Ryuuou no Oshigoto!: a sixteen year old shogi master takes on a nine year old girl as his disciple: Sangatsu no Lion, but trash.
Kuzuryu Yaichi is a sixteen year old shogi prodigy, who has won the ryuu title when he was only sixteen, but has entered a bit of a slump in the three months since. Returning home one day he finds the nine year old Hinatsuru Ai in his flat, who want to become his student. He plays a couple of games with her, gets called in by his own sensei who gives his blessing and enters her in a training group at the shogi hall. This episode was mostly setup then, introducing the main characters as well as a fair few of the supporting cast. It did however also have a satisfying amount of shogi show, done in a way that showed this series loves shogi. Not that I understand the first thing of shogi, but I could tell more attention was paid to the shogi playing scenes than it really needed to for the sort of heart warming slice of moe series this seems to want to be.
A shame it has to ruin it by being so goddamn bloody anime. A nine year old girl who wants to become the student of a sixteen year old shogi master: that immediately rings alarm bells. The episode started off well and my fears seemed unfounded, until eleven minutes in, when we got an unnecessary shower scene, followed by a “hilarious” misunderstanding as Kuzuryu’s shogi “sister” Sora Ginko — two years younger than him but his senior in shogi — came to visit. At first it seems she’s concerned about why exactly he has a nine year old girl in his home, but that soon morphs into jealousy towards Ai-chan. That’s obnoxious enough when it’s two age appropriate girls getting jealous over a boy, but when one literally is a child…
The thing what annoys me the most about this flirtation with pedophilia is that it’s so bloody cynical. Ai-chan is constantly glamourised,like in the shot above in a way that isn’t quite outright sexual, but that’s clearly meant to hint at it. The other female characters shown so far didn’t have the sheen to them that Ai-chan’s shiny, shiny knees have. Ai-chan getting jealous of Sora, Ai-chan casually walking out of the bathroom naked, Ai-chan talking about SM persons, all there to make her into a lust object for the viewer, but with just enough plausible deniability built in. This could be just an innocent nine year old having a crush on the boy she met once, but the show is constantly nudge-nudge wink winking at you. You know nothing will come of it, it’s just there to appeal to the lolicon tendecies of some anime viewers, because if you have a series costarring a nine year old girl, why not sexualise here and get that audience, hey?
But it didn’t have to. It could’ve skipped all that and justy focused more on Ai-chan discovering the wide world of shogi, of Kuzuryu rekindling his own love for the game through her enthusiasm. There are hints that the rest of the series may improve, as a few other elementary school shogi players were introduced at the very end, but I fear that the lolicon elements will continue to crop up whenever the writers run out of ideas or fall back on old anime cliches. Will I keep watching? For the moment yes, until the more unsavoury elements of this show will get too much for me.