Kiriyama Kei is one of the youngest Shogi player in Japan who became a professional at the age of 17. He was orphaned at a young age when his parents and little sister died in a car accident. Adopted by his father’s best friend whose name was Kode Sachika, he was trained to play Shogi.
Kei was welcomed by his adoptive father and mother into their family, however it was not to same with his step brother and sister who aspired to be professional Shogi players like their father. Due to this, it pushed Kei to do well in Shogi too. As time went on, he surpassed both of his adoptive siblings who cannot beat him in the game even as a young child. This caused a rift in the family and eventually drove Kei to leave the house and live alone even though he was only a high school student. Despite the ordeal, he pushed through with Shogi which he thought was all he had until an incident gave him the opportunity to meet other people whom he started to care for more than Shogi.
Words from Me:
I have no idea what shogi was and how it was played until I watched this movie. For a film about a national game in Japan, this sure is a passionate one. To make Shogi seem familiar, it is the equivalent of the game “Chess” which is a known game by everyone who knows the western culture. Chess uses carved woods of knights-king-queen-pawn-etc. to play the game. In Korea the equivalent of this game is “Baduk” but with the use of black and white circular smooth stones to move around the board. In Shogi, they use small wooden tablets with character carvings on them.
In this part of the movie, back stories were shown to introduce the characters. Kirimiya Kei was acted by Kamiki Ryunosuke who is currently one of the prestigious young actors in Japan today. He’s a really good actor since childhood and I think he will get better as time goes on. In this film, he definitely nailed his character which portrayed a young man who was living in an empty shell all by himself and never felt the love of anyone until he met a family that took him in and made him a better person than he already was.
I really like how Kei’s character was such a naïve young man who was good at what he does despite not liking the thing that makes him feel alive. There are actually a lot of people who cared for him prior to meeting the Kawamoto Family, but he was too closed off to notice that. He only realized it when he started to open up his heart to the people he barely knew. There’s also that love and hate relationship he had with his step sister who hated his guts when they were kids and seem to hate him still when they became adults. Yet they have this weird bond in which they are able to comfort each other regardless of how fragile their connection with each other was. I’d like to quote Kei’s over voice regarding their situation which explains pretty much how they relate with each other:
“Without anything changing, without being able to change anything… we are unable to become siblings or strangers…” – Kiriyama Kei