「混沌 / 隈倉」 (Konton/Kumakura)
“Chapter 48 Chaos / Chapter 49 Kumakura”

Gotou Returns

Rei has difficulties distinguishing the contradiction of good and evil within Gotou. He is the man who would stand up for Shimada, yet he’s also the man who would hurt Kyouko, and have an affair while his wife remains in a comatose state. We previously saw how Gotou never displayed remorse for brutally beating up Rei, and didn’t even bother looking for any kind of reconciliation. Now, these sequences of seemingly inexplicable tendencies are no longer a mystery. This episode did a wonderful job of clarifying Gotou’s character, by contextualising the rationale behind his actions.

At the end of the day, Gotou is simply a human who carries his own burdens, ploughing through many obstacles with a stubborn conviction. Nevertheless, life doesn’t stop throwing him curveballs, and I wonder if the way in which he attracts problems actually relates to his strength of personality. We can see he does love his wife, sharing a tender moment in the hospital, and he actively puts off Kyouko’s advances despite succumbing more often than not. Realising the difficulty of his situation makes me feel sympathy towards him. So although Gotou remains a character who rubs me the wrong way, I concede that his intensity bring much needed energy to the series, and makes him somewhat compelling. Basically, his appearances typically force out pressing issues, which I personally consider a good thing.

Righteous Rei

Conversely, it can be argued that Rei’s actions are not as pure as they might seem. I find it very difficult to describe his bond with Kyouko as merely siblings. It’s so messed up, especially considering she sexually assaulted him when they were still kids, and that adds a weird dynamic to their relationship. Putting that aside, what matters is how he’s so protective of her in spite of everything I just said, since it’s relevant. Rei clearly thinks Gotou is out to hurt Kyouko, and I can see why such an assumption was made. After all, Gotou is already a married man, who has casual flings with a much younger girl. However, nothing rules out the possibility that Kyouko came onto Gotou. Rei’s assumptions are formed too quickly, and one-dimensional in nature. Gotou has shown indications of gently letting off Kyouko, yet she persistently makes moves onto him. Having seen Gotou honestly try, there wasn’t much more he could have done to dissuade Kyouko, at least from my perspective. Hence Rei makes a judgement of Gotou’s character that is actually inaccurate, so I can see why Gotou became extremely aggravated, even if it does not justify his violent altercation.

Most importantly, in spite of what Rei thinks is right, Kyouko never asked him to save her. Though she’s young, Kyouko is an adult who should be allowed to make her own choices. If she continues associating with Gotou, despite his frequent attempts to put her off, then it’s pretty clear everything comes of her own volition. Should Rei consciously decide between right and wrong, if he’s imposing his personal beliefs in a way that deprives Kyouko of her autonomy? I’ll let you be the judge, but my gut instinct is ‘No’. When someone can’t help feeling attracted, you’ll probably do more damage than good by interfering for their sake, even with the best of intentions.

Concluding Thoughts

Covering for 3-Gatsu marks a departure from my usual style, where I seek to cover all the bases. It’s my honest belief that everything is driven through Umino Chica’s myriad of wonderful characters. As a result, I’ll probably examine episodes by analysing individual characters as well as their various interactions, which means I didn’t really look into Souya or Kumakura. As far as I can tell, Kumakura is a failed challenger with a severe case of anger management issues, whereas Souya is the summit that Rei must eventually conquer. At the moment, they are relatively inconsequential if we talk about the grand scheme of things, so I’ll ignore them for now. Presently, Rei’s shogi rank is too far below theirs. Anyway, as the old man said, humans are the embodiment of chaos. Therefore, Kyouko Kouda is one of my favourite anime characters in recent years, because of her intricately frenetic construction. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to talk about her this episode. If you want to know about my thoughts, and find out why I’m so intrigued by such a twisted personality, feel free to read here.

End Card


    1. I’ve read only one of her works, which was called ‘And’. I’d say it was pretty good. Sadly, translations were stopped, despite a lack of licensing. I can only assume a loss of interest on the translating team’s behalf. Can hardly blame them, since the work that goes into that sort of stuff is thankless and takes so much time.

