What They Say:
“Chapter 50 June / Chapter 51 Ladybug Bush (Part 1)”
During a lunch break between matches, Nikaidou pressures Rei to win all his matches so they can battle in the finals. Rei looks on coolly until Nikaidou points out feelings Rei never realized he had. Meanwhile, at the Kawamoto house, Someji, Akari, Hinata, and Momo have a brainstorming session about Crescent Moon’s new summer sweet creation. Momo proposes novel ideas, but the usually cheerful Hinata seems down…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This week’s episode begins deceptively light but just as last week’s episode, everything that happens is part of the same big picture. Well, maybe not Kumakura’s shoe size, although it may have been a subtle or not so subtle foreshadowing.
The first half of the episode shows us Rei and Nikaidou while they’re eating lunch at the Shogi hall. By the way, there’s a lot of food porn in this episode, so be warned. It’s mostly Nikaidou being Nikaidou, and yelling about how they’re best friends and rivals and that Rei better hang in there until the final match of the Newcomers tournament since it’s the only chance they’ll have of playing each other. Rei is sure Nikaidou is being too self-assured until his friend points out it’s the other way around, given that Rei is not even stressed out, he’s too used to this. So used in fact, he doesn’t really take it seriously. He gets so ashamed when he realizes its true, he has to leave. It’s a fun, cute scene but it is also very revealing, not only of Rei’s state of mind about Shogi but of how he’s changed. I don’t think he would have been capable of showing his emotions this easily at the beginning of the series and the way he argues and talks with Nikaidou is absolutely natural now; he’s not second guessing every little thing all the time.
For those of you that missed the sisters (I know I did); they’re back and it looks like this next arc may be a lot more about them than about Rei. Alright, it’s always at least a little about Rei, but you know what I mean, right? We get another cute scene that seems to imply nothing much is going to happen in this episode, do not be deceived. Grandpa is once again recruiting the girls to help him come up with a new sweet for his shop since the last one has been a success. As I said, it’s a cute, fun scene but what’s important here, it not what happens but what doesn’t. Amidst Momo’s excited suggestions, her grandpa celebrating every crazy childish thing she says and Akari’s worried commentary, there’s something missing: Hina’s voice. She’s there alright, but she’s unusually quiet, listless even and her mood doesn’t change after all the commotion is gone. The series does a beautiful job of illustrating the isolation she seems to be feeling with muted blues and quiet sounds. The fun, silly question the grandfather uttered before, “Can you tell me what else splashes on water?” takes on a different meaning here, turning it into something melancholic and poetic.
Now, these two segments aren’t completely separate from each as it would appear at first. In fact, you need to stay for the scene after the credits because that’s the one that really ties it all together. As it stands, the last segment before that may feel a bit redundant. As Rei is eating breakfast before his match (and I’d like to point out here how much more relaxed he is before his matches now), he sees a ladybug bush or rather a bush that reminds him of one there used to be at his elementary school. He liked it because the ladybugs would lay their eggs on it. As he remembers the past, memories suddenly fill his head. Not pleasant memories, but memories of being bullied, of trying to be invisible, of burying himself in Shogi to escape. We get an emotional but maybe unnecessary summary if you’ve been watching the series since the start, of everything that happened after his parents died. The relationship with his adoptive family, the jealousy, and anger of his siblings, etc… You can feel Rei starting to slip back to his old habits and then as if to pull him back from the past, he receives a text message from Akari asking him to come for dinner.
It is a beautiful and hopeful ending to all these dark ramblings of the mind, but I couldn’t help but feel it was mostly just drama for the sake of drama like the writers decided “he’s been happy for too long now”. However, once you see that after-credits scene you’ll understand why it was fundamental to take that walk down memory lane.
This was another excellent episode, what else did you expect me to say? If anything, I’m not sure it was wise to put that scene after the credits. Don’t get me wrong, I love those things, but this one, in particular, felt like it was pretty important and the less patient viewers may miss it. They’ll probably repeat it next week anyway. And even though we’ve seen Rei’s back-story before, this is the first time we see the adoptive mother. In just a few seconds they managed to make her into a multidimensional character too. That’s’ pretty impressive. In the art department, I do love how the colors and the backgrounds set the mood so perfectly, reflecting the characters feelings and state of mind more than just a place. I mean, the same exact scenery can look totally different depending on who is in the scene and the eyes with which they’re looking at it.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll