The previous episodes all seemed to be pushing Shimada as a mentor or father figure onto Rei. Someone to give him guidance and help him move forward professionally after the sisters had managed to make him move forward a little bit socially. Or at the very least they got him out of his apartment. This episode strips away that guise as we see that even Rei realises he can’t simply look to someone else and he has to find the answer in himself. For the first time we see Rei actually determined to find that answer rather than hide from himself and his own feelings. It kind of blew me away. Certainly nothing has changed for Rei outwardly. This episode really didn’t do much other than play the much awaited fourth match of this tournament and had Shimada lose (with some fairly petty commentary from the onlookers – the guy qualified to play, leave him alone).
This is what I have liked about this story from the beginning. It isn’t so concerned about following a narrative trope that it misses its own focus and forces actions on characters due to narrative convenience. This story is entirely focussed on the characters, specifically Rei, and it ensures that all of his actions are directly linked to his emotional state which is affected continuously by outside stimulus and his own self-doubt. Of course, the question after this episode becomes one of whether Rei can actually maintain the feeling he has right now and try to find his own answer or whether he’ll back away again and beat a hasty retreat to the comfort of the familiar (even if the familiar is pretty miserable).
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.
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