Episode 02: “Secrets”
Summary: Continuing from the last episode, the strange creepy stalker man attacks Shion from behind. Ayumi, who is in guy mode (remember we learned from last episode that he was a guy pretending to be a girl), witnessed the whole thing and runs over to Shion’s defense and gives the stalker man a good punch which makes him scurry away. Ayumi walks over to Shion who is shocked from this new incident and is crying silently. Ayumi tries to comfort Shion and offers his handkerchief to dry her tears. Shion gladly accepts it and gets a good look at her savior’s face.
Later, Shinji and Sachiko rush to the police station to Shion’s aid. The detective says that according to Shion’s rescuer, the stalker man fled. He tries to ask Shion if she saw the face of her attacker but Shinji stops him, saying that it may be better to leave these questions for next time and just let Shion rest for the time being, to which the detective agrees. The detective also finds out that the rescuer (Ayumi) didn’t stay long after taking Shion to the station.
Six months later, as Shion leaves for school with her friends, one of the detectives is tailing her at the request of her parents. It was a good decision on their part as we see the stalker man in the shadows (clad in his usual hat, so we can’t see his face, and trenchcoat) waiting for Shion to take some of her candid photos for his wall. He sees the detective so he doesn’t do anything funny but gives a smirk as he leaves. Much later, Saori invites Nishitani and Shion out for a meal. She mentions that she invited Ayumi but didn’t show up. She amicably tells Shion that she’s only celebrating with her today but from the next day, they’ll be rivals at shougi now that Shion’s a professional kishi like her (remember, it’s 6 months later already). Meanwhile, we see Ayumi in his job at a restaurant reading about Shion’s new status as a pro. In another side of town, 2 guys are talking about Saori, Shion and Ayumi. The man with glasses tells the blonde guy that they are the 3 kishis that his organization considers the main draw for the King’s Crown Women’s Tournament and that they plan to take all possible measures to gain political focus, to which he also asks the help of the blonde guy. The blondie in turn says that he’ll support them in any way he can, but it appears he has some agenda of his own since they both seem to have some sort of deal in exchange for his support. The deal is, of course, unknown to us for the meantime.
At Shion’s house, we see her mom doing the laundry as Shion and her dad are playing shougi in which he loses to Shion. The two of them go about discussing their game and Shinji observes that Shion’s moves have developed depth and that she’s become stronger. He exclaims that the next time they play, instead of kakuochi (the superior player plays without the kaku or bishop), he will play without a handicap, to which Sachiko merely smiles. Shinji insists that he hasn’t gotten weak in the game but Shion’s gotten stronger. Sachiko jokingly says that Shinji should work harder as well and win a couple of titles. Shinji thinks to himself that the game with Shion was a bit strange since he didn’t make any bad moves, but before he knew it, he was playing into her hands and realizes that this is Shion’s shougi and her potential is improving. He then asks Shion how it feels being a pro kishi, if things have changed from before. Shion responds that it’s been fun, to which Shinji smiles and says that that’s just like Shion indeed, adding a bit of warning that there will also be matches where just having fun won’t be enough saying that in the pro world, there are moments when you must hate your opponent in order to win and that Shion will understand that someday. Shinji reminds Shion that her first big tournament will start next week, the King’s Crown Women’s Tournament. He then gives Shion little gift, a paper fan, saying that he used it in the match he won against Hani-meijin. Shion tries to open it to no avail, so Shinji shows her how to open it. It’s a white paper fan with the kanji for “dream” written on it.
The next day, we see Shion walking to school with the detective tailing her as usual. The stalker is at the sidelines again, this time frowning a bit probably getting annoyed that Shion has her own “bodyguard” now so he can’t attack her again anytime soon. Meanwhile, we drop in on the games that Saori and Ayumi are separately having, which each of them wins. Ayumi is later checking out the league schedule and is a bit annoyed that he has to slowly go through all the league matches, but the prize is 1 million yen, so he has to work hard and beat everyone for it. Saori interrupts his thoughts complimenting that he seems to be doing well in his games as well. Saori then asks Ayumi where he studied shougi since she did her research about him and it turns out she can’t find any record about Ayumi before he became Kamizono’s apprentice. Ayumi responds that he learned from his father at a dojo in his hometown and that he was never in any large tournaments and that could be the reason why Saroi can’t find any info on him. Learning this, Saori exclaims that she found Ayumi’s shougi style as somewhat unfamiliar, with Ayumi suggesting the word “vulgar” shougi. Saori says she didn’t mean it that way and comments that Ayumi’s style is a bit unformed but very practical. Ayumi says that unlike her, Saori plays “kind” shougi since she plays the way in which even a higher ranked opponent could resign with dignity when Saori wins. Ayumi adds that he would never play that way. Saori is taken aback by this.
At night, as Shion and Hisatani are walking through the rain with their umbrellas, Shion suddenly stops on her tracks for a while as she remembered the stalker incident 6 months ago with her rescuer. They both arrive at Shion’s house and have dinner with the family. We learn that Shion’s tournament starts tomorrow as Shinji also has his own tournament to participate on. Shion cheerfully tells her dad via her notepad to do his best and don’t drink too much beer. Shinji bashfully says Shion’s right and that the glass of beer he has will be his last for the night. Meanwhile, the stalker man is standing in the rain outside Shion’s house. Switch scenes to Saori who is also walking through the rain without an umbrella, looking a bit distressed over something. She goes over to Hani-meijin’s place and insists that she has something to talk to him about. Hani-meijin tries to talk her into going home and he’ll call her a taxi, saying that even if she’s his apprentice, walking around on her own and going to his place that late at night isn’t safe. Hani-meijin goes downstairs and meets with Saori. Saori says that Hani-meijin once said that her shougi was kind and that she was happy to hear that since Hani-meijin praised her but she realized that he probably said it out of pity since she heard the same thing from Ayumi earlier. Hani-meijin suggests that if she feels ashamed about it then the only way is for her to become a stronger player and that’s the way of pro shougi. Saori blurts out a request to play one game with Hani-meijin since she wants to be a stronger player as he agrees.
