The Anime I’d Really Like To See: HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS PLAYING CHESS

(This post was inspired by ghostlightning’s challenge.)

I’ve always wished for a chess anime. It’s a stretch, because Japan already has shogi, but I really love chess. Chess has a daunting reputation for being too dry or boring, but in all my years of play I can say that neither are true.

Here’s my show: An all-girl chess anime with good characterization and exciting games. The conceit is that chess is ubiquitous in the entire world–not just Japan, so there’s multiple season potential. There are lots of ways to make it fun even at the club level–chess has a myriad of variations that the girls could all make use of, ensuring that no one of them is the absolute best. I also want to channel a bit of Chihayafuru, whose characters have a unique, personal approach to the game, which fuels their playing style. Mood-wise, I still want to be on the lighter side, like Saki or Girls und Panzer.

Instead of Saki’s wacky lesbian mahjong magic, though, I want my show to have a healthy sense for realism. Nothing that you can’t replicate in the game with real skills. I want to be able to think about the games outside of the show and be surprised as they continue at it.

So, what about characters? The main characters I have in mind compose a team of five. Yousei is a natural genius whose play is brilliant in its elegance. She’s self-assured and convinced of her superiority… until she meets Alice, the sole member of the chess club before the other characters pour in. Yousei wants to see how far her talents can go, and enjoys the competitive side of chess the most, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have her fun. I guess I see her as a more confident Chihaya.

If Yousei is a prodigy, then Alice is all about HARD WORK AND GUTS. She has an adaptable, versatile style, backed by reams of learning and practice. This puts her at odds with Yousei, and they develop a strong rivalry even as teammates. She wants to turn pro, but maybe her teammates could show her other facets to the game…

The third girl, Mika, is the hot-blooded one, who is single-mindedly obsessed with the game. Because she has poor health, Mika has an aggressive, almost suicidal style that employs sacrifices to force a win. Mercurial and fragile, she might be the one whom I’ll most identify with. She plays because she can’t imagine anything that’s more fun.

Fourth would be Taiga, who is the “cool” one to contrast Mika. She favors closed games where her strong defense and patience excels. She also wears glasses. (This is very important.) She’s Mika’s childhood friend and keeps her in line.

Last would be the obligatory foreigner. Irina left her homeland because of a family problem involving chess, but finds that she couldn’t run away from the game after all. She’s a champion who’s been in a slump, who displays immense regrowth once she rekindles her passion for the game. She’s inspired by Arata in Chihayafuru and Miho from Girls und Panzer. Her playing style could be described as unconventional, thriving on extreme complexity.

Other rivals I thought of would be an unbeatable champion who crushes everything in her path, a middle-school attacking monster, a hikkikomori, and an angry senior.

As for the art style, I want it to be cute and clean without an excess of moe (the saner-looking characters of Girls und Panzer come to mind). Chess is easily rendered in 3D and I don’t mind the CG if it would translate to better character animation. For the crucial moments of the game, I would consider a medieval-style dramatization wherein the players become their own pieces. Otherwise I just want to watch intense chess!

The hardest part of the show are the games, of course. Chess analysis is deep and pervasive among the playerbase, and a weekly schedule might kill all the suspense since you could just run the game in a computer program. If the games are too complex then it would be unbelievable (although that could be handwaved by the fact that the characters are prodigies for their age), too simple and it wouldn’t be enjoyable. I guess this is why no one’s ever tried this kind of show, yet! I’m free to think of it as striking the right balance, though.

I have more crazy ideas, so maybe you could share them here, or write a post about them!

This entry was posted in Anime, Anime I'd Really Like To See and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Anime I’d Really Like To See: HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS PLAYING CHESS

  1. r042 says:

    I love these “pitch a show” challenges!

    Chess: the Series sounds really fun actually (I’d watch it anyway). It reminds me I need to watch Chihayafuru at some point.

    My idea? I’ll have a good think about it and write up a good summary because just saying “anything from this: http://ideaswithoutend.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/2014-anim.pdf ” seems like cheating…

  2. froggykun says:

    Holy crabapples, great minds think alike!

    I have been dying for YEARS to see a chess anime. I think there’s more than enough complexity and variation in the game to see this done in an exciting way. In my head, it was a bit more like Hikaru no Go in that the matches themselves would be fairly short and often based off famous games – a kind of affectionate wink to chess nuts. Instead, the emphasis would be on the characters and the different ways people can play and pursue chess (online, clubs, against a computer, tournaments, etc.) I mean, there are so many different varieties of ways with which you could tackle this I’m surprised someone HASN’T made an anime of it yet.

    Also, HA, your rival characters made me grin.

    • schneider says:

      I’d thought about that–games becoming classics like the Immortal Game and Evergreen Game, as well as endgame studies like the Saavedra Position. I guess we could revise the entire history of the sport, so that Capablanca, Alekhine, et al are born as cute girls… Oh god.

  3. r042 says:

    Here we go (shamelessly based on something I’m actually writing).

    “Days of Distant Stars”: A drama set in an oppressive space empire where one’s life is determined by a series of examinations to place children within a caste. A family’s status relies on its children’s success.

    The protagonist is a young girl who idolises her dead father – a war hero who set off to fight an alien race and never returned. Her surviving family are ruled over by her senile, grief-stricken mother and her older sister, who has ended up an unmarriageable workaholic stuck in an unglamorous junior minister position.

    She fails her examinations and ends up separated from her handsome and generally perfect best friend, estranged from her sister and stuck as a bridge girl on a warship with minimal chance of progression.

    Thus begins the main series – her life on board the ship surrounded by people who knew her father and can’t believe his daughter has ended up like this. As they go to war, in a conflict that enfolds the colony where her childhood friend now lives as governor, the results will likely be tragic.

    The twist? The war is against humanity, their fleet led by a prototype space battleship captained by a great admiral and crewed by the usual heroic types. The protagonist is part of an alien warrior race bent on conquering all lesser species, hence the preoccupation with status.

  4. rockmanshii says:

    Yeah, the main problem would be the games. There’s no random factor in Chess and it all comes down to predict your opponent’s moves. I actually wrote a post about it some time ago and that’s the conclusion I arrived at. I can count with one hand the number of times I played Chess in my life though so I don’t think highly of my opinion.

    • schneider says:

      I think this problem can be partly solved by factoring in the players’ character. If, say, Taiga is given the chance to open up the game and gain a slight material advantage by forcing an exchange, she would decline it in favor of a closed, defensive position. So viewers would have extra meat to chew on while speculating. “Is Yousei going to make that move? It’s going to make her win, but it’s out of her style, and we know the kind of chess she plays, so…” etc etc

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