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Monday, March 18, 2013

Chihayafuru Vol. 14, Chapter 74, Manga Synopsis

Translator's Notes:  

SOOOO... here we are (finally) at the end of the semi-final match between Akashi Girl's High School and Mizusawa High School.  The Author finally gets this slow torture over with -- although it doesn't quite end the way I thought it would.... :-[

BUT, we finally see what Arata and Shinobu are doing (together?) while Chihaya and the others are battling to the last, with their all.  Don't forget, there's also the Final Round for the Omi Jingu Championship Title to go....  I'm getting tired just thinking about it. ^_^;

Now that I've finally cracked open Volume 14, I think you guys will like it too.  So here's another post.  By popular demand, you can find the Chinese Raws onine here.  Unfortunately you have to plug the Chinese title into your web engine search to find it....  

-Kero (3/18/13)

P.s. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Shinobu is just REALLY CREEPY...

Volume 14, Chapter 74

(Opening page, Arata and Taichi Art <3)

Scene:  After sundown at the Omi Jingu facilities dorm

The sound of a soft voice uttering the recognized syllables of each of the Hyakunin Isshu cards drones on continuously in a dorm room like a eerie incantation.  One of the members of Fukui's team shudders as he watches, unwillingly, unable to peel his eyes off her.  Her hands continuously and fluidly shuffle the cards with inhuman speed.

"Ai. Sa. Nageki.  Wasura.  Koi.  Harusu.  Tsuku.  Me.  Ogu.  Mikaki.  Wasure.  Tatsu.  Akika.  Asabo.  A.  Mu.  Tsuki.  Konu.  Haruno.  Yasu.  Taka.  Mikano.  Taki.  Ooe.  Chigiriki.  Wata Ko.  Tachi.  Wabi.  Asabo U.  Shino.  Momo.  Kazaso.  Hitomo.  Ooke.  Se.  Nagara.  Oku.  Kore.  Kono.  Ho. Kasa.  Tama.  Kaku. Awaji.  Su.  Tago.  Miyo.  Yae...."

[Author's Note:  Looking through all 100 cards and reading out the named syllables as a type of practice.  The purpose is to familiarize oneself with card sight recognition matched with speed, but in this case, the entire run-through must be completed within 1 minute as a first level standard]

The Fukui team member who has been watching her trembles as he timidly whispers to his team mate, "Sho-chan, she hasn't taken a breath...not a single breath!" (TN: he's likening her to a ghost or a ghoul as they don't need air and are identified among the living as not having breath)

Meanwhile, Sho is being emotional on the other side of the room, tears streaming from his face as he stifles his tears and clutches a manuscript in his hand.  "Arata... the piece you wrote isn't a penalty essay, it's pure literature!"

"Geez...don't read it," Arata says as he continues writing in his corner.
"You could surpass even Kawabata Yasunari and Soeseki Natsume!" (TN: Soeseki (1867 - 1916) and Kawabata (1899-1972) are among Japan's modern classic (post Meiji - era) authors who penned beautiful intellectual novels with traditional beauty and modern day angst.  Among my favorites are Kawabata's Snow Country and Soeseki's Kokoro.)

"You're exaggerating," mutters Arata.

"Arata," says Shinobu as an afterthought.  "Are you not going back?
"I'm going to wait here as part of my punishment, and so here I'll stay until the team competition concludes," says Arata stiffly.
"Ah, ha ha ha," Shinobu laughs.  "Such a responsible effort could really make people weep bitterly and drip snot for you.... But, I'm just waiting for my clothes to dry and then I will be going back."

Suddenly, hurried footsteps outside their dorm room are heard outside.  The sliding door whips open with a crack and Fukui's team advisor and missing player rush in.
"Oh my goodness, we've come too late!  Too late!" they exclaim.
"Teach, what took you guys so long?" demands one of their team members.
"We're so sorry!  So sorry!" Their teacher apologizes.  "Just as the competition was starting we came upon a collision site that needed an ambulance and fire rescue crews.  Then, there was road construction after that...."
"But since we already lost our game, we headed out for beef teppan yaki before getting here," declares the other late team member.
"WHAT?" demands Sho.
"Oh, Queen Wakamiya!" says the newcomer, suddenly realizing her presence.
"Haah," says Shinobu disdainfully.
"Wah!" says the newcomer, unaffected.  "It's really you!  How did you become so thin?  What dieting method did you use?"

