“Chapter 74 White Storm (Part 2) / Chapter 75 White Storm (Part 3) / Chapter 76 White Storm (Part 4)”
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Rei finally starts his match against the Meijin. With his play, his place as a rising star in the game is firmly established, and he gains new appreciation in the master-level play he got to experience. Later on, a typhoon brings the two together again, and Souya’s secret is revealed.
Well, this episode really inverted my expectations for the match. Instead of seeing Souya as lonely atop his high tower, Rei seems to be engrossed with the view. I suppose this could still be a positive development, as really the biggest problem with Rei’s involvement in shogi was that he never seemed to actually enjoy it, he had simply been backed into a corner by his dependency on it for his autonomy. This arc and the last have given him a proper motivation to both enjoy his sport and also see that he can use it for goals outside of himself. It also did a decent job of actually making the shogi tolerable to watch, even if I still have absolutely no idea what’s going on. Not sure this show needs to introduce even more shogi players though, especially older ones as their designs have been very same-y. It was hard enough keeping Rei’s adopted father straight with the shogi chairman, but now we have the tournament guy who was in last episode and this rando guy who made Souya’s kimono too.
The big revelation this episode is something I’m really surprised I didn’t pick up from last episode: The young Meijin is deaf. From my experience in Honey and Clover, I’m not shocked by the somewhat out-there illness Souya seems to have. Still, I am a bit disappointed since they have kept tragic illnesses within the realms of reality. I wonder if they will play this into how Souya is able to see the world differently. In such a visually-minded game like shogi, I could see deafness actually leading to a sharpening of his natural ability to focus and read the whole board. Still, it seems very strange that nobody knows about this. I know Japan is not the most progressive culture when it comes to disabilities, but this does not seem like the kind of thing you could even hide. It also puts a new light on the outwardly affable shogi chairman. Considering how close he is to Souya, he must know. Why does he hide it? Thankfully, this fateful detour the two have been forced into seems ripe for exploring Souya’s backstory, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.