This episode was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. It started off lighthearted in the first half, with Nikaido and Rei joking around, and then quickly did a 180 in tone in the second half.
The first half shows both Rei and Nikaido in the Newcomers Tournament, where Nikaido is so confident in his Shogi ability that he starts talking about not only winning the tournament, but then going on a tangent about getting on a famous TV show, and even narrates his own narration. Rei quickly calls out his BS, and then possibly one of the most savage dudes in the history of anime, who is sitting and eating lunch with them at the time, turns over to Nikaido and says:
It was hilarious and provided a great punch line to the continuous joke that is Rei’s best friend.
After this goes down though, Nikaido starts talking about how Rei is always so quiet because he assumes he’s going to win and that he doesn’t have to take anything seriously. Rei initially refutes this point, calling it ridiculous, but after thinking about it for a bit, Rei realizes that a lot of people in his Shogi community view him like that. Rei, of course, responds by retreating from the room to throw out his lunch in embarrassment.
The second half of the episode takes a complete tonal shift, focusing on Rei before his next match in Newcomers Tournament where he recalls part of his childhood after seeing a particular bush behind a bench he was sitting on. He thinks back to how most of his time in elementary school involved him getting bullied, which only made him want to be more of an introvert.
It also didn’t help that it seems as though even his stepmom started to become annoyed with him, and, as was established in the first season, his brother and sister resent him as well. Rei could only ever drown out his problems by playing Shogi, and even then he describes it as clinging to a Shogi board while leg kicking in the ocean.
The most shocking part of the episode though comes at the very end, where we see Rei come over to dinner. As he, Momo and Akari are getting ready to eat, Hina comes home, and we discover that she is also getting bullied at her school.
I honestly cannot tell you how powerful of an ending that was. As soon as I saw that Hina was getting bullied I got emotionally sad and Physically angry. I wanted to punch a hole through my computer screen and help Rei beat up whoever it was. It just goes to show how well written this show is. This was by far and away one of the best episodes of the series.