Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done

Original Run: January 8, 2018 - March 26, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Sports
Based on the Series Created By: Shirow Shiratori

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ryuo no Oshigoto. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

In the world of shogi (Japanese chess), the title of Ryuo is an honor only given to the game’s best players. Such an astonishing feat was then made even more impressive when sixteen-year-old Yaichi Kuzuryu (voiced by Yuuma Uchida) became the youngest Ryuo in history.

Since his landmark accomplishment, Yaichi has been in a debilitating slump. Shogi has not excited him like it used to, and his skills as a player seem to have hit a wall. However, the next phase of his career is about to begin.

In awe of Yaichi’s Ryuo match, elementary schooler Ai Hinatsuru (voiced by Rina Hidaka) tracks Yaichi down in order to become his first disciple. Though not expecting much, Yaichi decides to give Ai a chance to demonstrate her abilities. As it turns out, Ai is a natural who already rivals some of the best players out there.

In an instant, Yaichi’s love for shogi lights up again, and he happily takes Ai under his wing.

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Series Positives

Ryuo no Oshigoto was not a bad series.

Although it didn’t involve a ball or running around on a court, Ryuo no Oshigoto was a sports anime. It had all the characteristics of one; characteristics that greatly helped, as well as hindered, the overall experience. Consequently, I’m reminded of something I wrote just a few posts ago in my Hanebado (a badminton-centric show) review:

For a sports series to really work, it needs to be able to get a non-fan excited.

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Regarding Hanebado, I am ignorant of the technical nuances associated with high-level badminton. Nevertheless, the sport itself is straightforward enough. The end goal and how to reach it aren’t difficult concepts to grasp. The same is not true with shogi (for me at least).

I have never played shogi. My entire concept of the game was it being a Japanese version of chess. However, if we assume Ryuo no Oshigoto was accurate in its depiction – and I have no reason to suspect it wasn’t – shogi is, wholeheartedly, a different kind of beast.

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When considering my lack of knowledge towards its game of choice, I can’t help but be impressed with Ryuo no Oshigoto. Like any good sports anime, this series got a non-fan excited – to a point.

The tension this show produced came from its players. Specifically, it came from the players who challenged one of the two main characters. With a few exceptions, anyone Yaichi Kuzuryu or Ai Hinatsuru battled, and not Yaichi or Ai themselves, was the reason there was excitement in this series.

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I’m not insinuating Yaichi and Ai were bad characters. On the contrary, whenever they faced difficult opponents, the more interesting sides of their personalities came out. Yaichi, despite his incredible talent, was still only sixteen, and thus, he didn’t have the experience to cope with professional shogi life when it turned overwhelming. With Ai, although she tried to be everyone’s friend and didn’t want to hurt anyone, when it came to shogi, she always played to win.

Yaichi and Ai were only at their most appealing when someone struck a nerve. Incidentally, this was also when Ryuo no Oshigoto was at its most heavy-handed – in a good way. Some of the players depicted in this series were positively ridiculous.

For example, Ika Sainokami (voiced by Haruka Tomatsu).

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This person was an absolute monster. Ika never went into a match looking to beat an opponent. Instead, her goal was to crush them, break their spirit, and then kick them while they were down as she drank up their tears. Even her appearance screamed “evil.” To be fair, “beyond arrogant” would probably be the more accurate description of Ika, but holy crap.

Nonetheless, due to her outrageously mean-spirited personality, Ika was the second half to one of the best matches in this series.

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Ika, throughout most of this particular face-off, was an absolute bitch (there’s no nicer way to say it). She mercilessly berated and demeaned her opponent as she set up for the ultimate kill shot. Unfortunately for her, Ika failed to realize her smugness was poking a sleeping bear, and, surprise, the bear woke up.

Ika’s subsequent crash-and-burn was amazingly fun to watch. As someone who knows jack about shogi, I was fully into this game. Making things even better, Ryuo no Oshigoto didn’t show much of Ika’s downfall match. This moment, instead, paid more attention to the players’ reactions. Without much dialogue, we witnessed this demon get brought to her knees.

To round this section off, there were two other aspects to this show which stuck out.

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First, when Yaichi acted like a teacher towards Ai, he could be both caring and stern. When his student was troubled, Yaichi would lend a sympathetic ear when necessary. That was fine and all, but his more impressive moments were when he had to be tough. Yachi had no reservations towards saying what sometimes needed to be said; especially when what needed to be said wasn’t very comforting.

Second, the shogi community portrayed in Ryuo no Oshigoto shouldn’t be ignored. In your typical sports anime, different teams and rival players only ever have a chance to face off during official matches. In this series, everyone saw and interacted with one another regularly. As a result, there was healthy professional respect between competitors. This closeness went a long way in showing the love people had for shogi was greater than personal grudges.

That last point may seem like a stretch, but you would be surprised by how much of a difference it made when shogi stopped being the focus of this series. Periodically, for some reason, Ryuo no Oshigoto thought it was a good idea to give its attention to…something else.

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Series Negatives

The amount of lolicon BS in Ryuo no Oshigoto was exhausting.

Along with being a decent – not great – sports anime, this series also tried its hand at being a slice-of-life comedy from time to time. The problem, when this show tried to be cute and funny, everything slowed down to a crawl.

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Without shogi, most of the characters in Ryuo no Oshigoto were either bland, not particularly likable, or were given way too much screen time.

When alone Yaichi and Ai’s relationship – outside of being master and disciple – was nothing except forced awkwardness. Let’s put a high school student into easy-to-misinterpret, often compromising positions with an adorable elementary schooler. Also, when I say, “elementary schooler,” that usually meant, “elementary schoolers.”

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As for unlikeable characters, that was Yaichi’s childhood friend/training partner/rival Ginko Sora (voiced by Hisako Kanemoto). She was your by-the-book tsundere character. She also didn’t need to be in this story. Ginko didn’t do a whole lot beside get pissy over the fact Yaichi didn’t give her enough attention.

Ginko was an example of a bad-tempered character who didn’t have a reason for her bad temper. Therefore, without having much of a purpose behind her actions, she was mostly just annoying. Making matters worse, there was another character in this series who could have – and should have – replaced Ginko.

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Keika Kiyotaki (voiced by Ai Kayano) was an excellent main character who was forced to play a supportive role in someone else’s story. Ryuo no Oshigoto spent a lot of time developing Keika, and I don’t know why. Everything Keika could have done was done by Ginko, and everything Keika did do could have been done by Ai. Be that as it may, Keika had the most in-depth and most meaningful backstory out of everyone.

Lastly, Ryuo no Oshigoto, as a sports anime, was one of those series which preferred explaining over showing.

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Every match, even the good ones, had a commenter who described everything. Granted, since I don’t know shogi, had this series assumed I did, it would have been a far more confusing viewing session. That said, the explanations which were given were littered with shogi terminology that meant nothing to me.

Basically, this show wants to hold your hand, except it sucks at it. Thus, not only did Ryuo no Oshigoto refuse to stop talking, it said nothing helpful. The worst of both worlds; an A-plus job if I ever saw one.

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Final Thoughts

I said it at the start of this review:

This show wasn’t bad.

There were good moments that were entertaining. However, there were also many poor storytelling choices which left this show as mostly unremarkable. I highly doubt I am going to remember this one in a few weeks.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t call this series a waste of time. It was fine for what it was, and while it was happening, things were fun enough.

I’ll leave the ultimate decision to you, but I am going to give Ryuo no Oshigoto a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Ryuo no Oshigoto? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Edited By: Onions

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