  1. The full circumstances of the fight are finally revealed and indeed it’s not all Gotou’s fault. Most of the blame falls on Kyouko even though she wasn’t directly involved. As you say everything is so complicated in this show and multifaceted, but normal people don’t act like this. I’m sure she knows what she’s doing to Rei and it really is unforgivable.

    1. Taken from the link I from my own post pre-RC days, because I honestly believe that reading it gives an important insight regarding my view on Kyouko. You cannot compare her to a normal case, precisely because she is so damaged by her upbringing.

      Judging from your response, I suppose that you are somewhat justified in feeling angry towards Kyouko, for seemingly trying to sabotage Rei at every turn. However, I feel that Kyouko’s character is a lot more complex and intriguing than you give her credit for. So I will attempt to advocate on her behalf, and hope you are able to feel more sympathy for her character, in addition to the way that she turned out.

      Kyouko wants Rei’s attention because he is the ideal child – someone who is successful at Shogi and loved by their father. At the same time, she hates him for being more successful at Shogi than she could ever be, usurping her rightful place to be loved by her father. She puts him down to feel powerful over someone who she feels has stolen her place, and wants him to pay attention to her so she won’t feel inferior, or like she has been left behind.

      Put yourself in Kyouko’s position. After trying to gain your own father’s recognition for many years, only to have a complete outsider come in and gain all the attention and love you had been working hard to gain for your entire life, wouldn’t you start to feel invalidated? To her, hard work didn’t mean anything when faced with talent. Since she was just a child, it would be unfair for us to blame Kyouko for being crushed by this discovery, or expect her to really consider that Rei has led a much harder life than she has. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that we can still perceive Kyouko as a child rather than a grown woman, where 3-gatsu is presently set.

      Examining the situation, is it fair to blame children for being unable to adequately control or express their emotions? I would feel inclined to say that the responsibility certainly lies with Rei’s adoptive father, Kouda. Had he not placed such a huge merit on shogi towards his family, perhaps a mutual love, and harmony could have developed between the siblings and Rei. Instead, their father reinforced their understanding that parental love is tied to success, and that success is found in Shogi.

      Suddenly Kyouko’s behaviour makes sense: who else can she blame other than Rei besides herself? Sure, she might hold some anger towards her father, but ultimately from her perspective Rei is the one causing all the problems in her household. At such a young age, one would be more inclined to blame the person who isn’t even a true part of their family, for their own shortcomings. It still doesn’t excuse her behaviour, but knowing she doesn’t emotionally abuse Rei for the sake of it adds depth to her character.

      The ambiguity of the situation, and the raw human experience, undistilled of its darkness, is the beauty of 3-gatsu and Umino Chika’s writing. She presented us with characters flawed by virtue of their human nature, and upon closer inspection, it is a lot more difficult to outright call them truly evil. In this context, I would argue that the circumstances are a morally grey collective responsibility, as opposed to being the fault of an individual. Not to mention, it allows us to contrast Kyoto with the Kawamoto sisters, who we can then further appreciate for their positive influence upon Rei’s life.

      If you want truly despicable scum, I suggest you direct your anger at Rei’s paternal grandfather, aunt, and relatives, who do not show an ounce of respect to the dead, or compassion for Rei’s tragic loss. They only care about what inheritance they can attain out of pure greed and avarice.

  2. the guy is cheating his comatose wife and was violent towards rei, there’s no sympathy for him
    Kyouko is also a very twisted character. I think there are two possibilites for her affair with Gotou: to spite their father or to be as far away from Rei as possible, denying possible feelings, since they are so different.

    1. Also, you’re going a bit harsh on Gotou. Yes, he’s quite a terrible person. However, I would like people to recognise he’s been put into a difficult position. How would all of us do, if faced with a situation where our beloved is comatose, and a young and pretty person is throwing themselves onto you at every turn? It’s not an easy question to answer. I’d like to think I could hold on, but that’s what everyone would say, simply because we’d all take such a situation for granted until faced by it.

