I had to do this. Eventually. Otherwise the more I procrastinate, the more I will forget. Yeah… And hence for today’s versus blog will pit against 2 shogi themed anime series: 3-gatsu No Lion and Ryuuou No Oshigoto. You saw that coming, right? When you heard the name shogi, right? They’re the only shogi animes around (because nobody remembers Shion No Ou. At least not the new younger generation). Although the former came out earlier, its second season ended up being aired in the same season as the latter. It’s like a shogi challenge-cum-battle on a different level. But if you have watched both series, despite the ‘lion versus dragon’ designation, you would know which the outright better one is. Unless you have really screwed up taste in anime. But anyway, here is the comparison between both series:

Official English title:
3-gatsu No Lion: March Comes In Like A Lion.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: The Ryuuou’s Work Is Never Done.

Main shogi character:
3-gatsu No Lion: Rei Kiriyama.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Yaichi Kuzuryuu.

His shogi rank:
3-gatsu No Lion: 5th-dan.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: 8th-dan.

Biggest shogi title won:
3-gatsu No Lion: Newcomer King title.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ryuuou title.

His age:
3-gatsu No Lion: 19 years old (towards end of anime).
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: 16 years old.

High school:
3-gatsu No Lion: Still in high school although had a 1 year delay.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Quit high school to focus on his professional shogi career.

His real family:
3-gatsu No Lion: All died in an accident.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Unknown.
On a side note, Ai Yashajin’s parents died in an accident.

His foster family:
3-gatsu No Lion: Adopted by professional shogi player, Masachika Kouda after his family’s death. Hence has adopted siblings, Kyouko and Ayumu despite not being blood related.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Considers his shogi master, Kousuke Kiyotaki as family. Hence as adopted sisters, Keika and Ginko Sora despite not being blood related.

Self-proclaimed rival:
3-gatsu No Lion: Harunobu Nikaidou.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ayumu Kannabe.

The Grandmaster:
3-gatsu No Lion: Souya Touji.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: The eponymously named Meijin.

Results of the match against the grandmaster:
3-gatsu No Lion: With only 1 match, Rei eventually lost the commemoration match.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Best out of 7 matches, Yaichi loses the first 3 before making a comeback to win the remaining 4 and keep his title! So unbelievable.

Other shogi tournament:
That doesn’t involve our main character.
3-gatsu No Lion: Kishou Championship.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Mynavi Women’s Open.

Teacher/Student:
3-gatsu No Lion: Rei becomes a disciple under Kai Shimada who runs a small shogi focus group that consists of Harunobu Nikaidou and Morio Shigeta.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Yaichi takes in and becomes the shogi master for Ai Hinatsuru and Ai Yashajin.

Gender of shogi players:
Refers to the majority of the characters in shogi in the anime.
3-gatsu No Lion: Males. Every single one of them.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Predominantly females.

Other notable shogi players:
3-gatsu No Lion: Kai Shimada, Kishou Yanagihara, Masamune Gotou, Kengo Kuwamoto and Gakuto Sakurai.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Seiichi Tsukimitsu, Jin Natagiri, Mitsuru Oishi, Yoshitsune Kurono, Ginko Sora and Rina Shakando.

Loli:
3-gatsu No Lion: Momo Kawamoto.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Oh boy… There is a bunch of them. It’s going to take a while. Ai Hinatsuru, Ai Yashajin, Mio Mizukoshi, Ayano Sadatou and Charlotte Izoard. Phew. Not so bad, huh?

The big sister:
3-gatsu No Lion: Akari Kawamoto.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Keika Kiyotaki.

Violent girl:
3-gatsu No Lion: Kyouko Kouda.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ginko Sora.

Stalker girl:
3-gatsu No Lion: Kyouko Kouda.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ika Sainokami.

Rich kid:
3-gatsu No Lion: Harunobu Nikaidou.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ai Yashajin.

Lamer:
3-gatsu No Lion: Takeshi Tsujii – lame puns.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ayumu Kannabe – chuunibyou.

Bustiest:
3-gatsu No Lion: Akari Kawamoto.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Tamayo Rokuroba.

Pedo risk:
3-gatsu No Lion: When Kyouko asks Rei if among the Kawamoto sisters, he likes Momo.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Basically the entire series.

Good things come in 3’s:
3-gatsu No Lion: The Kawamoto sisters: Akari, Hinata and Momo.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ai’s shogi friends: Mio, Ayano and Charlotte.

Eternal:
3-gatsu No Lion: Yanagihara defeats Shimada to attain the Eternal Kishou title after also winning its 9 previous additions.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: The Meijin would have gotten the Eternal status for all 7 major titles as well as broken all sorts of other records had he defeat Yaichi in this Ryuuou title match. He did not.

Fastest shogi match:
3-gatsu No Lion: Rei beating Hinata in a handicapped practice match in just 5 minutes.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ginko owning Ryo Tsukiyomizaka in an official match in just 2 minutes! Twice!

Collapsing match:
The loser collapses after the loss of the match.
3-gatsu No Lion: Harunobu was pushing the limits of his health against his opponent, Junkei Yamazaki until he could go no further and collapses, giving his opponent a free walkover to the finals.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Because Yaichi was being a dick too focused on his match to even pay attention to Ai, she cannot concentrate on her match with Tsukiyomizaka and collapses after losing.

Losing streak:
The risk of losing one’s rank and title. Everything is at stake if they don’t buck up!
3-gatsu No Lion
: Rei has been on a losing streak at the end of the first season. Thankfully he recovers.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Yaichi has been on a losing streak from the start and for the rest of the season! Only the miracle in the end prevented the worst possible outcome.

Running away from home:
3-gatsu No Lion: Kyouko – first to Rei’s place and then to Gotou.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Ai – first from her own family and then to Keika (after a quarrel with Yaichi).

