Rei had his long-awaited first match with Meijin Souya this week, which turned out to be a bit of a pleasant anticlimax. This episode certainly followed through on Souya’s generally mythic presence, but the actual match was nearly over before it began. Still, both that match and the later material between Rei and Souya were entertaining in their own way, so I can’t really complain.
You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below.
I love this quiet, clear morning tone. The beautiful piano does a great job of setting this somewhat otherworldly stage. Souya himself never feels quite real, and so this match doesn’t either
Memories of a great white bird
“He’s supposed to be like a character in a book, but here he is before me”
This is one of the most straightforward mechanical matches of the series. Fitting – this is totally a skill-based duel, there’s no emotional narrative attached to it. Nice to get a feel for Souya as a competitor during this relatively straightforward segment
“It was like silvery, dazzling water, flowing into every nook and cranny.” Rei is basically entering a flow state in this match, seeing the moves naturally. It’s nice to see the longtime antagonistic water imagery here redeemed
And then he blinks and it’s over
Souya is the one opponent he can’t read at all
I love how the two of them seem to communicate without words. Rei says he can’t read Souya, but it actually feels like the two have a pretty close emotional link
Souya nodding as Rei chooses the correct move during their review session
After the review session, Rei glances at his own hand, and Souya says “that’s what it’s like.” The two of them understand and can communicate through shogi and nothing else. Shogi is Souya’s first language
Rei actually feels comfortable after his loss, and even more comfortable in the tonal space the match took place in
The train is suspended due to rising water, but Souya fell asleep
“Sound didn’t exist for him”
So is Souya actually deaf, or is he just so totally an instrument of shogi that there’s nothing else in the world?
Souya just sort of stares at their various destinations. Nice understated comedy
Rei’s fussy preoccupation and Souya’s blank determination make for a nice combo