    2. On Kyouko’s motive, I think the fallacy many people fall into is that they dismiss her as being a terrible human, without considering her circumstance. Here is something I wrote from my pre-RC days, which sums up my view on this particular matter.

      Kyouko possesses particularly complicated feelings towards Shogi, hating it for controlling her life. But frantically seeks out an attachment to it, so that she can feel like she has a place to exist. The way 3-gatsu portrays Kyouko’s obsession is absolutely amazing. Her dependence on Rei and Gotou is a symptom of the aforementioned desire in wanting to belong, and helps to rationally contextualise her erratic interactions whilst expressing a silent cry for help.

      Clinging to a twisted person like Gotou because of her abject desperation for affectionate companionship epitomises Kyouko’s tragedy. Before, it was Rei that she clung to so that she could compensate for the lack of attention from her parents, even though he was indirectly the source for most of her problems. She simply didn’t have anyone else. With Rei’s departure, the wounds and misgivings of the Kouda household might have slowly started to heal, only Kyouko also came to realize that Rei was the person she depended on for emotional support, hence why she sought him out in Episode 8.

      Kyouko is self-pitying and needy, desperately wanting to be loved in order to validate her existence. Such an existence, defined by an unfathomable emptiness ensuing from unreciprocated love, be it familial or romantic, is something I find to be extremely pitiful and heart-breaking. Especially so, when considering how little control she truly had over the consequences derived from events that directly shaped her character. In short, I find it difficult to personally blame Kyouko for turning out the way she did. As sadistic as it sounds, she is such a wonderful character to follow, owing to the complexity of her struggles and suffering and how they broke her as a human being.

  3. I’m as confused as Rei was when I watched this, is Gotou a good guy? Bad guy? And well, it’s never that simple. The lighthearted animation during Kyouko and Gotou’s interaction contrast the bitter reality that Gotou is (though half-heartedly) having an affair with her. Gotou being Gotou just kept all the problem to himself and act like usual, making Rei sink deeper into his misunderstanding.

    Looking at the episodes I start to doubt if we ever get to see Rei faceoff with Souya, that feels so far away. Now I’m more interested to see how this messy relationship between Rei – Kyouko – Gotou end.

    1. Glad to see we had similar struggles, in concluding whether Gotou was good or bad. It is never that simple, and I love how 3-Gatsu engages this topic, by straddling a grey zone time and time again.

      So, about the messy relationship between Rei-Kyouko-Gotou and whether it will resurface in S2…

      Show Spoiler ▼

  4. Oh, so I’m not the only one that thinks Gotou should not bear all the fault here.

    I mean, it looks pretty clear that KYouko was the one that started everything, since Gotou is trying to keep her away, even though he’s actually finding comfort in her presence so… I’d say it’s a 50/50 fault here, at least.

    1. This quandary actually came up in Sagrada Reset. If the person you loved had their consciousness transferred into a rock that could not communicate in any way, would you still be able to love them?

      In a similar vein, that’s what you get with a comatose patient. Relationships are based upon mutual interactions, and being emotionally dependent to some extent. Gotou is a ‘strong’ person, but even those types would struggle to bear such a difficult and lonely burden. Still doesn’t excuse the affair, but I’m giving him more leeway.

  5. Don’t forget that Rei is still immature in a sense. I suppose the hasty assumption about Gotou is easy for Rei to come to, and Gotou never really did much in front of Rei to dissuade him from his assumption. Maybe Rei just feels he had to do something, never giving any thought as to whether it was right or wrong.

    1. Exactamundo! Rei is still just a kid, who has recently come out of his shell. About Gotou never doing much to dissuade him from assumptions, he is a 40 year old with pride. Why is he going to apologetically explain the situation to some punk ass kid interfering with his private life?

      Again, relevant segment taken from what I wrote pre-RC:

      From what we learned about Kyouko last season, her emotional fragility helps explain why Rei is so protective of her, to the point he will put up with her negativity and abuse. Despite his trepidation resulting from past incidents between them, he deeply cares for her. He’s hurt by her words and actions, but still wants to protect her. It’s likely because he blames himself for her current state, that he is willing to endure for her sake, despite how she treats him.

