Anyhoo...when I read about the Fujisaki team my impression of them was...weird. But strong. These opponents, Megumu, Rion...these are all people Chihaya needs to beat before she can even get to the Queen. This is going to be one really really really long manga.... Do I dare continue my #Chiharata ship??? I swear, mangaka nowadays just play with our feels...
After being having my heart gouged and trampled by Naruto's ending last year I've been absolutely paranoid about all my other manga ships. #Narusaku4ever.
"Tsubuka-kun, you have to win..." Kana chan simply hides her face in her good hand in defeat, hiding her right hand behind her.
"Kana-chan," says Chihaya before she takes Kana's hand and notices her right middle finger is really bruised.
"You..." says Chihaya in shock. "You injured yourself during the last match."
"It looks really swollen!" says Desktomu.
Kana simply smiles behind her tears. "It's....it's a good thing it was only me. It's a good thing it wasn't Chihaya who was injured."
"Kana-chan," says Chihaya, holding on to Kana's hand, "what kind of nonsense are you spouting?"
Instead, Kana grasps her hand passionately. "We're really fortunate!" she insists. "We're fortunate that the team's trump card wasn't injured, and that we've finally become a legitimate competitive first year team... This situation is our, no, Mizusawa's time to shine!" (TN: the translation actually says, "stage" here, but I think the English equivalent would be spotlight.)
Everyone marvels at her words.
"Could it be, Tsubuka-kun, you already knew...?" asked Sumire, "that Kana-senpai was injured?"
"O-Of course!" he insists nervously. "I had been watching Oe-senpai all this time!"
OMG, you're such a liar, thinks Sumire. You're always lying through your teeth.
I was actually only worried about her stamina. I had no idea she was injured, he thinks.
"Just kidding! Tsubuka-kun you have to win...."
The way that Oe-senpai lies and the way I do are completely different... (TN: meaning that Kana lies to protect and support others, while he lies only for himself. I think he finally feels his shame acutely)
Meanwhile, Miyauchi-sensei tends to Kana's injury in the lounge. "Just put ice on it, Kana. I brought medicated bandages too."
"Bandages?" asks Kana. Miyauchi-sensei opens up a bag and explains, "I have medicated bandages, elastic bandages, antiseptic... Oh! I also have ointment!"
Caption: She definitely coaches sports...
"You still won even when you were injured like this.... It's probably a sprain. It's possible that it might even get more swollen after this."
Kana just smiles at her coach. "I'm okay." Miyauchi-sensei stares at her.
With such a small hand, she thinks as she helps patch Kana up. Not only Oe, but also Tsutomu... How can they make these concessions and yet... even though they're backing down, they're still giving strength to the others.
Meanwhile, back in the hall, the Hokuo players are in a huddle and Sudo-kun overhears them.
"What? Someone on Mizusawa's team was hurt?"
"Don't change the subject. Focus!"
"Everyone needs to exert their full power!"
Insert: Sudo and the others from Hokuo sit and wait for the match to begin. We're watching.
"For anyone to say, that color red is irritating so I don't like it, or, I'm not going to wear it. Our senpai all wore the same T-shirt to come out here and support us. We are not the only ones!"
The defeated Hokuo camp sits proudly in the audience to watch to the end, despite their loss.
But there's also another person who isn't our senpai in the crowd... (referring to Meat-bun's sister)
"Don't worry about that one!"
"Man, don't make me gag!"
"Don't say that, she came to support us!"
Hiro looks down silently.
(TN: don't really know what the point of that panel was -_-; it's like the mangaka is just drawing panels with filler...or I've lost something in translation...)
The Fujisaki captain, Makoto Yamai, is pondering her coach's decision for the last match's roster. I can't believe she made the cut. Her. How scary.... All of the third year guys adore her. It's so unreal...
Even her hairstyle is just copied from mine... That's too creepy! (TN: wow, conceited much? I think she sees her kouhai as a rival.)
"It's because I watched the Mizusawa match, and I have an impression of each players' style..." says Rion.
"So what?" Makoto cuts her off. "You wanna lecture the third years? No thanks! Besides, what the hell did you ever do to become an actual member? You can't be ignorant of the fact that the third year members have always been the backbone of the team! Why didn't you just refuse?"
She points an angry finger at Rion. "We could win even without you!"
"Makoto, that's enough," says Ryouga.
"Why is everyone so damn protective of Rion? Her face has no expression, and it gives you the creeps... It's like she's wearing a mask!"
"But," interrupts Rion. Her face is without any emotion. "Ever since I've joined...we've been winning. Also, the person who should decline this match isn't me."
"You don't have to tell me that, you little iron masked freak!"
I already know! Fujisaki's real terror is---
Team coach Midori Sakurazawa sits in the lounge and thinks to herself, This year isn't the problem. It's next year... The third years are going to leave the team and there's not a single prospect among the freshmen. But still, should I not have chosen Rion and broken protocol by promoting a first year? No! This time, I absolutely had to let Rion play....
Or once again switch a third year to let a first year play, she thinks coldly.
"Sakurazawa-sensei," calls out Hokuo's coach, Mochida-sensei.
