“Chapter 70 Small Palm / Chapter 71 In the Sun”

「小さな手のひら / 日向」 (Chiisana Tenohira / Hinata)

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.

General Impressions

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.

Concluding Thoughts

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.
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“Chapter 72 Flowing Away / Chapter 73 White Storm”

「流れていくもの/白い嵐①」(Nagarete Iku Mono / Shiroi Arashi ①)

General Impressions

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.

Concluding Thoughts

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.
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  1. I was a bit disappointed when the headmaster grumble a bit in episode 13 about how he won’t be involved in this issue if it wasn’t for 育(iku)[raise] in 教育(Kyouiku)[education], but I guess it’s another moment that shows the humanity of each character in the show. No teacher would like to get involved in this mess, but it’s part of his responsibility and he handled the problem really well.

    1. In all fairness, who would say that they’d involve themselves in these nasty incidents entirely out of their own volition? The fact that the headmaster stuck to his teaching philosophy of raising kids is worthy of respect in my opinion, even if he did complain. Though I suppose his reluctance implies that he stood at the side while the situation escalated out of control, which is a troubling implication.

      1. I wouldn’t say he stood at the side, I think it was more that he trusted his teachers to do their jobs properly. Of course that didn’t happen in this particular case, but if you don’t trust the people working for you then you end up micro-managing. And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of micro-management then you’ll know how demeaning and demoralizing that is.

        I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

        I suppose it’s the curse of the poet just to be remembered for their worst poem!

      2. Invictus strongly conveys the sentiment of human perseverance, which is exactly what Hina and Rei demonstrated in these past two episodes. Those final lines came mind when I had to decide on an excerpt.

        I’ve never read Henley’s other poems, and would be very interested in seeing better. Mind recommending a few to me? And while you’re at it, what are your thoughts on WB Yeats and Stevie Smith?

      3. There is no way that I could even begin to understand or empathise with the pain and suffering that Henley had to endure during his earlier life with his struggle against tuberculosis, so I can’t criticise him for producing something like Invictus at that stage. OK, so it’s given a phrase to the English language (“bloody but unbowed”), which is a feat that many greater poets have failed to accomplish, but looking at it a little more dispassionately, it’s really only a precursor of Sinatra’s My Way – a hymn to hubris, rather than acceptance of mortality and everything else that ought to follow from the Victorian concept of God.

        Later in his life, though, he did come to accept his mortality. After the death of his sister-in-law he wrote what I would consider to be one of his finest poems, Margaritae Sorori (“For Sister Margaret”). It’s getting popular at funerals so you’ll have no problem finding it online.

        WB Yeats’s poetry suffered from me being forced to study it at school. Not that I didn’t like it, but that experience somewhat put me off. I still find The Second Coming chilling, though, which apparently more and more people are doing too in these Trumpian times. As for Stevie Smith, although I don’t think she is in Yeats’s league, Not Waving but Drowning cuts right to the heart of the modern human condition. And watching Britannia on TV at the moment, I am of course reminded of Tenuous and Precarious, the two Romans.

      4. Even if Invictus was intended as a hymn to hubris based upon the outlooks of Victorian society, I reckon the specific context can be set aside in modern times. Although it’s useful to know how, and why a particular poem came about, the importance really comes down to how the reader chooses to interpret these lines. As far as I can tell, most people today consider it an ode to resilience, which is no short accomplishment on the part of Invictus. Perhaps self-determination is an arrogant illusion. But if your will remains intact, you can continue along in spite of the sheer adversities, and I think that ties in very well to the everyday struggles of your average folk who just happens to be plodding along.

        Funnily enough, my two favourite poets are probably the ones I studied comprehensively at A Level. WB Yeats is my personal favourite, and I especially enjoyed ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ and ‘Easter Rising’. With Yeats, I absolutely love how he incorporates a rustic, spiritual mysticism to his works, alongside intense emotional energy. Unfortunately, I don’t particularly like ‘The Second Coming’, though I can appreciate its artistic merit as a poem. I’d say T.S. Elliot would be my close second, because I adored ‘The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock’. Of course, his magnum opus ‘The Waste Land’ shouldn’t be overlooked either, but I felt that the final two chapters were considerably weaker than the opening ones. While, I’d be tempted to put Pablo Neruda up there, I’m not entirely sure if the English translations of his works offer a clear representation of what he can do.

        Now I hope you don’t use this information stalk me, but the reason I asked about Stevie Smith is because her old house where she lived most of her life is round the corner from where I live. I studied ‘Come on, Come Back’, and really liked its anti-war message. Obviously she’s not quite on the level of the poets we just brought up, but as you can see, I’m rather fond of her.

        Anyway, thanks for enlightening me on your insightful thoughts. I’ll certainly let you know about what I think of ‘Margaritae Sorori’ once I get around to reading it!

        P.S. I think William Wordsworth is overrated.

      5. I don’t think Invictus was consciously intended as a hymn to hubris, it’s just that’s how it comes across to me now, and why I dislike it so. And yet Victorian society was also able to criticise that hubris – for instance, take Edwin Landseer’s painting “Man Proposes, God Disposes”, which has polar bears picking over the remains of a failed Arctic expedition. So definitely a better idea to follow the girls of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho to the Antarctic as you don’t get polar bears down there.

        And to add to the anime references, “Come On, Come Back” feels very “Girls’ Last Tour” to me now as Vaudevue has irrevocably morphed into Yuu in my mind’s eye. On the subject of war poems, have you ever come across any of Vernon Scannell’s war poems? I knew Vernon a bit in his later years, even cooked him dinner once!

        Finally, remind me never to show you any of my sonnets as I always start channelling Wordsworth well before the end of the first quatrain.

  2. I dunno, Souya looks like someone suffering from some mild form of autism spectrum disorder. Either way, to be so detached from reality he must have some serious issue. I’m really interested now.

  3. While episode 13 almost made me cry when Hina got Chiho’s letter, episode 14 was more laidback and contrasted with the feelings packed previous one, we certainly needed that, especially if you chain these two episodes.

    Despite some slight differences with the original manga, I can’t thank Shaft enough for conveying so well what Umino Chika infused in her masterpiece ! Even better than JC Staff that already did a fantastic job with Honey & Clover.

  4. The thing about Tagaki is that she has made some actions that are completely wrong and for me undefendable and I really felt that she is unable to feel shame and won’t try to change her attidude at all. That’s why I’m glad Hina is not forgiving her, not for what she did to Chiho, to herself and to everyone else in class.
    Hina was happy though to be asked out by those girls in her class to hang out together again. I’m glad it is over and we finally can see Hina smile again. I hope Chiho comes to visit her soon or the other way around that would be the perfect closure to this.

    That little dance while holding hands at the End made me seriously tear up for no reason it was just heartwarming moment.

    let me take a moment to say that this arc has become one of my all-time favourites in anime

    Yeah I agree. This was so well done and the length of this whole arc was very well paced. Hina’s characterization and development is so good. I hope we get to see more of her growth in the future. (hopefully with Rei together, I really got fond of that ship). But I also wouldn’t mind if she just could enter high school without worries. And continues to give her support for her Sisters and Rei like she always does.

    I’m genuinely curious to know why Souya is the way he is. He doesn’t seem to fit into the “evil eternal Meijin” cliché. I’m really looking forward to that Match.


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