Oh my god. This episode was absolutely amazing, and quite probably the best of the entire series yet. And with Shion no Ou, that has to say something! Obviously with that, there are major spoilers following, because this episode turned so many tables around. You don’t want to read this entry without having seen the episode, and I’m serious about this. This sentence is meant to fill up space on the blog aggregators.
Now, the biggest shock was definitely the very first sentence on the first scene. From out of NOWHERE, we just learn that Ayumi’s mother freaking DIED. I hardly could believe my ears when I heard this, and how it came so incredibly suddenly. The first sentence was the last place I’d ever expect a twist so major as that.
Unfortunately, the only thing that wasn’t freaking awesome about this episode was the animation. Something went terribly wrong with the outsourcing this time, and some shots looked really off, even more than usual for this series. Thankfully though, the rest of the episode MORE than made up for it. Shion’s face when she found out about Ayumi’s mother was heart-wrenching. And yes, I admit that I cried a lot during this episode.
The thing also remains that Ayumi has now lost his main reason to play Shougi. Hani-meijin then comes into the picture, when he basically offers to make Ayumi his successor. With his loss against Satoru this episode, the female Ayumi has also died, and the episode ends with Hani-meijin, actually cutting off Ayumi’s hair!
And on top of that, Satoru also receives a truckload full of development. We see him this time at the apartment of a newly introduced friend of his. We receive the first clue that perhaps he wasn’t the one who killed Shion’s parents. It turns out Kazumi was indeed his lover, whom he met in high-school. She died, however, at the same time that Shion’s parents got killed. In this episode, we see how Satoru has actually asked this friend of his to investigate on the real facts of the death of Shion’s parents. Now why would he do that if he was the murderer?
We also learn why Hani-meijin and Satoru split up. Hani-meijin basically forced Satoru to stop playing Shougi, while he himself would pursue a professional carreer in Shougi. This had a major impact on Satoru, and he secretly kept playing Shougi with himself. It turns out that his ultimate goal is to have a real match with his brother, which is probably why he organized the tournament in the first place. Where Shion fits in this isn’t clear yet. But Hani-meijin is indeed the weak point for Satoru. When he finds out that Hani-meijin was late for his own match, his own game against Ayumi got a lot weaker. When the guy showed up at last, he easily won.
Seriously, this episode was all kinds of awesomeness, and to think that the creators haven’t even begun to reveal all of their trump-cards. Right now, only Shion, Hisatani, Satoru and Hani-meijin are left in the tournament. Quite an interesting line-up, if you ask me. If I understood things correctly, then Hisatani will end up against Hani-meijin if he wins his next match. Shion then has also has a match against an unknown opponent (I suspect that this is going to be the guy who beat Saori), after which she yet again has to play against Satoru, who of course wants to go to the finale where he can play against his brother (who’ll likely beat Hisatani). It turns out that there will be 22 episodes for this series, just as with Ghost Hound, and this should provide enough time to close off this series.