This episode begins with Takeru and Piyo-tan bonding over their shared passion for shogi, which Nya-tan doesn’t get. Piyo-tan, annoyed at Nya-tan’s obnoxiousness, says that she’ll be willing to give up her seal if Nya-tan can beat her at shogi. Nya-tan agrees, though the two play a practice-run of the game first. Nya-tan is immediately beaten, with Piyo-tan saying she won’t battle Nya for real until she masters shogi. Thus, Nya-tan begs Takeru to teach her how to play well and her intense shogi training begins.
Despite some very unorthodox training methods, Nya-tan eventually becomes even more skilled at shogi than Takeru. Nya-tan also gains some maturity and calmness in the process. Finally, it’s the day of the shogi rematch, with Nya-tan’s and Piyo-tan’s seals on the line. Nya-tan and Piyo-tan play a fast-paced round of shogi, but it seems Piyo-tan still has the upper hand. Takeru then realizes that all of his training might have suppressed Nya-tan’s true personality, which is what she needs to win. Takeru shouts out his last piece of advice for Nya, giving her the edge to win the match.
Thus, Nya-tan gains yet another animal seal, although Piyo-tan unfortunately forgets the whole ordeal due to some unfortunate circumstances. And it also seems like Nya-tan has reverted back to her usual obnoxious state. However, as Takeru finds out that night while playing shogi by himself; Nya-tan may have still gained a bit of maturity from the whole affair.
I thought this was a pretty good episode! You wouldn’t think an episode focused on a game of shogi could be interesting, but Etotama makes it work. I think it’s also helped by focusing on Piyo-tan, who’s probably my second favorite of the eto-shin. Even though her main gimmick is that she forgets things after taking three steps, she’s a surprisingly deep and somewhat tragic character. She forgets nearly everything after taking three steps, except negative memories/emotions. That’s gotta be rough.
Nya-tan’s intense shogi training was played mostly for laughs, but it also makes for good physical and mental training in-universe. She came out of the training acting a lot more mature and subdued than her usual self, which was a rather nice change. Due to the status quo, her subdued self was immediately discarded by the end of the episode after she won, but at least it’s shown that some of the training still stuck with her. Nya-tan also seems to be slowly regaining her memories as shown during the shogi match. As there are still three episodes of this series left, we still don’t get to learn anything significant, but it’s a nice nudge towards the eventual reveal.
Piyo-tan’s arena was just lovely. It’s basically a large lake with a giant stone pedestal in the middle, with a tree and a single lantern under the twilight sky—very fitting for an intense game of shogi. While there wasn’t any fighting in this episode, the CG “battle” was still rather nicely animated. As I said before, I rather like these kinds of unconventional battles over the traditional fighting stuff.
Overall, a pretty solid episode. There probably isn’t as much humor as you would expect here, but it was a pretty well-done semi-serious episode. I have the same sentiment many people have, in that I rather liked Nya-tan’s calmer persona over her regular personality. But, since Nya-tan only won because of her effervescent personality, I suppose we won’t be seeing that going away anytime soon. Hopefully Nya-tan does get a tad less annoying after this episode, though I’ve kind of gotten used to it by now. Ah well. Piyo-tan is still the best, even if she has constant amnesia.
Out of five for this episode: