Episode 13

As both Rei and Smith are determined to win their respective matches, episode thirteen begins with a cold Rei returning to his home to practice. We’re also given a remarkably jazzy sequence of Mr. Smith and a peek into his method of studying. As he devours the contents of his fridge, the moves of the shogi board play through his mind. He takes solid bites out of a tomato before moving onto a sausage, all the while accompanied by the jazz score in the back. It’s an incredibly strange scene, something I never thought I’d ever really see, but somehow it fits Mr. Smith quite well. It’s the equivalent of a shounen protagonist practicing his final combo before a big fight, except this is much more amusing. 

What follows is a sequence of Smith walking towards the Shogi Hall, pondering on the upcoming matches and Rei. He’s a bit insulted that Rei is only studying up on Shimada and Gotou, but at the same time, respects Rei for that vision. It’s just a little bit, but the small development of Smith’s character is very much welcome, officially moving him from random side character to full fledged cast member. I realize 3gatsu does this quite a lot with many of its characters, almost a bit like Haikyuu, and I really enjoy it.

When Smith arrives for the match, he’s met by a low angle shot of Gotou. Gotou is almost greyed out and looms over Smith, quite spooky. As the match begins, a dramatic piano score envelops the scene, and a flash of Gotou’s piercing eyes raise the stakes for Smith. As the moves are played, Smith reflects on his past match with Gotou, in which he suffered a terrible defeat because he tried to embrace a style that wasn’t his. This match is a lot closer, but nevertheless, Smith takes a step away from his own style and Gotou takes advantage of that one moment of weakness, dragging Smith down. Smith describes Gotou as this black slime, similar to the oil that was used to describe him before. I’m interested to see where this comparison will go in the future, since we’ve seen multiple times already the “clear water” of Rei. Unfortunately for Smith, he’s outdone by Gotou, who even gives him some advice after the match is concluded. The Gotou we see then isn’t the one we see from Rei’s perspective, but rather just a strong opponent.

So ends the first half of the episode with Smith rescuing a stray cat from the bushes, a surprise, but a welcome one. He decides to start from square one and doesn’t let this loss get to him too badly!

The match between Rei and Shimada is a bit more interesting to me, with Rei’s underestimation of Shimada’s abilities. Rei believes Shimada plays to not lose, rather than to win, and is quite harshly corrected. I thought it was a bit strange why they weren’t revealing Shimada’s face at all, but afterwards it’s revealed that Rei didn’t even consider him a serious enough threat to look at. It’s not until Shimada turns the tables on Rei, completely surrounding him that Rei looks at Mr. Shimada. 

It’s also revealed that Shimada knows our favorite Nikaidou, who encourages Shimada to destroy Rei. Now, Nikaidou calls him big brother, but I’m unsure as to whether this is just a mentor type of relationship, or whether they’re genuinely brothers. Mr. Shimada does seem to genuinely care for Nikaidou however, and it was quite cute to watch. Now I’m just curious if Shimada is going hard on Rei for Nikaidou’s sake alone, or if he was planning to destroy Rei anyway.


Episode 14

Episode fourteen begins with Rei’s realization that he’s in quite the tight pickle. His shogi pieces are submerged in dark water, and he’s panicking. He scolds himself for underestimating Mr. Shimada, and I’m glad to see he’s realizing his own mistakes. Too bad it’s only during the match he realizes this. Rei plays out the rest of the match, unwilling to selfishly forfeit, but it ultimately ends as it should, with a complete loss for Rei.

However, it’s not until the post match review that Rei realizes just how badly he had been outplayed. Every possibility that Rei suggests was already seen through by Mr. Shimada, and every turn was already blocked. He never stood a chance.

