Shogi players in manga

There seems to be a stereotype in manga and anime about players of shogi, the Japanese variant of chess. They’re often loners or eccentric in some way.

3-Gatsu no Lion has a teenage professional player, Kiriyama Rei living by himself, even dropping out of school to go pro, obviously a bit out of synch with the world until a family across the bridge and a high level chess mentor starts looking after him. He returns to school to be around people, but doesn’t give up the game; the story is tending to say that being a bit more rounded, with friends, mentors and family figures will help improve his skills, and make life more fulfilling. His new mentor looks normal enough.

He’s adorably awkward, not surprising since the mangaka is also responsible for Honey & Clover.




81 Diver has a hero, Kentaro Sugata, playing for money, also living alone. His opponents are equally weird…

81diver c019 - p16 Utopia-300x200

…or even weirder. It does go into the specifics of shogi more than 3-Gatsu no Lion. I couldn’t follow the game since I don’t understand shogi, but the face-off is pretty funny.

Episodes 13-25 of Zettai Shounen has a character, Shigeki Kobayakawa, who’s so into shogi, he’s oblivious of a girl who has a crush on him.

Zettai Shounen - 17 - 23

Zettai Shounen - 17 - 25


Nara Shikamaru of Naruto is a tactical genius who plays shogi. Not a recluse, but he has his peculiarities. But he isn’t so weird.

Shikamaru playing shougi


This stereotyping isn’t really found in players of other chess variants: Western, Chinese Xianqi, Indian Chaturanga, Persian Shatranj. Of course there are oddballs like Bobby Fischer, but generally players are just normal folks.

I think Japanese shogi players are mostly normal too, it’s just the anime/manga that has to create an interesting or at least sympathetic character, otherwise who’d read/watch them? The only people who would be interested in the games themselves would be players.


3 thoughts on “Shogi players in manga

  1. We have another sort of stereotyping in the West, don’t we? Usually, old people or the nerds of a show play chess. If someone ‘normal’ plays chess, it’s usually some secret embarrassing/redeeming feature of them.

    1. It’s not stereotyped the way shogi is. I don’t know of any Western chess players become recluses… (Bobby Fischer being the notable exception).

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