OWLS Blog Tour: The Small Words That Make All The Difference

It’s another OWLS post and this time I am exploring the theme of Mentors. OWLS  are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. OWLS emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, OWLS will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar. And if you missed any of the great posts in July, the links to all the contributors this month are below.

The theme for July: Mentors

Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.

The Small Words That Make All The Difference

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Previously I’ve made a very definitive statement about mentors in stories: Mentors die. There are very clear reasons why they do in so many stories and particularly in action or fantasy stories, this is the assigned role of the mentor archetype. Train the next generation, pass on your wisdom, die tragically both inspiring your protege, teaching one final lesson, and also ensuring the audience doesn’t wonder why you aren’t actually the hero of the story. But these stories are very far removed from the everyday lives most of us live and so while these mentors are brilliant and memorable for their wondrous moments before their candle gets blown out, they aren’t exactly the kind of people we’re going to walk down the street and run into.

More importantly, for most of us there isn’t one single person with a single view of the world who is going to help us through everything and set us on our path. For the vast majority of us, it is the culmination of many small words and actions that slowly turn our path and shape who we are or who we want to be. While we may not always recognise the input of these people, on reflection there are probably many people we have to thank for making it through a particularly trying time in our lives.

So rather than choosing to focus on any one of those shows that I have loved over the years with classic mentors such as Star Wars, I’m choosing in this post to focus on a character who I really connected with when watching the series and I’m looking at the characters who have had an impact on his life for the better.

Of course that means I’m going for another March Comes in Like a Lion Post.

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For me there are several characters who have acted as a mentor and adviser to Rei over the first two seasons of March Comes in Like a Lion. They aren’t the only characters who have had an input, but they are all characters that he has turned to for advice or has drawn on their words at critical junctures. As a result, I haven’t included Hina in the list despite her being awesome. She’s definitely a catalyst for change, but she doesn’t really fulfil the role of mentor. Due to the length of the post I’ve focused on just a couple of characters and their performance as a mentor.

Akari:

Akari Kawamoto is the oldest of the three sisters who kind of take Rei under their wing at the beginning of the show and really do act as Rei’s bridge back to the world. As the oldest, Akari is the voice of calm and reason, the one who nurses Rei when he is unwell, and she is the one who slowly drags him back into the world and won’t accept excuses. She’s a gentle but persistent presence and someone who exerts a natural warmth that Rei is drawn to. He finds himself unable to refuse her when she asks him to join them for dinner and seemingly against his own desires he is drawn more and more into the family by her.

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However, Akari as a mentor is flawed because she is also very young and in over her head. With two young sisters to raise and care for she’s forced to act older than her years and put on a front, but there is a fantastic moment in the second season when it crumbles. At this stage we see how far Rei has come in his emotional journey when he surpasses his mentor and returns to her some of the emotional strength she has given him and he works to allay her fears.

It is very safe to say that without Akari, Rei would never have been able to consider the situation as clearly, would never have had the empathy or emotional understanding to comprehend it, and certainly wouldn’t have had the words to comfort another. Far from the fantastic mentors who beat their knowledge into their students with showy and dramatic performances, Akari is a character who works quietly and consistently from the sidelines. She watches over Rei and lends a gentle guiding hand when needed, acts more forcefully only when necessary, and ultimately waits for him to come to her though she leaves the door wide open and the space she has created for him is warm and inviting.

Akari is the kind of mentor we all wish we had in our lives because even when we stuff everything up, she would be there for us and would probably give us a hug or a warm meal and let us cry until we had let it all out.

Shimada:

I could hardly write about mentors in March Comes in Like a Lion without touching on Shimada. We first come across him when Rei is facing him in a match. Rei has put very little thought into his match against Shimada because his eyes are focused on the next competition, and this is something that ultimately costs Rei deeply and shames him horrendously. However, it is this defeat that opens the door for Rei to learn and to grow as a Shogi player. Where Akari is the warmth of human connections, Shimada is the one who will allow Rei to develop as a professional.

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That said, like Akari, Shimada is a flawed mentor in that his own relationship with Shogi isn’t exactly a smooth ride. Plagued by health ailments due to the stress of his life, having never one a title match, feeling the pressure (not deliberate but well-meaning) of those who have supported him, Shimada has had a difficult road to walk and he’s still very much fighting every single day. Despite that, Shimada has not lost his focus or his goal and continues to quietly work towards it.

There’s probably a reason both Akari and Shimada are quiet and fairly unassuming mentors. With Rei’s mental state, someone more forceful or erratic would certainly just cause Rei to shut down and not engage. It is their quiet and persistent approach, the waiting for Rei to open to them, that allows these two characters to be successful in their interactions with him.