The next day, Sachiko and Shion are discussing a new incident. It appears that they received a threatening fax addressed to Shion regarding the upcoming tournament. Sachiko tells Shion about it and relates some of the threats and harassment letters and phonecalls that Shinji also faced especially when he was younger. Shion asks if Sachiko told Shinji about it, which Sachiko denies saying that she doesn’t want to worry Shinji especially since he has a tournament that day. Shion informs her mom that she’s calm and she doesn’t have to worry about her. Later, Shinji comes home from an easy win. She serves him some of Shion’s special cookies and proceeds on telling him about the threatening letter for Shion. Shinji almost chokes on a cookie but recovers then asks if she told Shion about it, which Sachiko confirms and says that Shion said she was fine. Shinji is about to go into Shion’s room to talk but Sachiko stops him, saying that they should let Shion rest properly since she has a big game the next day. Unbeknownst to them Shion is having another nightmare that very night about her parents’ murder years ago. This black and white dream sequence is more detailed and clear this time: Little Shion is face to face with the murderer holding a knife dripping with blood. A shougi board is between them with the shougi pieces scattered about. The murderer takes one of the pieces and moves it for her to see. Little Shion is scared and in tears, wondering who the man is and where her parents are. The murderer tells her to forget what she saw tonight, then forcefully covers her mouth with his bloodstained right hand. He continues talking, telling a frightened little Shion that if she wants to stay alive, she should forget how to speak. — end of nightmare – With this, Shion wakes up in tears and realizes that everything she dreamed of really happened years ago, that her parents have really been murdered then.
The next day, at the Shougi Association, Furuta receives a threatening fax addressed to Shion. They decide not to tell the police for now since they don’t want to make a fuss over it with many spectators and sponsors coming today, so they’d just step up the security inside the building. Saori walks up to one of the other female players, Kawai, who’s rambling about Shion and that if she’s going to cause problems like this, she should just make Shion quit the tournament. Saori wonders what she’s talking about. Kawai goes on to tell Saori that Shion, the youngest kishi, just received a written threat with the lines “Yasuoka Shion, if you win, I’ll kill you.” Ayumi gets off the elevator at this time and overhears this. Saori and Ayumi immediately make their way to Furuta and asks where Shion is. Furuta informs them that Shion is on her way there with Hisatani, so there’s no need to worry. This makes the 2 ladies (well, technically, a lady and a guy pretending to be a lady :D) breathe a sigh of relief. Furuta then tells them that it’s almost time for their respective matches so they should go on. Inside the elevator, Saori thanks Ayumi for last time, adding that he won’t be able to call her shougi “kind” anymore.
Saori’s game is against the woman earlier, Kawai. As they are arranging their shougi pieces on the board, Kawai asks Saori why everyone is being so kind to Shion. Saori asks her if she has ever seen one of Shion’s matches, which Kawai denies. Saori informs her that Shion speaks through her shougi and everyone just wants to hear her. Their game begins. Meanwhile, Furuta is talking to a crowd inside the building, saying that normally, non-members aren’t allowed to watch matches but they’d like them to be able to feel the tension of the match so they’re allowed to watch it live this time, adding that talking and recording are forbidden in a match room. We learn that one of the spectators is a suspicious lady with a camera hidden inside her bag. The spectators proceed on to watch Shion’s match. The suspicious lady interrupts the match and loudly tells Shion that they heard she received a threat, asking Shion if she would still like to win despite this. Shion is a bit taken aback by this, but looked the lady straight in the eye and nodded yes to her question. The lady was escorted outside of the building as the games continued. Later, we see the stalker man outside the building, staring intently towards it with a dubious glint in his eye.
~ end of episode
My Impression: We get to see a brief continuation of Ayumi’s rescue of Shion against the creepy stalker man. Again, remember that Ayumi is actually a guy merely pretending to be a girl in order to compete in the female shougi league due to unfortunate circumstances regarding his sick mother. So when Ayumi saved Shion, he is his usual guy self and wearing guy clothes with a matching baseball cap. However, Shion got a good look at him when he offered her his handkerchief to dry her tears, so I think Shion will be able to figure out the truth about him sooner or later.
Also, it’s only episode 2 but the timeline jumped to 6 months later after the brief stalker incident in the beginning of the episode. I thought this was a necessary and nice progress along the story. So, Shion is now a pro kishi player and is competing on her first big tournament. The highlight for me in this episode was the dream sequence Shion had (which is actually more of a nightmare) where she subconsciously remembers in more detail the night of her parents murder 7 years ago. We get a good idea why she basically lost her ability to speak. We learn that despite the trauma from that incident, another reason for this is the words of the murderer, telling little Shion that if she wants to live, she should forget how to speak. A hat that covers half of the man’s face, trench coat, unkempt hair and a creepy smirk… I wonder if the murderer and the stalker are one and the same person.
Just a quick reminder that I made a brief entry, a crash course on shougi, which will serve as a quick reference guide for this series. Feel free to refer to that once the technical terms pop up in the episodes to come.
Next episode: Unfortunately, there was no preview for the next episode. I don’t think they’d ever show one either in the episodes to come. Probably, in the next ep we’d get to have a closer look at the stalker man’s storyline and a bit more about her parents’ murder and more shougi matches, of course.
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