His teacher clears his throat and calls his name in censure.

He changes the topic.  "I was downstairs watching the conclusion of the first semi-final round.  Kyoto's representatives were really pitiful... They lost to Tokyo's Mizusawa."

At that, Arata looks up with a start.  Shinobu merely smiles.
"Aah," she says cooly. "Is that so?  That is truly pitiful... If only I had gone to cheer them on--"
"Mizusawa!" Arata exclaims, interrupting her.  "Mizusawa won the pre-semifinal round?  What about now?"
"Tch," snorts Shinobu.  Arata sits and talks quietly, almost to himself.
"That means afterwards, the four strongest teams go head-to-head.  Hokuo Academy and Akashi First Girl's High School entered the semi-final round.  Even though they're a no-name school in karuta circles, that's certainly really impressive!"

Win!  Fight on... Taichi!  Chihaya! Arata hopes in silence.

Shinobu's expression fades as she notices Arata's thoughts are drawn away to his friends.
She puts on her smile and says, "Oh, the team competitions are so delightful!  It is such a happy diversion."  Her smile turns pointedly frightful as she adds, "The thought of such a thing as karuta, to be 'enjoyed by the masses' is even more amusing.... To see it makes one's heart feel so at peace." (TN: Image.  I added emphasis because I can just imagine her biting at every word slowly and making fun of team competitive karuta in her smile. >_< ┌∩┐)

The Fukui team members shudder at her words and feel chills down their spines.
Oh my god, I don't feel at peace AT ALL!!

Arata watches her shuffle the cards again, looking silently and a bit remorseful as he thinks back on what he said to Chihaya during their last phone conversation.

Team competition is only for people who don't really love karuta.

Shinobu retreats to her own little world as she recites the cards again.  But as she goes through them she suddenly stops at the cards "wata" and "ya".  (TN: his last name)
"Arata!" she announces.  "Even though I am deficient and cannot even compare... but right now, right here, let us play a match!"  She smiles darkly at him.  "Certainly we can at least kill a little time."

Again, the Fukui team members shudder and clutch at each other at her expression.  With that look... it isn't TIME that she wants to KILL...

Arata looks at her without expression.  "I decline," he says flatly.
"Why not?" she asks.
"Because today is the day of team competition," he answers.  She looks at him blankly.
Arata continues, "And that... would be disrespectful!"

With that, Shinobu turns away from him and back to her cards wordlessly.

You've got guts, Arata! Sho whispers to him.

To Shinobu, even a practice match is simply a means to kill time for her.  She's really too strong, he concludes.

Shinobu sits silently with her cards stacked in front of her, a single hand gently touching the top card, as if retreating to the company of her only friends.

Meanwhile, back in the competition hall, the Mizusawa and Akashi teams are still in play, with no wins and no losses yet on either side.

Sumire looks at everyone in the room.  Why is everyone still looking here?  Is the other match such a one-sided game?  Hokuo already has 3 defeats --

Sudo, who was focusing so intently on Chihaya's game suddenly turns to Hokuo and notices their shameful state.


So strong, observes the chief referee as he gives Fujisaki a once over.  This years Fujisaki compared to the rest is really in a league of their own.  But... I never thought that in comparing the Hokuo - Fujisaki match... that the Akashi - Mizusawa match would be even more intriguing...  This is Mizusawa's first entry into national competition...  And they don't even have a teaching advisor who is versed in karuta.  Even so, those kids could compete to this stage--

.... What to do?  He thinks back on Arata's explanation that he had come to cheer on his friends from Tokyo.  If the team Wataya Arata came to see... was Mizusawa High... It's already too late!  The competition is nearly over...

Meanwhile, Meat bun comes to some realizations (albeit too late).  He can't decide if his opponent is simply incredible or just really strong.  He admittedly shrinks back whenever she gives him a serious look (because he finds it very un-feminine) (TN: Holy cow, dude, come out of the Stone Age with your chauvinism).  Truth be told, he doesn't like to fight with girls, but once he catches a glimpse of her strange little guy phone charm he finally decides what he must do.