Most stressful/tension part of the series:
3-gatsu No Lion: Rei’s traumatic past of loneliness and bullying, Hinata’s bullying, the struggles of all other veteran shogi players. Heck, basically almost the entire anime!
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Yaichi facing off with the Meijin and being cornered. Yes, this.

Back from the ‘dead’:
3-gatsu No Lion: Somehow Harunobu recovered from his collapse and is back laughing and playing shogi like he was never sick before.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Somehow Keika who has been on a downward spiral and losing streak, manages to win a few important matches that matter to allow her to become a professional female player.

Bully victim:
3-gatsu No Lion: Chiho Sakura was Megumi Takagi and co’s plaything before she moved away and Hinata became her ‘replacement’.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Yaichi is often and still is Ginko’s punching bag because those misinterpreted pedo moments sure look like an excuse and great opportunity to vent out all she’s got.

Love interest:
3-gatsu No Lion: Hinata has a crush on Yuusuke Takahashi.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: I’m confused. Yaichi likes Keika but she doesn’t believe him. Later she even invites him to be his wife. Then there is this ‘agreement’ of Yaichi becoming Ai’s bride and him proclaiming to be Charlotte’s bride too. Ginko is a tsundere and Ai is a yandere. Seeing Yaichi is popular among girls his age too…

Overall feel of the series:
3-gatsu No Lion: Melancholic, depressing, slow paced.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Light-hearted, casual, everything so happy! Well, almost.

Anime art style:
3-gatsu No Lion: Simple, sketchy and sometimes like water colour.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Basically oozing cute, kawaii and moe style.

Number of episodes:
3-gatsu No Lion: 44 episodes (22 episodes per season).
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: 12 episodes.

Studio production:
3-gatsu No Lion: Shaft.
Ryuuou No Oshigoto: Project No. 9.

Conclusion
Without a doubt, 3-gatsu No Lion comes out tops in almost every department as it is superior in the story and characters compared to Ryuuou No Oshigoto who is only there for some free and easy, cheap loli fanservice. Both series feel like they are on the opposite far end of the pole and that shogi is the only theme they have in common. The former may be draggy and depressing but the way it also displays its creative visuals to depict loneliness and depression is quite interesting. The latter is all just cute and looking nice but lacks the necessary substance for it to be appealing. Unless you are totally into lolis than that’s another story. Because oddly adding females especially lolis into shogi only seem to devalue the game. Maybe that is why men and women are segregated in shogi tournaments. Women checkmating men in shogi is one thing. But when they checkmate you in real life… That’s when sh*t really hits the fan.

Ryuuou No Oshigoto

July 14, 2018

If 3-gatsu No Lion was too depressing and there weren’t enough cute female shogi players, Ryuuou No Oshigoto could be that elixir to counter that. No long boring drama that wreaks of melancholy in every episode, check. No male-only dominated shogi like as though shogi is a men’s only world, check. Lots of cute females, check. Bonus points and double check if you love lolis. Oh yeah. This is going to be a fun ride, isn’t it? Wait. Is this really going to be about playing shogi or the daily hijinks of a young shogi master taking on an even younger shogi prodigy as his disciple? Why do I suddenly want my shogi to be sad and depressing?

Episode 1
Yaichi Kuzuryuu defied all odds and the intense pressure to become the youngest Ryuuou in shogi. But ever since then, it has been 3 months since he is in a slump and he needs to fix his predicament fast for the sake of the title he is holding. When he goes home, he is shocked to see a young girl, Ai Hinatsuru waiting there and wanting to fulfil his promise to take her as his disciple. During his Ryuuou title match, he was close to a breakdown when Ai gave him a glass of water to calm his nerves and that was when he made the promise. Her father owns the inn that Ryuuou match was played. Yaichi plays a match to test her aptitude. The match is intense although he still wins. Ai has been a fan of his and wants to be like him. And to think she just started playing shogi in only 3 months. Prodigy? Another match is played to test if she is worthy of becoming his disciple. They played late into the night until they realize they have forgotten to eat. Next morning she makes him breakfast and she continues to wow him with hard shogi strategies she could easily solve. Yaichi is in a dilemma to take her under his wing because his ‘sister’ might oppose to it. Speaking of which, here she is knocking on his door! She gets suspicious hearing a girl’s voice inside. At the same time, Ai turns into a yandere thinking he has another girl. Caught between a hard place and a rock. Eventually the cat is out of the bag. Ginko Sora sees Yaichi with a naked loli. Of all times, Ai must take a bath? Definitely a checkmate he won’t recover from.

Ginko hints of killing Yaichi and she isn’t joking. I know it’s natural that guys in his predicament try to explain but often in situations like this, the girl will never listen. It is always his fault somehow. Ginko isn’t Yaichi’s blood related sister. As they share the same shogi master, they are treated like siblings. Besides, Ginko is quite a famous idol in the shogi industry and is known as the Snow White of Naniwa. That queen title sounds nice but she is more of the S&M type. Ai and Ginko don’t get along well because of a certain guy. Poor guy gets caught in the middle of whatever feud they have. Ai is brought to their master’s house. He knows about Ai running away from home because the shogi association called him about a missing child. Although there are many professional shogi players in the north where she hails from, she insists on becoming Yaichi’s disciple. That single Ryuuou match must have been so inspiring, huh? Ai is now temporarily Yaichi’s disciple as she meets fellow trainee, Keika Kiyotaki. Yaichi brings Ai to the local shogi association hall to join a training group. They bump into Yaichi’s self-proclaimed rival, Ayumu Kannabe (chuunibyou dude). After he leaves her at the training hall, he goes to have his match with Ayumu.

