Posted by psgels on 23 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Shion no Ou


I doubt that I can write a review to do this series justice, but here it goes. Shion no Ou is an anime about shougi, the Japanese form of chess. The rules are quite complicated, but you don’t need to be able understand them if you want to enjoy this series. What’s much more important for Shion no Ou is the general strategies, and the mind-games that get played between the two players.

And don’t ask me how they did it, but the writers are true masters in terms of storytelling. While this series does take place mostly in a tournament-arc, they take everything that gets handed to them to spice things up. Every single character has his or her own style of playing that gradually evolves throughout the series. The police and the press often play a big role, as they support the main storyline and the main cast of characters.

And let me say that the story and characters are nothing short of incredible. The heroine, Shion, is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever seen. Every single character is well-defined and developed. Every single episode pushes the plot forwards, without any exceptions. The original manga was also written by a woman who used to be a female shougi-player as well, and she made sure to show all the ins and outs of a shougi-tournaments.

The animation definitely is different from usual. You’ll either love it or hate it, and it does fluctuate from incredibly bad to incredibly good, due to a limited budget. But in exchange, everything looks unique, and you can see that the animators are trying everything they can to make the art stand out. The animation itself is messy, but the poses and camera-angles are creative and yet incredibly life-like, that turned this series into a visual feast for me.

Great anime usually have one or two aspects that turn out very polished, like a cast of terrific characters, or an engaging storyline, but the outstanding anime really deliver in every single department. Shion no Ou has it all: terrific storytelling, a great storyline, a cast of deep and amazing characters (both the villains, main and side-characters) that really comes to life in the second half, a terrific art-style and animation, excellent music and a good sense of realism, although you should note that Shougi is serious business in this series, and at times the characters do tend to take Shougi a bit too seriously. ^^;

13 Responses

  1. hell_angel2703 says:

    I agree with you^^…Shion no ou was one of the best animes ever^^

    but then, why does the series only receive
    94/100?

    there has to be something that has been bothering you with exception that some people took Shougi too serious…..

  2. BlueYoshi says:

    Heh, I thought that Shion no Ou might get 95 or 96. Then again, Mahou Shoujotai (up to Ep 15) got 97, and that’s your fav anime. Even the best ever doesn’t get a 100. xD

    Sigh…still have to wait for subs…good thing I only peek at the top bits of your Shion-related blog entries.

  3. Tiny Red Man says:

    I had to download the raws (even when i only understand a bit) from epi 18 onwards..they are ready in 2hrs.. =D can’t wait…

    and yes, shion no ou is win!! it creeps onto me bit by bit…Ah….let me rewatch 1 to 18 while i wait for the raws..

  4. Mooniecat says:

    I have to say that I agree that this anime was totally awesome to me as well. I would have thought it would receive just a bit higher but some of your episode reviews gives me a clue on why so I am not really all that surprised. Thanks for reviewing it!

  5. Z.A. says:

    i bothered waiting to marathon this shit until its all subbed because i knew it was gonna be really good and i would hate to wait! im glad i did.
    havent enjoyed a tournament series THIS good since Hajime no Ippo and Baki the Grappler. though Hajime no Ippo is by far the best tournament based series i’ve seen yet

  6. Anonymous says:

    Although I often find myself disagreeing with you in many of your reviews I recently decided to give this show a chance. Mainly because you referred to it, along with Kaiba, as the best series of 2008, piquing my interest.

    I must say, after watching it, that I feel ashamed of dismissing it as “more studio Deen crap” when it came out without even giving it a chance. Thank you for making me pick up this awesome series, it was everything you said it would be, and definitely a huge 2008 favorite, along with Kaiba and Hakaba Kitarou.

  7. Rhyagelle says:

    I want to put a recommendation here, if I may. I watched this show and loved it, and unconsciously I parallel it to one of my favourite stories Hikaru no go.

    It’s mainly because of the same structure of the title an of course the fact that both deals with youths playing Japanese originated board games. I read the manga a while ago and I was captivated. Finished it in two days I had. It’s ~200 chapter and ~4000 page. It was so satisfying experience that I didn’t even care if it’s adapted or not. But I find the anime roughly 4 hours ago :). I only watched 3 episodes, but it’s conveyed the atmosphere of the original story well. The anime is a bit old (started airing in 2001) and a bit of a monster (75 ep). It seems to follow the storyline of the manga as closely as possible (big plus for me).

    It’s follows our protagonist from the beginning (He doesn’t even knows the rules) end the ending of the manga was well very good. Not the great climax, but it’s like letting the characters go on their ways a bit after the great finale. Rivalry is in the focus, rivalry deep like hate or love. The protagonist young at the beginning, but the story covers a great chunk of his childhood, so he will age don’t worry. :)

    So that’s it. I read your blog for a year or so whenever I want to find a title to watch or when I want an interesting second opinion of a series. You recommended many shows to me (indirectly :D) and I want to return the favour. (And maybe I want to read your thoughts on the story.) I’m well aware that you won’t have time for a series this long, but hell maybe I will see Jesus on a chopper on route 66 :D.

    I’d like to apologise for any language related mistakes, English is not my first and while the spell checking helps me to avoid misspelled words it doesn’t augment my grammar.

  8. Howling-kun says:

    …one of the most addicting shows ever. I just finished watching it in one sitting and absolutely loved it.

  9. Frost says:

    Oh my god, I just marathoned this and while the first couple of episodes was sort of “meh”…

    Id like to point out that when it comes to board game animes, nothing will ever top Akagi, which is why I was skeptical when I started… however the strength of this anime lies not in the shougi itself but the characters and the murder plot

    Its BRILLIANT… Every episode is so consistent, and by the time you get to episode 18 and find out who is the culprit, the show turns into one of the biggest awesomeness-fests ever

    The last 4 episodes are just… Wow, kept me at the edge of my seat all the time

    Im speechless, totally deserves this score, masterpiece of storytelling and character development right here

  10. reverse says:

    sadly I have the opposite effect went I see this show

    the whole concept shougi the murderer plot was awesome, every episode was great to watch.
    until they revealed the murderer, don’t know about you guy think, but the murderer intention is lame. not to mention he suddenly turn evil and insane at the end just doesn’t feel right, with no intention to hide his killing. no need to get all the proof, it look he is insane enough to admit the killing, at the end

  11. Elias says:

    The killer was crazy all along. He mentioned that he lived for this and only by doing this could he get what he expected from his dead friend. He didnt turn evil, he only showed his true character since all he was after was the satisfaction of a true challang. It’s not logical but i follow the reasoning and finde understand the motive well, i do not question the way of the killer rather than shion reaction. Thanking the murder at the end, that was a bit bleh.

  12. thealien says:

    Thanks for this great review! I hadn’t even heard of this show until randomly reading this review. The show slowly developed into one of my favourites. Thanks again.

  13. summerberries says:

    You got to be kidding to rate this 94/100!

    It is not the matter of seriousness in shougi. The murder twist is weak. They are just creating excuse to insert thrill in shougi.

    If you want good one, should watch hikaru no go! This series is way far below , I will only rate it 60/100

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  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

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