“Chapter 79 Burnt Field (Part 1) / Chapter 80 Burnt Field (Part 2) / Chapter 81 Burnt Field (Part 3) / Chapter 82 Burnt Field (Part 4)
Saturdays at 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll
We return to a set of shogi-heavy episodes that hits that sweet spot between dedication to the sport and artful insight into a life of dedication and responsibility.
Sorry for the long wait everyone, March has been putting out a few great episodes. Starting off with what started out as a joke, the Kishou Championship heats up, and unlike Shimada’s last arc, this was much tighter and well focused. We talked about the possibility of how you deal with being burnt out, I assumed this show would inevitably deal with this in Rei’s life. Now, we get to see it from a starkly real perspective: the long specter of age. We’ve been conditioned to root for Shimada considering his link to Rei and Nikaidou, so it is fascinating how quickly they’re able to flip us to Yanagihara’s side. As a member of a university club that become derelict with time, I understand his world-weariness at all these people abandoning the hobby while you’ve been left with the burden of maintaining it. To carry that into your seventies must be an incredible burden.
At first I was totally expecting the show to go the route of having the old make way for the new. Yanagihara talks about his burning ambition, but he’s still playing against the clock. Plus, Shimada has been played up for so long as a top-level player that just keeps losing at the last step. I also like seeing a little more of the strategy and crazy tactics in these high level matches. I wish i had some time to learn this game. It seems way more complicated than even this show lets on, but if people can stand to watch 169 move games that can take several hours, there has to be something really engaging to it.
At times, it feels like this show is responding to every complaint we’ve made. We complained about uninteresting shogi battles and samey-looking old guys, and not only does this arc get us to care about a relatively unknown character in short manner, they do it in a way that allows us to separate him from the old-man pack. It’s also uplifting to see him look at the bright side of the responsibility his friends have given him: It’s heavy, but it’s heavy because it has meaning. He has not spent his life in vain, he’s fought and scrapped his way to a successful career. His refusal to back down seems like another inspiration for Rei to stay in the game. The more the show has been showing us the good side of shogi, the more I’ve been okay with Rei being dragged back into the life. It seems that the last arc made him understand that he has to balance this life with his life with the sisters. Thankfully, the next episode promises we’ll get plenty more of our favorite trio.