「想い (承前) / 告白」 (Omoi (Shouzen) / Kokuhaku)
“Chapter 54 Feelings (Continued) / Chapter 55 Confession”
Strength of Conviction
Defeat used to sink Rei into a spiral of depression, making him mull about wondering why he even continues pursuing shogi, when it is something he holds little love towards. Now, losses rouse a stubborn fighting spirit of the likes we have never seen. Anger, passion, and determination. Kiriyama puts up a wide emotional spectrum, and it warms me to think about how this presents such a stark contrast, compared to when the series first began. With deep bonds forged from chance encounters, he finds a reason to fight his way through life, as opposed to despondently taking things as they come.
The patience and care exhibited by the Kawamoto sisters deserves much credit for facilitating this change. It is not surprise that they are the source of Rei’s newfound conviction. Previously, consider how Rei couldn’t even help himself. He regularly brushed off a concerned Hayashida-sensei, insisting that he was completely fine despite continuing to bottle his issues. However, when it concerns Hina, everything changes – Rei proactively seeks out assistance. Frankly, we’ve always had glimpses of Hayashida’s wisdom, but I feel it was particularly prominent within this episode. He gives level-headed advice, that does not advocate passively putting up or aggressively retaliating. Instead, Hayashida creates some insight as to what Hina might truly be feeling. If the methodology of a successful resolution is contrary to the victim’s wishes, it could end up causing more damage in the long-term. In the aftermath, there are usually undesired consequences that have to be dealt with.
On the other hand, Rei is already thinking ahead about how to solve the problem in his own awkward way. Wouldn’t you find it weird, if some random associate started covering your cost of living, private tuition, litigation expenses, etc? But you honestly cannot fault his intentions. He aims to stand true by his word – that he would do anything to protect Hina. To that end, Rei seems to have the impression that he needs to win all his games, so he can stockpile money for any potential eventuality. Much to my amusement, Nikaidou gets it totally wrong. Sorry buddy, your springtime of youth hasn’t quite arrived. That said, who wouldn’t get excited over seeing their friend make such a remarkable turnaround? While Rei is merely a fictitious character, that I don’t even know on a personal level, I’m still inclined to feel really happy for him.
In the past, on Takaii’s posts for the first season, I drew a comparison between Kyouko and Akari. Though people might consider me to be a committed apologist of Kyouko, I used it to highlight why her actions are ultimately unjustified. After all, Akari had a rough life, and was still able to rise above her own circumstance. So why can’t Kyouko? Then again, not all people are made equal. Trying to assess human morality through an objective criteria kind of misses the point, hence these kind of presumptions should be excluded.
Then we turn to analogies. If Kyouko Kouda is a broken wine glass that can’t stop leaking, then Akari Kawamoto is also a broken item of sorts. Only her cracks are poorly taped up, because she needed to stay strong for her younger sisters, immediately after the tragic death of their mother. The weight of a sudden and unexpected parenthood is no light ordeal. Not saying that there’s no joy in looking after Momo, but since she upheld a motherhood by proxy from an early stage, Akari wasn’t even able to properly enjoy her youth. We often think about her as a source of comfort, that can be relied upon in dark times. However, for someone carrying such heavy burdens at an untimely interval, there are understandably difficult feelings waiting to rear their head at the first opportunity. It seems obvious in hindsight, and that’s precisely what happens when she was faced with the unprecedented problem of bullying. Though Hina remains in a delicate position, her situation is much more bearable, with the love and support she continually receives. I’m just so glad that she was able to put on such a cheerful smile, following the events of last episode, since my heart could not have handled another consecutive episode of crying. Unfortunately, her problems are far from over, and we’ve got a long way to go before they even come close to being resolved.
Let me recount a personal experience. My parents called me pathetic and weak when they found out I was being picked on, and it got to the point where I just quietly allowed myself to get bullied, for fear of getting scolded. What I’m trying to say is that while Akari could have done better, her handling of the situation is still acceptable in my eyes. We naturally want the best for our loved ones, so I don’t blame her for wanting Hina to run away, even if it meant Chiho would have been worse off. Of course, that doesn’t mean Hina’s choice should have been directly questioned, but it was done so out of concern rather than intending to maliciously isolate. Furthermore, gramps was there to help cover any shortcomings, so both sisters will learn. But I’m really touched that Akari earnestly ponders over how she could have done better. I’m sure Akari must have been relieved, when Rei gave validation, allowing her to shed tears that were long overdue. And I just wanted to say, there’s absolutely no shame at all, because trying to support two younger sisters starting from the age of 19 is nothing short of incredible.