The fourth volume of Ryuuou no Oshigoto! (The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done!) is the moment Yaichi’s disciples finally make a name for themselves: participating in one of the most prestigious female shogi tournaments, Ai and Ten-chan’s overwhelming talent is about to take the world by storm.
The volume begins with a short phone call between Ai and Ginko.
“It’s really rare, isn’t it? For you to call me over the phone.”
“So, what is it? If it’s something worthless, I’m hanging up.”
“E, err… that is…”
“It’s about, Master’s ————…”
“W, wait! Please don’t hang up!”
“The thing that I want to present him is —————!”
With the story taking place during the summer holiday and Yaichi’s birthday on August 1, it’s pretty easy to figure out what they are talking about here, but we’ll find out more later on.
“Wow! Ai, look, we can see Mount Fuji from here!”
“Come on, Ai. It’s Mount Fuji, you know? It’s so beautiful, right?”
“Should we take some commemorative photos, maybe?”
“I’m trying to focus right now, so please be quiet.”
The story of this volume mainly takes place in Tokyo, where the MyNavi Women’s Open shogi tournament is being held. MyNavi Women’s Open is not just any other tournament; it is a chance for any female pro to challenge Ginko’s “Jyoou” (lit. “queen”) title, and for amateurs or training group members to become a female pro. The tournament is being held in three stages: the challenge matches, the preliminary stage, and the main tournament. The catch here is that if an amateur or training group member ranked below C1 manages to win even once in the main tournament, she will be promoted into a rank 3-kyu female pro instantly. On the other hand, training group members ranked C1 and above will be elevated to female pro 2-kyu once they pass the preliminary stage.
As he is traveling with both of his disciples and Keika in a bullet train to Tokyo, Yaichi starts giving a piece of advice to both Ai and Ten-chan for their first tournament: remember not to violate the rules. While seemingly obviously, Yaichi notes that there are several occasions where players forgot to look at the clock and ran out of time; this is especially important since the tournament they are participating in only allots 15 minutes of time and 30 seconds when it runs out. Ten-chan takes his advice lightly, while Ai still looks nervous—understandable for her first tournament.
Keika then steps in and gives the girls another advice to not take the amateurs lightly. She explains that among the amateurs, there are training group members like them who may even be in a higher rank like C1 or B. While reaching C1 technically allows someone to become a rank 3-kyu female pro, it’s ultimately just a provisional license since they will have to re-enter the training group if they can’t manage to reach rank 2-kyu in two years. This is why reaching MyNavi Women’s Open main tournament stage to claim the permanent female professional status is a really charming offer for training group members ranked C1 and above.
Finally reaching the tournament venue, Yaichi told the girls to go ahead while he goes to the toilet. As he forgets where the venue hall is, though, a familiar figure greets him as if she has been waiting for him for thousands of years.
“I found you~♥”
“Have you thought about ‘that thing’? Will you tell me your answer already?”
“Y, you… Why are you here!? Shouldn’t you be out on the preliminary stage…!?”
“Tell me your answer, now.”
“I’m asking you, why are you here!? Answer me!!”
“I just thought that Yaichi’s probably here. I simply sensed our fate.”
“Fate? Definitely sounds like nonsense…”
“I don’t give a fuck about that, so just give your answer. Now. Now now now now now now—”
The girl is Ika Sainokami, the “Piece-dealing Thunder” (Sabaki no Ikazuchi). Ika is a 17-year old female pro who holds the Joryuu Teii (lit. “female throne”) title. She is affectionately called “Ika-chan” by her fans, but Yaichi remarks that she is more akin to a Mononoke-like monster. As her nickname suggests, Ika is a Ranging Rook specialist like Mitsuru Oishi.
“…How many times do I have to say this? If it’s about ‘that’, I refuse.”
“Anyway, you are going to play in the next preliminary right? Just focus on that.”
“Even if I keep winning here, the person I’ll be fighting against in the end is Ginko, right? That’s just plain boring. Boring boring boring boring boring—”
“Say that after you win against Anedeshi.”
“After all, I can’t play seriously if my opponent is a weakling.”
