TN: Had a chance to pick this up again. Wah, this match goes on and on... but enjoy!
"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---"
(In her mind, Harada points intensely at her) "IN TIMES OF STRUGGLE IT'S THE LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT! NO MATTER WHAT, IT'S THE LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT!!"
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 Zhidao.baidu.com 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
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!)
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!