Episode 2
During lunch break, Yaichi goes to see Ai. She too won hers. As Yaichi is famous, girls of all ages swamp over him, making Ai real jealous. Especially those who were bold enough to shake hands with him. Yaichi resumes his knight-slaying-demon-fantasy match with Ayumu. Can we credit is win to Ai ever since she popped up at his place? Is this the start of his revival? Ai is so talented that she got promoted in the same day. Not so lucky for Keika as she is already 25 years old and there is an age limit that needs one to become professional or else you retire for good. Ai asks Yaichi’s permission to host a shogi workshop at his place with her friends, Mio Mizukoshi, Ayano Sadatou and Charlotte Izoard (oh no, rival French loli character who loves to sit on Yaichi’s lap as her favourite cushion). In addition to playing each other, Yaichi also plays all of them simultaneously to see their level. Because they get so passionate in becoming better shogi players, they kiss sleep goodbye. Naturally they fall asleep along the way and more woes for Yaichi when he wakes up because Ginko is incessantly taking photos of ‘proof’ of him being a lolicon. The world shall know him of his new title, Loli King! The girls swamp Ginko but she isn’t good with kids. Somehow it is Yaichi’s fault when Charlotte gets her drool all over her skirt… Soon, Ai’s parents, Takashi and Akina come to see them. They are taking back their daughter as they don’t see a bright future for a female shogi player. Although Yaichi assures them of her talent that will no doubt make her a title holder, Akina is not convinced because Yaichi has never taken on a disciple before so what makes him so sure he can tell. Ai mentions all the nice things Yaichi does for her (why does she have to make it sound so ambiguously sexually charged?) but mom is still bent on bringing her home. Wow. Daughter calling mother stupid? Yaichi proposes this. As Ai will be taking her training group entrance exam tomorrow, she will face all 3 professional challengers of various levels. Akina wants her to win all matches because if she is that good, winning should be no problem.

Episode 3
Ai hopes Yaichi could give her some sort of charm as motivation for tomorrow’s matches. I hope this fan will do. Ai’s first opponent is Ayano whom she defeats easily. Next up is Yoshitsune Kuruno, the organizer of this training group and an active top shogi player. It took a while but eventually she beats him. Everyone is amazed at her overflowing talent. Only Akina doesn’t seem to be impressed. Ai’s final match is against Ginko. Grudge match? As explained, Ginko might be a female professional but she is not a professional shogi player. Apparently there is a difference. The league is divided into promotional league and the lower training league, each with their own tiers. To become a professional shogi player, you have to be tops of the promotional league but to become a female professional, attaining a high ranking in the training league is good enough. And there’s some other convoluted ranking and promotion system that noobs like won’t understand at first go. Ginko is a tough nut to crack. It’s like she is slowly trying to breakdown Ai’s mental state. Ai used up all her allotted time that her subsequent moves must be made in within a minute. This only serves to pressure and make her panic more, so much so she has a hard time breathing! There is one time Ai claws her way back and takes the lead but Ginko corners back using tactics that Yaichi once thought and practised with her thousands of times! Damn, seeing Ai in tears and trying to hold it in is like some sort of torture. Eventually Ginko wins (although deep inside she is frustrated she couldn’t breakthrough easily and had to draw out all she got). Akina wants Ai to say goodbye and leave but Yaichi after seeing Ai’s perseverance, now he is more motivated to make her as his disciple. Yaichi prostrates himself for this chance and Ai does the same with him. Takashi agrees to leave his daughter in his care. Akina sounds rude when she asks Yaichi how many siblings he has and his annual salary. She throws down the ultimatum that if Ai cannot become a female title holder by middle school graduation, he will marry into the Hinatsuru family and help run their family inn business. This is the risk and responsibility he must take. Either way, it sounds like a win-win situation for Ai. It might sound daunting but Yaichi is willing to risk his way of life for Ai.

Episode 4
Yaichi is called to meet a legendary shogi player, Seiichi Tsukimitsu. However due to an illness he is blinded. It seems he has a request for Yaichi to take on another disciple. The granddaughter of a business family insisted she will not take on a master unless he is some top grade. Yaichi goes to meet the family to save face. He meets Ai Yashajin. Another Ai? To avoid confusion, I’ll call her as Ai Y for now. Ai Y is bitter and disrespectful. After losing to him in a handicap match, she throws a tantrum and returns to her room. Her grandpa apologizes for her rudeness. Her parents died and she faced nothing but the shogi board. It seems her parents are shogi players and they often play with each other. Those were her happy moments. Too bad they died in an accident. Yaichi has a feeling he has seen her shogi moves somewhere. When he returns, he sees Ai being reduced to tears because Ginko showed no mercy. Wasn’t Ginko supposed to be in a title match? Yes. She beat her opponent, Ryo Tsukiyomizaka in 2 minutes! Then she rushed all the way down here to use Ai as her punching back. Ginko claims Ai is getting weaker. Maybe the workshop made her relax too much. This bolsters Yaichi’s motivation to teach Ai Y. He brings her to a shogi parlour to play with other common people. Is that a granny or grandpa she’s playing with? Tranny? Ai Y lost consecutively 5 games. When he returns home, Charlotte wants to be his disciple. Yaichi declines. Why? Because Charlotte will be his bride! WTF?! Did he just realize what he just said?! He can’t even fathom why Ai is so mad? Did he forget about that deal? All he thinks is that Ai doesn’t like the idea of another disciple and hence will not tell her about Ai Y. Oh no. I can see where this is going to lead… Yaichi continues to take Ai Y out for shogi matches on weekends and on other days he is with Ai. When Ai mentions she is now good at figuring out people’s habit, this means she now knows Yaichi is lying because he rubs his pants when he does so. When Ai’s friends speculate it is a man, Ai’s evil aura is growing! To take her mind off it, Mio suggests bringing her to a shogi dojo for a change in pace. Somehow Yaichi and Ai Y are there as he is teaching her how to move. This means touching and guiding her hand. Why do they have to come in at the precise of times? Oh sh*t…