  6. Interesting and very good analysis of Kyouko, Zaiden. Really liked some of your responses regarding her. It’s easy to call her names, and of course it seems like she’s only there to play the villain. But she puts herself in the position of the actual victim.
    It’s only natural for her to view the things she did to Rei in the past as “not so bad” – more like something he deserved (which obviously he did not).

    I think another one of Kyouko flaws is her tendency to overthink things. To emotionally overthink a situation. She’s kinda pessimistic too. Especially as a female character in contrast to the Kawamoto sisters she basically portays everything they don’t and want to see or bother with. It’s not the exact opposite since both sides are somehow connected to Rei and the world of Shogi.

    The affair with Gotou however seems genuine. Gotou beating up Rei was probably one of the very rare times someone put her first and not the other way around where only Rei get’s all the attention/praise. I don’t like how that sounds though, but that’s probably the truth.

    She decided for herself that it should be Gotou and I think that says a lot about herself. If she never found him interesting he probably wouldn’t even consider anyone else by his side, but this is Kyouko we’re talking about, in the past, in a few S1 flashbacks episodes we know that she’s very capable to force herself on others it’s like a spell she cast where nobody is able to reject her, depending on the situation. She’s so good at it and I think that’s what makes her so unpleasant to watch. She did the same to Rei when she just visit’s him out of the blue or meets him at the bridge and said mean things to him.

    Well, still can`t find anything that would be that bad about Gotou’s behavior, even if he’s married, and using Kyouko who is willingly staying by his side he sure got a point that Rei is in no position to judge, in my opinion it would have been better if Rei could just separate Shogi and the thing with Gotou and Kyouko.

    The only most complicated female character besides Kyouko which gave me such a headache trying to understand her character I think was Benten (from Uchouten Kazoku). These types of woman are very interesting if you only give them a chance.
    I don’t really know what else to add here besides that I missed the fluffy sisters this episode but got at least funny scenes of my favourite rivalry in the show.

    1. Writers always feel extremely happy, when they have a reader who engages with their content! Thank you very much, Kana-chan!

      Of course, Kyouko’s behaviour is inexcusable. But as you point out, there’s a psychology behind why she acts in such a way. From my point of view, she isn’t doing terrible things for the sake of doing them. When Gotou is ignoring her text messages, that isn’t Gotou casually having an affair then discarding her once he’s had enough. It’s what he’s tried to do from the start, which is to rid himself of her meddling. For those who have read Arthur Miller’s play, ‘The Crucible’, I personally identify some parallels between Gotou and John Proctor. They are both headstrong men, who slipped up in a moment of vulnerability. I’m just waiting to see if Gotou will try and atone for his sins, assuming he cheated.

      Kyouko’s got some stray feline characteristics, wandering where she pleases, and requesting everyone to feed and shelter her. As such, I agree with the point you made, about how she’s so good at getting her way. She seems attracted to Gotou’s manly intensity, and I would suspect some daddy issues come into play here, for lack of a better description.

      While I agree that Rei needs to separate Shogi and real life relationships, I’m actually not sure about Gotou now. What if he’s never had an affair with Kyouko? What if he has actually been resisting her for all this time? There is nothing to indicate that the two consummated in any way, merely Kyouko moping around about her unrequited feelings, while Gotou tries to brush her off. That said, it does seem strange that he walked off linking her arm, after beating up Rei. So the implication there would be that an affair probably did take place, even if it isn’t directly confirmed.

      I like Benten, but that girl has a surreal quality that makes her feel ethereal. Kyouko is thoroughly human, so I’m having a lot of fun here.

  7. Wow. I think you’ve gone off the rails. A prominent theme in this story is the value of family. It would surprise me greatly if it justifies adultery.

    However, nothing rules out the possibility that Kyouko came onto Gotou.

    In which case he’s blameless? I thought “she came on to me” was no longer an acceptable excuse for a man’s cheating (not that it ever was a good one), so I can’t accept this assertion. (I’m not saying Kyouko isn’t also at fault; both parties are reprehensible.)