"Mochida-sensei, it's you," she greets.
"Congratulations on making the final match. It is you guys, after all. But I just saw you take out a third year player, is that right? He was actually the player who beat out my student Kameda-kun very early on in the last match..."
She stares at him blankly.
"Sakurazawa-sensei is really something," comments another Fujisaki student in the audience. "You can't just remove a third year from the team so lightly."
"Yeah but Manata-sempai is really strong.... It's totally understandable that he feels that way."
Manata Suzuki is actually sobbing in a corner of the lounge alone, disappointed that he can't play his last team match.
Meanwhile, Manata's twin, Kanata Suzuki checks in on him.
"Manata... your leg injury isn't serious right? It's still not too late, so why don't you go talk it over with Sensei?"
"Kanata..." his brother says before breaking down into heavy sobs.
"I'm f-fine! I'm j-just thinking of all the hard work and effort I put into ..." He tears up and falls back into a little ball.
"Suzuki Manata is a marvellous competitor," Sakurazawa sensei remarks to Mochida. "For tomorrow's individual match, I've placed my hopes on him."
Mochida sensei then thinks to himself, This is how Hokuo lost. It's my fault. I don't have that sort of strength, or Sakurazawa-sensei's mentality for dealing with third year competitors, and putting all her team members to good use.... This is a champion's strength!
Meanwhile, Kana reaches out an injured hand up to the moon as she gazes out the window. Tearfully she recites tanka poetry.
Tsuki ya wa mono o
Kakochi gao naru
Waga namida kana
(TN: I can't translate Chinese at that level but it is about the moon on a lonely night, so my best guess is Poem 86, "Should I blame the moon For bringing forth this sadness, As if it pictured grief? Lifting up my troubled face, I regard it through my tears." Since Kana mentions the monk Saigyou, I think my guess is right, since he's the author of #86.)
"Oe-san?" asks Miyauchi sensei.
"This poem represents the feelings in my heart," laments Kana. "What sort of troubles did Master Saikgou have when he recited this?"
"I-I'm...glad you're feeling better," says Miyauchi-sensei. (TN: probably bewildered that Kana lives and breathes tanka poetry)
Kana takes a break from her recital to see her teammates.
"For this last match I fully believe in my notes, 100%," announces Desktomu. "Everyone gather round."
"Fujisaki's team consists of all power players, and it would kinda be like facing five Sudos from Hokuo's team."
"Wha-aa?" exclaim Meat-bun and Chihaya simultaneously.
"Why are you saying things that make people even more nervous??"
"There's no real difference in achievements among them but their characters are totally different, and their player roster has been ordered as 1. Emuro Ryoga, their wild card, 2. Ichimura Mitsuki, 3 & 4 twins Manata and Kanata Suzuki, 5. Makoto Yamai."
"What's this question mark?" asks Meat-bun referring to Desktomu's notes on Makoto Yamai.
"I'm not really sure what to make of that person," confesses Desktomu. "I can't tell if it's real strength or just coincidence."
Taichi takes a glance at Emuro Ryoga and thinks, He resembles Arata. I don't know if it's his build or the glasses on his face.... Prior to this, did I already forget what Arata looked like? Before I was clearly able to remember what he looked like. Is it because I've lost my energy...
...during this team competition?
(TN: I think Taichi is coming to the realization that he might not have the stamina to face Arata during the individual competition.)
"But, it's ultimately up to the members of the semi-finals," continues Desktomu-kun. "In the final match one of the twins is likely to be switched and one of the first or second years will step up into the formation."
"What? How do you know?" asks Meat-bun.
"I thought you just said all their players are A-ranked 3rd years?" asks Chihaya.
"Right, even so...I think they're going to add a female first year."
"How the heck do you know that?" demands Chihaya.
"Based on various aspects of my analysis. Also, I've watched 3 of their matches."
Rion Yamashiro is a formidable girl.
"One other thing," he continues.
This is all I can do for you guys.
I most likely have no ability to win my match... it won't be that easy.
Announcement: *Attention. All competitors, please return to the main hall. The competition is about to begin.*
The hall is filled with the teams from the semi-final match as well as the finals once again. The audience is all abuzz.
"Hey, Nakayama! It's going to be a mad rush if we finish watching this match and then catch the Shinkansen. Will we be all right? It'll be all right, yeah?"
What a tense atmosphere, thinks Manabu Nakayama.
(TN: For those of you who don't know, the Shinkansen is a speed train that runs long distances in Japan. If you ever get a chance to ride it, it's fun. I think I rode it ages ago to see Osaka castle during cherry blossom season. I don't think they run it to full speed though... >__<)
In the audience, Sumire checks on Kana who seems bowled over with tears in her eyes and asks, "Oe-senpai, are you alright? Did you really want to play that badly?"
"Of course I wanted to play!" answers Kana. "Or rather, if I knew that it would turn out like this I would have definitely played!"
This worked out well.. She gave such a straightforward answer, thinks the match organizer as he observes the orator who has just arranged the cards in front of her (TN: that old man who put Arata under house arrest, I forget his name). For a high school competition this is a very impressive gift.
