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I want to try to be better about reviewing the series I don’t cover in a season (since I watch so many), and this series happens to be the first one to finish that I haven’t really written about previously. Glad there’s a second season announced for this series. I’m definitely looking forward to it!
The story follows Rei Kiriyama, a shogi player who qualified as a professional in middle school, which is a rare accomplishment that earns him the attention of the shogi world. Unable to deal with the pressure, Rei isolates himself from the people around him, leaving his foster family to live on his own supported by his shogi career. The story pretty much starts with a lot of introduction for Rei and some of the major characters, such that the shogi aspect of the show is sometimes not even in an episode.
But it does eventually reach a point where Rei’s interactions with the professional shogi scene are brought into focus. And I’m not sure how many share this opinion, but I personally think the shogi parts of the show are the best parts. Even though the series doesn’t have the same tone, it brings me back to when I was watching Hikaru no Go. I also didn’t personally find the technical aspect of the shogi conversations to be overbearing.
The characters in this show are probably my favorite part. I found Rei to be very relatable, and I sympathized specifically with his inability to define his own passions in life. I know at around that age, I was having similar troubles figuring out what I really wanted to do and feeling the pressures of other people pushing me in certain directions that I didn’t necessarily know if I liked. And I would hazard a guess that most people have felt a similar feeling of being lost in the world, unsure of where to head. But aside from Rei, I thought pretty much every character was memorable. They each have their own motivations, strengths, and weaknesses, and I never got the sense that any particular character was useless. I think the only exception for me was the cats…really couldn’t stand those two.
Music is always a big selling point for me and this series really delivers on it. The first pair of themes are both done by Bump of Chicken, a band I’ve really liked since playing Tales of the Abyss. I’m less of a fan of the second opening song, but I really like the second ending song as well. But even if you ignore the themes, the soundtrack for this series is also incredible. It’s hard to describes, but the songs gave me a sense of longing as I listen that really fit the show.
Overall Score: 9/10