Posted on 23 March 2008 with categories: Shion no Ou


God… this series is over at last. Endings like this one always have a certain air of predictability. Shion was bound to win, Hani-meijin would definitely end up arrested, and there’d also be a pretty good chance that Shion would get her voice back in the end.

And THAT’s exactly where the creators of this series come into play, and their mysterious talent to make this series awesome, no matter what happens. I can’t believe that these guys really know what it takes to create an excellent series. I’ve heard that the manga continues on beyond this point, but there are absolutely not threads left hanging, and everything is somehow carefully wrapped up in this episode.

This is exactly why I love Studio Deen. Their series either reek of mediocrity, like Hatenkou Yuugi, Touka Gettan, Ginga Densetsu Weed or some of Hiroshi Watanabe’s works, and yet they’ve managed to churn out a number of true classics. These guys are not afraid to experiment and go with their own style, which becomes apparent in masterpieces as Jigoku Shoujo, The Law of Ueki, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Simoun and of course this one. They’re looking to be busy yet again for the upcoming spring-season, with Vampire Knight, Amatsuki, Kyou Kara Maou and Junjo Romantica (incidentally, all four are shoujo), so perhaps another potential classic is amongst these four.

So in the end, Hani-meijin indeed was and still is obsessed with Shougi. He basically killed off everyone dear to Shion, in order to make her more focused at getting better at Shougi, after the recommendations he heard about her. Even Kasumi had to die because of this. Oh, and I absolutely loved it when Satoru punched his brother in the face. That scene was simple, but so effective.

The animation was yet again excellent in this episode. And here’s an interesting bit I found out: the chief animation director (Seiya Numata) also did the key animation of the fourth episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which was the one that spawned the outrage. The episode itself was pretty bad, it was directed and written by a supposedly good friend of the director (called Osamu Kobayashi if I’m not mistaken). But this does explain why that episode looked so strange when compared to the other episodes. Osamu Kobayashi must have been heavily influenced by the unique style of Seiya Numata.

The problem with that episode was however that it didn’t fit in with the consistency of that series at all. Like with The Third, such a different animation-style breaks flow. Arusu the Adventure has thus far been the only series where a change of animation-style has really worked, simply because it consistently changes its animation-style with every single episode. If there are one or two episodes where the characters look totally different from usual, it just feels like bad planning.

That’s why it’s great to see that in this series, Seiya Numata was in charge for the animation of all the episodes, so he could really go all out. And I really like how he made use of the clearly limited budget that this series ended up with. This series is the perfect example of how you can look great, even without the big budgets you see in series as Seirei no Moribito and Macross Frontier. Especially that punch from Satoru looked terrific.

In any case, it’s sad to see that this series is finally over. This has without a doubt been the best series of the past half year. I’m hoping that the upcoming spring-season features at least one more series with the same calibre as this one. A series that comes from nowhere, grabs you and never lets go until after it’s finished.

10 Responses

  1. Chan says:

    Hmm, i had to drop this series halfway through because the thinly veiled misogyny irritated the hell out of me. Besides, this ‘the world of shougi is dangerous and only the fittest (males) will survive’ athmosphere the creators tried to convey seemed pretty ridiculous to me – it’s just a bloody boardgame, for god’s sake!

  2. Windspirit says:

    I’m pretty much halfway into the series and I’m having a very painful time waching this, simply because there’s nothing exciting at all, there’s no drama, they’re making a mountain of a board game and it just doesn’t grab me.
    Glad to hear that the whole mystery-drama stuff develops in the seconde half.

  3. psgels says:

    I think that this is where the different tastes come in. I myself actually never got bothered by the fact that she Shougi gets taken so seriously in this series (which probably is because of suspense of disbelief).

  4. apexantapex says:

    Thinly-veiled misogyny, or at least garden-variety sexism, is a built-in feature of most (Japanese) anime. Truly, consider the culture that spawns it — it’s not a hotbed of female actualization. But then, that’s a fact of life no matter the culture, it’s just a matter of degree. So I blame the patriarchy. :)

    I sympathize with the irritation, though. Pre-timeskip Sakura in Naruto had me screaming at the computer. I never hated the character, but I sure did hate the mangaka for making her that way.

    I actually liked this show precisely because those assumptions were challenged. Note the dialogue between Saori and Ayumi on the hospital roof. Saori’s comments on female shougi players were an spoken acknowledgement of this problem. That’s rare.

    I find that when the author of an anime concept is female, the presentation of female characters and their potential is often more well rounded, especially in shounen/seinen series. Katori Masaru was a female shogi player — her story is interesting to read about.

