Back again, after an even longer hiatus! Sorry about that! Now I have even more catching up to do, so I’ll just cut through the bullshit excuses of why I haven’t been posting, and get right to it! This episode started off pretty bland, fairly casual conversations at the shogi hall with some added cartoon flare to make the scene seem not as boring as it really was. Rei and Nikaidou have a back and forth—well, really more of a one-sided shouting contest where Nikaidou is the only one participating—and basically explain the tournament they’re in: How many contestants, what it’ll take for them to meet in the finals, and so on. During the conversation, the show cuts to cartoony breaks in reality, as if to try and add a bit of empty visual humor to make up for the fact that this is mostly straight exposition.
Quite frankly, this first part of the episode was quite dull, though most things that happen in a shogi hall are—whether in anime or real life. The setting itself seems to exist as middle ground between Rei’s house and Rei’s home. [Side note: See what I did there, differentiating Rei’s house from the Kawamoto’s? Because it’s like that old saying, “a house is not a home”? Look, this makes it way easier to refer to the Kawamoto’s house, as I keep having to look up their family name because it is never brought up in the show, and even if it was, I’d probably still be terrible at remembering it.] It’s a middle ground in a few ways: A place with little human interaction is between a place with none and a place with meaningful interaction. A background filled with bland, vanilla walls and shogi boards is between a cold blue, empty apartment and warm colored home full of happiness and enthusiasm. And of course, it can also be seen as a middle ground between Rei and his fathers (both of them, I guess).
I guess it makes sense if I believe that this is how the shogi hall is supposed to function, but I think I’d rather have a better-looking place for all this hot shogi action to go down. Instead, it’s just an utterly humdrum building that’s about as exciting as the old people that frequent it. And that isn’t to say old people can’t be exciting, nor that they all should be. I’m just bored, damn it! There’s gotta something interesting that you can capture from this kind of setting, something to bring out whatever it is that makes the game so enthralling to these people playing it. The shogi hall, as it stands, is just plain ugly, an it’s made especially obvious for me because I’m always looking for pretty screencaps, none of which ever appear in the shogi hall.
Finally, we move on to Rei’s home (not to be confused with Rei’s house), and Rei’s not there. The girls and the grandfather are brainstorming product ideas, and are having far more entertaining time than anything else that had been shown previously in the episode. Here we get lots of cuts, quality animation portraying cute reactions of the girls. Flowery, jump for joy kinda stuff. At this point, the girls are more interesting than Rei. Hina has a moment later on where she’s caught by her older sister, sitting outside, seemingly with something on her mind. Hina says she’s fine and bottles it up, as any good teenager does, and we move on knowing that there’s sure to be some kind of drama later.
Back to Rei, now with a ladybug bush. Here’s where the episode gets really engaging. Rei’s in a park, and a peculiar bush reminds him of his childhood. Okay, maybe not the best emotional trigger ever written, but it gets the job done. We get flashbacks and unbeknownst information about Rei’s childhood, and what led him to become the calculating shogi machine we see today. We begin to understand Rei more as he divulges the coping mechanisms he used when he was bullied and isolated as a child. Though it seems to be perceived as his own failures as a human being rather than everyone else’s. Rei can only find blame in himself, and that burden only led him to dive fully into the world of shogi, an obsession to take the place of everything else in his miserable life. We can also begin to better understand what happened with Rei’s foster family, and the unfair reasons they resented him.
Post credits, we’re left with the image of Hina in tears, back from school and missing one shoe. Obviously, this leads us to believe she’s being bullied, so all that’s left is to wonder how Rei’s going to respond to all this. Is he going to help her? Or is this going to help him understand his own upbringing and the bullying he faced, and through comparison figure out that his coping mechanism might’ve not been the best answer? Who knows? Probably you, because I’m waaaaay behind.
Again, sorry I haven’t posted in the last month. Posts should be more frequent now, as I catch up on all these episode reviews. Of course, we have a New Year coming up, so I intend to keep my annual blogging tradition going. Until then, thanks for reading.
Oh, and I hope your holidays went well. Bye!