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Manga / Shion no Ou

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Shion's King: The Flowers of Hard Blood is a seinen manga (with an anime adaptation) by Katori Masaru that blends the game of shogi with a murder mystery.

Shion no Ou is the story of a young girl named Shion Yasuoka. When she was a very young child, she witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. Oddly, the murderer leaves her alive but takes the "king" piece from the shogi board (the Japanese rendition of chess). The resulting trauma leaves her unable to speak, forcing her to communicate with people by writing her thoughts out on a notebook (... no, not THAT notebook).

After her parents' murder, Shion is later adopted by her next-door neighbor and family friend, Shinji Yasuoka, who is a kishi, or professional shogi player. Shion continues to play shogi, learning from Yasuoka out of both her own love of the game and her desire to discover the identity of the murderer.

An anime adaptation, produced by Studio DEEN, was released in late 2007 and finished up in March of 2008, following the current storyline of the manga fairly faithfully. The manga ended a few months afterwards.


Compare with Hikaru no Go, which has a similar premise, only with Go instead of shogi.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Saitou Ayumi's father is emotionally abusive; he even blames Ayumi for his birth making his mother ill.
  • Affably Evil: The Big Bad and murderer of Shion's parents and Kazumi, Hani Makoto, seeing as his methods and philosophy on a single topic are what make him evil, in contrast to his friendly and suave persona.
  • The Alibi: Makoto's strong alibi why Satoru's suspicions have trouble being proven.
  • Art Shift: In the anime, whenever Shion recovers a memory of the night when her parents were murdered, the art style becomes sketchy and much Darker and Edgier. The same thing happens to a lesser degree in the manga whenever Shion is either thinking about that night or having related dreams.
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  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Ayumi-chan is very, very cute... and many oblivious members of the cast, both male and female, comment on this.
  • Bad Boss: As Ayumi's master, Hani Makoto shows this, largely by being a Jerkass and frequently maltreating his apprentice (even framing him). Later, this turns out to be partially a case of being a convoluted Manipulative Bastard, but it could easily be both since he deliberately choses methods involving kicking the dog... a lot.
  • Batman Gambit: Hani Satoru set up the Pro-Amature Tournament in order to have a match against his brother, the Meijin, so he could figure out Makoto's involvement in his financée's death. What's more, to despite being unable to play against Makoto, Satoru still manages to pull off the goal of this gambit with the assistance of Shion.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Although this wasn't true of the actual event (to despite the state of the apartment), all of Shion's dreams about her parents' murder have this to some degree. Also, the Flashback Cut of Satoru's father's death.
  • Bloody Horror: There are subtle instances of this when ever there's an image of the murder.
  • Break the Cutie: All three main characters had this happen to them at least once, usually taking it Up to Eleven. Shion especially, since the murderer intentionally murdered her parents in front of her and "sealed off" her voice when she was four. Ayumi's father is emotionally abusive (he seems to have had a rough childhood in general), has to pay for his terminally ill mother's medical bills alone, and, after his mother's death and losing in the tournament, is then used by the Big Bad to harm his good friend and love interest. Finally, there's Hani Satoru, whose past is something of a Trauma Conga Line: he saw his father die saving him from car accident, was abandoned by his elder brother in an orphanage, and lost his fiancée due to his elder brother's actions.
  • Child Prodigy: Shion is presented as a shogi prodigy at the young age of four, and not only does she continue to hone this genius, she is represented as being a wonderful student without needing to study.
  • Cute Mute: The eponymous Shion, who lost the ability to speak after witnessing the murder of her parents. Her cuteness and likability makes people warm to her easily.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: More like disbelief, in this case. "For shogi" isn't a motive that would make sense to most people.
    Hisatani: You mean he murdered a couple just to play shogi with a kid who was barely four years old? And even manipulated your fiancée for this? That’s ridiculous, I can't accept that.
  • Friendly Rivalry: While Ayumi and Shion consider each other worthy rivals, they are also very close to each other and pretty much best friends.
  • Genki Girl: Shion, despite being non-vocal, is very cheery and energized.
  • Gratuitous English: Lots of it in the opening theme "Lady Love" by J-Rock band Rize, not quite as much in the ending theme "My Dear Friend" by J-Pop artist Thelma Aoyama.
  • Happily Adopted: Shion, by the Yasuoka couple. The manga also has indications that her birth parents, the Ishiwatari couple, were very strict.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Satoru uses this as part of his Batman Gambit; though some feelings of jealousy are involved, once he casts it off, he turns out quite the kind person.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: This is one of the many reasons why the case took so long to solve. That, and the apparent lack of motive for the murder, as such there was an apparent Absence of Evidence.