Episode 5
Ai in yandere mode!!! Ai Y makes it worse with ambiguous words so Ai tries to compete with it. Yaichi tries to sound he is not obsessed or anything but Ai takes it the wrong way and runs away in tears. She runs away from home (again?) but is at his master’s house and staying with Keika. His master talks to Yaichi about his worries when he took him on as his disciple as he wanted to push him onto Tsukimitsu but was made to reconsider and honour Yaichi’s feelings of wanting him to be his master. He thinks Yaichi isn’t wrong as he acted with his disciple in mind. Yaichi calls Ginko after she totally crushed Tsukiyomizaka again. He tells her about another disciple he has and her defensive play looks familiar and wonders if she knows anybody who plays like that. Instead she gets mad and hangs up. When Ai Y finally wins at the shogi parlour, Yaichi signs her up for the workshop entrance exam. She easily beats the kid her age. Keika becomes her next victim. Poor Keika in tears. I guess I understand she is already at that age and not going anywhere at this rate. Ai Y’s final opponent is Ai. It makes an interesting rivalry match since both their play styles do not match up. However Ai Y is good at a very complicated move that even experts rarely use. This puts Ai at a disadvantage. In the end, Ai admits she lost. However when Kuruno and Yaichi point out a move that Ai would have easily checkmated her opponent, Ai is left crying and blaming herself for not concentrating. Her mind was preoccupied with her master and became a coward. Yaichi hopes this loss would be a lesson to her, the frustration of losing to a rival of her age. Ai Y remains cocky and won’t acknowledge anyone weaker than her but will admit Ai as her opponent. Ai is motivated once more to learn and play more from Yaichi. Yaichi remembers her defensive play. It was from her father who played a commemoration match with Tsukimitsu who was Meijin then. Although Tsukimitsu won, young Yaichi watched the match and suggested a path that none noticed. Had Ai Y’s dad realized this, he would have won. Astounded, he had high regards for Yaichi and if his daughter grows up to be a shogi player, he wants Yaichi to be her master. So Ai Y being angry at him was not remembering this. Yaichi wants her to be part of his family and her master. He promises to make her happy. Why does it sound like a proposal?! Ai is being childish asking Yaichi who is his number one. Thinking Ai was there first and hence her. Happy Ai. Ai Y thought all this is childish but she too asks the same question. This is because she is going to be part of his family. So if Ai is a yandere, Ai Y is tsundere?

Episode 6
Yaichi faces off with Jin Natagiri who is a shogi researcher and all-rounder. Because Natagiri sounds gay like as though he is flirting with him, Yaichi loses focus and lost. Again too. Yaichi is depressed but he knows this is nothing compared to Keika. She is already nearing that age limit and since she just lost another match, there’s those demotion points. Yaichi and Ai visit Mitsuru Oishi. He is an expert in using the ranging rook strategy as opposed to Yaichi who is in favour of using the static rook strategy. Yaichi gets a taste of how fearsome this strategy is with his first loss. So while under the tutelage of Oishi, they have to help clean his bath house and serve at his bar too. Yaichi is stiff from the working so Ai massages his back. Not enough, she steps on it. Heck, her loli friends also join in. Wow. They must be so light. Be he feels so damn good until a stomp on his head. Oh sh*t. Ginko not pleased. You loli pervert. I think at this rate of stomping he is going to go stupid before he dies. After so many battles, Yaichi finally wins. He is a Ryuuou title holder, you know. But what’s this? Ai crying? She tried this newly learnt strategy with a handicap on Mio and won. Mio cried like hell and it hurt Ai. Okay. Time for some comforting shogi advice as well as life’s reality. If you don’t care for those who lose, you’ll break first if you lose. If you fear victory, you don’t have to suffer. No matter who we play with, we don’t want to lose. If we can’t play shogi, our lives are meaningless. You get the point. Oishi could guess Yaichi’s goal is to fight the Meijin and he is Natagiri’s master. Does he has a chance to beat him? Maybe. On the next official match, Natagiri loses his flirting gay side to put on a serious fight. Yaichi uses the strategies his learnt but Natagiri pours cold water on it because this was the strategy he played out with his master yesterday. After years of research and deadlock, they came to a conclusion the static rook strategy wins. Yaichi thinks he is trying to break him and continues fighting. Just when Yaichi thought he checkmated him, Natagiri pulls a surprise move. Didn’t see that one coming?

Episode 7
I don’t know what Yaichi did but he looks like looking into the future or something. Because of that he pulls off a surprising move and checkmates Natagiri! So I guess his research was wrong. But the main star of this episode is Keika. We all know by now she is getting older and her dream of becoming a professional female player is slimmer by the day. A stinging criticism from Ginko that she studied researches and memorized them. So when it deviates, she panics. That is why she has grown weaker. With Keika prostrating herself to her to become her master, Ginko can’t say no. Short flashback how Keika loved shogi but had a late start in taking it seriously. She thought it would be easy but reality was opposite. Ginko’s advice to her is to have more confidence in her play and not deny her own talent. Before Keika leaves for her demotion match, she tells her father she will quit her training group that she has been stuck in for years if she fails to get consecutive wins. Her first matchup is Ai Y. Since this is her redemption match, we see Keika putting up a different performance. She uses Ai Y’s specialty move against her and wins, forcing frustrated Ai Y to utter those words that she has lost. Next is Ai. Somewhat through the game, Ai starts crying because she has been in a dilemma if she should go easy on her fellow family member. You mean it wasn’t clear? So now she is getting serious, so is Keika. You mean she wasn’t? Because now Keika is all fired up thanks to this letter she wrote to future herself when she was 10 years old. Yeah, filled with hope and optimism to become a professional female shogi player. However in the end, Keika losses. But we all know it is a good game so there is no shame in defeat. Time to shed those tears. She returns home to tell her father that she has to break her promise of quitting. She still wants to play shogi. Even if she cannot become a pro, she still wants to work in this industry. Father moved to tears. Daughter too. More tears. Finally Keika talks to Yaichi about all this. She hints if she can’t become a pro, perhaps she can be his wife. Immediately accepts! I know he likes her but didn’t he make a promise to Ai? She trolls him he will only always be second in her heart. Her first love is always shogi.

