This episode is pure and simple emotional manipulation, however it does it so incredibly well. Actually, probably as close to perfect as any individual anime episode will get. If it doesn’t get you crying in the first part where we find out the circumstances behind Hina’s tears at the end of the previous episode, or after Rei runs after her and heals some of his own trauma from her words, or after they go to the library together, then the scene at the end where they return to the house and the Grandfather gives Hina’s actions the validation they needed (her situation still sucks but at least someone told her she had done the right thing), will get you. It is a fantastically orchestrated emotional rollercoaster that in twenty minutes will take you through sadness, empathy, reflection, grief, loss, calm, and then release.
Though it is more how this is delivered that works rather than what. This isn’t the first show to deal with middle school bullying, nor will it be the last. However, March Comes in Like a Lion finds the perfect images to reflect each of the emotions it is trying to craft and matches them beautifully with sound and movement. There’s a real understanding of emotions at work here and it is on display for all to see.
The choice to cover three chapters of the manga (most episodes only cover 2 and the only reason I know this is because the episode titles tell us where we are up to), was a very good call. The episode begins, narrated by Rei, the outsider. He is looking in on Hina’s pain and hearing about it and in the process reflecting on his own pain. We then shift to Hina’s narration, which personalises the issues but gives us glimpses of hope because she isn’t broken. She’s definitely feeling down but she is not out. Just a bit lost and looking for a lifeline to carry her through until she can find her own feet again. Lastly, we shift back to Rei to conclude the episode. Again, it really reflects the tone of the story, creates a compelling emotional journey and the switching viewpoint just drives home the emotions the show wants to convey.
So yes, two weeks in a row March has made me cry. Last week was more because of where my own emotions were about life but this week the show itself just hit hard. I held out until the final act of the episode but seeing Hina’s face as her grandfather told her how proud he was of her actions did me in.
I still get that this show won’t be for everyone but if you’ve never tried the first season and you have access, I seriously recommend at least trying it.
Thanks for reading.
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