“Burnt Field (Part 3) / Burnt Field (Part 4)”
A Comeback for the Generations
Where do I begin? 3-gatsu is simply refusing to run out of steam! Even though Shimada was built up as the destined person who we would rally behind, simply because we’re so familiar with his trials and tribulations at this point, Umino Chica was never going to make it that easy. Prior to this arc, people probably didn’t care about Yanagihara, myself included. We had this playful old man, who wouldn’t stop whinging about the title match allocation or his ailing health. Yada yada, please. Although humorous at times, its implementation as comic relief wasn’t exactly the best, and I’m sure that many were disappointed about being stuck with this unassuming guy who seemed way past it. When including the Winter Olympic hiatus, the Kawamoto sisters have been gone for more than a month now, which is far too long. Instead, we got Yanigahara, and I can imagine why some people would be deeply disgruntled.
But throughout this arc, Umino Chica has done her utmost to establish Yanigahara’s incredible burden, and what he must go through to achieve immortality within shogi. He chases after the legacy of an Eternal title, carrying the hopes and dreams of those who fell way aeons ago, while slowly losing a battle of attrition against the ravages of time. Smouldering… burning on his lonesome in a desecrated field… the old man decides that he shall fight to the ashes. No one can fault that sort of intense determination, as he continued fighting back from a disadvantaged position.
And fortunately, it’s not only the young’uns who have it in them to make a comeback. What’s this? Seems like old people can have their power of friendship too, allowing them to overcome the greatest of odds with sheer strength of will. In fact, it can be significantly greater if you consider all the friendships made through the course of a long life. It gave me the chills, how low moments swam before his eyes, where his friends gave up on following the same path. But in that moment, he remembered them, giving him a burst of inspiration, as they cheered from the crowd. He also never forgot about Gan-chan, ignoring all the other cameramen capturing his moment of glory, just to rush over and get his old friend to take the commemoration photo. You could really see how much it meant to him. That’s a man who doesn’t forget his roots, nor the troubles of people who helped to get him where he is, and that’s something that I extremely respect.
I know how hard he worked for the challenge, considering the slump he came back from. But I’m not too sad that Shimada lost. Though he’s no spring chick, he still has further opportunities to gain a title. Plus, he easily came to terms with falling just short of his goals. It was heartwarming how he positively acknowledged the magic of Yanagihara’s victory, and what it did for those who considered him a hero. The old men from Shimada’s home village in the rural mountains were beaming, proud that their grandson figure had come far enough to contend for a title, while expressing happiness that their hero achieved an extraordinary legacy.
Anyway, there was a poetic beauty in the conclusion formed within Yanagihara’s internal monologue. Rather than dragging him down, Yanigahara admits that his friendships were what allowed him to make that one final push. Although their expectations significantly weighed down upon him, the burden of the obi sashes passed on by others also meant that he couldn’t run away from his fears. He was made to confront everything head on. But more than that, his motivation largely stemmed from an inferno roaring inside. Others can’t make you want it – only you yourself can make yourself want it. This compels Yanagihara to uphold a sense of identity and self-respect, seeing how he is a driven individual, who has been largely defined by shogi throughout most of his life.
This is quite a unique perspective, because most fictional works in Japanese medium depict an adolescent viewpoint, rarely giving a second thought to elderly people. That can actually be reflected by the wants of the majority in our demographic, who would presumably like to see the Kawamoto sisters week in and week out, and not this kind of character focus. However, I think there’s unparalleled value attained due to the inclusion of an old man such as Yanagihara. To conclude, I’m grateful that 3-gatsu chose to explore a scarcely considered outlook, bringing a sympathetic and awe-inspiring grandpa to our attention.