|Release Date||January 22, 2018|
|Opening Theme||Kore Kara|
|Ending Theme||Kore Kara|
|Episode 2||Episode 4|
In the night before the test, Ai was told by Yaichi to take a rest for tomorrow. Ai asked him for something “to let her feel him", and Yaichi ended up giving her a fan with the word “courage” inscribed on it by himself.
The day of the Research Group test finally came. Holding the fan carved with the word “courage" given by his master, Her first match was with Ayano, her friend in the JS-Research club, and she defeated her in no time. Kuruno Yoshitsune, the manager of the Research Club and a seasoned pro, was Ai’s second opponent. Playing with a 2-piece handicap, Kuruno-sensei set a lot of traps throughout the game, but Ai overcame them and won the match decisively. However, Ai’s mother was unfazed by Ai’s accomplishment and Kuruno-sensei’s praise, her mind completely set on having Ai win the third match before allowing to enter the Research Group. And that was when Kuruno-sensei introduced Ai’s third opponent: Yaichi’s anedeshi, Ginko.
As Ai’s parents wondered why a female pro like her was present in a Research Group test, Yaichi tried to clear the misunderstanding: Ginko is not a female pro, but a 2-dan Honorary Group member aiming to become a pro. Research Group is, simply put, a training institution aimed to cultivate young people who play shogi, and those who want to become a pro will have to enter the Honorary Group. To become a pro, someone will have to climb to at least rank A2 in the Research Group (if 15 years old or younger) or rank S (if 18 years old or younger) to be admitted as a 6-kyu in the Honorary Group. Then, he/she will have to reach 4-dan in the Honorary Group to be promoted into a pro player. The requirement to become a female pro is different: one only needs to be rank C1 in the Research Group to become one. Even a 6-kyu in the Honorary Group would still be a lot stronger than a female pro. In that sense, any female pro wouldn’t hold a candle against Ginko, who is essentially the strongest female player in history.
Ai gathered her courage with the fan gifted by her master and started her relentless offense in response to Ginko’s unconventional opening. However, the advantage she had built early on was devoured by Ginko. Running out of her time to read her opponent’s moves, Ai could only groan in despair as Ginko completely controlled the pace of the game, unable to even catch her breath between each of Ginko’s attacks. As if that wasn’t enough, Ginko planned on destroying her mentally by taking all of her pieces.
In the face of such a strong adversary, Ai still attempted to attack, trying to close the difference between them. Despite knowing there was no chance for victory in hand, she kept fighting until the bitter end. Her unwavering heart inspired everyone around her, and the match were heating up. But, it was over. Ai lost on the seventh check.
After the match, as Yaichi confronted Ginko, it turned out that she had planned to end the match quickly but couldn’t. Ginko had recognized Ai’s talent. However, a loss is a loss; Ai’s mother approached them and asked Ai to give up on shogi. But, at the moment her mother was about to take her back, Yaichi approached her and prostrated himself. Putting his heart into all his words, Yaichi begged her to allow Ai to continue playing shogi.
Yaichi understood very well that there are a lot of cases where kids who have talent in shogi had to quit shogi because of their parents, and cases where pro players convinced these parents to allow them to take their kids as disciples. However, he just realized that these pros weren’t sacrificing themselves to preserve the future of shogi. They simply wanted to nurture those kids, to see what kind of shogi they would play or to connect with them through shogi. As if to follow his master, Ai prostrated next to him, begging her mother and father to let her continue being Yaichi’s disciple. The one who responded first was Ai’s father, instead of her mother. He asked Yaichi to take care of his daughter, and followed through by kneeling. After that moment, Ai’s mother finally spoke up, asking Yaichi about his family members and yearly incomes. She then proceeded to tell him that if Ai can’t attain a title even after becoming a female pro before she graduated middle school, he will have to marry into the Hinatsuru family and help her manage the inn. Yaichi still took on the terms in the end, betting his own life on grooming Ai.
Ai went back with her parents to her home for a week in order to take care of her school transfer. Finally reuniting with him at the fateful place — his 2DK apartment and they repeated the conversation they first had there.
- Yaichi Kuzuryuu
- Ai Hinatsuru
- Akina Hinatsuru
- Takashi Hinatsuru
- Ginko Sora
- Keika Kiyotaki
- Ayano Sadatou
- Yoshitsune Kuruno
- Mio Mizukoshi
- Charlotte Izoard
- Takashi: "Please stop it."
- Takashi: "If it’s to Sensei, I won’t regret entrusting my daughter. No matter what kind of future Ai has in store for her even if she doesn’t become a female pro, the fact that she has received your teachings and the experiences that she’ll accumulate fighting in this world of shogi will surely become an irreplaceable thing in her life. Today’s match has assured me of this."
- Takashi: "You don’t have to keep winning. What’s important is to become a person who can clearly say “I lost” when you lose."
- Takashi: "You don’t have to be a pro. Learn shogi and become a Meijin in life."
- Ai: "Welcome back, Master!"
- Ai: "Ai Hinatsuru! Fourth grade! As promised, please have me as your disciple!"