Through Shimada, Rei joins the Shogi workshop which opens him up to discussions with others about Shogi. We no longer see him practising and studying in solitude with Shogi being the thing Rei hides behind to avoid others or interactions. Instead, it becomes something that forces him into professional and spirited conversations and interactions with others. This really marks a turning point for Rei and one that is really pushed through Shimada’s arc where Rei accompanies him to his match and helps him through a fairly gruelling defeat.

Again, we see Rei stepping up and using what he has been shown by his mentor to ultimately assist the mentor. It is a really important step for Rei as a character as he dislikes owing others and so a mentorship that was strictly one-way would only leave him guilt ridden. These small moments where he is able to give back actually allow the relationship to continue and to grow.

Hayashida:

The last character I’m going to touch on is Rei’s teacher at the high school, Hayashida. Unlike Akari and Shimada, Hayashida is an intrusive and brash character. He forces himself into the solitude of Rei’s lunch breaks, he pushes conversation, he drags Rei through what he must do not to have to repeat a year at school, and organises for Rei to join a school club. He is well meaning but the kind of person who initially exhausts Rei.

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However, through his persistence and his earnest desire to be there for his student, Hayashida slowly chips away at the walls Rei has build around himself. In large part this is because of the other characters, such as the Kawamoto sisters, who have already breached a lot of Rei’s automatic defences, but by the second season, Hayashida is someone Rei trusts to listen when he wants to talk about Hina’s predicament.

While it would have been easy to write Hayashida’s character off as the comic relief, or the brash friend who no one cares about, what we see is that he takes his role of teacher very seriously and he has very carefully forcefully kept the door to communication with Rei open without barging through it and causing Rei to run. That careful balancing act in season 1 of being there without crossing too many lines pays off when Rei is finally needing someone and ready to open up as Hayashida is already there for him and made that very clear.

Small Moments, Small Words, Big Difference

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All three of these characters have made a world of difference to Rei and the future that awaits him. If even one of these people hadn’t been in his life, the journey he is on would have been infinitely more thorny and difficult. They aren’t walking his path for him, they don’t hand him all the answers on a silver platter, but they are most definitely a large part of the reason he is managing to find his way.

Thanks for reading this far and remember, there are probably people in your life you have offered you those small words just when you needed them. Remember to say thank-you.

Thank you those who read my blog and offer your kind words of support. You have no idea how much you have helped me over the past two years and motivated me to keep going. Thank you. 

The Schedule for July:

If you’ve missed any posts on the tour or want to know who is up next, the schedule is below. Be sure to check out some of the great bloggers and their posts this month.

3: Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)

4: Lita (Lita Anime Corner)

7: Shay (Anime Reviewer Girl)

8: Rai (Rai’s Anime Blog)

10: Lyn (Just Something About LynLyn)

12: Dale (That Baka Blog)

13: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

14: Jack (The Aniwriter)

15: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)

16: Miandro (Miandro’s Side)

17: Naja B. (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero)

18: Shoka (Shokamoka’s Blog of Wonders)

19: Mel (Mel in Anime Land)

20: Z (Let’s Talk Anime)

21: Dylan (DynamicDylan)

22: Marina (Anime B&B)

23: Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News)

24: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)

25: Zel (Archi-Anime)

26: Carla (PopCultureLiterary)

27: Mistress of Yaoi (Yaoi Playground)


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Series Review: An Emotional And Moving Experience

Most of my readers are already familiar with my deep love for this series so I probably don’t need to tell you that this anime review is not going to be objective. In fact, let’s just accept that this is my love letter to season 2 of March Comes in Like a Lion. It will save any need for a disclaimer later in the ‘review’.

Review:

The first season of March Comes in Like a Lion took awhile to grow on me. While from episode one I was interested in Rei’s emotional struggle, the slow pace and trickled introduction of the support cast meant it was not love at first sight. Still, some fantastic visual metaphors and ultimately a fairly powerful and emotional experience meant that it fast became one of my all time favourite series. And then season 2 came out.

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It isn’t often that a sequel comes along that manages to completely capture what made the original season so amazing while improving on practically everything and yet season 2 of March Comes In Like a Lion does exactly that. There isn’t a single wasted episode in this second season with each one building on the last or transitioning the audience from one emotionally charged arc to the next. Even what should have been a fairly mundane shogi match between two supporting characters ended up being an incredibly memorable viewing experience that had me on the edge of my seat and not knowing who I even wanted to win. While there are still flaws in this show to be found, and while a lot of the enjoyment from watching comes from whether or not you’ve connected with the cast in season one, for me this was a near perfect viewing experience from start to finish.

So what made it so amazing?