    Gotou has shown indications of gently letting off Kyouko… Having seen Gotou honestly try, there wasn’t much more he could have done to dissuade Kyouko

    Gotou is too strong-willed a character to suppose he would do something as weak-willed as give in to a woman’s unwelcome advances. More than that, in this episode Gotou has Kyouko do his shopping, promises to see her later, and casually GETS IN BED WITH HER. If he’s doing all this against his will, Kyouko must be a witch.

    Beside that, when did we see indications that Gotou initially tried to gently dissuade Kyouko? In ep12 when he taunted Rei about her, describing her as a stalker and a pain? In ep15 when he referred to her as a stalker to her face (and then walked off with her on his arm)? In ep17 when he left her at the curb after losing to Shimada? Up until this episode, Gotou’s treatment of Kyouko has been more contemptuous than gentle; building on Smith’s reference to Gotou’s “yakuza aura”, he’s treated her like a moll. The only gentle dissuasion we see is in this episode, too late to fit the scenerio you propose.

    Hence Rei makes a judgement of Gotou’s character that is actually inaccurate, so I can see why Gotou became extremely aggravated, even if it does not justify his violent altercation.

    First, you need to watch the scene on the bridge again. Gotou hits Rei twice. The first blow knocks off Rei’s glasses (and splatters a fair amount of blood). Then Rei makes his accusation (note he isn’t wearing his glasses), and Gotou hits him again. So you need to come up with some other flimsy excuse for Gotou’s behavior.

    Regarding the accuracy of Rei’s judgement, I addressed above the spurious notion that Gotou isn’t responsible for his relationship with Kyouko. As for the implication that Rei’s feelings toward Kyouko disqualify his judgement of Gotou, that’s whataboutism. Yes, there are clear hints that Rei is attracted to Kyouko, particularly in ep8 (the lightning that captivated his heart, and the light that shone through Kyouko’s hair), but there is also the implication that Rei understands the negative side of that attraction (“that light eventually brought on a pounding rain”). Consider the difference between what Gotou and Rei do when Kyouko invades their apartments: Gotou gets in bed with her, while Rei sleeps on the floor. And consider that Rei moved away from home when he came to believe his presence was harmful to Kyouko; however misguided that was, it demonstrates a selflessness that belies the idea that he would confront Gotou merely because he wants Kyouko for himself.

    Should Rei consciously decide between right and wrong, if he’s imposing his personal beliefs in a way that deprives Kyouko of her autonomy?

    There are reasons why should avoid Kyouko, the primary one being to protect himself from someone who has and continues to abuse him, but the idea that Rei should not interfere with Kyouko’s relationship with Gotou out of respect for her autonomy is fanatical. Kyouko is a damaged person doing something likely to damage her further. Some degree of interference is justifiable.

    Rei has difficulties distinguishing the contradiction of good and evil within Gotou…

    There are phrases in this paragraph I can’t scan (“Distinguishing the contradiction?” “Contextualising the rationale?”), but the implication I draw is that the scene justifies Gotou behavior. It does not. The scene leads Rei to ask himself just one question, and it isn’t whether Gotou’s relationship with Kyouko is OK (he still thinks Gotou is “the person who makes my older sister suffer”), but instead how he should react to that: “Should I hate him?” On the bridge, Gotou challenges just one word of Rei’s accusation, “trash”, which he extrapolates as “unforgivable”. The message I draw is that Rei doesn’t get to decide Gotou is unforgivable. He isn’t justified in hating him. A practical application would be that Rei shouldn’t allow what Gotou is doing lead him to harm himself, for example, by taking another shogi opponent too lightly.

    1. All I can say is that you’ve taken my words out of context a lot, to the point of constructing a non-existent straw man to repeatedly tear down. But that’s fine. You should do whatever satisfies you, and I’m not one to judge that.

      However, I advise you go back and carefully read what I’ve written, because among other things, I never said Gotou was totally blameless. Just he cannot be totally blamed. In fact, I’ve been predominantly advocating that the situation is not black and white, so I don’t know where you got that impression from.

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