It took me over a week to be able to spare some time writing this, but I still feel like talking a bit about how they wrapped up the show. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The last episode skips the opening sequence and, after a short exchange between Yaichi and Ginko, quickly proceeds into the fourth game of Yaichi’s Ryuuou title defense match. Despite having lost the first three games and is only a step away from losing his title, Yaichi comments on the lack of pressure he’s experiencing at the moment, possibly attributed to last episode’s “ceremony” and him finally making up with Ai. Meijin chooses Double Wing Attack, a strategy that has always been one of Yaichi’s most preferred strategies. While the early game proceeds according to the jouseki (standard moves), the game is suspended on Meijin’s first unconventional move, leaving the continuation of the game with a lot of undiscovered possibilities.
We are also presented to the other side of the game, as explained by the chairman, which is a clash of two seemingly contrasting perspective in shogi involving whether one focuses on pursuing the truth over victory on the board or vice versa. He also notes how Meijin has been changing Yaichi through the course of the last three games in order to find this “truth” he has been looking for, of whether a perfect play from both sides in a game of shogi will end with sente’s absolute victory.
Yaichi’s game with Meijin continues as he starts wallowing in despair over getting the moves he came up with after deeply reading the board are quickly countered by his opponent. However, as he was about to give up, the words of people dear to him inside his head start encouraging him to hang on. Ultimately, it is Ai who gives Yaichi the courage to take a risk of forcing an unprecedented situation to appear in the board—a situation which demands Meijin to request a match suspension.
In the said situation, after repeating the same sequence which involves checking Meijin’s king three times, Yaichi is in a condition where if he is to take Meijin’s king to protect his own king, he will commit a violation of the perpetual check sennichite rule and lose the game, meaning he currently lacks any legal move. However, this is also means that the Meijin has actually mated Yaichi’s king by dropping a pawn, which is a violation of yet another special rule in shogi, uchifuzume (drop pawn mate). This condition is based on a famous tsumeshogi puzzle called “Final Judgment” (hence the title of the episode). This extraordinary circumstance leads to a rematch between Yaichi and Meijin to determine the victor. Yaichi takes the short break time having dinner prepared by Ai (and getting a lap pillow from her, much to Ginko’s dismay).
The rematch, based on a real game between Akira Watanabe and Yoshiharu Habu for the 21st Ryuuou title, sees another Double Wing Attack being played. Yaichi who is becoming more and more focused in his deep reading tries maintaining his allotted time, as he unconsciously get over his inferiority complex towards the Meijin, symbolized by him finally being able to look at Meijin the face. The game enters its finale as Yaichi tries to find a move to mate the Meijin’s king, but he lacks time. However, Meijin finally takes his few minutes of remaining time to use, allowing Yaichi to use it to his advantage and finally manage to finish reading the moves. As the Meijin admits his loss, Yaichi successfully claims his first victory in the the title match.
Yaichi, considerably exhausted from the match, is greeted by Ai who brings him water just like the first time they met a year ago. Recreating their first meeting, Yaichi accepts the glass of water from her and tells her to ask him anything, to which she responds by asking him to teach her shogi.
The epilogue fast forwards to the next spring after Yaichi manages to defend his title by winning the rest of the games against Meijin, in which all of the characters have lunch together under the cheery blossoms as seen in the anime’s opening sequence.
As a standalone work, I think Ryuuou no Oshigoto!’s anime has shown its merit in giving us a lighthearted take on a show about a board game. Without being overly focused on the meticulous details of the game and more into the characters, I think the show has managed to stay moderately engaging while also being a gateway for a lot of people to enjoy and take interest in shogi. On the other hand, its trivial aspects are also something that a lot of shogi enthusiasts and professionals can recognize and appreciate in its own right, making it something a wide range of audience can enjoy. The balance between the fanservice, drama, and action is quite well-managed for a 1-cour show, despite overall being weaker in execution during the middle arc.
However, there is also the inevitable view of looking at the original work and seeing just how much potential the anime could have capitalized on. Again, this is a heavily subjective opinion of mine, which means some people may look at it differently than I do. Then again, it still feels that there are a lot of things that could have been done in better light and more depth provided it was a 2-cour show. Anime adaptations in itself are fine; they serve as a good introduction for people who have never known the original works before, and open the chance for a wider audience to enjoy the story. The problem is how this show could have been handled better, especially considering the magnitude of the original work’s popularity which should have worked as a safety net for a more ambitious adaptation; the adaptation itself is not at fault.
Talking about adaptation, I personally have doubts on the possibility of a proper second season, seeing as they chose to create an original epilogue which takes place in spring even though the events of the light novel’s sixth volume only starts not long after Yaichi’s title defense match, effectively messing up the timeline a bit. This calls for certain adjustments in case of future sequels, if they ever think of making any. It feels like a bit of a waste, but I guess that’s one of the natures of modern anime, being nothing more than a promotional material for its original work.
All in all, I still enjoyed Ryuuou no Oshigoto! in these past three months despite some of its shortcomings. I’ll probably write some other posts related to the series in the future when I feel like doing it or if the demands are up for it. The light novel’s ninth volume is coming in August too, so it doesn’t look like the series is losing its vigor just yet. Anyway, thanks for reading, and see you next time!