Despite her seemingly careless remark, Yaichi knew they were not merely empty words. Ika is the type of player who shows more of her true ability the stronger her opponent is, and holds overwhelming talent on a completely different level than Ginko. Being a female pro title holder, Ika is given a chance to participate in the regular professional shogi tournaments (unlike Ginko who can’t participate because she is an apprentice school member), which are broadcast live nationwide. In these tournaments, Ika effortlessly massacres professional players on a weekly basis without using even a minute of her allocated time. Yaichi understood more than anyone else that the girl who who holds the greatest shogi talent in the whole world is Ika—not Ginko or any of his disciples. But of course he can’t say that out loud.
“…Anyway, my answer is still no. Forever.”
“Then if I defeat Ginko and become the Joou, will you give me a yes? I will play seriously if so.”
“Maybe you’ll face my disciples before that.”
“Both of them are grade schoolers, but they are strong. Their talent is above yours.”
Hearing Yaichi’s bluffing remark, Ika started laughing furiously, and Yaichi took the chance to run away.
Yaichi finally reaches the venue hall and meets up with both his disciples and Keika. After reminding them to keep their focus, fifteen minutes passes and the first round of the challenge matches starts. Spectating the match with Ten-chan’s bodyguard Akira, Yaichi comments how all three of the girls are being matched up with female pros. Ten-chan utilizes off-board tactics by provoking her opponent and implements the move that Keika used to defeat her last time, making her opponent surrender after losing all her allocated time already in the early game. Meanwhile, Ai delivers relentless attacks while barely using any time and quickly defeats her opponent. On the other hand, Keika ends up losing in the first round.
After a while, the challenge matches finally reaches the fourth round, and Yaichi is invited to provide a commentary on his disciples’ matches alongside female reporter Kugui, who also happens to be the same one responsible for his match against Natagiri last time and his match against Ayumu in the first volume. Kugui is actually Machi Kugui, the Yamashiro Ouka title holder who always appears in the Kansousen extra story provided at the end of each volume alongside fellow female title holder Ryou Tsukiyomizaka, but Yaichi hasn’t realized this yet at the time.
After some questionable reports which felt more like Machi interrogating Yaichi about his disciples and spreading rumors about his lolicon tendencies, Ai and Ten-chan won their fourth match and was surrounded by a lot of reporters. Ten-chan became very popular due to her talent and smuggish attitude, while Ai innocently revealed that she is a live-in disciple and that Yaichi frequently holds research groups with grade schoolers in his house. Before long, the reporters switched their focus from Yaichi’s two disciples to his status as a lolicon.
Right after the interview, Yaichi returns to the venue hall and spectates the final match of the revival round, in which Keika faces off against a 3-kyu female pro who Ten-chan previously defeated. Keika’s opponent utilizes Bishop Exchange Fourth File Rook and drove her into a corner; but right before Keika lost, she made a mistake of returning her dragon to a bishop when mating Keika’s king which lead to Keika winning the match by default and earning the right to participate in the preliminary stage. By the way, the mistake that Keika’s opponent made is based on a real match which also happened in MyNavi.
Keika later meets up with her old friend Sen Kouzui, who has now become a rank 3-kyu female pro and will have the chance to face up against her in the preliminary stage two weeks from now. Kouzui is currently 27-year old, which is the age limit to re-enter the training group. Since she has been unable to rise up to rank 2-kyu because of her losing streak, once she loses her provisional female pro status, she will never be able to become a female pro again which makes this tournament her only redeeming chance. Understanding that their next confrontation is going to be the most important one for both of their life, Keika braces herself for the chance to face Kouzui in the upcoming preliminary stage.
The next day, Yaichi brought the JS-ken who came along to Tokyo for a visit to Hatonomori Shrine. Leaving them in Keika’s care after the visit, Yaichi made his way to Hotel New Awaji to provide live commentary for the Kitei title match between the current title holder Taishi Shinokubo and the Meijin, broadcasted on Niconico. Coincidentally, the match’s witness is none other than Yaichi’s master 9-dan Kousuke Kiyotaki, while the record keeper is apprentice school member 1-dan Sota Kunugi.
