One cour down, another one to go.
I’m sure I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: 3-gatsu no Lion is really good at hitting its audience with all sorts of emotions. This episode had me feeling all sorts of things: happy, sad, and rolling on the floor laughing by the end.
Let’s first start with the big news: to commemorate his ascension to the Newcomer throne, Rei gets to play a match against Souya. That was bound to happen; with how Souya has been appearing from time to time, you just knew that Rei was going to fight him at some point. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the story eventually ends with Rei becoming meijin himself. But regardless of that, there is quite a lot of pressure on Rei now. It just seems too tall of an order to ask him to put up a good fight against an undefeated champion. But who knows, maybe Rei might be able to pull it off. Back in Season 1, he was able to see how Shimada could’ve beaten Souya before anyone else (including Shimada) noticed. I don’t know if Rei can necessarily win but I’m hoping that he can at least make his loss a respectable one.
Perhaps the most heartwarming scene in this episode was seeing the Shogi Science Club throw a surprise party to congratulate Rei on his achievement. I feel like I should’ve seen that coming but I was just as stunned as Rei was. Celebrating with Kawamotos feels like customary at this point but never before has Rei ever had friends at school that he could share the good news with. It’s simply great to see this character be able to enjoy his achievement with a different group of people. And I’ll admit, I got pretty teary-eyed seeing Rey cry with joy and struggle to regain his composure.
It’s a little interesting that after the club meeting, Rei considers getting a diary so that he can start writing down his memories. Considering how self-reflective and thankful he’s been throughout the show, I’m surprised he has not done this before. Better to start now than later though. I think it’d be really fascinating to see what moments he chooses to jot down as time goes on.
In between the club scenes is an interlude about how Shimanda is doing. It sure is nice to see the man at the top of his game now, especially after his loss to Souya back in Season 1. What really sold this scene was how the Yanigahara and the chairman were hoping that Shimanda would lose, the former not wanting to fight a tough opponent and the latter feeling that Shimanda’s stoic personality makes for a hard sell to audiences. I didn’t even know shogi was that driven by star power but I suppose that a modern audience would lean more towards the more theatrical or gentlemanly Gakuto.
Afterwards, Rei is struck by a painful reminder that Noguchi and the other third-years are going to be graduating from high school soon. It feels awfully cruel to reminds us with such news considering that this episode just had Rei having a party with his school friends. But as Noguchi points out, stuff like this does happen throughout our lives and part of growing as people is learning to adjust course to such changes.
That said….can anyone blame Hayashida-sensei for forcing Rei to find new members? As the episode plays out, I had a feeling Rei was going to revert back to studying shogi by himself and sure enough, we see him alone on a stool with game records in hand. The poor boy simply needs someone to push him into the right direction sometimes. Thank goodness, Hayashida knows his student that well or else, the next scenes set in the school was going to be very hard to sit through.
It’s both hilariously awesome and incredibly depressing that the Shogi Science Club gets saved, not by students who share Rei’s passion for shogi…but the school faculty instead. I’m glad that the Rei will still have people to play shogi with after school but with no one around his age, it still feels like the kid is alone in this club. I’m kind of amazed that Hayashida-sensei couldn’t find any other student. There’s no way shogi is that niche with modern generations. But I admit: it’s too stinking funny that the club is now mostly comprised of teachers. And with the principal completely on board with joining, there’s no way anyone can oppose the legality of this roster. To be honest, I’m surprised that not many high school anime has utilized such a loophole but I’m glad that if any anime was going to pull it off, it was 3-gatsu no Lion.