The realization that Hikaru is why he's meant to be here strikes Sai hard but others are making their own realizations.
What They Say
Now that the match has ended, Hikaru tries to talk Toya Meijin out of his fateful decision.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The match between Sai and Meijin has ended and Hikaru is riding high on it as he's felt like he learned a lot but also connected heavily with both of the players in it. His growth has been phenomenal since the start of the series and seeing him find moves that both Meijin and Sai missed has really given Sai a lot to think about. Unfortunately, Hikaru's happiness has a downside as he's suddenly remembered that Meijin said he'd retire if he lost to Sai in this game. And Meijin being who he is, there's little chance of him changing his mind, not that Hikaru won't do his best to stop him.
What surprises Hikaru is not that Meijin asks Hikaru if he's Sai, but that he's seeing something of Sai in him and in the game that the two of them played previously. Meijin's a curious man but he's one who knows not to pry too far, but he's also seen something at the edges of Hikaru that speaks to him. The match against Sai has opened up a new world of challenges to him and he doesn't care how he has to play against Sai, he just wants to. Being able to finagle this as a way to get Meijin out of his retirement plans is a good thing, but what Hikaru doesn't realize is that Sai has figured out that his own time is nearing an end. With the discovery that Hikaru is what he's really here for, a feeling that's definitely deep inside him that feels right, he knows there's only so much left he can do before he'll likely disappear and leave Hikaru to the future.
Everyone wants a piece of Sai though and Hikaru's discussion with Meijin draws a lot of unwanted attention. Ogata proves himself to be a jerk once again by eavesdropping and then barging in to demand more information on Sai since he's so wedded to the idea of beating him. When Akira shows up in the middle of all of this, it's even more complicated as he's convinced that Hikaru is Sai and there's just an elaborate ruse going on. Ogata's being relentless on this and you can feel the intensity from him as he tries to get more information from both the Toya's in the hospital room. What fascinates Hikaru the most though, post-game, is seeing the interest in it from others, even to the point where his friends are playing the game over themselves and trying to discern different ways of handling it. It's cute to see it from her perspective while showing how things could have gone, much like how he did with Sai.
There's a growing sense of somberness in the series now that Sai has had his revelation and this episode cements something that's been creeping up for awhile. Hikaru's growth is something that still really surprises me, both as a player and a character, as we're seeing him looking much taller than he used and more mature overall. He's gained some good confidence since he started playing, both in himself as a person and as a player, and it's spilling over into other areas of his life. There are a lot of good scenes in this, mostly confrontational of nature, but they're all being accurate with how they are and the nature of their intense competitive feelings towards Sai of different flavors. This is an episode that is setting up things for the remainder of the series with what will happen and while it is obvious, it's still highly enjoyable.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.