Yaichi is accompanied by female pro Tamayo Rokuroba, or “Tamayon”, who is famous for her cute looks and big breasts. By the way, Tamayo is known as the “research group crusher” because any research group she enters doesn’t last long. As he starts doing the live commentary, Yaichi understood the reason why she earned that nickname: her huge asset is a huge obstacle for any man to properly play shogi with her. Of course, the best part is when the listeners send mails to the live broadcast.
“Then, I will read the first letter. It’s a female listener from Osaka.”
“Kuzuryuu-sensei, Rokuroba-san, thanks for your hard work in today’s Niconico live broadcast. It’s really fun to look at the two of you talking, you two hit it off really well.” ….Sensei? She said we hit it off really well, you know?”
“A, ahaha. She really said that…”
“Fufu~♥ I will read the next mail. ‘I have a question for Kuzuryuu-sensei.'”
“Yes, what is it?”
“‘Sensei, it seems you recently took a grade schooler as a disciple. Around the Kansai Shogi Association, you have also been spotted carelessly flirting with several grade schoolers. However, watching this Niconico broadcast, it looks like you are also fond of well-endowed women like Rokuroba-san. So in the end, which one do you really like? Boobs? Or loli? This may be a difficult question, but you can answer as much as you want, so please answer this question. Thank you.”
“Err… Kuzuryuu-sensei? What does he mean by loli—”
“It, it’s a misunderstanding! By grade schooler, he meant that! My, my disciple and her friends… And since my disciple is the daughter of the owner of the inn where my title match was held, I couldn’t refuse to take her as my disciple, it’s not like I love grade schoolers or something like that!”
“So that’s the truth, right?”
“Yes, it is!”
“T, then… about me…”
“N, nothing! It’s nothing!! P, please forget about it!!
…….Thank God. ♥”
Meanwhile, Keika took the JS-ken to a nearby restaurant for lunch. As they were enjoying some food, Ai discovers that they could actually view the match Yaichi is doing a commentary on through the smartphone and found out he has been flirting with Tamayo (the moment Ai witnessed the broadcast, Tamayo was spoonfeeding Yaichi puddings). Storming the live broadcast along with the rest of JS-ken (right after Tamayo invited Yaichi to have a research group together), Ai introduces herself as Yaichi’s disciple, Char starts eating snacks on Yaichi’s lap, and Ten-chan lashes out on the audience which causes the viewers to keep rising. Things start heating up even more when Ai and Ten-chan provide better readings for the match, leaving Tamayo dumbfounded.
The match between the Kitei and the Meijin ends with Meijin’s victory as he claims the title from his opponent. This result causes Yaichi to feel pressured by the fact that Meijin is going to aim for his title next. However, Char tries to cheer him up… by kissing him in the cheek.
As the live broadcast’s comment section is spammed with the words “REPORTED”, the live broadcast reaches over three million viewers before it finally ends, as Yaichi’s popularity as a lolicon king becomes a national news along with Meijin’s new title acquisition.
The following day, Yaichi went to the boutique “Brahms no Shoukei” along with Ginko to have a research group with Ayumu. The boutique which exclusively sells fashion items from the brand “Schneewittchen” (“Snow White” in German) is owned by Ayumu’s master and female pro Rina Shakando. Rina holds the Joryuu Myoseki (lit. “female master”) for about twenty years, is qualified for four lifetime titles, and once held all female titles at the same time, which earned her the nickname “Eternal Queen”. Her beauty has overcome the concept of age, and despite being born with one foot paralyzed, it doesn’t prevent her to devote her whole life to shogi.
Before letting Yaichi hold a research group with Ayumu, Rina asks him to spectate one match between her and Ginko. Rina plays Fourth File Rook against Ginko’s Static Rook Anaguma which surprises Yaichi; a matchup that is rarely seen nowadays due to how Static Rook Anaguma has an overwhelming advantage. Despite that, Rina still manages to win against Ginko, showing just how powerful she is. Rina however implies that there is a simpler reason why Ginko lost.
