Name: Shion no Ou
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Released: October 13, 2007 – March 22, 2008
Based On: Shion no Ou manga by Masaru Katori
Director: Toshifumi Kawase
Produced By: Studio DEEN
US Distribution By: N/A
Major Japanese Cast
Shion Yasuoka: Ayako Kawasumi
Ayumi Saito: Romi Paku
Makoto Hani: Hozumi Gôda
Satoru Hani: Masaya Matsukaze
Shinji Yasuoka: Yasunori Matsumoto
Saori Nikaido: Risa Mizuno
Sachiko Yasuoka: Mariko Kouda
Osamu Kamizono: Ryusei Nakao
Major English Cast
Animation: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 9/10 (x 2 = 18 pts)
English Dubs: N/A
Gut Score: 9/10 (x 5 = 45 pts)
Total: 163/190 (85.8%)
Shion no Ou – literally Shion’s King – is about a girl, Shion, who plays shogi with the support and encouragement of her adoptive father Shinji. When Shion was little, both of her parents were murdered in front of her eyes, and then the murderer proceeded to play Shion in a game of shogi before leaving. However, the murder remained unsolved.
On top of this, the shock of the murder, plus the words of the murderer telling Shion that as long as she doesn’t speak, she’ll stay alive, causes Shion to stop talking completely. After the murders, Shion is adopted by Shinji and Sachiko Yasuoka, who were neighbors of Shion’s. Shinji, who is a pro shogi player, helps train Shion to the point where she is exceptionally skilled for her age.
Now in middle school, Shion plays shogi along with her rivals, Saori, who is the apprentice of Makoto Hani, the meijin, or top player, of the shogi world, as well as Ayumi, an androgynous boy who dresses as a girl so that he may more easily win tournaments and the prize money that comes along with that so that he can pay his mother’s medical bills.
In the meantime, the Hani-meijin’s younger brother Satoru, who has become wealthy through possibly questionable means, starts organizing a tournament which will allow anyone who wants to play to register, causing Shion to believe that her parents murderer may decide to register to play for the large prize that goes to the winner.
Shion no Ou is a show centered around shogi, but it is written in a way which requires minimal understanding of shogi to understand, which is nice. The mystery behind Shion and her parent’s murder unfolds slowly and methodically over time, doing so in a way which may implicate one of many different characters, even until very deep into the series. I would have to say that the writing is definitely the star of this show as it keeps you intrigued as to where the murder investigation is heading and makes the shogi matches rather exciting, even if you have no knowledge of the game.
The only real negative to the series is that it may be a bit too drawn out, but new revelations and suspicions that pop up over the course of the series help alleviate that. The animation can be rather variable between some episodes, but is overall pretty good. The music is also good, especially during the shogi sequences.
If you’re not afraid of watching a series based around a game which one may not really understand, and you’re looking for a good mystery series, I definitely suggest checking Shion no Ou out.
First Watched: October 2007 – July 2008
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes