“White Storm ④ (Continued) / White Storm ⑤ / Restart”

「白い嵐 ④ (承前) /白い嵐 ⑤/再始動」 (Shiroi Arashi ④ (Shouzen) / Shiroi Arashi ⑤/ Saishidou)

Overcoming Illnesses

I really enjoyed how the opening segment took the moments between Souya and Rei from last episode, and completely omitted Rei’s internal monologue. I knew that Souya didn’t speak a single word the whole time, but damn, what can I say? Shaft highlighted exactly why this encounter was such a surreal experience from Rei’s perspective, and why all those thoughts were raging about in his head. Also, that was one way of showing how Souya is perfectly capable of carrying out communications, without needing to speak or listen to others. In other words, he maintains high functionality in spite of his medical condition.
Despite the fearsome reputation preceding him, Souya possesses some vulnerabilities. Due to his intermittent hearing issues, conversations can get incredibly difficult on a sporadic basis. Most of the time, he relies on intelligent guesswork to formulate a response during times he cannot hear. When he gets it wrong, he goes down a sad avenue, where he plays off the mistake as being symptomatic of aloofness or shogi obsession. If a series such as Koe no Katachi offers any indication, people with disabilities are heavily stigmatised against by society. Despite clear efforts from many places to encourage a move away from this kind of discrimination, what I’ve seen in real life would reaffirm its continued existence. As such, I don’t blame Souya for feigning normalcy, especially seeing how the title of Meijin is a position that constantly puts him under the limelight.
Also, with Japanese culture placing a keen emphasis upon pride, it’s understandable why Souya would want to avoid being pitied. In a previous episode, we saw how Nikaidou became absolutely distraught when Shimada let him win out of pity for his illness. The same goes for Shimada, who never uses his stomach ailments as an excuse for his losses. These characters have a deep love and pride for their trade, that gives them a strength to rise above their medical conditions. Therefore, rather than pitying them, I hold a great sense of admiration towards the steadfast dedication they hold for shogi.

A New Tomorrow

Getting over a euphoric experience isn’t easy. Once I gave the practice of meditation a whimsical attempt, and achieved a wonderful sensation that cannot be put into words. Though, I’ve never been able to get back to that place, I haven’t been too hung up about returning to it. After all, the course of regular life has too many other pleasantries that can be enjoyed.
Conversely, Kiriyama’s life cannot be seen as regular. He just played against the best living shogi player. Very possibly, there is no other experience in the field of shogi that can surpass this encounter. What especially sucks is that it may take a long time, before Kiriyama can come across a chance to revisit this experience once again. The exhibition match represented a one-off opportunity, considering the numerous divisions that separate these two players.
Fortunately, Shimada is there to bring him back to reality, by stopping our boy from becoming another run of the mill, isekai protagonist. That is to say, he saves Rei from becoming another casualty of truck-kun. As someone who stood in the same spot, while also lacking regular opportunities to play against Souya, he too can relate with such a sentiment. More importantly, he points out that the only reason that the game was on Rei’s mind was because our boy had so much fun. These pure emotions for shogi starkly contrast the dark desire for vengeance brought on by Gotou, and I’m just glad to know that it’s no longer a source of consternation that greedily taxes Rei’s mental health. Behind the pain and suffering he endured through the years, a passionate love for the game has survived inside of his heart during this entire time.
People were expecting Nikaidou to be depressed. A situation beyond his control puts him on the brink of demotion, and he has to face an 8-dan player off the bat to even have a chance of staying afloat. Not only does he magnificently rise to the challenge, but he also succeeds through bringing out the fearless, attacking style of shogi that he’s known for. I’m sure we won’t need to worry about Nikaidou, because he’ll certainly bounce back to greater heights than before. Have you already forgotten, Rei? After his hospitalisation, you even recognised that your best friend was both a fighter AND an adventurer too.

Concluding Thoughts

Rei’s laughter is a precious thing, conveying his heartfelt friendship with Nikaidou, as well as expressing how deeply he cares for the latter. Over the course of the series, where he started out from a lonely and dark place, it’s really satisfying to watch him progressively come into his own. As viewers, we’ve been alongside him every step of the way, through dark times and light times. The emotional payoff won’t stop giving out dividends, and I can’t stop feeling happy for Rei Kiriyama, since he finally discovered his own place in this world. Namely with people to care about, who also happen to be people who care about him.
Unfortunately, NHK’s broadcasting of 3-gatsu will be on hiatus until the 3rd of March, due to the upcoming Winter Olympics. How can we possibly function without our weekly dose of 3-gatsu goodness? It’s going to be rough, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to manage. But it’s a nice spot to take a break at given how we reached the conclusion of an arc, and I can’t wait to see where the next episode goes. What new adventures might await us? Stay safe dear readers, and see you on the other side!
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    1. Gotta agree, the hiatus absolutely sucks. Only positive is that I now have extra time to focus on my university work – though I suspect that time might be lost to procrastination either ways.

      Now it feels pretty unlikely, but I was hoping the series would get to the point where a certain person showed up, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for another season. They say that the 3-gatsu manga is currently at a halfway point (~130 chapters), and I’m just so happy that the journey is far from ending.