Yaichi starts doing a research group with Ayumu right after reaching the second floor by playing blindfolded shogi and spends five hours for their research. With him being scheduled to fight against Meijin to claim the right to challenge Yaichi for Ryuuou title, Ayumu has been researching with Yaichi to prepare the necessary countermeasures; he notes that despite Meijin’s peerless performance up until now, the last Kitei title match demonstrated that Meijin has seemingly lost his edge as the moves he went for in that match wasn’t actually the best possible move.
Yaichi later consults Rina about his two disciples which may become female pros sooner or later and what it truly means to be a female pro. Rina explains the female pros’ miserable standings in the world of professional shogi attributed to the difference in ability between men and women; but despite the fact that they lack talent or that people keep scorning at them, they still keep on struggling in order to become stronger—that is what being a female pro means. Rina’s utmost faith in Ginko’s ability to become the first female to become a regular professional shogi player in history and demolish the segregation between male and female shogi players amazes Yaichi.
As he inquires her about Ika, Rina expresses her recognition of her monstrous talent in the form of the “ultimate egoism”—a complete lack of empathy in other people as long as she can become stronger; however, Rina agrees with Yaichi’s notion that even if Ika will become stronger in shogi, it’s a fact that she is fundamentally crooked as a human being and her standing on the top of the shogi world will completely degrade it into merely a game where all form of respect is thrown aside for the sake of victory.
In the middle of their talk, Ginko enters the room while wearing a dress. Rina explains that she and Ginko have made a promise that in exchange for her covering Ginko’s traveling expenses, Rina regularly has Ginko dress in the clothes from her fashion brand which was named after Ginko’s “Snow White of Naniwa” nickname. Yaichi later takes Ginko home in the way that looks like a date to any onlooker, as they play blindfolded shogi while holding hands in the bullet train.
The day of the preliminary stage finally comes: August 1. As Yaichi is amazed by the amount of individual sponsorship money his disciples have earned from their recent popularity, Ginko drags him to the commentary spot since they are going to be responsible for the preliminary stage’s live commentary. Ginko implies that her decision to take on the job of accompanying him is her birthday present for Yaichi. Yaichi asks her not to touch upon the subject of his birthday in front of his disciples, since he wants to help them to focus on the tournament before he is occupied by the Ryuuou title defense match in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, in the participant waiting room, Tamayo greets Ai and Ten-chan with a smile. However, her words come out as a surprise to the two of them.
“Long time no see. Are you two doing well?
You two are really famous now, aren’t you? I thought you’ve gotten nervous from all the attention, but it seems I don’t have to worry about that.
After all, the audience who came to watch the two of you don’t really give a single fuck about shogi.
Isn’t that right? People would rather watch a game between female pros if they really want to watch an actual shogi match. That’s why, all the people who spent their money to see the two of you playing shogi don’t really care about shogi. They simply want to see cute grade schoolers trying their best in playing shogi. So there is no problem whether you lose or play badly. Right?”
Tamayo’s provocation towards Ai and Ten-chan feels more like a threat; but the girls don’t even budge.
“Who are you?”
“Ah, Ai-chan… It’s that person. See, the one from when Master was doing the commentary on Niconico…”
“Ah, that female pro, huh. The one who sucks at endgames.”
“D, don’t say that, Ai-chan… That’s a rude thing to say to a female pro…
We can just tell her that over the shogi board, anyway. Right?”
“You’ve got a point. If things keep proceeding smoothly, I’ll be fighting this person in the finals, so I’ll make her understand then. Her lack of talent, that is.
But, since she went out of her way to give us an advice, I’ll give this female pro an advice too.
We became the youngest in the history of MyNavi to advance to this preliminary stage. In other words, our talent towers far above yours. That’s why, it’s fine even if you end up losing to grade schoolers, you know? No need to feel down, okay?”
The preliminary stage begins with Ai’s match against a rank 1-kyu female pro; Ai’s cute figure sitting in seiza on her favorite cat cushion earns the audience’s attention. Meanwhile, Yaichi and Ginko notice that a participant is missing, which turns out to be Ika. Revealing herself to be among the audience because she wants to watch Yaichi’s commentary instead.