Enough!  In my eyes, you are simply a guy!  
He loses a card to her.
You are weaker than Megumu.
He loses another card to her.
I will not lose to the likes of you!

"All right!" she shouts triumphantly.  "I won!  First win for Akashi!"  Everyone looks up in surprise.

Not...not again... thinks Meat bun in defeat as he falls over.  (TN:  WEAK!!)

What they heck are you doing, Nishida-senpai?  thinks Sumire in a panic.  Really... I should start calling you Meat bun-senpai instead!

The other members of Akashi start grinning and feeling hopeful but Megumu remains silent and stoic.  (TN: Megumu says something here that was difficult to translate, "率先獲勝的殊榮被小夕搶走了" but she seems upset that the glory of being the first victor was stolen by her teammate.)

Her stalkerazzi notice her perturbed expression and become enchanted with cameras ready.

As the next card is read, Chihaya takes it.  The Akashi team members are shocked because the "Mu" card is a namesake card of Megumu.  The chief referee is shocked to the core.

That girl playing the Western Japan representative...just what is she?

--Megumu's flashback--

"Osaka Megumu," said her friend.  "It's as if your name is just meant to play karuta!"
"What are you talking about, Yuu-chan?" Megumu had asked.
"It doesn't matter if it's Osaka, or Megumu, there are so many single syllable cards that match... Me, Mu, Su included.  Suminoe would be considered one as well?  Speaking of the Suminoe card, that's just like your dream, isn't it, Megumu?"
"Ah, ha, ha," Megumu laughed.  "Since you put it that way... Even if my opponent is the Queen, I can't let her take away my namesake cards!"
--End Flashback--

Megumu watches painfully as Chihaya retrieves the Mu card, the poem's characters visible in the grip of her opponent's hand.

Just then, Kana-chan shouts out with all her might, "YUISAWA, ONE WIN!"
HUH? her teammates puzzle over her faux pas.  She clasps her mouth in embarrassment at not getting her school's name correct.

Tsubuka ignores it and in admiration focuses on the fact that Kana just won a hard-fought battle.

An audience member rooting for Akashi realizes that the teams are tied and Yuu's first victory is no longer important.  The audience seems to agree and even Murao is surprised at Mizusawa's ability.  The chief referee observes that there are only 6 cards left to play.  He wouldn't be surprised if the tides turned in either direction.  At this point, he wouldn't be surprised if the Western Japan representative Osaka lost.  He hadn't realized that there was still such a strong player outside the immediate karuta circles.

Six cards left, ponders Taichi.  Even though it took us until the very end, but that's not the issue.  Does she realize it as well?  He looks up at his opponent.  He goes over each of the cards that has already been read in his mind, and he counts that there are this 18 empty cards yet to be read.

Apparently, she does not.  As the next card is read his opponent strikes first but realizes too late that the card is an "empty" verse card.

Good, thinks Taichi.

Meanwhile, Megumu is still angry at the fact that both the "Su" and "Mu" cards have been taken by her opponent.

You.... Ayase Chihaya....  (TN: She actually remembers her name.) She looks up at Chihaya in challenge and Chihaya equally meets her gaze.

Reader: "Chi--"

Immediately as the card is read, Megumu strikes first.


Desktomu and Taichi both claim this card.


"MIZUSAWA, SECOND WIN!" calls out Taichi.  Kana is just about to cheer her team until she notices Megumu and not Chihaya is the one getting up to retrieve this card.

She didn't take it?? her team members puzzle over Megumu's triumphant strut.  Megumu holds the card up to her face, flashing the letters of the Chihayafuru card for her opponent to see.

This is for the "Su" and "Mu" cards, Megumu retaliates.

Chihaya watches silently and the stalkerazzi flash away their cameras in ecstasy.  (Image.)

The Mioka captain realizes that the "Chigiriki and Chigirio cards have yet to be read, and so even his Bellatrix (Chihaya) showed some restraint.  But this time, it was the four-eyed Queen's challenger that showed a little more guts.

This is a match between two Queen's challengers!

The stalkerrazzi puzzle over their camera shots and realize that the movements were too quick and none of them got a clear shot of that last move.  They realize that this is the fastest Megumu has ever been, and that reason is because of the opponent she faces now.

