She ponders but then puts a fist into her palm and concludes, Can it be... the key is their headbands?  Next time, I'm going to make headbands!  (TN: -_-;  She's partly correct....)

Next to her, Sumire notices that Tsbuku has fallen asleep and is snoring and drooling next to them.  She shakes him violently and demands, "Tsubuku! How could you have possibly fallen asleep?!"  Sumire slaps him repeatedly.  "Wake up this instant!"

"Be-because I already played in three consecutive rounds..." he complains as he holds his bruised face.
"You can't say 'because' or 'but'!" she insists.  (TN:  President Taichi's orders, see prior chapters)
"You wouldn't understand this type of exhaustion..." Tsubuku whines.

In the matter of half a day I fully invested in three matches, almost four....  Even a guy like me could fall fast asleep.  Oe-senpai, he says looking in Kana's direction.  She's going into her fourth competitive match.  From a stamina perspective, Oe-senpai causes the most concern.  Her last two matches were so neck-and-neck that she only lost by two cards.  Even to the last, she never gave up her competitive edge, but at the very last moment she lost the last two matches and she was just too tired...  If she was going to lose in the end, she should have taken it easy to give herself a proper rest!

Kana-chan is visibly panting.

But Oe-senpai is not the only one we should be worried about....

Tsutomu-senpai is competing for the first time in this match...  but he's immediately facing the semi-final round.  Ayase-senpai is facing the opposing team's wild card, and her cards are being continuously taken...    That wild card is obviously catering to the audience to create the atmosphere!

He just posted a text to his little brothers saying that he, as the team's wild card, has victory in his sight.

I'll just say my cell phone malfunctioned.... (-_-;)

Cut scene: Chihaya is having a conundrum during her match against Megumu

Do I attack?  Do I guard?

"...."  Chihaya doesn't have an immediate answer.

There's no sense in being confused!

Don't be confused!  Don't be confused!

Chihaya recalls something Harada-sensei once told her. "Chihaya---"


The reader begins reciting the next card, "Me---" and to Mizusawa's astonishment, none of them are able to take that card.

One of the Akashi players concludes, Even if I don't look, I already know.  Megumu-senpai would never lose a "me" card to anyone.

Chihaya at this point is very confused.  She could have sworn she was protecting that card in her lower right quadrant and she clearly had her hand out to protect it and still her opponent was able to take the card.

This is the Western Conference representative... she marvels.

No!  This is a player who, starting from that match last autumn, has increasingly refined her speed...  a Queen's Competition contestant!

Her thoughts are interrupted when Amakasu and another player from the Hokuo team interrupts Megumu as she has also taken their "me" cards scattered on the tatami.  (It's really strange that she would actually take three of the same card)

Her fan club seems to get a rise out of that.

"All right," Megumu announces as she settles down again.  "Another card!"
"Right!" Akashi answers in unison.

"...."  Mizusawa is clearly facing a difficult match.

Cut scene:  As he's watching Megumu, the Akashi coach has a flashback.  TN: Ha! What did I say... 

The phrase, "Shibetsu can change in three days" also applies to becoming the Queen in karuta.  
(TN:  He actually says, "士别三日,刮目相看" which literally translates into "Shibetsu three days, admirably see."  Shibetsu is a province in Hokkaido that began during the Meiji Era as a fishing village.  What?  I had to look this up and found a Q&A on and this was the best answer:  There are four meanings to it.  1) having ambition to change in 3 days, 2) to understand your own faults and to want to change it over a quick period of time, but not literally in 3 days, 3) with time, anything can change, and determination can qualitatively change a situation, 4) one cannot change if one is still using an old world view.  So... take your own life lesson from that.  Class dismissed.)  

He recalls approaching the karuta club for last May's regional Kyoto competition, encouraging them to study up and practice so they could enter.  They would use the club finances to fund their entry.
"Daigoro, you're so annoying," said one of the club members. (TN: They call him by his first name?)  "Just focus your passion on volleyball."