“I… Ika!? What are you doing!?”
“I heard Yaichi’s doing a live commentary, so I came.”
“You are a participant for God’s sake, so attend the match already!!”
“If I attend the match, I won’t be able to see Yaichi anyway. So before the match, I want to hear your answer about ‘that’.”
“Answer? …What are you talking about?”
“This doesn’t concern you, white-haired hag. A talentless small fry like you should just keep your mouth shut.”
“Aha. Ginko, you mad? It’s just a joke.”
“Oh well, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’ll finish up the match first. Get your answer ready, okay? ♥”
“It’s been over five minutes since the match started. You barely have any allocated time left, you know?”
“No biggie, no biggie~♪ ….Ah, right, right.”
“Tell your disciples this. I am eagerly waiting for them in the finals… that.”
As Ika makes her way to her match, Ai performs in top gear as she wipes the floor clean with her opponent by utilizing the Cheerful Central Rook she learned from Oishi. On the other hand, Ten-chan also shows her proficiency in utilizing the Bishop Exchange Sitting Silver and scores a victory too.
During the break, Ginko drags Yaichi and questions him about what Ika meant by “answer”. Yaichi explains that he and Ika started knowing each other from playing online shogi together in middle school. Yaichi admits that since Ika was able to play equally against him who was an apprentice school member at that time, it never occured to him that she was a girl, let alone a female pro. Since Yaichi had temporarily quit playing online shogi during the 3-dan league, it was only until he became a shogi pro and started living alone that he met her in person.
After meeting Yaichi and deeming that it was “fate”, she kept on challenging Yaichi for practice matches whenever he came to Tokyo, which they usually did in a cafe’s private room or a karaoke box. After Yaichi became a Ryuuou, Ika confessed to him and asked to become his girlfriend so she can play a lot of shogi with him, which he naturally rejected. Anyway, Ai joined the conversation between Yaichi and Ginko at this point before he continued the explanation and found out Ai is going to face Ika in her block’s preliminary finals.
Saying that “she doesn’t need anything else if she has Yaichi”, Ika threw away all of her belongings to a nearby pond. Ever since then, she had engaged in stalker-like behavior which culminated in the occasion where she infiltrated Yaichi’s apartment and wait for him in front of the shogi board while naked. Seeking help from his master, Ika has stopped meeting him ever since then… until the day of the challenge match. After listening to her master’s story, Ai solidifies her resolve to defeat Ika and stop her from bothering Yaichi.
Ten-chan faces off against Tamayo in the final round of her block. Tamayo provokes her by intentionally opening the game with Double Wing Attack which Ten-chan had used to win in the previous round. Meanwhile, Keika who encounters her friend in the finals is “invited” to play Ranging Rook by her opponent’s move, which she responds by unwaveringly moving her rook.
Ai and Ika’s match begins with an unconventional move on Ika’s side; instead of moving her rook, Ika advances her edge pawn and then proceeds to exchange her bishop. She starts moving her rook right after that, placing it right in the same file as Ai’s rook, initiating the Direct Opposing Rook strategy. Ginko remarks how this move is Ika’s love letter for Yaichi to show that she’s got more talent than his disciple. Ika continues by utilizing her signature off-board tactics and showcases her piece-dealing proficiency.
However, Ai answers Yaichi’s complete faith in her by refusing to give up against Ika. In order to defeat the egoistic beast who looks down on others and only cares about getting herself stronger, Ai fearlessly stand against Ika.
“I am the Ryuuou’s first disciple!! I shall not bow down to you!!”
“Ahaha! Well… I see.”
“So you… can see it too!!”
“Like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this—”
“It’s so hoooooooooot——————!!”
As the battle turns into a speed shogi showdown, Ika begins to lose her pace as she becomes unable to keep up with Ai’s moves. Before long, her allocated time keeps running out faster than Ai’s and she runs out of moves. The match ends with Ai’s victory, as Ika recognizes Ai’s strength. By the way, this match is based on the 25th Ryuuou title tournament match between Tadashi Oishi and Akira Inaba.
