(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!