Another pair of the Hokuo-Fujisaki match bow in conclusion and Sudo realizes in irritation that the match ended as 1 win and 4 losses for his home team.  The Hokuo team looks extremely embarrassed.

Everyone watches the Mizusawa-Akashi match in anticipation.

I want to see... what happens with strong allies by your side... while facing strong opponents... the real you at the end of it all!

 Chihaya and Megumu face each other once again.

Megumu ---

We must do our best!  We must!

We can't... let Shinobu be alone up there forever without a challenger....

Back at the dorms Shinobu turns around and looks out the window.
"What is it?" asks Arata as he notices her sudden reaction.

Is it the "Ai" card? she thinks.  Back at the match, that same card flies off into the air after being struck.

"I thought I heard someone calling me," answers Shinobu, looking out the window into the darkness.

---End Chapter---

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chihayafuru Manga Synopsis Chapter 73, Vol. 13

TN: Gomen! Gomen!  I haven't had time to do this in a while.  I thought about it before Thanksgiving.  Then I thought about it before Christmas.  But, I never got around to it.  Meh.  

I've also been watching Park Shi Hoo (Prosecutor Princess) in the currently playing Cheongdamdong Alice.  The Alice reference is from Alice in Wonderland.  The lead character is a normal,  hardworking girl who finds she cannot change her unlucky fate no matter how hard she tries.  So after being beaten down by life, she decides she will emulate her archenemy, and become a ruthless girl who is determined to marry up into the fantastical world of Cheongdamdong.  (Haha, no, I don't want to be like her)  That theme song by K-pop rookie Baek Ah Yeon, Daddy Long Legs, made me cry so much when it played for the first time. TT__TT  

**If any of you have ever read the book or seen the play, "Daddy Long Legs," you know the significance of the title in relation to the main characters in Cheongdamdong Alice.  (Cheongdamdong is the ritzy, artsy part of Gangnam District.  Thanks to Psy, I'm sure you all know about I won't explain further)**

Heh, if you don't see me post anything after this, it's 'cause I'm still watching Cheongdamdong Alice.... Sorry.

It's cold out, and I'm settling down with a nice cup of hot chocolate.  Yum.  Let's finish the last chapter to volume 13, shall we?  (Is it me or is Megumu getting annoying? LOL I think the author wants us to realize what a big impact Megumu will have on Chihaya.)

Chapter 73

The chapter opens with Megumu reconsidering her opponent, Chihaya.

The way that she takes single syllable cards...
The way she broke through my defenses...
With every inch of her body, she's declaring, "I want to become Queen!"

I have to topple her! Megumu concludes with resolve.

Meanwhile, Chihaya is retrieving the card she's just taken.  She stares at the card and holds it close to her face, as if in prayer.
I did it!
Everyone, I did it!
I was able to do it-- she thinks triumphantly as she recalls the hard work everyone put into supporting her.

The whole room is brimming with anticipation.

The flow of the game... has changed, observes Sudo-kun.

Then, the sound of the stalkerrazzi's cameras going crazy brings our attention back to Megumu, who is now exuding a dark, ominous aura.  Her fan boy club is thrilled by it.

Building on her efforts, Taichi, Meat bun, Kana-chan and Desktomu are able to take the next card.  Taichi glances over but Chihaya has lost this card to Megumu.

"Good," declares Megumu darkly.  Her aura dampens the spirit of the Mizusawa team once again, and they release a collective sigh at the advantage that just slipped passed them.  (TT__TT)

Her stalkerrazi notice however, that Megumu said "Good" and not her usual chant of " more card..." (TN: this is probably significant b/c Megumu is no longer playing for her team, but for herself)

The overseers, Murao-san included, are still shocked by Mizusawa's game and think this team rather odd, and particularly, the chief overseer reconsiders Chihaya.

There's a good feeling....  More importantly, she has a wide filed of vision... hasn't missed any cards...  No matter how a card is taken, she is always able to calm down again-- (TN: I'm not sure if the author is referring to Chihaya being able to calm down no matter what card Megumu takes, or no matter what Chihaya takes for herself, but I think the former makes more sense than the latter, no?)

"I'm sending over a card," declares Megumu.  The card she sends is the same one Chihaya recently sent over to Megumu.

