It’s Shion no O episode 21, and given that this episode’s title is “The True Criminal,” what happens in this episode should be pretty self explanatory…
- Shion briefly ponders if Hani-meijin is the murderer after he repeats words back to her that only the murderer and Shion would know (from the night of the murder). However, she quickly blows the occurrence aside as a mere coincidence. However, as Hani-meijin leaves for lunch, he remarks that the strategy he taught Shion is serving her well. Except that Hani-meijin has never taught Shion anything about shogi, to her knowledge.
- Suddenly Ayumi shows up at the mach, against Hani-meijin’s wishes, and tells Hani that he is withdrawing from being his apprentice. Hani tells him that he’s the only one who can protect Ayumi’s secret, but Ayumi just says that that’s less important than protecting Shion. Hani then tells him that he doesn’t know anything and walks off.
- In the meantime, the Detective Yokoyama begins his investigation about what Hani-meijin was up to around the time of his Kakusei title match eight years prior, which took place the day after the murder of Shion’s parents. A worker who attended to Hani at the time said he arrived alone that evening, didn’t drink at all (unlike everyone else at the pre-match celebration) and went to bed early.
- At the same time, Satoru is asking Kamizono about the match. Kamizono ends up telling him that Hani’s eyes had a very cold looking eyes through the entire match, and ended up leaving immediately after the match. Kamizono then asks Satoru what he plans to do, and Satoru says to get revenge. Kamizono just laughs and says that he’d like to see that, and asks if Satoru will take him back to the Shogi Association.
- Detective Yokoyama starts investigating the game pieces used in the match, which haven’t been used since, and finds a piece of what appears to be nail polish on one of the pieces, and takes them back to the station. When he leaves, he meets Satoru and Kamizono outside, and the three take a taxi back to Tokyo.
- After lunch, Hani-meijin and Shion continue their match. After a while, Hani-meijin plays a couple of moves which put Shion into a tough spot.
- On the ride back, Detective Yokoyama hypothesizes that the murderer covered his fingers with nail polish when he murdered Shion’s parents, but that part of it wore off, leaving a fingerprint on a king piece. Satoru also gives the police the evidence of his cell phone, which had 3 messages left by Kazumi on the day she died on it, as well as the video of Shion and Kazumi at the Christmas party. Satoru hypothesizes that the murderer visited Kazumi and, after seeing the murderer in front of her, her weak heart gives out and she dies.
- Back a the match, as Shion struggles to respond to Hani-meijin’s moves, he tells her that Yamamura, the first person to teach Shion shogi, once told him that she may be good enough to even become the meijin some day, but if Shion can’t beat him, then Yamamura must have been mistaken. Hani-meijin then remarks that Shion’s necklace isn’t a momento of her mothers: but that it is Hani-meijin’s and that he dropped it “that night.”
- Hani continues: saying that he did everything in his power to make Shion a good shogi player, even that, and that he’s disappointed that she would seem to be running away from him yet again. Shion then has a clear flashback of the entire evening where she played shogi with her parent’s murderer: the Hani-meijin.
- Shion then writes down, asking Hani-meijin if he did it, and he nods. Shion rips off her necklace and grabs another one from her picket: the necklace Ayumi gave to her and continues the match…
And so it is finally revealed by Hani-meijin himself: he killed Shion’s parents to “make her stronger.” How it was supposed to make her stronger, maybe we’ll find out in the final episode, but the motive was basically what I expected it to be.
We also get most of the “how” as well, with the theory of Hani-meijin having fingernail polish on his fingers to hide his prints.
Of course, Hani finally revealing himself to Shion is a risk on his part, but either he feels confident that Shion won’t tell, or he’s willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of better shogi. Of course, in a sense his revealing himself had the result intended: Shion seems more determined than ever now to beat Hani-meijin at the game.
So I guess we have the following things to look forward to in the final episode:
- The end of the match, which I assume Shion wins
- The arrest and/or suicide of Hani-meijin (I don’t see him killing himself as out of the question)
- Ayumi being revealed
- Probably some sort of “this is how everything turns out” ending
- Shion speaks!
I have to say that, for a series about Japanese chess, this has been one of the more enjoyable series I’ve had the privilege to watch and blog. Only one episode left, and I can’t wait for the dub to come out for it.