After officially accepting Ai as his disciple, Yaichi received yet another trial as he got a request to take in a second disciple. Not to mention, it’s another elementary school girl!?
The episode began with Yaichi and Ai starting their day by solving tsumeshogi puzzles. The short scene also served to introduce the mate-in-a-pawn rule.
Anyway, the request for taking a new disciple came from Seiichi Tsukimitsu (voiced by Hayami Sho, known for voicing an old man in another show full of little girls), the current chairman of the Japan Shogi Association who is also a person qualified for the Eternal Meijin title and the second player in history to become a pro in middle school. After pulling a lolicon joke on Yaichi, the chairman explained that the girl doesn’t want to take anyone other than an A-class pro or a title holder as a master.
Visiting her mansion in Kobe, Yaichi finally met the girl in question, Ai Yashajin (voiced by the glorious Sakura Ayane), who is a 9-year old kid just like his first disciple (though she is actually a month younger). A daughter of an amateur Meijin (not to be confused with Meijin, which is a professional title), Ai lost both of her parents when she was little and grew up with nothing but shogi. Testing her ability with a 4-piece handicap, Yaichi determined that she’s already got the fundamentals down and that her specialty lies in uke-shogi, a playing style which relies on taking advantage of the opponent’s attacks instead of relentlessly attacking head-on; naturally, she still lost the game. As Yaichi learned about her family circumstances after the match, her grandfather begged him to take care of her. Yaichi then went back home, all the while pondering about how the girl’s shogi was very familiar.
As he got home, Yaichi was met with the sight of Ai crying under the bed and the unexpected presence of Ginko, which was supposed to be out for her title match against Ryou Tsukiyomizaka (the Joryu Oushou/Gyokushou title holder; lit. “female king general”) on the MyNavi Women’s Open Tournament in Shizuoka. It turned out that she had won the match by only using two minutes of her allocated time. She had intended to let off some steam by sparring with him by taking the train back home, but since he wasn’t there, Ai became her punching bag. As Ginko noted how his disciple has gotten weaker because he has been going to easy on her, Yaichi thought of grooming Ai to become her rival.
Oh and anyway, in case you are wondering, this particular scene of Ryou looking completely devastated after her match is an actual reference of a real life event. Specifically, it refers to former Oui (lit. “king’s rank”) title holder Akihito Hirose’s loss against Yoshiharu Habu on the 52nd Oui title match.
Yaichi later took Ai, accompanied by her bodyguard Akira (voiced by Ayaka Suwa), came to a shogi dojo at Shinsekai, Osaka, in order to hone her mental strength. Despite her understanding of the jouseki and other important basics, due to her lacking any real experience, she easily lost due to some tricks pulled by her opponent. In order to let her the necessary wit to win in real matches.
After a day of training Ai, Yaichi returned home when the JS research group was being held at his house. However, Char suddenly came running to him and asked him to accept her as his disciple, which surprised everyone present. After thinking of a right way to decline her request, Yaichi decided to tell her that while he can’t take her as his disciple, he can make her his bride. This triggered Ai‘s wrath and caused Yaichi to rethink his decision of telling her about his new disciple.
Yaichi’s new job soon drew Ai‘s suspicion, who was increasingly concerned by the thought of her master hiding something from her, and her mood only got worse after her friend at school mentioned the possibility of him hanging out with “another girl”. To brighten her friend’s mood, Mio suggested to visit the city shogi dojo along with the rest of the JS-Ken during the weekends, which also happened to be the same place Yaichi was teaching Ai at that day. With his secret exposed, what will happen to the Ryuuou!?
They really cut out a considerable amount of scenes from the original material. It’s a pretty huge letdown that they removed the scene of Yaichi and Ai visiting a SM novel author for a guidance match (you can read more about the second volume of the light novel here), which should have worked as another important plot point for establishing the root of Ai‘s problem and how Yaichi came upon the idea of grooming a rival for her. With the way things are in the anime, since the notion that Ai is getting weaker only came from Ginko (who is evidently the strongest female player in the story) alone, it would be particularly difficult for the audience to understand the significance of the problem. This is a pretty severe degradation of the character development, which I feel is as bad as their way of handling Yaichi’s character so far.
Talking about characters, I also think they are wasting Akira’s role in the story. She was supposed to be the show’s resident Watson, asking questions which will help the audience understand some aspects of the game. She held that role pretty well in the original work, and with proper direction, the anime would have been able to greatly make use of her screentime. But alas, I guess we can’t have good things all the time. I’m feeling sorry for the lesbian lolicon bodyguard.
Another thing that was removed from the anime is the gambling aspect of Ai‘s training, but it wasn’t really as much of a big deal, so I wouldn’t talk about that. Overall though, the episode still feels as fun as the previous ones and the voice acting really makes up for the disappointments. Can’t get enough of Yui Ogura’s performance as Char.
Next week, we are going to see Ai‘s training group test, so look forward to it! Also, enjoy another smiling Char.