Episode 8
There is a Mynavi open challenge for women. The Ai duo are taking it as well as Keika. From what I understand, if Keika passes this and gets through the preliminary match and just win one match from there, she’ll become a professional female player regardless of her status. That easy? But then she lost… So disappointed… The scene that takes the cake is how Yaichi is supposed to make comments on the matches and his partner types it in. She shortens his words (limited comment space is the excuse) and makes him sound like a lolicon! Like as though she really wants to taint his reputation. At the end of the match, Keika somehow wins some remedial match and qualifies for the preliminaries. Yaichi is being approached by Ika Sainokami. She is bugging him for a match and he has to keep refusing this psycho killer girl because he knows she grows stronger by defeating stronger opponents and at the same time ruin their morale. Now Yaichi is providing live commentary for the match Meijin is in. Only, if he cannot be distracted by the cleavage of his partner, Tamayo Rokuroba. I think she is hinting something at him and he likes her good treatment. Till Ai sees this and feels the need to step in. Those eyes… Apparently all his loli disciples are allowed on stage as his special guest? Yeah, it’s like they’re trying to ruin his reputation by saying ambiguous lines of him being a lolicon just to freak out Tamayo. His reputation further tanks when Charlotte kisses him on the cheek. That day, the police station’s lines were ringing nonstop reporting a pedo… Next day, Yaichi and Ginko go to see Rina Shakando who has been holding her title as the professional women’s player for 20 years. She is Ayumu’s master. Ginko plays a match with her and loses. Rina knows what made her lose her composure but Ginko won’t let her say it. Yaichi asks her opinion of Ginko. She has the potential to become a strong professional female player. As for Ika, she is like a demon since her strength is based on egoism. She will hurt and sacrifice others without hesitation to reach her goal. Rina is keeping her in place for now but knows she cannot do it forever. She hopes Ginko will be that seal on that demon when that time comes. Rina has Ginko wear girly clothes to go on a date with Yaichi. Looks like now I know her weakness. To stop her violent behaviour, just put her in such clothes! Her threats now make her sound tsundere + shy girl!

Episode 9
The preliminaries for Mynavi for women begin. Yaichi and Ginko are the commentators but Ika causes some commotion before the start as she reminds Yaichi about his answer. During the break, you bet Ginko is going to interrogate him about that. I believe she just wants to beat him up no matter what he says and make it sound like Ika was his ex-girlfriend. Heck, even Ai is interested to hear this backstory. Yaichi explains how they met and all and how she became obsessed in wanting to play shogi with him all the time. He rejected her but she never gave up. To a point she was once stalking him naked?! As Ika is Ai’s next opponent, she vows to defeat and turn her down. During their match, Ika as usual is making offensive and aggressive moves. Ika starts badmouthing other female players as weak and wants Ai to switch with her to live with Yaichi should she best her. Ika might sound scary and all but Yaichi isn’t worried and believes in Ai. For he knows Ika is arrogant and only cares for herself. She is the kind of person he doesn’t want Ai to become. Ai fights back and leaves Ika literally sweating when the tables are turned. Even planning far ahead to play mind games with her in the sense that Ai could have lost if Ika took certain pieces but because of the daring psychological effect, this has Ika being pressured and making mistakes. Ai will not let anyone take her place with Yaichi. Yeah, Ai wins. More good news with Ai Y and Keika also winning theirs. The Ai duo then make a special thank you announcement just for Yaichi because they remember it is his birthday today (it’s in his name the date). I guess today’s birthday is pretty special. Somebody pushes him so he could hug the loli duo. Such a heartfelt moment. I guess we make it today an exception of not calling the cops. Everyone watches the match that will decide who becomes Ryuuou’s challenger. Can Ayumu beat the Meijin? Nope. I guess it’s Yaichi and the so called god-like undefeated king.

Episode 10
Aloha! We’re at Honolulu. Apparently the first best of 7 matches will be held here. We have a nice reception party and even celebrating Ai’s birthday today. How sweet. Everything looks fine and dandy until the first match begins. It seems if Meijin wins this one, he will break all sorts of records like being in 100 seasons of holding the title as well as the eternal title for all categories. I’m not sure if this is possible but the game is paused midway and will be resumed tomorrow. I know it is taxing but postponement is allowed? I guess we need to take a break to see Ginko in her sexy swimsuit by the sea. Night swim. Of course she forces Yaichi to treat her and being the tsundere she is, she wants him to ‘prove’ he is not a lolicon. She is actually prepared to kiss him but he backs off thinking this is another one of her prank. How sad. The match resumes and it seems Yaichi realizes he is in a pinch. Especially when he is using a strategy he is good at. In short, he lost. I know it is only the first round but it really got to him. Yaichi snaps back at Ai who is trying to cheer on him because his whole shogi world is turned upside down with that. Yeah, all it took was just one match. Yaichi also loses the second match in Osaka. For the third round in Tendou, Yaichi begins panicking and even tries using an eternal looping move to buy time. Though it is not illegal, it is so if it is checkmating move. In which, Yaichi is about to strike out. Realizing this, he panics more and becomes hasty. He lost. He becomes obsessed in researching moves so when Ai tries to request to play a match because of her Mynavi tournament tomorrow, he reluctantly does so. Man, you can hear his heavy pounding. Is he trying to smash the board? It’s scaring Ai. Eventually he smashes it! Oh sh*t. I guess it’s too early to realize he is being a dick so he starts thinking about his current relationship with Ai. It’s wrong. So he tells her tomorrow after her match, she will go live with his master. He has already arranged for her stuffs to be transported there. Thanks to this trauma, Ai cannot concentrate on her match with Tsukiyomizaka and lost. So much so she starts having asthma attacks and collapses! For real?!

