It’s been a while. I will talk about my absence in the next Anilog. So let me just jump into this late, late post.
This episode was on the more introspective side of things, not much really happens- other than Akari voicing her anxious thoughts on meeting parents of other students and Rei winning a match against his annoying, arrogant counterpart. Again, this one was more of a breather from the tension from last episode- where things got too real.
The episode opens with Rei bringing in yet another bag of fruits for the Kawamoto sisters, this time- peaches (momo). Like literal peaches can replace Momo’s screen time in this episode (lol- I got a bit carried away). Rei notices that Hina is having a nose bleed; she gets embarrassed and tells Rei to look away- which he obediently follows. They exchange some light banter and Hina thanks Rei. Other than that, they don’t talk about school- which is weird because Rei would usually bring it up, but I guess he is more tactful than I thought.
Akari takes Rei to help out with her groceries (again). She opens up about Hina’s situation, and she draws a narrative tangent from last episode’s seething, high-tension finish. It turns out that Hina’s homeroom teacher didn’t respond in an understanding manner to Hina’s situation, instead she blamed Hina for being uncooperative (Damn, I was too optimistic in last episode’s review). In my opinion, this teacher character is performing weird leaps of reason to avoid a direct confrontation with the bullies- out of all the characters, I find her the most difficult one to understand; if such a teacher exists, I can’t keep my calm around them.
Anyway, Rei reacts to this news in an expected way- he brings up the color red (contextually symbolic for anger and frustration) and sets up a visual bridge between his emotions, Hina’s emotions and his surroundings (the sun was setting at that time). Akari is anxious of the prospect that she would have to meet with the bullies’ parents, and she doesn’t know how to deal with them if the parents turn out to have protective and hostile personalities. She goes overboard with this and injects in a change in tone- where she draws a hyperbolic, cartoon-y representation of her grandpa, Misaki and the parents she might have to meet up with.
At first, I thought this shift in tone in her dialogue was unwarranted and strange; but I later realized that this shift in her tone actually helped the show to emphasize the state of anxiety Akari is in. People try to lighten things up for themselves by going overboard with their humor- and this is a very sincere example of such.
Rei catches onto Akari’s tensed state, and reacts in a hormonal (and embarrassing) burst of “I’m here too!”. I don’t know- these couple of episodes flesh Rei out to be not only relatable, but adorable as well. Here, the anime also toned the dramatic atmosphere down and went on a brief tonal detour just to get the tension loose and laid softly- so that Akari’s reaction to this transitions well. Rei’s unconscious interjection invokes surprise from Akari’s side momentarily, but she smiles and the background gives away to a watercolor effect to exude the warmth in her gratitude towards him. She further assures him that she means her gratitude by saying that she will be putting her trust on Rei from now on.
On a night before Rei’s and Nikaidou’s matches start, the latter calls up Rei, and it is revealed that they both have one match to win to reach the finals of the Newcomer’s Tournament. Nikaidou is stressed but he, being the best friend and the healthy rival he is, warns Rei of the ‘Irritated Prince of the East’. While Nikaidou verbalizes his worries on shogi strategies, Rei cuts him short and tells him to get some sleep and says that health is the number one priority. Cue another moment of astonishment of Nikaidou- a predictable response to Rei’s sudden change from neutral tone in his dialogue to a more active and warm tone.
After Rei finishes talking to Nikaidou, a guitar melody starts and Rei goes on a mental soliloquy as he overlooks the river from his veranda. He repeats that he wants to win, more than ever- because of the unexpectedly frustrating aggravation of Hina’s circumstances. He restates that he wants to be needed.
On the day of the shogi match, Rei walks towards his destination, mulling over Akari’s troubled state and, again, repeating to himself that he must win; while fittingly anticipatory music plays in the background. The music falls silent upon him entering the shogi room (I don’t know what else to call it), and the show wastes no time to show why the music has been turned off. The ‘Irritated Prince of the East’ is a really fidgety and noisy guy, not the typical tapping his fingers noisy (he does that too), but someone who actually clicks his tongue perpetually. Who the hell goes through such an expenditure of energy to get themselves in the ‘zone’? Truth be told, Hachiya has to be the worst-best hyperbole of a noisy character; and I see that name connection- Hachi means bee (Just patting myself on the shoulder for my overly sparse Japanese knowledge, lol) and bees are noisy, get it? Get it? (Okay, that’s enough going overboard)
Anyway, Rei pulls out a calm and patient victory; and since I don’t know jack about shogi, I can’t go to details on how well Hachiya played- he’s quick, he buzzes, and he is annoyingly arrogant. Rei remarks that Hachiya thinks that the world revolves around him (which Rei could be also guilty of in the first half of the first season). Smith and Yanagihara recognizes that calls him out in a jesty manner. I guess, this calls back to and emphasizes how much Rei has changed in his way of thinking from the beginning of the show. I think Rei also admits that he used to be self-centered in his own way, judging from his guilty-purplish tinge in his reaction shot. But hey, Rei has always been a good boy- at least, he never displayed his ‘arrogance’. Harmless-arrogance is even present in the best of people, in my opinion (yep, totally not guilty of that thing).
The episode ends with a comical shot of bee-man reviewing his match in his head, excusing to himself that he just didn’t understand it: surrounded by a clutter of empty parfait glasses, and Rei wearing a frustrated expression, “We are nothing alike!”