  • Hot-Blooded: Many of the kishi can get very enthusiastic about the game. The drawing and animation styles used when the players make their moves further emphasizes this.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In the manga, each chapter is referred to as a "Move" and some have shogi references in the actual name.
  • Important Haircut: Ayumi when he decides to play shouji as a boy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kamizono 9-dan shouts a lot, speaks very bluntly, looks very intimidating and has a reputation as a merciless kishi... but (almost) any of the scenes between him and Ayumi show that he's far from a bad guy. As well as a particular Flashback of Yasuoka 8-Dan's.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: While Shion has some trauma-induced amnesia and can only remember bits and pieces about the murder of her parents that she witnessed, she appears to have forgotten nothing else; remember, she was four at the time.
  • Leave No Witnesses: In an interesting and complex variant, the killer threatened Shion into silence (to the extent that she became mute) and intentionally used Kazumi, who had a very weak heart and died as a result of realising that she was unknowingly an accomplice, when Satoru was away, leaving her to die without even needing an alibi.
  • Luminescent Blush: Shion pulls this one not infrequently. Ayumi does this a few times as well, even as man (usually in reference to his closeness to Shion).
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Aside from Shion's searching through her memories, much of the key evidence was found and gathered by Satoru, problem being, in part, that no one believed him for years.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Saori hugging Shion on the first episode.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The motive and modus operandi of the killer, Hani Makoto, really nails this one: he murdered Shion's parents, played a game with her then and there, threatened her into silence, and later continually separated her from Ayumi (thus isolating her) to develop Shion into a better shogi player (according to his philosophy). Considering how he ensured there would be no evidence against him and a fair few of his subsequent actions, he definitely qualifies as the series' chess master (no pun intended).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Satoru's name translates to "comprehend, apprehend, or become aware." Guess what his role in the story is.
    • "Ayumi" means "stages in a progress".
    • "Makoto" translates to "genuine".
  • Off-Model: Studio DEEN seems to have a problem with this. The first few episodes are rendered in great detail, paying close attention to character hair and especially the faces of the older male characters. This degrades over time and for several episodes the animation quality drops noticeably before getting better again halfway through the series. It never did reach the same level of detail that it started with, but it did get much better.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The killer, Hani-meijin.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hani Makoto loves to deal these out, deserved or not. Somehow, these never interfere with his friendly persona.
  • Red Herring: Hani Makoto leaves these intentionally; additionally, this is what makes him so difficult to pinpoint as the Big Bad.
  • The Reveal: The identity of the killer and Big Bad is handled that way.
  • Self-Made Man: Hani Makoto and Hani Satoru, separately at that.
  • Shown Their Work: The writer is a professional shogi player, and it really shows.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Shion deals this out to the Big Bad, without words, in the form of a well-deserved slap in the face.
  • Stalker Shrine: A wall plastered with photos of Shion is shown in several of the early episodes of the anime.
Satoru: Does that mean you would accept other motivations for killing people?
  • Talking with Signs: Shion's preferred method of communication.
  • Teen Genius: Played straight and subverted; in the free-for-all shogi tournament, fifth-grader Suo Honma beats a 9-dan professional kishi. It's a subversion because he used a strategy common among Internet shogi players that his opponent had no knowledge of. If the 9-dan had known about the strategy, he would not have lost. Honma later loses to Shion because of this lack of experience.
  • That One Case: For Inspector Yokoyama, the murder of Shion's parents is this.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Shion's pendant, which is early on stated to be a memento of her mother. The same later turns out to be a Memento MacGuffin: it actually was what Satoru gave to Kazumi in lieu of an engagement ring, and thus proves the connections between several individuals. Moreover, for Satoru, it is both a memento of his mother and his lover.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Saito Ayumi, although he doesn't act out that much, some characters do regard him this way.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Saito Ayumi, though the story doesn't hide it from the viewers for long (it is especially unsettling to Tachikawa). Satoru intentionally drops this particular Bridget on Nikaido Saori for what seemed like no reason at all, though it may just be part of his Batman Gambit to find out who killed the Ishiwataris.
  • Wham Shot: When Shion remembers that the advice she was clinging to as being from her adoptive father and the basis of her shogi actually were the words of the murderer, shown in a single panel.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ayumi crossdresses to get into shogi tournaments earlier than he would be able as a man in order to pay his mother's medical bills.