「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.

End Card


  1. Great post as usual Zaiden!

    If someone wants to know more about the Shoji match, there is this great analysis on reddit (not mine). One interesting thing the OP highlighted is that, if you take a look at the end board, Yamazaki had nine major pieces in his bank. Meaning, if Kiriyama had done a single mistake, it would have been an onslaught from Yamazaki.

    Anyway, this show may seriously become my all time favourite by the end of the season. I heard from some manga readers the next arc is comparable to this one in terms of quality so I really have high expectation.

  2. It may disrupt the flow of the story slightly, but I hope the next episode kind of mentions a bit about how Yamazaki was feeling. Not that it’s a really big spoiler or anything but…

    Show Spoiler ▼

  3. The last minutes of the episode definitively sold me on the HinaxRei ship. That was such a great episode! (and a mean cliffhanger..!)

    One of the worst things that could happen to Hina is spending time alone with the girls who bully her. Or the other classmates who just ignore her. A school trip is supposed to be fun and when Hina said the night before she might “regret it” if she doesn’t participate and that, on day as an adult she would always think back and wish she would have acted differently… I thought that poor girl shouldn’t have to worry about those things and yet, she has to. And it’s amazing for her character to feel so strongly about these things and I had a feeling that she knows that things won’t stay forever like how they are right now. It’s really fantastic how much thought and emotions is put into the story telling and these details (and in this series generally).

    However, the fact that she started crying so hard and even hugged (I lost it right there when she jumped right into his arms) and the sounds she made I really did cry too, because that was so sad to watch. I think that even though she went to the school trip, if Rei hasn’t come and find her she would have regret going afterall and probably came back home in a worse emotional state.

    I’m really glad how Rei understood his way of playing Shogi and that Nikaidou’s advice was able to save him from losing the match.
    (Thanks to your great analysis of what exactly happened during the match Zaiden, because I simply couldn’t tell by just watching)

    The endcard is so cute! That Chibi-Nikaidou would be perfect for a keychain or other merchandise. I really hoped they would make at least Calendar for 2018 but sadly that didn’t happen. I guess it’s not that popular which is really sad.


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