“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!
Watching this episode felt…different. I think the way Shaft foreshadow Souya really works on me. Start from Rei that suddenly remember a great white bird(crane?) he once saw when he was a kid, discussion by other player watching, and 9th-dan old man that turn Souya’s move into an interrogative sentence “Hello. How are you?”
All of that made me understand that something special is going on, and I can’t help but focus on them to make sure I miss nothing. Rei lost, but he glimpsed at Souya’s world and the magic continues until the review session where it continues without word exchange between the two except a slight nod by Souya.
I don’t read the manga so this is just my personal opinion, but I think Souya is like Shigatsu’s Arima Kousei where Kousei can’t hear the sound of the piano. It’s like a higher state of mind in playing Shogi for Souya, and he doesn’t want to leave that state of mind hence why he is like he is. Probably wrong, but that’s what I think xD
The latter part where both of them going to the inn also feel different but in this quirky, comedic sense. Souya guides Rei when he’s confused (Souya walk out of the station first when they exit the station via service entrance), and then let Rei take the lead when Rei knows what to do (Souya following Rei at the end of the episode). Souya probably can’t hear sound, but imo he’s definitely more experienced both as a shogi player and as a person compared to Rei.
Can’t wait for the next episode!
Hey raxar, thanks for the comment!
Many professional athletes have this higher state of mind you speak of, though not necessarily deriving from the autistic spectrum, where they will enter a sort of zone that enables them to maintain 100% focus on their game. We actually saw this earlier in the season, where Kumakura had pretty much achieved this state of intense concentration.
I’m looking forwards to see how Souya will further interact with Rei, and wonder if he’ll provide further guidance in shogi and real life.
Sometimes I feel like the story is at odds with itself over Souya’s invincibility. Yes he’s good, the shogi playing machine, the god of the shogi world… which means he wins about 75% of his games. Which means he loses about 25% of his games.
3-gatsu-no-lion tries to present a fairly realistic version of the shogi world, and it acknowledges in the abstract that nobody wins every time. But at the same time it’s very reluctant to ever have Souya lose a single game on screen, even though we know that logically he must lose some like everyone else.
I think you have to consider that Souya can still be god-like in stature without possessing a 100% win rate, provided his achievements are absolutely extraordinary compared to shogi players that came before him.
In footballing terms, even legendary lineups that have won European trebles haven’t had gone an entire season undefeated within their domestic league. That applies to teams like Barcelona FC that won the treble in 2008/09 and 2014/15. Just because they had a 71% win rate doesn’t diminish their achievement whatsoever – those particular squads have left an enduring and extraordinary legacy behind that the footballing continue to celebrate even to this day. Very few teams can manage that sort of achievement in the modern iteration of the game, where things are much more competitive than ever. Their perfect balance of offense, midfield and defense is permanently etched into my living memory, and that of many other football fans. They don’t have to be undefeated to be considered invincible. As a supporter of Arsenal FC, a football team that actually attained an undefeated season in the Premier League 2003/04, I have no qualms conceding that both of those Barcelona lineups are much more legendary and invincible than Arsenal FC has ever been.
So if we consider Souya is in his thirties, and has been playing competitively for about two decades, it would be somewhat beyond belief if he consistently maintained an undefeated record. He claimed the title of Meijin at 21, and has held onto it since for around a decade. Maintaining a 75% win record is impressive, and you have to remember that he’s also held other titles throughout the course of his career. He’s not a god because he never loses. He’s a god because his achievements are absolutely extraordinary even compared to legends and his overall skills in shogi are relatively unmatched in 3-gatsu’s universe.
3-gatsu Ep 17 will only air March 3; the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will preempt the usual airtimes then.
I was planning on announcing this next week, though it’s always welcome when you provide the information in the comment section! Thank you very much zztop, and I guess I’ve got one more week before this beautiful series goes on a temporary hiatus :'(
Great post Zaiden “showing his human side” was really on point here and it fit quite good. Overall I really liked this episode and I like Souya so far as an interesting Character. Rei seems to be more focused now on the game, enthralled by the person in front of him he finds strong. I believe he’ll learn a lot from that match and about Souya too, hopefully he’ll be inspired now and have both confidence and will power to get stronger in Shogi.
I don’t know what I expected when the train stopped and Rei and Souya were still there. Not sure why but I immediately thought of the: “there’s a typhoon, and we have to spend the night alone – oh wait there’s only one room left?” -trope :D. (but this is not that kind of genre…haha) however, I was surprised that they had to interact again when they just had a Match.
It turned out to be interesting and different when they both started to interact without verbally speaking at all. Souya doesn’t seem to be helpless, more like a little lost. I assume if he has problems with his hearing he might be deaf? I’m not sure if it’s a problem when he’s playing Shogi but it seemed that he gave the wrong answers when he got asked questions and giving small interviews last episode.
this and this was so beautiful to look at. The drawing looks a lot like the artworks from the manga. Souya looks really young too. I was a bit surprised that his height is almost the same as Rei’s. There are lot’s of similarities but I doubt Rei is going to be the next Meijin anytime soon. I can’t really imagine it at this point.
I’m really looking forward where this encounter might be leading to!
Hey Kana-chan! Thanks for the reply.
I really like Souya’s characterisation because there’s so much gravity in his presentation, which comes on heavily like a rampant force of nature i.e. an arctic snow storm. Being an albino definitely helps reinforce that imagery, but he’s also a lot more down to earth once you discover the truth behind his aloof behaviour, which seemingly stems from a medical condition. I think the series is building up this idea that playing a match against Souya is a very purifying experience, that feels like engaging with a higher plane of existence. No one can fully comprehend him, and that in part lends to the godly imagery that is frequently attributed to him. I’m sure that Rei will be inspired, and will perhaps reach that level someday.
There is indeed only one room left, I’m pretty sure that yaoi fangirls across the world must have collectively screamed with joy, when Souya reached below towards Rei’s nether regions. Shaft are taking a leaf out of KyoAni’s book when it comes to teasing, and if we’re talking about comedic value, I like what I’m seeing. Anyway, I don’t think Souya was lost, because he was always looking at the next thing that needed to be done. I imagine that he was the one who didn’t leave Rei by himself, and stayed with him to make sure that he would be okay. After all, Rei is far from being considered a legal adult in Japan, and is stranded in a city that he doesn’t know.