The orator for the final match... is Yamashiro Kyoko. (TN: the Chinese version refers to her as "qi duan" which literally means 7 sections and I think it's a TW turn of phrase for excellence, or top level)
"For high school competitors this is too high an honor," Kana cries. "She's a superb orator!"
"Ha ha," laughs Sumire.
This world is too deep for me, thinks Sumire. I don't get any of this at all....
This is it, thinks Kana, tied up in her emotions. This is the final match, at Omi Jingu no less....
In the highest competitive arena,
With one of the best orators in the nation,
I really want to play....
In the background Manata Suzuki weeps loudly next to Sumire.
"I will now announce the finalists roster for both teams," says the organizer. "Fujisaki High School, Yamashiro Rion and Mizusawa High School, Ayase Chihaya."
Yamashiro? thinks Kana.
Someone in the audience murmurs, "From an A-ranked 3rd year perspective, Fujisaki's manpower seems lacking...."
"She's pitted against a sophomore no less."
The organizers both recognize Rion, finally.
I've seen her before.... So she's a student at Fujisaki?
Is that why she responded to quickly and agreed to do it? (TN: OMG how could you not know?? Isn't this cheating??)
Flashback to Rion and her captain: "You'll be first on the roster. If you lose, I won't even acknowledge you, Rion."
Flashback to Desktomu's pep talk: I don't know which girl is going to be added to the roster, and I have no notes on her. But Ayase, you...
You want to be Queen, don't you? (TN: meaning even if she's powerful, Chihaya needs to find a way to beat her to make it to the top)
"Fujisaki High School, Kanata Suzuki, and Mizusawa High School, Nishida Yusei."
As they're both staring at one another, they each think, "Sorry but, I'm going to eliminate you." (TN: OMG Meat bun please redeem yourself...)
"Fujisaki High School, Emuro Ryoga, and Mizusawa High School, Mashima Taichi."
The audience gets louder and someone from the Fujisaki camp marvels, "Whoa, it's a duel between wild cards. Expect no less from the finals!"
This is unexpected, thinks Desktomu, their tactician.
Flashback to Taichi: "Let me handle the wild card."
It ended up not being Ayase, and became Mashima's challenge instead....
I won't back down....
Even if my opponent was Arata in the team competition... bring it on. (TN: the literal translation in Chinese is "I'm not afraid," but Taichi was just so cool in prince mode, that I gave him another line. I do like him, and I usually fall for princes like him, but I'm still with the moody dark horse on this one, #teamChiharata).
"Fujisaki High School, Ichimura Mitsuki, and Mizusawa High School, Tsukuba Akihiro." Tsukuba-kun is shaking in his boots. His opponent wonders what's up with him.
Flashback to Desktomu: "For this match, as long as you can maintain that expression, you'll be fine."
This time I will break through everyone's low expectations of me, and I will become the hero!
"Fox-eye?" asks his opponent jokingly.
"What?! Did you just give me a nickname?!" Tsukuba asks suddenly. "How can a squinty eyed guy like you even qualify to give me a name like that?"
"Fujisaki High School, Yamai Makoto, and Mizusawa High School, Komano Tsutomu."
"Huh?" Makoto grunts as she sizes him up.
"So, Mr. Spy. You guys qualified? Impressive. But... don't even think you can win against us. Of course, even the champions couldn't hold their title against us."
"I would say the same to you, Yamai-san," says Desktomu calmly. "Don't feel bad when the wind from the force of my hand smacks you in the forehead." (TN: Desktomu, good job trash talking! She has a really large forehead...I bet she's self conscious about it.)
Makoto looks really pissed off.
"OMG, they're grandstanding! They already announced the roster?" ask the Hokuo members (TN: were they lost in their own little world until now...?)
"Everyone," announces Chihaya to her team. "Actually I'm really greedy."
"What? This we already knew," comments Desktomu.
"Compared to becoming Queen...compared to becoming the best female karuta player in all Japan, playing together with you all to become the best karuta team in Japan will be much harder than any of that." (TN: and that's a challenge she wants to face with them.)
They all gather round and put their hands in to rally.
Meanwhile, back in the detention room.... Shinobu checks on her uniform and decides to change....right there....in a room full of boys.... (TN: Really?)
The Fukui team members start to panick. "S-Stop! Don't just change right in front of us!! Can't you warn us first??" (TN: u might go blind >-<)
Suddenly, Hiro/Retro from Hokuo opens the door to their room.
"What? Who are you??" demands a member from the Fukui team as he peeks from behind his fingers.
"Who is that?"
"I don't recognize him."
"Retro!" Arata recognizes his shirt. Hokuo, is a high school in Tokyo. The champions of their division. So Retro continued to play karuta as well....
Flashback to Taichi's words: "Even if I lose in the first round at tomorrow's competition, today, I want to win every single round."
Hiro grips the sliding door. Mashima's an idiot. What good is it to go all out in the team competition... He above all others wanted to be A-rank!
And probably even more than me...
"Wataya-san," says Hiro. "You...Aren't you going to go...and support them?"
"Mashima and Chihaya have made it... to the final match to be Japan's best karuta team!"
Arata just stares as it sets in.