Ten-chan and Tamayo’s match has also ended with Ten-chan emerging as the winner. Admitting her loss, Tamayo admits that she understand the extent of her own ability, and that she had also thought that no matter how much of an effort she puts in, she will never be able to reach the top; but even so, Tamayo proclaims that she will never give up and defeat Ten-chan in years to come when she becomes stronger.
On the other hand, Keika and Kouzui’s match has almost reached its conclusion, with Keika in massive lead. Kouzui hardly has any more chance to win ever since the very first move, since she discarded her favored strategy to force Keika to play Ranging Rook. With her feelings of regret completely affecting her performance, the match is sealed from the start.
“It would have been better if I had played my favored strategy for my very last match… Even though I had wanted to play it just a moment ago… I ended up choosing a different move.”
There was not a single thing fun for me ever since I became a female pro. Even though I managed to become the female pro I have always dreamed of, it was nothing other than hell beyond the training group… Isn’t it natural? I’m always facing a lot of stronger people compared to when I was an amateur.”
“Unable to win against my senior female pros, and not even against amateurs… The last two years were painful. To tell you the truth, I actually feel a bit relieved right now. I thought, I don’t have to suffer anymore now…”
But even so, I still want to become a female pro.
Even if I am weak, even if only hell awaits me… As long as a glimmer of possibility remains, I will chase after my dreams without ever giving up. Don’t you also think that way, Sen-chan?”
The shogi that I played today is filled with nothing but regret… But you know? I have never once regretted it! The fact that I ever aimed to become a female pro!”
Following that match, Kouzui takes on the qualification of a shogi instructor and returns to her hometown to teach shogi to the children there.
After pulling the lottery to decide the brackets for MyNavi’s main tournament stage, Keika is matched against Rina for her first match, which left her dumbfounded.
“…Keika-san… Of all people…”
“Well, it’s already a great thing that all three of them managed to enter the main tournament.”
“You don’t look too happy about that, though.”
“No, I’m really happy, you know? I’m happy, but… Beyond that, I felt a bit disappointed, like, it feels like I couldn’t do anything for my disciple…
But, I guess she doesn’t really need my help anymore! Ika letting her guard down aside, she already became strong enough to win against a title holder without handicap, after all. Haha.”
“Uh… At least deny it a bit, will you…”
“…To not even understand why that little dragon managed to become stronger all of a sudden, you really fail as a master.”
Yaichi finds out the reason soon enough, when both Ai and Ten-chan stand on the podium together to deliver a certain message.
“Hinatsuru-san and Yashajin-san, we heard you two are going to present today’s victory to a certain someone, is that true?”
Ai takes out a letter from her pocket, and starts reading it out loud.
We wish you a happy 17th birthday!
Ever since I came to Master’s house, four months have passed. The cherry blossoms were blooming at that time, but today is summer break already. Time really flies by.
Ever since I became Master’s disciple, everyday feels like a dream to me.
I was taught lots about shogi.
We cooked together.
We walked around Osaka and Kobe together.
I made lots of friends through shogi, and we had a stay-over at Master’s house… I also got scolded a lot, but it still made me happy… Every part of it, is Ai’s treasure.
But even when I received all of this, I still couldn’t give anything in return. Because I really love everything Master has given to me…
And Master is a Ryuuou, the greatest person in the shogi world who has everything from talent to money. Master is also very popular with women. That’s why—
That’s why I have decided, together with Ai-chan.
That we want to present ourselves who have gotten stronger for Master’s birthday; that we will definitely win in this preliminary stage.
if we doesn’t become strong… Master won’t be able to rest easy. Master won’t be able to focus on the upcoming Ryuuou title match, so—
Master, you always say this, right? A shogi player is always online when they face the shogi board. That’s why someone has to become stronger by themselves.
I believe that is true. It’s impossible to fight alongside someone else.
However—it’s possible to fight for the sake of someone else.
In both the challenge matches and the preliminary stage, I was fighting for Master’s sake.
For the sake of my beloved master.
To make my beloved master happy.
To grant my master who I love the most in this world a peace of mind… I know, if it was only for my own sake, I definitely would have lost.
Master… Happy birthday.
