I have a serious recall on the first episode while watching this episode. Like that premiere, this episode is divided sharply into two half, one focuses on Rei with his shogi life, the other pays attention to three sisters and Rei; and also like that premiere, each half is compelling on its own and brings out the feels that make the whole episode so rewarding. I could go so far to say that this episode IS the warmest episode of 3-gatsu we have encountered yet, to the point that this episode’s warm-heartedness might be the best way to end this season (but then again, we still have 1 more episode). Almost every character has a happy, joyful times. Well, they pretty much deserve to have a rose-color moments once in awhile, especially after weeks after weeks of depressions from Rei and then Shimada.
Coming back to Shimada’s hometown for a shogi festival, which many fun events like Human Shogi or 100 Move events, Shimada can’t help but feeling that he let people in his town down. He expects the old folks would cheer him up, tell him it’s alright despite him losing straight matches, and that make him feel even more guilty. What he doesn’t expect is that the old people in the town don’t even really mind about that title match. They love him and support him in different ways, not by the mere win – loss that Shimada always pushes himself to. The last part when the old men tell him to not rush forward make him realize that he has been pushing himself a little too much. The support from his hometown is always meant to give him strength, not as a pressure that he needs to achieve. It’s great if he can succeed on the road he choose, but either way they will always love him all the same, because simply he means much more to them than the shogi master title. And it’s so warming to hear the extend he goes to provide his old folks a community that they can share time together, playing shogi, eating food and getting daily necessities back home.
Seeing Shimada have a moment of relaxation and smiling with his folks are rewarding on its own, but Rei again is pretty in sync with the place as well. “I felt connected to it”, this might be one of those rare times that Rei really feels like he belong to somewhere, and it’s great to see him passionately talk about Shimada in front of the reporter. Although threatened by the “unexpected” rain, the Shogi festival turns out to be a lot of fun. Harunobu fits this festival so well and you can really see the pride of all people emerge themselves to this events. Every Human Shogi player has their face high up, every person in the 100 Move event waits excitingly, yet patiently to play with the professionals. This might be strictly my own preference but this kind of events I prefer much better than the professional shogi tournaments. This is the kind of events where fun is FUNdamental, where everyone just need to enjoy themselves to the fullest and worry about nothing else.
And I’m glad the Kawamoto sisters are back. I missed them so much to the point that I wouldn’t really mind if the entire second half just focus on them and their own little cute problems, be it their struggle over the new sweet creation, or their bigger struggle of staying away from sweet cake; but then it ties with Rei in the end so well that it brings the most heartfelt moments in this already-solid episode. In this episode, they recalled the sisters’ mom again with such achingly fond memory, and that tender moment really tugs my heartstring. The comedy in the second half mostly works well, Momo again steals the scene and Hina still shines with her directness persona, and I swear if they selling that Puffy Daruma I will be the first in line to try it. In the end, I get out of this episode feeling wholly satisfied and warm, something that I never expect the show could achieve so flawlessly. Now if only the last episode could give me that satisfaction. And a conclusive ending point (with the next chapter named “The New Semester” though, I do have my worry).