Episode 11
Don’t worry. Ai is in the good hands of Keika. She’s playing the big sister tonight as well as giving Ai Y good complimentary for winning her match or else Yaichi would have gone crazy had both Ais lost their match. Speaking of him, he continues to obsess in getting stronger. Even Ginko is here hinting him he can do anything to her like continue where they left off from Hawaii. Yeah, he only remembers that stinging lost. Even madder. He snaps. She snaps. She doesn’t care if he doesn’t have a title as long as they can be together. Wrong timing to bring that up now but if you think Ginko is just going to run away and cry, she is mad first since Yaichi calls her a hindrance. Now she runs away and cries on Keika’s lap, complaining about the jerk. Big sister is sure busy tonight. Today is Keika’s match with Rina. Yaichi wouldn’t have bothered had he not noticed Rina making some big moves. It got him interested to watch and from his analysis, he believes Keika could actually win this. In the end, Keika wins! Now she is a female professional. During her interview, had she not mentioned Yaichi’s name, he wouldn’t have opened his eyes. Too late to cry now. He notices somebody brought lunch outside his doorstep. It couldn’t be Keika since she is away. Oh, right. Ai! Can he just tell by the food? Miraculously he manages to find her. He’s sorry. She wants to be his disciple forever. Big hug. There. We’re back on track. Hey wait. Ai has been promoted to a female professional player 2 days ago? How long has Yaichi been holed up in his room?! Coincidentally the final match is in Ai’s hometown. And Yaichi definitely feels strange because this pre-match ceremony feels like their pre-wedding ceremony! Oh sh*t. Tsukimitsu is even reading their wedding vows but substitute certain words with shogi terms. Yeah, they sign a master-disciple contract that looks like a marriage one. Of course this is part of Tsukimitsu’s ulterior motive to secure this inn as their main venue for future matches. Yaichi shouldn’t feel he is being used first because now he notices Ginko giving him the death stare! A real scary one. Better remember to apologize to her.

Episode 12
Fourth match is here. For the first time, Yaichi feels he came here to play shogi instead of titles. So we see them making moves based on some technique that I don’t understand with many of the characters giving their 2 cents worth about it. Of course Yaichi’s play has changed since playing with the Meijin. Still, he isn’t anywhere close to him and from the looks of his desperate face, it’s like as though he could explode anytime. Yaichi realizes he is going to make that illegal loop move. But after the Meijin makes his move, he calls to suspend the game. Judging from the move he made which is also another illegal pawn drop move, it becomes an extraordinary situation where both players abiding by the rules cannot determine the outcome of the match. A first in history! Therefore this match will be declared invalid. So they’re going to replay it soon? Because I thought with Meijin having 3 wins, he should claim the overall victory. Unless 4 is the magic number. We take a break from shogi stress so Ai could offer her lap for Yaichi to rest. Cue for Ginko and Ai to fight over this situation. Too bad the rematch is now so Yaichi has to get going. Funny, the first match can be postponed the next day but today’s match cannot? I guess things are different in Hawaii and this is an important deciding match too. The rematch sees Yaichi making some improvements but as usual we see Yaichi’s excruciating going-to-explode face. But after a hard fought battle… Meijin admits his loss! OMG! Everybody is celebrating like as though Yaichi won the goddamn thing! There’s even a celebratory party after that so that we can replay that déjà vu scene of Yaichi needing help and Ai is there to give him that help. What does she ask for in exchange? To teach her shogi. In the aftermath, Yaichi won the remaining matches to retain his Ryuuou title!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!! They organize some party but Ai ‘lied’ to everyone to come later so that she could hog Yaichi to play shogi.

Loli-ou No Oh-shit-got-too-many-lolis
Wow. What the hell?! Yaichi won and retained his Ryuuou title?! What kind of utter nonsense is this?! Something like this could only happen because of plot convenience. Personally, had Yaichi lost and the typical cliché ending that he will continue to play and fight for shogi (because everything isn’t so cliché over yet), isn’t as bad. But to make him come back and win by defeating the Meijin? That’s really impossibly impossible. Like as though the Meijin saw his traumatic face and felt pity and threw away the remaining games. All for the sake of Yaichi’s growth that I couldn’t see. Because screw whatever records he is going to break. For the sake of this series’ happy ending and his loli harem, he throws away the matches so that we can all have a good ending. Heck, we don’t even get to see the final 3 matches and hence we can’t judge if they were easy or hard fought ones. Anyhow, it’s like an insult and showing us (and shogi) the middle finger because screw you for the sake of a happy loli ending.

I’m sure there are going to be lots of comparison about this anime with 3-gatsu No Lion. Can’t help it. They’re the only shogi related anime in very recent times. Because Shion No Ou was so long ago and obscure that nobody remembers it. Yeah, I didn’t watch that series either. Anyway, it doesn’t take a genius for those who have watched both these recent shogi themed series to know which one is tops. Okay, for those who don’t, it is 3-gatsu No Lion. In almost every aspect and as overall.

Let’s start with the plot and story. Basically from both anime series, the plot looks paper thin. Young shogi prodigy having to overcome whatever issues they have at hand. It is easy to say that this series does not have enough plot and story because it only spans a dozen of episodes unlike 3-gatsu No Lion in which had 2 seasons and a total of 44 episodes to go along. That’s like almost 3 times the amount needed to flesh out whatever drama, plot and characters needed. But if you take a look at this one, it starts off with Yaichi being the youngest Ryuuou and then somehow he enters a period of slump, hence the rest of the episode sees him trying to pick up the pieces and prove his achievement wasn’t a fluke. Sounds weak and uninteresting if you ask me. And along the way he picks up some loli harem. Like, WTF?!

I believe that if you want to learn some shogi moves or techniques, this isn’t exactly a series to be introduced to shogi. Even 3-gatsu No Lion isn’t a good series if you really want to learn some shogi tips. So like a shogi noob like me who could even barely remember the basic moves of the different pieces, showing the shogi board to me, they could just BS their way through in whatever ways or however they want it because I’m just going to believe whatever impossible moves or comeback moves convenient for the plot to happen. The board looks so alien to me. So when they ramp up the drama with the characters sweating in panic because they didn’t realize or see a move before this, I would be going like, “What?! WHAT?! What the f*ck is happening?! I don’t see anything wrong (obviously)!”. Even if they did mention and briefly explain some shogi moves, it still sounds so alien to me. Whatever. You play whatever moves you want.