I am sorry for not being able to give you any other present than this.
I am going to work hard in order to be able to give you an even better present on your next birthday.
And the next one, and the one after that, and forever more—! Ai wants to present it to you, Master.
That’s why… Please… Please keep on being Ai’s master forever.
After having finished reading her letter, Ai takes Ten-chan’s hand and tells her to read hers:
…I am playing shogi for my own sake. Not for anyone else, but for myself. It’s always been so, and it will stay that way.
But today… I played for your sake.
J, just for today, okay!?
Ginko kicks Yaichi’s head right after Ten-chan finished her speech, and the moment he regains consciousness, both of his disciples are standing in front of him. And the moment he sees them… Yaichi hugs both of them.
Embracing the gallant and pure feelings of his disciples, Yaichi resolves to repay those feelings with his own victory. No matter how strong of an adversary comes against him, the Ryuuou shall prevail and win—for the sake of his beloved disciples who have fought for his sake.
Two weeks after MyNavi’s preliminary stage concluded, Yaichi attends the match between Ayumu and Meijin which is going to decide who will challenge him for the 30th Ryuuou title. This match is based on the legendary fourth game between Yoshiharu Habu and Akira Watanabe for the 60th Ouza title, in which Habu persevered from a losing situation by making an enigmatic move which led the game into a draw through “sennichite“. Meijin did the exact same thing, and managed to avoid his loss against Ayumu.
In the rematch, based on the sixth game between Habu and challenger Taichi Nakamura for the 61st Ouza title, Meijin displays his overwhelming ability and drives Ayumu into corner until he only have four major pieces to drop. Unable to protect his king, Ayumu refuses to give up and fights until the very end. After 203 moves, Ayumu applied a lip balm to his lips and admitted defeat. Yaichi is left to wonder if he can really defeat such an enigma known as the Meijin.
Yaichi and Ai prepare to leave their house for Yaichi’s Ryuuou title defense match against Meijin in the epilogue. The center stage of the first game lies beyond the ocean: Hawaii!
Ryuuou no Oshigoto!’s fourth volume is considerably packed with a lot more matches compared to the previous books, and it serves to build the tension up for the climax of the Ryuuou title defense match. Still, the theme of “true repayment towards one’s master” touched upon in the first volume still made its way to this volume which, along with Ai’s character development so far, managed to make the speech scene so endearing to read.
Addendum: In Regards to Ika Sainokami
The purpose of Ika’s character is less about presenting an unrealistic case of a female pro than it is to provide a challenge for the cultural heritage of shogi itself. Despite being a board game just like chess on paper, shogi is fundamentally an irreplaceable part of the Japanese culture. Being a shogi player doesn’t simply require one to possess extraordinary skill in the game, but also to conform to its philosophy, etiquette, and legacy. This is what sets shogi apart from chess and its variants; the fact that it’s not merely a game, but also a tradition and a way of life. This tradition comes in many forms, like the master-disciple relationship and the emphasis on respect towards one’s opponent regardless of whether one wins or losses.
One of the examples lies in the first volume, when Yaichi begged Ai’s parents to let him take her as a disciple, one of the things he said was:
I’ll continue to be stronger! I won’t just be stronger myself; I’ll definitely make sure every player around me gets stronger too!
In the world of professional shogi where results are produced based on ability, the nature of taking in disciples may feel like a completely unnecessary thing to do. Why would someone spend their time to groom their future competitor instead of focusing on getting stronger by themselves? And yet, master-disciple relationship still remains an integral part of the professional shogi world.
This nature of shogi is the very reason why during Rina’s talk with Yaichi, she mentions that Ika—someone who completely lacks any regard for others or the shogi culture itself—would degrade shogi into a mere game if she ever reached the top the way she is now, completely depriving it of all its former legacy. In a way, Ika is a character designed as the antithesis of the very shogi culture that the author himself has been portraying in the previous volumes. And this is why Ai’s victory against Ika is not merely a chance to showcase Ai’s growth; it’s also a statement of what the author believes is the right direction for the professional shogi scene to take in a continuously changing world that challenges its legacy.