  1. I agree with you on most things except your opinion of Souya.
    I may be wrong, but the impression that I have of Souya is that he is currently very similar to Kiriyama, I don´t know how he started playing Shougi but he needs it or depends on it to survive in this world and society, as Kiriyama in his childhood.
    Souya uses the Shougi as a communication tool, to communicate with other people, and I mean deep communication, of the kind we need to survive as social beings (It is clear that he knows how to communicate superficially but he prefer not to). And he has reached a point that has begun to detach himself from other tools of communication (Like him ears).
    You mentioned that society tends to isolate the disabled, and I sincerely agree with you, but in Souya’s case I think something different happens, it isn´t that society isolates him, it is he who wants to isolate himself from society.
    (He has shown that he can stand on his own, but he has decided to use all his senses, food, time, and even communication, I mean his whole being, dedicating him to the Shogi, which he uses to communicate with his adversaries in a profound way )
    From my point of view, if Kiriyama hadn´t met the Kawamoto sisters, he could have become like Souya in the future (And I don´t mean Shougi’s abilities).
    It was the way of life, and way of being of the sisters helped Kiriyama, who had just left a socially hostile environment, with many traumatic experiences, who hardly knew where he was walking…
    To recompose and find himself to know by where he walked and what roads he takes, besides that he improved his ability to communicate with other people.
    I would say that the difference between Kiriyama and Souya is that while Souya is stuck in time, Kiriyama struggles to move forward despite all the hardships of life.

    1. I think I went a step too far in trying to shoehorn this consistent theme of shogi players overcoming their medical conditions, and ended up overlooking the very insightful point that you rightfully raise. Shogi is indeed the way in which Souya conducts deep communication, and the tool he uses to reach out and connect with other people. However, I think it might be an assumption that Souya chose this path, considering we haven’t really seen what he was like prior to the development of his intermittent hearing issues. I would imagine him to be an introvert even back then, but not necessarily reclusive to this extent.

      Additionally, I doubt that Rei would have gone down this path in terms of personage. Whereas Souya is a largely tranquil person, Rei is an individual who greatly grapples with his emotions, and allows them to dictate his courses of action. Rei is always depicted as having this penchant for caring about others, which can be seen when he lashed out to punch Gotou, even if that over-protectiveness of Kyouko is shown to be twisted and unhealthy. Loneliness is shown to significantly bother him, to the point it affects the way in which he functions. It’s hard to make a conservative estimate of Souya’s mental state, because so little is shown from his perspective. But as you’ve said, I doubt the Meijin is particularly reliant on social interactions. In fact, he seems quite fine despite lacking them. Then again, it’s hard to make that assumption, because it could be affecting Souya in a way that cannot be visibly discerned.

      Anyway, that’s why I don’t think Kiriyama would have walked along Souya’s path. But in another timeline where he didn’t meet the Kawamoto sisters, he might have suffered a similar kind of loneliness, and continued spiralling on a downwards trajectory.

  2. Wonderful post Zaiden! I can only agree with pretty much everything you said.

    I think what Rei is striving for is to catch up to Souya, however I don’t think that the Meijin title is exactly what he is aiming at, at least now..But if he want’s a rematch he has to become a challenger for the title at some point.

    Souya still remains a mystery. Even if his hearing “comes and goes” he proved several times that he doesn’t need his hearing when playing shogi because he’s still the Meijin afterall.

    “You had fun, right?” – Shimada is so good on point. But for a very long time in his life in the match with Souya Rei actually had fun in Shogi and he didn’t even notice until Shimada said it out loud. I was hoping to see this kind of development of Rei and his feelings towards Shogi.

    I missed Akari’s cooking and the super awesome food display! Everytime they eat something I just get hungry. It’s the power of the golden egg!! just kidding….
    I’m so happy everything is back to normal and the picture of Chiho with the puppies made this dinner scene even better.

    The last part with Nikaidou made me almost tear up, like seriously that fluffly, round super cute and heartwarming guy!! I just want to give him a hug! and even Rei started laughing too which made me believe that everything is well.

    3 weeks on hiatus is just…cruel. But it can’t be helped. This might actually be the perfect timing for me to catch up with the manga or at least read the bullying Arc with Hina just for the comparison to the anime version. Anyway see you in three weeks Zaiden! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Hey Kana-chan!

      In retrospect, namely what Laura raised in her comment, I actually have come to disagree with elements of what I’ve raised in this post. Incidentally, this whole idea of shogi being a means of communication for Souya was something I touched upon last week, yet completely forgot when it came to this week.

      While Souya is still mysterious, he’s a human who isn’t too different from what the regular person might expect, outside of his medical condition. One of the big points for me in this episode was how he goes about being appreciative of others – as seen when he pays covers the cost for Rei’s overnight stay. While he might not be particularly great with his words, his actions do well to adequately convey his thoughts. I look forwards to any further unravelling, the next time someone has the opportunity to play against him.

      Definitely wish I could talk about everything. The return of the Kawamoto sisters with a generous helping of food tempted me! I plan to make braised pork later this week, alongside the baked buttered salmon from Fate/Stay in the Kitchen. But I didn’t think that the sequence was substantive enough to analyse in a meaningful way. That said, I was glad to see Chiho continuing her emotional recovery.

      Sadly, I won’t have time to go back and read up on the manga, but here’s hoping that a new volume might be released, alongside some translations.

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