「銀の羽根 / 川景色」 (Gin no Hane / Kawa keshiki)
“Silver Feathers / River Scenery”
I feel like I spent a great deal of last episode’s post looking at how Rei cheered up Hina, so I want to talk about something different, and focus on who I felt was the most valuable character in this episode.
Trust Umino Chica to construct a seemingly monstrous person, then utterly humanise them to prove us wrong. Junkei Yamazaki walked a difficult path, and we finally got to see his viewpoint. With Kiriyama typically being the primary focus, sometimes it’s hard to try and consider events from another perspective. Turns out Yamazaki is just some average bloke with down to earth hobbies, born with a lesser talent for shogi, yet striving to make ends meet.
What seemed like an underhanded strategy, was actually a reasonable choice from Yamazaki’s position. Careers are on the line in professional shogi – a moment of sympathy could culminate in a downward spiral costing your livelihood. I’d say most people would press their advantage in the same situation, for good reasons too. The harsh reality is that offering sympathy becomes a noblesse oblige, where only the very best can indulge in such a practice. Hence what some consider an unfair exploitation of Nikaidou, is simply another man’s desperate survival.
And he wasn’t malicious either. Even Yamazaki was visibly horrified by his own actions, and remorse was etched all over his face, following Nikaidou’s collapse. It’s also easier to forgive Yamazaki after he demonstrated an incredible capacity for empathy and love. The care he put into rearing pigeons is 100% genuine, and his heartfelt grief at losing Gin hit me so hard. He already had very little to enjoy about life, and seeing him come to grips with losing one of the things he cared about the most was extremely upsetting.
“Just imagining it lying wounded and suffering somewhere was enough to make me feel overcome with grief” – Junkei Yamazaki
God damn it Shaft, you’ve done it again. I didn’t even come close to crying when reading this scene in the manga! And it’s all too relatable, wondering how people you care about are faring through the course of life life, and contemplating whether they’re living in happiness or despair without a way of truly knowing.
I admire how Yamazaki continues to pursue his passions, in spite of the fear and doubt persistently consuming his very soul. Many people would have their conviction shaken, to the point of being shattered. One particular example that comes to mind would be Rei’s opponent from the first season, who facilitated Rei’s initial breakdown. Junkei’s talk of diving into pitch black water to look for answers really resonates with me, because that’s an experience I’m currently having at university. I look at all these people around me, who have it in them to dive deeper at any opportunity, whereas I feel totally paralysed in my search for a solution. Is it a fear of being wrong, or mere disinterest in the crux of the subject matter? That’s hard to say, perhaps it’s even a bit of both.
However, Yamazaki was able to endure and ultimately came out of the darkness. He sincerely apologises to Nikaidou, by gifting him a bouquet consisting of flowers handpicked from his own garden, and his goodwill seems rewarded by the return of his beloved Gin. Seeing a true love between man and pigeon that no one else can get between, Hatoful Boyfriend could certainly learn a thing or two. On a more serious note, I definitely cried yet again.
Sweet, Salty, Sweet, Salty. This cycle is not only limited to desserts, when 3-gatsu itself has been undergoing a similar process! Without the harder times, it’s really difficult to properly appreciate the good times, so I really love how 3-gatsu frequently alternates between the two. The future may be uncertain, and Yamazaki realistically has no chance of becoming Meijin, but at least he seems to really enjoy his rustic way of life. Though it’s something worth striving for, not everything is about becoming the very best. Being able to settle down after doing your very best is where it’s truly at.
P.S. – Someday, I’d also like to sit by a riverside with the love of my life, gazing vacantly across the natural scenery.