This show is brilliant at getting under my skin and making me feel what Rei is going through. Probably because, to a lesser extent, everyone has gone through uncertainty and failure. Everyone has made false assumptions and been burned. Everyone has felt embarrassed and confused.
Seeing all of this in Rei, amplified, hits hard and the combination of well chosen music and visual metaphors is powerful.
What makes this more affective is that Rei has been working his way out of depression over the course of the series and things had been quite light for awhile so this spiral back is so reminiscent of anyone who has ever tried to pick themself up only to falter at a setback. It is what happens next that I’m really interested in. Whether the connections Rei has made with other characters so far in the series and the lessons he has learned are enough to help him get through this.
Also, the plot had been heading and pointing clearly to a Rei vs Gotou match and they’ve managed to snatch that away in a clever and logical fashion and in a way that forces Rei to reassess. It doesn’t feel like a twist for the sake of narrative convenience but rather like a deliberately planned character pitfall and the fact that most of us watching didn’t see it coming just made the whole experience of this episode better. Even after Rei has his first doubts in this episode, I expected him to come back and win. I expected we were still on track for him to grimly fight his way into that final game. But ultimately, this was the perfect way for this tournament to end.
I cannot wait for the next episode of this show.
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.
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