Goldfish Warning! 48 Annex
Karuta

January 7, 2020 — GfW48 

WARNING! Possible spoilers.

This is a quickly-written note to explain some obscure elements of GfW48.
We may copyedit the page later.
  1. Karuta and waka explained
  2. Dr. Slump references
  3. Kyojin no Hoshi references

Karuta and waka explained

The game of karuta

Chitose and Aoi play a game called karuta (more specifically, uta-garuta) in Goldfish Warning! Episode 48, starting from 9:17. Karuta is a card game, in which a short poem (or proverb, etc.) is read aloud by a fixed “reader” player, and the other player(s) try to find and take, as quickly as possible, the matching card where only the second half of the poem is written.

[JPEG Image]
A = the reader, who reads aloud a yomifuda (a card on which a poem is written)
B = torifuda cards: every time a specific yomifuda is read, non-reader player(s) try to find the matching card here
C = a non-reader player

Examples. Suppose you are playing this game. Let’s assume, for the sake of explanation, poems used in the game are written in English. If the reader says, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…”, then you’ll have to find a card that says “How I wonder what you are!” and try to take it. If the reader says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…”, then the card to look for should be the one that says “By any other name would smell as sweet.” If there are two or more non-reader players, the game is competitive: who is the fastest and takes that card? You have to think quick and act quick. Taking the wrong card is a foul! The one who takes more cards than the other player(s) will be the winner (See also: Competitive karuta). In order to win, you’ll have to be knowledgeable, familiar with classical poems. Hence this conversation (what Aoi says doesn’t make much sense, but he is correct in that playing karta helps you sharpen your intellect, just like playing chess):

Chitose
Um, are you sure this [i.e. playing karuta] will help me become less muscular?
Aoi
Well, well, so you don’t get it, do you? In order to become less muscular, you’d best sharpen your intellect.

Karuta cards shown in this episode

We didn’t translate the texts on the cards because: (1) if we did, there would be too many things to explain as on-screen notes, and (2) none of them are related to the main story of the episode anyway. Here on this page, I’d like to explain these cards. For the sake of convenience, the image below is placed upside down. First I’ll just show you what each card says. The details will be explained later.

[JPEG Image]
#1 = […]i (い)
#2 = Naku ya yamiyo no Ottosei (鳴くや闇夜の / オットセイ: 7+5 syllables*) “The fur seal sings in a pitch-black night”
#3 = Fuji no takane ni Moyuru omoi o (ふじのたかねに / もゆるおもいを: 7+7 syllables) “About its burning crush on the high peak of Mount Fuji”
#4 = Kokeru Ushi kana (こける / ウシかな: 5 syllables) “Ah, the ox that trips”
#5 = [Saigyō] Sanka (?) ([西行]山歌: 7 syllables*) “[Saigyo’s] Mountain Home” (?)
#6 = text n/a
#7 = Chiruchiru Michiru (ちるちる / みち[る]: 7 syllables) “Tyltyl, Mytyl”
#8 = Uma koyuru Aki (馬こゆる / 秋: 7 syllables) “Horses become fat in autumn”
#9 = Tobiyuku Kingyo (とびゆく / きんぎょ: 7 syllables) “A goldfish that is flying away”
#10 = Aoi tori (青い鳥: 5 syllables) “The Blue Bird”
[*A metrical unit is one short syllable (called mora in Latin), and a long syllable is counted as two. To avoid unnecessary complication, we just call this unit “syllable.” A building block of a Japanese metrical poem has either 5 or 7 syllables.]

The first poem Aoi reads

The text on card #8, Uma koyuru aki is the second half of an authentic proverb:

Ten takaku,
Uma koyuru aki
“The sky being high,
Horses become fat in autumn.”

Aoi does say Ten takaku… (translation: “The sky being high…”) and Chitose takes #8 Uma koyuru aki, the correct card. This proverb (based on an old Chinese poem) means that autumn is splendid, when the sky is so clear and horses are well-fed and strong as it is a fruitful season.