Then there are the characters. Forgettable. Everything is so permeating with cuteness and kawaii factor that it makes 3-gatsu No Lion looking like the god of misery. 3-gatsu No Lion’s characters may not be that likeable but you want to root for them because of the problems that are relatable to many of us. Whereas for this Ryuuou loli crap, everything feels so conveniently convenient for the sake of the wafer thin plot. I mean, they tried to drum up some tension and drama when Yaichi was on a losing streak with Meijin. It didn’t work seeing how colourful and glossy everything had been all along. Now they throw in this by making Yaichi a dick? Not going to work. It is going to make us hate him even more. We all know he is going to make up for himself because the plot says so and he is the main character. Yeah, that contorting face of his while facing Meijin is to show some sort of hardship and emotions while he takes on the country’s best shogi player but sometimes it felt comical to a point I was trying to hold back my laughter seeing him stressed out like that. Uh huh. As though the Meijin had no emotions whatsoever and if he so much as to eke out a mini smile, it must mean something. Something, I guess.

It must be a running joke for Yaichi to be the centre guy in this unofficial harem. Mostly loli disciples and a couple of mature females. It’s like he and everyone else is giving this a free pass and not bat an eyelid because they are looking it from a professional point of view. You know, he is the shogi master and they are his disciples. Wow. Everybody is so good that they don’t see anything potentially wrong with it. Unless the plot calls for some little pedo joke. It is amazing Yaichi hasn’t been arrested and his shogi future not in shambles. What’s more, Yaichi being betrothed to Ai at a young age feels so wrong. Although all seems verbal but it doesn’t look like Yaichi is very bothered with it. I mean, all he has to do is not fail, right? Sounds easy until you realize that he is currently in a slump. Oh sh*t. Which makes it mind boggling because he is only being famous for being the youngest Ryuuou and gets so much attention just because he is the main character.

Unlike the true Meijin who has so many records and titles, damn this guy is treated like a mere side character! Show some respect! Making it worse, we don’t even get to see this guy’s face nor has he a voice! Okay, he does. His face is not shown until the final turning point moments and at that point I was ‘disappointed’ because to keep his face hidden for this long time I thought he had a third eye or something. Just some average looking guy. And the only time he spoke is to admit his defeat! I don’t know, but that makes it feel like his character is somewhat a loser, don’t you think? This guy is much more mysterious than 3-gatsu No Lion’s Souya. Thus making this best living shogi player of current time to be nothing more than just a weak character existing just because of the plot. To say that Yaichi’s game with the Meijin woke him up and put in some much added drama. But this still does not avert the fact that this most important man in the game is being given this lacklustre treatment. And after all that he possibly done in the final match for Yaichi, this guy wasn’t even invited to his party. Old shogi rivals were invited but not the Meijin. What an insult. Yaichi, you better hope your retaining of your title isn’t a fluke and you better not be in a slump anymore.

As for the female characters, I guess with a bunch of them, it really gives a different atmosphere compared to 3-gatsu No Lion which is all dominated by men. Middle aged and very old men. So with lots of cute and young (loli) girls, wow, it sure looks like shogi is a little girl’s game too. So much fun. So cute. But I am still confused and don’t understand about the different set of ranking and promotional rules for women. It’s not my place to say but I thought shogi should be like karuta whereby the gender doesn’t matter since it is a game of the mind and not of the body.

Anyway with Ai being the main character and Yaichi’s first disciple, she is only memorable because of all the moe and kawaii aura permeating throughout her existence. The way she acts and talks is so loli wonderful that either you will fawn over her or find it somewhat annoying to a certain degree. I’m sure they want to portray her as a shogi prodigy and hence she wins some of her matches against higher level opponents but that too feels artificial somehow. She has to win because of the plot. And to show that she is a human and not perfect like a robot, there are very, very, very few times that she will lose. All for the sake of the plot. Whatever. To counter all that positive loli cuteness in Ai is the bratty brat Ai Y. I don’t even see the need for her to exist so as to confuse us between both Ais because other than that I don’t even see the intensity of their rivalry as shogi players as well as to become Yaichi’s number one disciple. It feels like Ai Y has been completed side-lined during Yaichi’s showdown with the Meijin. Like as though she has been tossed aside and become an unimportant character to have never existed. Perhaps this is to give more time for Ai to be with Yaichi and reaffirm Ai is supposed to be Yaichi’s number one loli. Ai Y is just for the backup, just in case.

I guess you need a few different tropes of women when you have a harem. Ai as the lovely one (sometimes potential to be yandere), Ai Y as the tsundere, Ginko the amphibian (tsundere or yandere?) and Keika the big sister (also biggest troller to be Yaichi’s wife). Damn you Yaichi! Even if you’re a current failure in shogi, you are sure scoring with a bunch of ladies! This means those shogi friends of Ai are super useless and only exist for some pedo jokes especially Charlotte who is just oozing twice as much moe and kawaii aura than Ai and make innocent little girl statements like wanting to marry Yaichi so that viewers can be irked and call the police. Is it because they are little girls that Yaichi do not take their word seriously they want to marry him? Because he seems to like Keika but she dismisses him. Because Ginko likes him but playing the tsundere and playing the tough girl who always beats him up for any reason turns him off. Don’t worry about Yaichi getting any more mature ladies under his harem. As long as Ai is acting like his jealous wife, you can bet she’ll step in and nip it in the bud. I’ve not even mentioned some of the shogi guys his age who might be gay for him… Damn Yaichi is better known for being popular in the wrong way than his shogi.

