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