“Chapter 70 Small Palm / Chapter 71 In the Sun”
In my efforts to catch up with the winter season, the winter season caught up to me. I got blindsided by a terrible cold, which put me out of commission for a few days. But with a series like 3-gatsu, having more time to gather my thoughts is always very useful, considering how there’s always so much stuff to digest every single week. Without further ado, let’s proceed to examining the details.
Umino sensei did a better job of highlighting Takagi’s humanity in the manga, particularly her anxieties and fears over an uncertain future following graduation. While it’s still there in Shaft’s adaptation, there’s more of an apathy in the studio’s abstract style. But I much prefer what they’ve done here, because this better highlights an important underlying message: that it’s not acceptable to do wrong by others, just because life has thrown a difficult curveball. It’s morally repugnant to casually laugh at forcing people out of school, and memories of Takagi smirking upon hearing about the lives she destroyed filled me with nothing but hatred towards her.
But this despicable piece of scum finally met her day of reckoning. When the headmaster called out Takagi’s justifications for tormenting others, I was hugely satisfied at the justice being served. Above all, he’s absolutely right about how the world is not accountable for her horrible actions. Considering he grew up in the post-war period, where Japan had to rebuild everything from ruin, Takagi’s feeling pressured at upcoming exams must seem trivial to him. It also doesn’t excuse the way she systematically dismantled others, nor does it justify a lack of understanding or remorse towards her victims. But even if she seems like a lost cause, the headmaster exhibits hallmarks of a great educator. I really appreciate how he refused to give up on her, persistently calling her back to correct her rotten attitude. He spends considerable time on a daily basis trying to converse with her, in an attempt to reach some sort of understanding, even if the outcome is likely to be futile.
Takagi’s lack of a sincere apology makes it feel as if Hina never got proper closure for her suffering. She’ll never be able to forgive in a way that should properly ease her conscience. But even without the reconciliation process, Hina leaves behind this hatred, moving on to find a life worth living. Although the damage cannot be undone for Chiho, it’s still pleasing to know that she managed to find fulfilment elsewhere. Obviously, her situation is not ideal, but it’s great to see her doing much better, even if she paid a steep price for it. The darkness consuming people from last episode is now gone, and a gentle glow has returned to Hina’s disposition, something we haven’t seen for a long time.
Now that we’re looking towards a brighter future, let me take a moment to say that this arc has become one of my all-time favourites in anime. The depth and sensitivity which it tackled bullying allowed me to substantially draw emotional connections with Hina’s experience. Judging by the commenters on previous posts, I could see how this arc has touched the lives of others, who have also undergone a similar kind of suffering. As such, I think I speak on behalf of many people in saying that I’ll be very sad to see this arc conclude. But I remain excited for a return to focusing on competitive shogi, where Rei will finally continue on his path to encountering Souya.
“Chapter 72 Flowing Away / Chapter 73 White Storm”
In modern times, where classical games like shogi are slowly losing their foothold, it comes as no surprise that Director Takanori made an economic choice for the sake of shogi as a sport, even if that came at the cost of specially commemorating Yanagihara’s umpteenth title defence. That said, I was more amused than sad that his title match received the short end of the stick – Yanagihara and Shimada’s reactions were priceless. Not to mention how the hilarious mental image isn’t exactly wrong, because both contenders have had a haggard past of enduring through medical conditions during their matches. Although overshadowed by Rei v Souya, I’ll be very keen to watch how such a match would go. And as always, we get an example of Shimada’s selfless personality, where he demonstrates concern on Rei’s behalf. In his expansive wisdom, outlining a deep empathy for our boy, he brings up a very good point. Thrusting Kiriyama into the spotlight could negatively effect his mentality.
And we witness how Rei struggles with being at the centre of attention. We can see how scared he is of the faceless masses that won’t leave him alone, a symbolic representation of his roiling anxiety. He expresses admiration towards Souya for being able to weather the onslaught of interactions, be it from the press or esteemed individuals of the shogi world. However, one thing becomes very clear judging by how Souya’s responses were incredibly off the mark. Though he gives off a cool exterior, remaining composed despite having his immaculate suit ruined by red wine, the Meijin must also be dealing with struggles of his own. It’s difficult to ascertain the exact reason, or extent of his issue, since there hasn’t been much to go off yet. But we’ll all find out in due time, and I can guarantee that the man hasn’t led an easy life.
With Kiriyama’s internal monologue regarding the typhoon’s predicted trajectory, Umino Chica masterfully establishes the mood by personifying human emotions through aspects of nature. It also reinforces the idea that everyone regards Souya as this unparalleled deity. Such is his divine dominance in shogi, elevating him above mere mortals, that he suffers a severe disconnect from people as well as the world beyond shogi. In the run-up to his fateful encounter with Souya, we can feel Kiriyama’s trepidation at encountering such a frightening storm, the very first of its kind in his entire career. That’s how we can tell that something incredible is about to go down. And between the music and animation sequences, Shaft create an electric atmosphere saturated full of tension, with Souya being the eye of this typhoon. How could we hope to describe such an enigmatic being? Beautiful, soft, cold, and silent come to mind. But the Meijin also exudes this quiet yet overwhelming aura, much like a snow storm that threatens to consume everything caught up in its wake.
Can Kiriyama endure through this force of the natural world and prevail against such adversity? Let’s be honest, 3-gatsu has never been a series that has had players pull out miracle wins against their opponents, and I would be hard pressed to consider Kiriyama as being remotely close to Souya at this moment in time. However, even assuming that he ends up losing, I think there would be a lot he could take away from playing against Souya.