(TN: In this panel on this page, Hokuo's teacher comments that, 那孩子绝对也是超级虐侍 or "That girl is definitely of superior lineage."  Something might be lost in translation here, but I think he's commenting on what a ballsy move Megumu just made.)

Unfortunately, as the next card is read, Chihaya is unable to claim it, even though it's on her own side.

She is able to block her enemy from taking cards on the opposite side with a very, very low guarded hand...

I was completely blocked out from reaching that poem, admits Chihaya in shock.

In contrast, Megumu thinks triumphantly, Of course I would use the ultimate barrier defense tactic... Because I had practiced it earlier especially for the Queen's Competition...

I practiced with everyone...

Something like the Queen's title isn't even worthwhile...

But if I don't win, there's just no way I can make the others happy.

I must defeat you here!!

Chihaya notices the look in Megumu's eye.

Ah!  She's angry?  Chihaya recalls how she first observed Megumu at the beginning of their game as the most calm competitor she had yet faced.  The contrast is rather disturbing.

So strong....  I was so far behind on the Oe card as well, so harsh....

But, she thinks as she wipes the sweat from her face, I've discovered something.


"Sensei!" Chihaya calls after Harada-sensei.

(End flashback)

The room is silent with tension and Chihaya and Megumu ready their stances for the next card reading.  Sumire notices that the number of people watching the Mizusawa match has increased.

Here I thought the Akashi team was really just a one-man team consisting of Megumu Osaka...  thinks Meat bun.  But this is the first time I've faced a girl's academy and felt so exhilarated!  Just as he thinks that, his opponent violently takes another card from him.

Meat bun is still shocked.  So strong!!  She's got practically a guy's strength!

All of Mizusawa's team has lost this card, and Akashi's teacher watches on.  Akashi's engine might be Megumu, but the other players are really in the zone with their strength.

He starts tearing up.  Setting the goal of crowning a new Queen as they practiced against competitors, that's exactly what happened.  They just needed this motivation, and became so strong!

Now the Akashi team has become strong for Osaka-san!

The Akashi team captain retrieves her card and glances over at Megumu.  Megumu... you aren't saying anything to us.  Is she really strong?  That girl...

Both Megumu and Chihaya are out of breath as the next card is read.  Megumu moves first, then Chihaya strikes.   She still loses the card to Megumu.

Missed it by a little bit... Chihaya observes.  I need to be more exact... more precise...

Everyone watches and Chihaya closes her eyes.  That centimeter... that little bit... that card's edge...

Chihaya concentrates and as the next card is read, her hand that was resting at her side strikes like lightning and takes it before Megumu could even come near it.   Megumu becomes frozen in her spot.

That girl... thinks Sudo, mouth agape.  Has she become the type of player who can claim a card with such speed just by touching its edge?  I could have sworn Osaka's movement was quicker, but that move was pierced through--

It's incredibly just like... he thinks in astonishment.  Shinobu Wakamiya comes to mind.

Megumu.... Megumu is like me! thinks Chihaya as she retrieves the card and Megumu looks on helplessly in shock.  Chihaya thinks back to when Harada-sensei told her not to try to beat her opponent's speed.  She's the me before I ever had someone say that to me!

Chihaya gets back into position, and it's almost as though Harada-sensei is right there with her.  Chihaya is able to claim the next two cards.  The audience notices that Chihaya has taken successive cards and that she's pulled ahead of the game.  Megumu despairingly notices that her lead has disappeared.

Suddenly, the captain screams out, "ONE CARD!!  JUST CLAIM ONE CARD!!"  The entire Akashi team is startled by the sudden outburst.

Shoot, she thinks, I was a little too loud.  That's because I'm not used to doing stuff like that.

The next card that is read is a "blank" card, but Akashi's captain still goes through the motions with ferocity.  Meat bun is very startled.

She goes after a blank card with such force, she really is just like a guy....

Megumu! Akashi's captain thinks. I absolutely don't understand your way of thinking.  Or maybe... you really don't want to go down that road of being Queen... and you just want to continue happily practicing with everyone else. (TN: Bingo)

"Megumu," Akashi's captin says quietly.  "I'm going to claim a victory first... so you needn't be so anxious."  Megumu pauses to think of her words.

Certainly, I may not understand Megumu, but... Beside her, Meat bun has become frightened of his opponent, thinking how scary she is.  (TN:  Face.  Palm.)

