This episode was meant to build up for the next one. But with Shion no Ou, this isn’t a bad thing at all. This episode was yet again awesome, and now that this series is nearing its finish it’s getting more amazing by the minute! Seriously, this series has some of the best character-studies in a long while, and at the moment, I’m certain that it’ll end up being one of my favourite series of 2008, even though we’re only half past February.
And really, the animators were on fire for this episode, after the really weird shots of the previous one. It’s really interesting to see that the creators too have realized that the animation needs to be better, and they’re actually improving themselves. I’ve only seen this phenomena in one other series: Mahou Shoujotai. I don’t think I need to say anything more. It’s not like the animation this episode was really crisp or smooth. It’s even messier than usual, but it’s detailed and imaginative. Those were some really interesting poses, where you can see that the animators put some thoughts into them. Some were exaggerated, but others looked SO natural, like how Satoru tilted his head when Shion approached him.
And boy, the story. I’m getting more and more the feeling that Satoru is some kind of huge red herring, standing in front of the real killer. The amount of depth that he and Shion got in this episode is almost unbelievable. This episode starts with Hani-meijin winning over Hisatani, and the second half of the episode is dedicated to the match between Shion and Satoru.
It actually turns out that Shion met Kazuki, when her parents were alive. She hears this from Satoru, during the match. In exchange, she starts crying for her, wondering who it was that handed her her first shougi-pieces at such a young age. I don’t think that Satoru could have expected that other people cared about Kazuki apart from him.
That’s not the only thing that Satoru tells her. He also tells him that she actually once convinced him to stop playing Shougi, and that because of her, he organized the tournament in the first place. It also seems that she died, the day after Shion’s real parents died. Also, for some reason, Satoru also tries to make her remember the incident, and because of this he also shows her his memorial, the same as Shion’s.
Shion then recalls another part of her memory, where she’s playing shougi with her father as a child, where he actually inspires her to keep playing shougi. Shion then realizes that that was the reason why she became a pro in the first place. After the match progresses a while, Satoru leaves the room to eat a bit of lunch. Before he leaves the room, he asks Shion about the night of the murder. Apparently, it took a while before the police arrived, but Shion never screamed for help. She just cried for her parents, if I understood things correctly.
This makes Shion recall that night a bit more clearly, and the night with her father as well. Guess what? It turns out that these two nights were the exact same night. The reason why Shion kept playing shougi was BECAUSE OF WHAT THE KILLER SAID to her! In her mind, she changed this image to be her foster-father. One interesting detail is that Shion held the other king in her hand that time, and she didn’t want to give it up.
Seriously, the potential for the finale for this series is overwhelming. Hands down, Shion no Ou has become my favourite series of the Autumn-season, and Ghost Hound is going to have to be amazing if it wants to have any chance to change this.