Where last week hit its tone and remained consistent throughout, breaking the audiences’ hearts over and over again, this week is far less consistent and yet not any worse for it. Instead of focusing on Hina through both Rei’s and her own narration, this week we barely see Hina save for the end. Rather, we focus entirely on Rei and then Akari’s responses to Hina’s dilemma and how the impact of bullying affects everyone and not just the victim.
Rei is first seen trying to get advice from his former homeroom teacher about how to deal with bullying. There’s some amusing moments that still manage to cut deep when Rei points out he isn’t being bullied (though his teacher assumed he was at first) but then explains the reason he doesn’t get bullied is because the other students don’t even really acknowledge he exists.
It is interesting to see how Rei is thinking through the first half of this episode and the sheer amount of effort he will expend in order to help Hina even though a lot of his thoughts are either misguided or just confused. The earnest desire to help is there but the issue is complex and Rei can barely look after himself most of the time.
Still it was a new side of Rei and one which was pleasant to see because it shows us just how far he has come. He sees Hina as a person, even if he is slightly idolising her at this stage. He’s made a real connection and despite the current circumstances, he is fighting hard to protect her. For someone who used to pull the curtains closed and hide in bed, this is real progress and I honestly hope it doesn’t blow up in his face and send him back into hiding.
As for Akari, she is tormented because she feels she has failed as the stand in mother. She feels her advice to Hina early on in life was wrong, that she couldn’t help her now, that she said the wrong thing… Basically she feels completely helpless in the situation and while she can’t let that out when Hina and the rest of the family are around, she let it out with Rei. And, again in a sign of just how far he’d come, he managed to say what Akari needed to hear. It doesn’t fix anything, but sometimes an emotional salve can go a long way.
The visuals, remain stunningly on point and whoever did the sound direction this episode nailed it. With a number of tonal shifts within scenes and some really complex emotions, both the visuals and sounds managed to perfectly convey the ideas and really created a truly enjoyable viewing experience. With great character moments and dialogue thrown in, March Comes in Like a Lion continues its strong second season and remains my absolute must watch.
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