She recalls Megumu's words previously, "This year I'm going to enter the Queen's competition!"

Becoming strong...doesn't mean that you've forgotten how to be happy, right?

Megumu, you really are a kind-hearted girl, the captain thinks wistfully.  

(Flashback to when the team gave her the head band)

"I want to let everyone be happy, in exchange for their expectations."

(End flashback)

This type of feeling is the breadth of your power.  We know, but we... want to see your desires fully realized.

Megumu is deep in thought and the stalkerrazi notice her changed expression and get excited again.
TN: (-__-;)

Megumu claims the next card, but it seems like both she and Chihaya claimed it at the same time.  Chihaya knows it's hers by rule, since it originated on her side, but Megumu challenges that conclusion, saying she was the quicker of the two.  Her Akashi team members are completely shocked that she's arguing.

"Well, then, as you please," says Chihaya suddenly admitting defeat.  A shock shoots through Meat bun (TN: since this was exactly what he counseled her not to do before the game started).

Don't say courteous words to me, little twit, thinks Megumu in anger.  The person to take on the mantle is me, the one who will make everyone happy is me, the one who will challenge the Queen is me....

"IT'S ME!!" she shouts suddenly.

Chihaya gives her a WTF expression, and her Akashi teammates look puzzled.  The stalkerrazi brim with pride.

Certainly she conceded the argument, but to get Megumu riled enough to react angrily to words of concession makes the situation clear, thinks Desktomu with a smile.  Ayase, this is good.

The real Megumu shows herself.  Now Chihaya can be herself, thinks Taichi.

"All right," says Taichi.  "From this point forward, we attack, MIZUSAWA!!"
"Yes, sir!" they respond in unison.

"F-fine..." the Akashi captain stammers.  "One card--"
"ONE CARD AFTER ANOTHER!" shouts Megumu suddenly.

Sumire realizes that the attention of the entire room is drawn to the Akashi-Mizusawa match.  The chief overseer watches them intently.

Both sides are testing their strength... their morale...

The pressure from these two forces...collide!

(End Chapter 73, End Vol. 13)

Thursday, January 3, 2013



Because I'm too cheap to subscribe myself...

But, this came as a surprise to me anyway.  Definitely blogworthy.  Sumire and Tsubuku will be joining the main cast in season two.  If they've announced it that means it probably wont get started until later this year, and we can hope for a complete season two in 2014-15 but that's OK!  I can live with that.

So, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  My personal problems pretty much resolved themselves and I've taken on some other real life projects that have prevented me from coming back to this blog.  SIGH, sorry! TT__TT  I missed it too.

SO MANY things in real life have happened.  Remember that lazy princess on my team at work?  She (finally) left and got a job somewhere else, thinking it would be better.  (I dun know how much "better" she wanted it since she was dubbed "the princess" at our company) .  My boss acted as though his own child had attempted to kill him, and has declared she is dead to him (very melodramatic for my boss who is usually stoic).  Funny thing about karma, though, 'cause this is the only thing I can call it, is that her new job isn't working out (le gasp, they actually found out she is incompetent?) and she's begging for her old job back.  Who needs movies when life has an abundance of comedy and drama?  Thankfully, we have all counseled him that it would be unwise and would cause a revolt, and he has heeded our words.  I don't usually wallow in the misfortune of others, but for reasons you have read in my earlier blogs, you know I got a small, tiny, chiisana no bit of satisfaction in the way its turned out.

The turn of events has led me to continue working my way up though, as every working girl aspires to do, and so I've taken on more activities at work that prevent me from coming back here that often.  I'm also planning a World Domination Tour with a few colleagues to garner more business for our team and so thinking up presentations has been preoccupying my time.  I have a bit of travel lined up for me.  Hehe, nothing wrong with flying business/first class, is there?  The company can expense it!!  :-P

(It also doesn't help that my boss gave me a new iPhone and I've taken up a new hobbies of group texting, watching Downton Abbey on Netflix, watching Crunchyroll with my friends' free passes...)

So there you have it, my life in a nutshell since September.  I did, however, purchase the next volume of Chihayafuru.  I don't know when I can get to it.  TT__TT  But I think I have one more chapter in this current volume to go.  I think I should at least do that.

Mata ne,