The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! – Anime Preview

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Synopsis: The protagonist opens his door to find himself face-to- face with a sadist… “I’ve come to be made your pupil, like you promised!” Kuzuryu Yaichi holds one of the highest titles in the shogi world, “Ryuo”, at the age of 16. The girl who has shown up at his front door is Hinatsuru Ai, a nine-year- old in the third grade. “Huh? Pupil? What?” “Don’t you remember?” Though he doesn’t remember her, the duo’s life together thus begins. Eventually, Ai’s honest enthusiasm helps Yaichi rediscover the passion he had begun to lose. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)

This is anime. When has parents’ consent ever really mattered for main characters?

1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):

Tom: The Ryou’s Work is Never Done! is our second anime of recent to focus on Shogi players. Like its predecessor, March Comes in Like a Lion, the series is generally appealing to look at, vibrant colors, solid character designs, and very little off-model work in this first episode. Unlike March Comes in Like a Lion we’re offered up a more bog standard lead. He’s an upstanding guy, talented, hard working, and plays straight man to the series’ comedic tendencies. He’s nothing special. Instead the highlight, and major appeal, goes to his aspiring pupil, Hinatsuru Ai; an adorably, determined grade schooler with protege like potential for Shogi. Her assertive yet shy nature, her adorably tiny and cute character design come together to offer up the series most appealing character. Her appeal is what will largely make or break the show for you, as everyone else is very much like our lead, Kuzuryu Yaichi (Ryuo), a bit bland and bog standard. We’ve got the classically cold and domineering sister type, the calm and wise old man master, and a Chuunibyou rival to round things out. No one’s awful, but none of them are terribly impressive either, and lack the draw that Ai offers.

Linny: The problem with Shogi based shows in the western anime market is that they often tend to glamorize the game of Shogi but since most western audiences have little to zero knowledge in Shogi, all the segments and dialogues about Shogi end up being at best mundane or at worst nonsensical. These shows almost NEVER give you a basic beginners introduction and even this show, even with a beginner Shogi player, already has her as a budding genius at the game so there’s no chance of learning with her as the show continues. Also, when the anime trope of glamorizing a sport or activity is applied to something extremely niche or foreign like Shogi is to the west, it becomes all the more ridiculous and ludicrous.

You might be taking hero worshipping a bit too far.

Tom: That fosters an almost ironic appeal as Ryuo’s Work tries super hard to instill this impressive aura around the game. It tries to push things to a dramatic and emotional high, but often takes it too far, making these efforts come off as comical instead. For example, a dramatized sequence where Ryuo realizes how dangerous Ai’s prodigal nature is. She goes flying at him and plunges her hand through his chest to signify just how deadly she is… at Shogi. Or when they’re talking about the emotional feelings Shogi matches can bring up, and that culminates on a love of/and focus on the tightening of one’s hand against their knee, signifying the sheer strain these matches put upon our heroes. In a good way. Or something. You get the point though, it’s taken so far that it becomes difficult to take seriously. It kind of works though since the show features so much comedy otherwise, although sometimes its gags go a tad too far.

Linny: The gag Tom just mentioned is this scene where our 9 year old female protagonist, Ai, emerges out of the bathroom naked asking for a towel, gets jealous when she realizes there’s another girl at the door of her 16 year old Shogi teacher and clings to him, still in a complete state of undress and begs him to look at her over his intrusive new guest. It’s a really strange situation, nudity aside, as her pleas come out of nowhere, alluding to some ‘crush’ level attraction previously unhinted. Of course, the joke then continues until it ends up with him falling on top of her nude body and as one can probably imagine, makes an unfunny and illogical joke that ultimately feels like a poor attempt at fan service. It’s a scene that immediately soured us on the show and could potentially do the same to others, so here’s your heads up. As the episode continues, Ai basically becomes the ‘daughter’ of Yaichi thanks to Shogi customs, so maybe that means we wont ever have to deal with awkward content like that again. Which would be great seeing as besides that one scene, the rest of the show is pretty tame and even funny. It has some solid comedy ever so often and while it does rely a bit too much on verbal exposition early on, it eventually becomes better at showcasing its cast members and story, making them both feel amusing if not endearing.

That’s going to get scandalous real quick, isn’t it?

Tom: That one sequence is really out of place, and likely to be a huge turn off for anyone fed up with exceedingly young anime girls becoming the focus of pandering fan service thinly disguised as comedy. But surrounding that is an otherwise generally funny comedy, with some ironically amusing drama that doesn’t quite succeed, at least not in the way intended. Assuming that one scene isn’t indicative of a general through line of misplaced perversion, I think Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! is worthy of a look in.

Linny: The Ryou’s Work is Never Done! has a bit of an uneven start. The dialogue heavy exposition, the extreme glorification and glamorization of a niche (in the West) sport, and the uncomfortable bathroom gag are things that could potentially ruin the show, or at least make it inaccessible to audiences.  However, it also boasts of decent comedy and characters that are cliche but still enjoyable so as long as it builds upon those and ditches the problematic parts, it has a chance of becoming something decent. It may never come anywhere close to being anyone’s all time favourite anime, but could become fun to sit through.

“Recommended: The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! offers some great comedy, ironically amusing ‘heartfelt’ drama and one sequence that threatens to derail the entire thing.”

“Take it or Leave it: The Ryou’s Work is Never Done has a questionable gag and bland exposition but also the potential to be an enjoyable and cute comedy about young Shogi players.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ryou’s Work is Never Done! is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.

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