「王国 ① / 王国 ②」 (Oukoku ① / Oukoku ②)
“Kingdom ① / Kingdom ②”
Rookie Tournament Finals
While I feel tempted to credit victory to the katsudon prepared by Akari, that would be disingenuous towards the boy known as Rei Kiriyama. From underestimating Shimada, to prevailing in the Rookie Tournament, our boy has certainly come a long way.
I do not profess to be an expert on shogi, but I found a really interesting explanation of what happened during the game. It indicated there was actually really symbolic meaning behind some of the moves, that I think merits some observations.
Early on, Rei is blinded by anger and goes on the offensive against Yamazaki. However, Rei’s recollection of Nikaidou’s emphatic words prevent him from making a fatal mistake, reminding him to properly defend his king. Initially, he intended to place an important piece in the enemy backline – a move that Yamazaki himself later makes. As we later go on to see, such a mistake would have cost Kiriyama the game, with Rei ultimately exploiting Yamazaki’s offensive overextension.
The contrast in the composure and self-control between these players highlights Kiriyama’s superior mental fortitude, and depict him as being a worthy winner. In the past, Kiriyama would relentlessly press on, even if it damaged himself and his prospects of winning. But because he now has people to fight for, he is able to put a lid on those rampant emotions that may have induced mistakes, letting him achieve an incredible comeback victory.
Meeting by the Riverside
What struck me was how little Rei cared about his win. Right off the bat, his immediate concern is Hina, and he quickly sets off for Kyoto in order to find her. Despite his best efforts, unfortunately, she is not at the location stipulated on the itinerary for her school trip. A typical work of fiction might have yielded a miracle, in order to bring the two together under special circumstances. This isn’t something I’m particularly against either, because I’m a firm believer of chance encounters.
But 3-gatsu manages to do even better, by calling upon Rei’s personal experience of bullying and isolation, which allow him to successfully search for Hina. Consequently, the resolution felt entirely believable, whilst strongly conveying an reverberation between two spirits kindred in their respective suffering. He remembers sitting alone behind large objects, and recalls Hina’s tendency of going to a riverside when upset. This allows him to find her, leading to an intimate hug that is equal parts heartwarming and equal parts heartbreaking.
Without a doubt, I reckon Rei is in love with Hina. She is slowly becoming his raison d’etre, giving purpose and meaning to shogi, that he would not be able to attribute on his own. Although there is much uncertainty regarding what the future will hold, Kiriyama can now fully focus on giving her emotional support, now that the Rookie Tournament is finally over.