This is a non-fictional book on Satoshi Murayama, a professional shogi player who prematurely died at 29 in 1998. The story was also televised several times as a documentary.
Murayama had an intractable kidney disease from his early childhood. He spent most of his elementary school days in a hospital. During hospitalization, the most exciting time for him was to read shogi books. Even though he didn't have a friend who was able to match him, he grew up strong surprisingly fast. When he was allowed to temporarily leave the hospital, he went to shogi centers and overwhelmed adult amateur players. At 13, he decided to be a professional shogi player. Although his parents opposed him to do so at first, his strong will eventually persuaded them. Fortunately, Murayama was able to find a good master, Nobuo Mori and became an apprentice under him.
After Murayama became a member of Shoureikai, the training institute for the candidates of professional players, he made a remarkable progress. Although he was frequently absent from matches, it took less than three years to be a professional player (this record surpasses that of Yoshiharu Habu or Koji Tanigawa). When he had a fever, his master Mori took care of him and even washed his underwear. The bond between them is the most heartwarming part of this book.
He competed with his rivals like Yoshiharu Habu or Yoshimitsu Sato and went on moving up the professional ladder. He once challenged a title match (Oushou) against Koji Tanigawa but failed to achieve fame. In 1995 he promoted to the highest rank consisting of 10 members and took an occasion for challenging Meijin, which he had been longing for ever since he decided to be a professional player. He was, however, diagnosed as having a cancer in 1997. He underwent an operation and continued playing shogi but the disease recurred in 1998. On the brink of death, he still sought after the truth of shogi.
If Murayama were alive, the shogi world today would be a little different. This book tells us his stormy life and is worth reading nearly 15 years after its publication. I hope Murayama will become known to much more people amidst the serialization of several shogi comics.