"We are technically a team in this club but our team isn't very strong....  Even our regional participant Osaka is pretty loose when it comes to team playing," said another.

But then our luck started to change and Megumu became the Western Conference representative.  All the club members were astonished at Megumu's feats and her friends and classmates went so far as to stitch a lucky headband for her.  (TN: the one she wore when she played against Yumi-san)

There was the possibility that she could become the next Queen.  But she lost to the former Queen.  After the game, people were talking about how they pitied Megumu.  She was riding a newcomer's luck to get to the competition but when push came to shove, she wasn't as talented as Yamamoto Yumi.  Her club members overheard and resented those words for her.

When they asked her on the train ride back if she was dissatisfied she denied it.  But then the team captain said, "We'll accompany you to the point where you can actually feel dissatisfied when you lose...  and make the Queen's seat your goal!"

Everyone then banded together to support Osaka Megumu to be the next Queen!  From that point on those kids passionately practiced to the point where I was in tears.  Every time they went into a team competition they used that as practice to get a feel for becoming the Western Conference representatives, even though that really is limited to one person.

Cut scene:  flashback to the beginning of today's competition

In this competition they decided to put their wild card, Megumu, as the middle third position. "From a five member competitive standpoint, the most important thing is to help Megumu gain experience!" declared the captain.

Cute scene:  Back to the match between Megumu and Chihaya

Become stronger!  

Become faster!

Megumu recalls the support of her team mates as she plays, while Chihaya is still having a hard time gaining momentum.

It cant be! laments Chihaya as she struggles.  She's taken 4 cards in a row.  I still need to take my first card... just one card!

As the next card is read, Chihaya finally claims a card: "kazeso."

I finally got it!

"Good!" Chihaya says aloud.

Starting from here... I will begin to catch up!


Attack!  she thinks intensely.  Suddenly a gentle hand touches her shoulder.  It's Kana's, who is sitting beside her.

"It's 'the wind blows Kawakami's trees'... Chihaya!"  Chihaya turns to look at her silently but Kana has already turned back to her own game.  Chihaya glimpses the sun peeking out from the broken clouds outside the glass doors of their competition hall.

The rain... thinks Chihaya, suddenly noticing.

"From where we are seated, the wind blows Kawakami's trees as the sun wanes an Autumn hue... at a time when we wear buckskin garments, I am watching Summer's colors." (TN: 风吹川上树...唯有袚褉时, 猶见夏景色 --> OMG that took forever to translate...whew!)

...has stopped!

Flashback: Chihaya recalls a history lesson she received from Kana about this very card

"When you read the Waka poem 'the wind blows Kawakami's trees', the sun sets unfeelingly behind the mountain, on the last day of summer."  What Kana is really saying to her is, "Our entire Summer rests on this day."

As he watches, Tsubuku marvels that Kana is only 4 cards behind her opponent when she should be exhausted at this point.

That card, Kana-chan thinks, is not the "kazeso" card, or at least it shouldn't be called that.  Chihaya--  Chihaya touches her shoulder where Kana's hand was.

The eight-hundred year old feelings behind "the wind blows Kawakami's trees" poem....

...should still be be achingly beautiful!

As the reader picks up the next card, even before the syllables are read, Chihaya recalls Kana's words, "Even the wind can hear it."

Chihaya reaches out to the next card even before the first syllable can audibly be heard.  Megumu, and the members of the Mizusawa and Akashi team are astonished at Chihaya's breakthrough.  (TN: I think Akashi is shocked because this is another "me" card that Megumu always claims, since her name also begins with the character "dream" or "yu-me")  Kana-chan is all smiles.

Kana-chan!  I remember!  Kana had explained this card to her as well.  "When you see the 'yume' card,  you will immediately think 'Suminoe river'!

Chihaya retrieves the card and looks at Megumu with new determination.


Let's have our showdown!

(Chapter end.)