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Firstly, the visuals are well and truly still hitting their mark. Whether we are embroiled in someone’s emotional trauma or basking in the warmth of success, happiness or contentment, this anime consistently delivers visuals that capture the mood of the moment and perfectly convey it to the audience. The music isn’t quite as strong but it also does an excellent job of pairing with the visuals to carry these emotions and they leave their mark.

Whether it is Hina being bullied, the mood of the classroom, Rei reflecting on his actions or past, a desire to win, or even just experiencing the joy of eating food with others, this anime creates that mood and it really does invite the audience to experience it as well as watch what is happening. While the anime does not rely on the visuals alone to draw the audience along, every single image seems purposeful and well thought out making this a visual feast for the eyes.

When coupled with some incredibly strong narrative elements, the whole show moves from just being something you watch to something that seems to consume you. Part of what makes this narrative so striking is how real it becomes. They haven’t felt the need to use gross exaggeration for the bullying or anyone’s mental distress. It conveys a truth that is more powerful because it is so familiar. Even if you have not experienced the situation the characters find themselves in, you know someone who has or can very easily imagine it. The drama is in the delivery rather than hyperbole and that lifts this from being a slice of life drama to something that forces the audience to look long and hard at their own lives and choices. While the result isn’t always comfortable, there’s a genuine sense of catharsis while watching.

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That sense of catharsis is aided through the incredibly adept pacing of this second season. Season one suffered from some early pacing issues and just feeling slow paced. Season two has no such problems. Every arc goes exactly as long as it needs to. Every conversation makes its point but doesn’t linger past its welcome. More importantly, this anime knows exactly what it is doing to its audience and after dragging us through the wake of Hina’s despair it finds the perfect moment to drag us out of the mire into a more relaxed and happy moment before we move once again into a more tense viewing experience. No emotion lingers on for too long but each one is felt, experienced, and then gently ushered aside for the next wave. It isn’t abrupt or jarring except when necessary, and it all feels very natural.

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Still, the main reason I would recommend this anime a million times over is probably Rei and Hina themselves. The journey both of these characters have undertaken since season one has been intense and both characters have come out the other side showing growth and wisdom but no instant cures or fixes. They are carrying their scars but they are also carrying the strength they gained through facing their burdens.

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In this, Hina was the leader. It is no exaggeration when Rei declares that Hina is his hero or like the sun. She goes through a hellish experience with bullying at her school but despite the tears and her own anger at her weakness, Hina never runs. Not once. She continues to face each challenge as it comes. Certainly she is supported in this by Rei and her family, but it is her decision to keep going.

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The impact this has on Rei is enormous and while he experienced some character growth in season one, season two sees him blossom. His desire to help and protect Hina and to overcome his own weaknesses really propels him to new heights. One of the most rewarding sequences I watched last season was when Rei returned to the house he had grown up in and while it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it showed us exactly how far Rei had come in terms of overcoming the ghosts that have haunted him since the show began.

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When looking back at this season, there really isn’t a single thing I would change. Not one moment that we could have done without. Ultimately I am left with only one request and that is if they ever make a third season, I hope that the same love and attention to detail is used because the worst thing that could happen now is a continuation that does not do these characters justice.

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And I know that wasn’t really a review but I love this show so much. Really I’d love to look at each sequence and event again in detail but honestly, I think this is a show that is better experience individually as each person is going to take something a bit different from it. I really recommend giving it a go if you haven’t. If you have and it didn’t work for you, I understand that too. For me though, this was one of the most powerful viewing experiences I’ve had in a long time and it is not one I will soon forget.

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Karandi James

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March Comes in Like a Lion Episodes 43 & 44: An End and a Beginning

I’m really going to keep this short despite covering both episodes, because I know the season review of this anime is going to be crazy long already. Despite how much I talk about this anime, there’s still endless things I want to say.

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What I will say is that this is a perfect send of to the second season, and to the anime as a whole if it doesn’t get another season. While there are still plenty of hurdles for the characters to overcome, this season gave each one of them a space to show how far they had come and where they were heading. So if another season never occurs, I won’t be left always slightly unsatisfied because this final gives me nothing to complain about.

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I also love the Rei and Hina’s relationship was such a large part of these final episodes. These two characters are individually impressive but together are unforgettable and watching them here just reminded me how much I love both of them and wish them the best (despite the fact that they are fictional characters).

Anyway, it was a glorious ending to an anime that has had a fairly big impact on me and I can’t wait to write my season review on this one.