Embarrassed at the match and his own approach, Rei takes off running. I mean, who wouldn’t? His opponent not only outskilled him on the board, but saw through his arrogance from the start. As Shimada watches Rei run off, Smith joins him and the two talk. It’s nice seeing all our cast knowing each other and makes this feel like a real, living world rather than a setting that follows our protagonist. Afterwards, Shimada heads home and tells Nikaidou that Rei is an interesting person, while Smith heads to his own home where he’s quickly fallen in love with his newly adopted cat!

As for Rei, he’s in a much worse state. He falls into a pit of depression and locks himself away inside his apartment, trying to sleep everything away. We’re once again brought into the dark gloom of his room, the only light coming from outside or his bathroom lights. He becomes dehydrated and a bit sick, barely mustering the energy to reach the convenience store.

From there he finds a magazine of job advertisements, which encourages him to go to school. Unluckily for him, it’s P.E day and Rei gets absolutely destroyed at basketball. But our favorite teacher arrives on the scene! Hayashida’s been a recurring character for a while, and I feel like I underestimate the impact he has on Rei. He’s Rei’s only positive influence at school, offering both comedic value and genuine advice. Rei is honestly so lucky to have so many great people in his life to help him through his spouts of depression, and Mr. Hayashida is no exception. He also provides the brilliant advice of eating hot food when you’re depressed rather than cold. In hindsight it seems rather obvious, but I never really thought about that.

Hayashida drops some info on Rei, revealing that Shimada was a player who came up alongside the shogi god that is Souya. Overshadowed by the brilliance of Souya, Shimada made it to his rank through sheer diligence and perseverance. This makes me respect Shimada even more so than I already did, and I’d be really glad to see Rei learn from him at the workshop!


This Post Has One Comment

  1. jsyschan

    “Thomas Wayne : And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

    It’s kind of nice how we saw Rei winning his earlier battles, and now we get to see him hit the brick wall that is reality. Loss sucks, and since we never actually seen him lose before, this is kind of sobering…for him and perhaps for us. No one’s invincible.

    Seeing Gotou from Smith’s POV is interesting in that it portrays him in a different light. From Rei’s POV, we can see him as a villain, but his views are that of a young boy who still doesn’t know much about the world, like how Shirase thought that the escort job was safe for high schoolers. Smith is an adult, and he’s not colored by Rei’s inexperience of how the world works; nothing’s truly black and white. Also, who’s to say that what really happened was an accurate account from Rei? Again, love how the show presents multiple layers to make characters more complex.

    Yeah, ok, not exactly a spoiler, but to clarify, the relationship between Shimada and Nikaidou is one of fellow students, I believe. They both studied under the same master, with Shimada being the senior student (hence the older brother, like how Mr. Kouda is Rei’s shogi father?), so that’s their relationship. I still find him annoying, but Nikaidou might be the closest one in the shogi world that can see how Rei is struggling (probably being close to him in age and whatnot). The request for Shimada to knock some sense into Rei was probably not out of malice but concern. Think of how Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story thought he was Mrs. Nezbett, and Woody had to slap him in the face to cast him out of his delusion (not sure if it fits, but that’s the best example I can think of right now). He sees how Rei’s been doing all this time, so to throw water on his face was to shake him out of his thinking.

    Seeing Rei lose really showed how he still is a kid. He was shortsighted in his match, focusing on Gotou only and not even paying Shimada any service until he realized he was screwed. I read a comment describing him as “…just a kid that’s trying to take on the whole world and then some”, which seems to fit here quite well. Being in his situation, he’s taking on a lot of responsibility, so it’s no wonder he’s the way he is now, depressed and whatnot. To be honest, if I was in Rei’s situation, I’d run away too after feeling so ashamed of myself like that.

    In light of that, Hayashida was nice here in this episode. Notice how the sisters weren’t even present in this episode. After this loss, Rei didn’t need to be coddled, but rather he needed someone to get him back up again. He’s a great teacher, keeping an eye out for him while offering advice as needed. Tough love and all. And to offer up another quote, “….it takes a true hero to give up his freshly boiled ramen for someone besides family”.

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