[JPEG Image]

The second poem Aoi reads

#2 and #3 are a reference to the eccentric waka that appears in the original (manga) version of Goldfish Warning! by Nekobe Neko, and also in Episode 16 of the anime version. Waka is a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature. Usually a waka poem has only 31 syllables*, the first half having 5+7+5 syllables, the second half having 7+7 syllables. In Chapter 6 of Goldfish Warning! (manga), titled Chitose-chan, the Dreaming Girl? (Part I), Chitose finds a certain waka in a book called An Anthology of Classical Songs:

[scan] (click to enlarge)
Panel 1 = Text: “Shinoburedo / Nakuya yamiyo no / Ottosei” etc. See below.
Panel 2 = Chitose: “Wow, / fantastic…… / Must be a love song.”
Panel 3 = Text: “Translation [to modern Japanese]: The fur seal in a pitch-black night, which is singing while not wanting anyone to notice, has a burning crush, for whatever reason, on Mt. Fuji.”
Piiko: “?” [confused]
Chitose: “I too would love to be in love in such a fatastic way……”

The same waka also appears in anime Episode 16 (which is based on Chitose-chan, the Dreaming Girl? of the manga version):

[JPEG Image]
A = Mount Fuji
B = the fur seal in love
[Some words are spelled differently on the karuta cards in Episode 48, but they are pronounced identically.]

This “fur seal” waka is almost nonsensical, though melodious and strangely memorable:

Shinoburedo
Naku ya yamiyo no
Ottosei

Fuji no takane ni
Moyuru omoi o……
“Although hiding its
affection, the fur seal sings
in a pitch-black night;

About its burning crush on
the high peak of Mount Fuji…”

In Episode 48, Aoi reads the first half of this, and Chitose seems to take the right card (#3), where the second half of the above is written. The first half minus Shinoburedo is written on #2.

In manga the intended meaning of this waka is explained (see the above scan): “The fur seal in a pitch-black night, which is singing while not wanting anyone to notice, has a burning crush, for whatever reason, on Mt. Fuji.” Nonsense? Yes. That is the joke. Chitose reads this and thinks it’s beautiful, even though obviously it’s ridiculous. This scene shows you what kind of person Chitose is: innocent, very sensitive, loving beautiful things, but naive, gullible, and a bit stupid. She is a dreamer detached from reality. In early chapters, she is having a hard time adjusting herself to her new life in the rural area.

This waka is a word salad. Every phrase, except maybe ottosei (“fur seal”), could be a valid part of a real classic waka, though they are mixed randomly. Among other things, (1) Shinoburedo (“Although I tried to hide it”) is the first phrase of a famous waka by Taira no Kanemori [*]. (2) Fuji no takane ni (“on Mount Fuji’s lofty peak”) is from the second half of Akahito’s waka (see also here). Both are in Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

[*] The original Shinoburedo poem is sung in Yōkoso Yōko Ep. 14.
A line based on it also appears in Yōkoso Yōko Ep. 13.
Maybe we will explain them if and when we sub those episodes.

The other cards

#7 says Chiruchiru Mic[hiru], that is “Tyltyl, Mytyl” from The Blue Bird (L’Oiseau bleu). #10 says Aoi tori, that is “The Blue Bird” in Japanese.

#9 says Tobiyuku kingyo (“A goldfish that is flying away”), while #4 says Kokeru ushi kana (“Ah, the ox that trips”).

#1 text is unknown: only one hiragana i is visible. #5 is also a mystery. The last kanji is “home” (家), preceded by either “exit” (出) or “mountain” (山), but what is this word or phrase? It may be 出家 shukke (“leaving home to become a Buddhist monk”). It may be 山家 sanka (“mountain home”), which is the name of a waka collection edited by Saigyō. Since the same two letters for “mountain home” can be also read as yamaie, the answer is anyone’s guess.

A boxed set of karuta cards (a real-life example):
[JPEG Image]

Two of the Yōkoso Yōko karuta cards:
[JPEG Image] [JPEG Image]

Karuta is a popular game. It can be a competitive sport. For children, it can be a fun way to learn hiragana (one of the Japanese “alphabets” with about 50 letters).

Dr. Slump references

It seems that a few scenes of the first half are based on Dr. Slump. In one scene, Wapiko (or her seiyū Kanai Mika) even says “Kiiin!” while running fast (9:08). That is exactly what Arale from Dr. Slump says while runing. “Kiiin” is originally an onomatopeia for a high-pitched, metalic noise, as in when an airplane flies fast.

[JPEG Image]

Kyojin no Hoshi references

While Kyojin no Hoshi is a serious baseball manga/anime, some of its elements are often parodied in other manga/anime. GfW48 4:42 is based on Kyojin no Hoshi (anime) Episode 12.

[JPEG Image]
(click to enlarge)

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