“Chapter 74 White Storm ② / Chapter 75 White Storm ③ / Chapter 76 White Storm ④”
Kiriyama vs Souya
Even when reading the manga, I thought it was a predetermined outcome that Souya would prevail. For all the potential Kiriyama has, our protagonist is far too green around the edges to claim victory against one of the all time shogi greats in 3-gatsu’s fictional universe. But I suppose that symptoms of Souya’s condition may have insinuated a more serious medical problem, which might have called for an emergency hospitalisation of the likes that Nikaidou experienced. In my opinion, if Kiriyama easily overcame his largest possible challenge through a stroke of luck, it would have been antithetical towards the message 3-gatsu has been building up alongside his development.
Had he beaten the Meijin here using such a significant crutch, there would be very little satisfaction coupled with a stark emptiness. I’m glad that he lost, realised the exact moment when he lost, then took it in good stead. Room for improvement is demonstrated, and our boy seems to know what he needs to do. I’m just amazed that things were over so quickly, before Kiriyama could even put up a proper fight – he got blown away like a leaf in a summer storm. Even while Kiriyama played perfectly for the majority of the match, it goes to show how Souya belongs to another dimension in terms of skill, when he capitalised upon a singular slip-up to completely win the match.
Contrary to this impression of fragility exuded by Souya, prompting the likes of the Director and Rei to look after him, I actually feel like he’s being babied in an unnecessary way. Though silent throughout their interactions, Souya felt like the one who was looking after Rei. Like an adult, he always seemed to know exactly what needed to be done, leading the way with glances for Kiriyama to follow up on. Would Souya really be unable to function by himself? I get the feeling that he should be perfectly fine by himself, but allows for others to take care of him because he’s too polite to explain otherwise. Either that, or he would find it far too inconvenient to engage in any form of explanatory dialogue.
Anyway, I don’t want to directly talk about the particularities of Souya’s condition. While the next episode’s preview may have hinted that his hearing comes and goes, the manga has pretty much establishes most of the details. It would make me squirm with discomfort to fake some inaccurate speculation, when I have the full gist of what is up. Just assume he has some form of hearing impediment for now, for whatever reason you like, because it should suffice as an explanation in the meantime.
The sheer beauty of this episode was how it brought a god back down to Earth and showed us his human side. Though the perspective came entirely from Rei’s monologue, which carried the entire episode, we could really get a sense of Souya’s character. The Meijin proves himself as being more than just a shogi playing machine, actively providing guidance for Rei both on the board and off the board. Additionally, he comes across as a highly functional person, who doesn’t lose his composure in figuring out exactly what should be done in an emergency situation. It actually made me wonder whether Souya’s loneliness is truly a self-determined choice, made irrespective of his medical condition, or if he had been forced down this path by fell circumstances. For someone suffering from a hearing impediment, it honestly feels like Souya is horribly misunderstood, and that shogi is one of the only ways in which he can properly communicate with others.
Therefore, I sincerely hope that Souya can develop meaningful friendships as the series progresses. He deserves reverence, due to standing heads and shoulders beyond everyone else. However, that should not exclude the sentiment that he deserves to have a close friend as well. As a kouhai, perhaps Rei will be suited to this task – something we might find out next week, since they’ll be spending a night together at the hotel!