What’s the show? The Ryuo’s Work Is Never Done! (2018)
And what’s a ‘Ryuo’? Funny that you asked ‘what’ and not ‘who’?
Well was I wrong? Well, no. I just, eh, nevermind. So bare with me because things are about to get dry up in here…
Err, okay… be gentle? Aha. Erm—anyway, this is an anime about Shogi! If you don’t know what shogi is well… it’s like Japanese chess, only because it’s Japanese it’s absurdly difficult and abstract and impossible to grasp without a committed attitude, kind of like their language. Like I’ve tried to understand how a game of shogi is played and I’ve still got no clue, even after Wikipedia and Youtube vids and 12 episodes of this damn show…
So it’s difficult, okay I get it. But what’s a Ryuo? Oh my god, you ask like it’s something that’s easy to explain, JFC… okay so, ‘Ryuo’ is a rank you can achieve by being ridiculously good at Shogi—a game that makes no damn sense—except there’s like this convoluted hierarchy of levels and it’s different for men and women, and it’s different depending on how long you’ve played for and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed…
I think I’m kind of getting the picture… I’m glad someone is!
Right, so what’s this show precisely about? It’s about 16 year old Yaichi, the youngest ever Ryuo of Shogi and his various troubles navigating the world being the most famous face in the Shogi world…
Which means? Which means this is a harem, of course.
Of course, okay so I guess that means he has groupies and colleagues who are cute anime girls who want to bed him, right? Pretty much, except the majority of them are 9-year-old grade school girls.
………………excuse me? Don’t pretend like you didn’t hear me.
Oh no, I heard you, I’m just having trouble processing what you said, it’s a harem of nine year olds? Pretty much, and maybe I’m being reductive but more often than not the show seemed too entirely hung up on its own giddy disbelief that they managed to have a show with multiple grade school aged love interests for their nerdy teenage protagonist and by extension their target audience.
—You’re going to have to break this down for me because I feel like I’m having a f**king aneurism. Listen, I’m not going to pretend like being judgmental about this kind of thing somehow makes me better than those who are into this, heck I’m into some pretty niche and uncomfortable fetishes, but here’s a show that unfortunately is an actually compelling “sports” anime about Shogi, and has deep characterisation and makes an otherwise impenetrably convoluted game seem exciting and accessible but simultaneously something to be watched with reverence and undivided attention. And then it goes on and slaps a really uncomfortable and borderline loathsome harem subplot atop it. And I’m not even talking about the 9 year olds
Wait, what?—what do you mean by that? I mean, for whatever its worth the stuff with Ai, the 9 year old Shogi genius is handled well enough, it’s funny to see protagonist Yaichi be labelled as the ‘loli king’ by his colleagues and competitors and it kind of softens what could have been an uncomfortable plot point. Because I should stress there’s nothing inherently wrong with encouraging a youngster to pursue their talents and likewise their shouldn’t be something inherently perverted about a 16 year old Shogi champion taking on a 9 year old disciple who shows as much talent as Ai does.
I’m confused; you’re the one who brought up the 9 year olds? Why the sudden back peddling? Plural. As in multiple 9 year old’s who cling to Yaichi like he’s catnip for kids. I’ll admit there’s some laughs to be had by people’s reactions to his budding harem of grade school kids, but it just feels unnecessary for a show that has such attention to detail to its scenes involving Shogi.
Okay then, but there’s more isn’t there. You read the brief, good on you. And yes indeed there is more. It was between episode’s 5 and 10 I decided on a score in the mid seventies, but what happened in 10 & 11 brought down the score so severely I wondered if the show could ever recover.
Go on… So, with the exception of some rarely scene side characters, Yaichi is the only male character, not atypical of a harem anime for sure, but because of this the show, whether it liked it or not, had to focus on female Shogi. Which made for some truly compelling and heart-breaking backstories for side characters such as 25 year old Keika, who’s on the verge of being too old to enter professional Shogi from her training group and the feisty 14 year old Ginko, who is considered the most talented female in Shogi attaining the title of Queen, but still not comparable to the men’s league because of stupid reasons.
Stupid reasons? Argh, I don’t know if it’s the show that I hate or if it’s the gender politics behind Shogi that I hate. Like, just because Ginko is female her road to becoming the best at Shogi is so much harder than anyone male. There’s some allegory there that I don’t dare touch btw.
There’s something else isn’t there, I know you’ve been wanting to talk about it since the start of the review. FUCK Yaichi, he’s a piece of shit protagonist. Like first 9 episodes he’s kind of bland, occasionally supportive but utterly clueless to the ‘true’ feelings of the women around him like your typical harem lead, but then episode 10 and 11 he goes and decides to treat every woman in his life like a piece of shit and then AND THEN the girls who’ve been suddenly treated so horribly excuse his actions by saying “he’s so talented and so important that it’s okay, he’ll come round and treat us good once he’s worked through his issues.” Um, no, he’s a c**t, screw him and his whole deal and believe in yourself not some holier than thou messiah complex asshole.
O…kay then. I wanted to like this show, but it went and fucked itself by being all about the least likable character in its line-up. Like seriously, Keika’s episode where she finds a letter written from her 10 year old self to her 20 year old self, presuming her 20 year old self has since fulfilled her dreams of becoming a professional Shogi player, only that’s far from reality is so beautifully heart breaking I have to wonder if this show (or the light novel it was based on) was heavily interfered with to fit some kind of arbitrary fetish quotient from a bunch of perverted producers…
F—final score and recommendation? If you want to watch a great show about Shogi, you could probably do worse, just don’t watch 10 and 11 unless you like your protagonists to become absolutely irredeemable douchebags. The harem elements feel completely unnecessary in this particular show, and even if the loli content is usually played for laughs, your tolerance for this kind of stuff will determine how much you can enjoy it. For me though, it was the protagonist that almost sunk this shogi ship which is a shame because the female characters are really well written and extremely likeable. Not a winner; 62 out of 100.