I still don’t understand where Ginko stands in the female professional shogi world because it sounds like she is so damn good but at the same time she isn’t up there with the top guns. Her reason to exist in this anime is to provide us with the running joke of beating up Yaichi and blaming him for whatever reasons because it is female’s privilege to do that and not bear any consequences. Guts tell me from the start that her violent nature is to hide her crush on him because can you imagine a very polite and lovely Ginko? Remember, she has a reputation to live up in the shogi world. What snow was it again? Ah, cold as ice… She would have been a lot cuter if she smiles more often… But she is too far down that track to have a sudden character change. We’ll all die (as well as Yaichi) via sudden heart attack.

It sometimes feel that there is this strange focus on Keika. She has been on losing streaks and stuck in her training group for so many years. There is this threat that she will not achieve her dream to become a professional female shogi player by a certain age as stipulated by the rules (who made these damn rules for women anyway?!). This feels like a side story aside from anything that is related to Yaichi and his loli harem. What makes it mind boggling is that she has been losing for so long and the way she sounds like there is little to no hope in making it but all of a sudden, this one Mynavi match, win a few rounds and conveniently defeating Rina who holds the title as Eternal Queen! Do you not see how convenient a plot this is and to add to her character happy ending?! Everybody in Yaichi’s shogi family gets through! Hooray! Wow. I wonder how many women also barely made it through like this. So conveniently convenient that it is conveniently convenient.

As for the other shogi rivals and characters, they lack any depth that would make them likeable. Like Ayumu as this chuunibyou gay for Yaichi or that crazy Ika who could have been a serial killer-cum-stalker had she not taken up shogi and what the heck is Tsukiyomizaka again for? I believe she has another shogi friend and partner who is most of the time with her but I can’t remember her name. So insignificant. I know these characters are supposed to be colourful but in a way it makes them look comical because when you compare it to 3-gatsu No Lion that is so mundane and dull in this sense, ironically that depressing shogi show’s characters feel like it has more life than this one! I know it’s so ironic, right? I mean, like I said when you have the Meijin treated like a secondary unimportant character, it is as though they want you to remember this shogi series as a loli and pedo one.

I want to point out that this series might have a few subtle sexual ambiguity. Aside from the obvious loli pedo hogging many of the scenes as well as those sexual ambiguous cliche scenes that calls for others to walk in and misinterpret the scene, one of the very subtler ones include when Ai is getting serious in playing her shogi game especially making a comeback from a pinch situation, she would move her head back and forth while focusing. I don’t know, it makes her look like as though she is doing a blowjob!!!!!!!!!!! Not kidding!!!!! Call me a pervert because at so many angles, this is the first impression that it gives off to me. Personally the best ‘lewd’ jokes are the ones where the commentator purposely mistypes Yaichi’s words to make him sound like a lolicon. Sh*t might have gotten real if Ika had shown us full frontal nudity in her failed bid to win over Yaichi. Yeah, this series could have easily have a porn parody on its own and fare better! No, seriously.

Art and animation of course has everything so cute and kawaii, bright and colourful. If you like this style of visual, I’m sure this section is where it trumps the very simple looking 3-gatsu No Lion. Thanks to female characters playing shogi, sometimes I feel like this is also a cosplay event. Like Rina who resembles like some sort of witch or rather bride of Dracula. Seriously. And Ayumu is dressed like as though he is going to fight magical beasts from another world when is just going to play shogi. Does this help in playing psychology with your opponents? By a long shot, I thought Ika looked like Kouka from Beatless and Ginko a serious version of Rem from Re: Zero series. This series is animated by Project No. 9 who is better known to animate loli and cute girl anime series like Ro-Kyu-Bu, Netoge No Yome Wa Onnanoko Ja Nai To Omotta, Tenshi No 3P and Saikin Imouto No Yousu Ga Chotto Okashiinda Ga.

You know, I was pretty darn sure that Yui Horie was behind Ginko’s voice. So cock sure that at some points when she sounded a little off, I didn’t even suspect otherwise. Then of course the real shock came when I discovered it wasn’t her. It was Hisako Kanemoto instead. Super failed ~de geso. Now I fear that her voice might confuse me in future anime series since although she is still active in the voice acting world, she is slowing down a little. Another shocker is Haruka Tomatsu as Ika. Argh. So a bit confusing ~de geso. Honestly, I haven’t been hearing her for quite some time so maybe that’s why I couldn’t see it was her.

Other recognizable seiyuus are Ayane Sakura as Ai Y, Sho Hayami as Tsukimitsu, Nobuhiko Okamoto as Ayumu, Kenji Tsuda as Natagiri, Sayaka Ohara as Rina and Yui Ogura as Charlotte. Other casts include Yuuma Uchida as Yaichi (Oga in ReLIFE), Rina Hidaka as Ai (Last Order in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Ai Kayano as Keika (Inori in Guilty Crown), Mitsuko Horie as Akina (Sailor Galaxia in Sailormoon), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Oishi (Madarame in Genshiken) and Machico as Tsukiyomizaka (Serina in Sansha Sanyou). The opening is sung by Machico, Korekara. All lively anime pop style that sounds as generic it can get. The ending theme, Mamoritai Mono No Tame Ni by Miku Itou plays to a slower beat and seems palatable to my taste although it still sounds generic.

Overall, this is a disappointing anime series and even though it came out in the same season as the second season for 3-gatsu No Lion and was never meant to be its competitor, it is impossible to separate and not compare how bad this anime is. Like as though this shogi theme was just a bait and mask its true intention of sexualizing young little girls. Heh. Instead of luring little girls with sweets, you lure them with, uhm, shogi? Whatever. Not too sure if this would lead to give shogi a bad name. Heh. Maybe that is why men and women’s shogi never mixed. When you have a pedo scandal that is blown out of proportion, unlike the game where it just ends with a checkmate, in life it is not just checkmate but literally over. And then imagine this series following the depressing route of 3-gatsu No Lion but with Yaichi now trying to get his pitiful shogi career back on track after earning an infamous reputation. It might be a sad and sorry route but hey, I’m willing to watch that! Truly, shogi indeed needs to be a draggy and depression theme for us to be appreciated.