    Oh, and I totally buy that people can get that obsessive and self-important with a board game. Especially when talented people can make a living off of it. Heck, there are hardcore, pressure-filled tournaments organized around *crossword puzzles* in the US. XD

    Psgels, *thank you* for leaving out most of the details of the final episode. The general ending is what I expected, so it’s not “spoiled” for me and as of 23/03/08, I still have the pleasure of discovering the details… OF THE LAST FOUR EPISODES. *sob* The English subs are still stuck at 18 due to the translator moving to a different continent, so I’ve been writhing in suspense for a couple weeks now, with no concrete end in sight. My RSS feed to it has taken a beating. :(

    Fansubs will break your heart, they really will. XD

  5. Chan says:

    @apexantapex: i’m aware of the fact that Japan isn’t exactly the cradle of gender equality. Still, it’s easier to overlook sexism in a shounen fighting anime which is first of all about physical strength than in a series about shougi which is first of all about intelligence and strategical thinking…but well, since the mangaka was a shougi player herself, perhaps she speaks from (her own bad) experience.

  6. apexantapex says:

    @chan: I figured you did — I might have sounded a bit patronizing and I didn’t mean to, so apologies.

    The sexism chaps my hide in any kind of genre, actually, especially since martial arts — the most common fight technique I see in anime — is the equalization of strength through technique, discipline and mind mastery. (er, right? I don’t know anything about martial arts other than what one picks up by seeing it in pop culture.)

    After a while you just get inured to it to simply get through the day. Who wants to die early of a stroke brought on by constant, low-grade anger? Especially by something as relatively inconsequential as anime. :) So I completely agree: when it crosses over into the realm of mental ability, it’s grade-A annoying. It’s even more annoying when you see that this segregation occurs in real life, women are compensated accordingly as lesser players, and the anime is merely a reflection of this.

    And this is taking this conversation waaaay beyond the scope of this post entry. :)

    BTW, isn’t it interesting that the highest competitor and ultimately the murderer was the one who wanted to eliminate this divide? Even though he was the killer, I can’t seem to hate Hani-meijin. Such an interesting character, like his brother — twisted yet appealing.

  7. Adrastea says:

    Subs are finnally out :)
    I was suprised at the change in animation and also loved it when Satoru punched his brother.

    Thanks for the great recommendation

  8. BlueYoshi says:

    Finally finished.

    Weird to think that I was looking for a show similiar to Higurashi when I looked through the Fall07 anime 9 months ago, and found a show that delivered 100%, when Shion no Ou has no real similarities, other than the Studio DEEN twisted face syndrome, which I love by the way.

    Masterpiece, 5th anime to get a 10/10 from me.

  9. Moonhawk says:

    I didn’t really like the art style in this episode it sometimes seemed really rough and I was missing a loto of deatails, especial in the hairs and faces of sone people.
    But well, the rest made more than up for it and I really liked that final episode.
    It was predictable, sure, but the creators nevertheless but some unique things to it so it was a really enjoyable watch.
    Great ending to a more than awesome series!

  10. Moonhawk says:

    Ugh, sorry, it’s already too late here, my spelling seems to have gone missing while watching…

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  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:23 PM)
    The only time they ever get along seems to be during non-canon alternate universes made for fanservice, official or not.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:21 PM)
    Erm, no. They didn’t “get along” so much as Sayaka at least sympathized nicely with her. At least, until the end, when she basically swore never to sympathize with her again. XDDD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:20 PM)
    Another interesting point is that the character relations are pretty fluid, too. Characters can act differently toward each other in different timelines/potential futures. Rebellion actually solidifies Homura’s consistent feelings toward Mami and also that Sayaka just cannot seem to be on good terms with Homura… but even then, for a while, they got along pretty well until the end. XD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:17 PM)
    Madoka’s characterization seems pretty non-linear and only show up when necessary, so it’s definitely easy to see that they’re “dependent on the plot,” but there’s a ton of stuff there to piece the characters together into something coherent and solid.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:55 AM)
    Madoka’s characters act pretty confusingly? I never got that. I always felt there actions were pretty logical in the first viewing.
    Though a second viewing of anything can help. Mostly because you know the main story so you can focus on the little details.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:27 AM)
    If anyone wants me to ask any specific questions, let me know. Funny enough, people are saying the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time–that multiple viewings help us understand the characters better. Because a lot of characters DO act pretty confusing at first, but upon a second viewing, after we know more about them, those actions make complete sense. Meaning that Madoka’s characterization is not linear.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:20 AM)
    Thankfully, derailment usually doesn’t happen with serious topics like this, so it’ll probably just die down over time when there are plenty of great answers and not a lot more to say, or go on for a very long time if there are a disparity in perspectives from different people.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:17 AM)
    On a very, very interesting note, I just asked one of the small communities of respectable Madoka fans to sit down and think with me about the potential flaws of characterization and development in Madoka, or why they may be perceived as flaws. I’m getting a lot of well-thought-out answers, so when the thread starts to die down (or derail, which hasn’t happened yet), maybe I’ll share the link here.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Kenjeran: I keep hearing that Up has a really emotionally engaging short intro or insert or something. I STILL haven’t seen it yet, but that might be a potential example.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 08:36 AM)
    I must say Daimidalar, the breast grabbing/groping really bothered me actually in that one that I wouldn’t watch it.

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