Season 1 Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review


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Karandi James

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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 42: Smiling Hina

We’re closing in on the end of the second season of March Comes in Like a Lion and part of me is going to be very sad to see it end. This episode brings us a whole lot of reasons why as we see Hina thinking about her future before we get a time-skip to right before high school entrance exams. While seeing Hina’s character continue to grow, and it is nice that she hasn’t just forgotten the unpleasantness of the bullying incident, it is truly a pleasure to see how the shared experience has brought Rei and Hina closer together.

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However, the show hasn’t forgotten it’s focus on Rei as Hina’s probing questions have him thinking back to his choices and how he became the Shogi player he is. For the first time, I think we see him acknowledge it was his choice even if at the time it felt like he was cornered or lacked other options. It is a subtle way of showing the growth he’s had since season 1.

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But before Hina can realise her new found objective, she needs to get into the high school and that means studying. For once we get a study sequence that is played out over montages but is more laid back and happy to take each moment of the process and the bonding between Rei and Hina, as well as the enjoyment of good food.

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These two characters have become so incredibly precious to me over this second season and I’m hoping they both find something they want in the final episodes.

Season 1 Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 41: An Interlude

This anime continues to impress as it knows when to step back from the hard hitting emotions and give the audience a chance to breath. And yet, even those breaths are full of great character moments, moments that recall past events and remind us issues still unresolved.

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A lot of this episode focused on the sisters running a sweet stall and recruiting Rei to assist. This very much draws us back to season one where Rei was literally being dragged out of his apartment to now, where he voluntarily involves himself with this family and is finding himself more and more connected to the world through them. We also see how the sisters are growing and evolving over time and how Hina is bouncing back from her previous trauma. Hina’s growth is particularly highlighted through a visit to Chiho on the farm firmly reminding us how strong Hina has been to get through previous events.

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These two are too adorable together.

The second half of the episode turns to the middle school and the ongoing fall out from the bullying incident. the head teacher isn’t staying on as the homeroom teacher and the changing of the guard isn’t going smoothly, mostly because the lead bully (not the only bully but the one who became the face of the group responsible) still refuses to actually take any responsibility for her actions.

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And this is another reason why I love this show. Nothing is easily solved and then forgotten. There’s never a neat end point to a single story. Each event continues to send ripples through future events and the show doesn’t forget where these characters have come from or how their interactions will impact upon their futures. While this episode might have felt like a breath of relaxed air compared to some this season, it was packed full of points of note and maintained the narrative and character strength I’ve come to expect from this anime.

Season 1 Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 40: Find Out What You Are Made Of

March Comes in Like a Lion is an anime that knows what it is about and episode 40 manages to combine amazing character moments with stunning visual metaphors and an epic shogi showdown all while taking the audience on an emotionally intense ride that doesn’t stop until the very end. It’s impressive as an individual episode and builds well on everything that this series has given us before hand.

Spoiler warning for the images if you don’t know who won the match.

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Last week I wasn’t sure if I wanted Shimada to win over Yanagihara by the end of the episode and I never did figure out who I wanted to win this match. Both characters gave everything they had and the end result was stunning, nail biting and thought provoking. It wasn’t just the characters who felt wrecked by the time we reached the bitter-sweet end of the match.

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Yet after two episodes of walking us through the fire, the story found its resting point and played it for what it was worth. This show knows how to move an audience from tears to smiles, from tension to release and it does it superbly time and again. While it might seem frivolous to some, that shifting tone is exactly what makes watching such a cathartic experience.

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Finally this match is done and I have to admit this is one arc that surprised me as I never really expected a match between these two characters to be all the important at all. Looking forward to where this show takes us next.

Season 1 Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 39: Not Wanting To Lose Takes Many Forms

Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion has returned at last after its three week break and they have plunged us straight into the title match between Shimada and Yanagihara. While a lot of this series has focused on Rei, it is nice to see him take a back seat for these older characters as they each bring a different perspective to the life of a professional who has their pride, reputation and life on the line when they sit at the table.

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Bonus point: Rei and Nikaido were adorable as the commentators and for once Rei didn’t seem nervous.

While we’ve been with Shimada before as he has contested a champion, this time he is going for his first title, and as he repeats throughout the build-up to the match, he is determined to take it. Shimada isn’t a flashy player or a natural genius. He’s a hard worker and has literally done the grinding over and over again to hone his skills and finally he has a title within reach if only he can overcome Yanagihara. And given we’ve spent time with Shimada and like him as the mentor character to Rei you would think that the show would set him up as the one the audience should want to win. Particularly when Shimada’s support committee rock up to wish him well.

But March Comes in Like a Lion is never about simple black and white scenarios where one person should win or lose at the table. This episode devotes a lot of time to building up Yanagihara and providing him with a real motive for wanting to hold onto that title with everything that he has. And in the process, making the audience want him to keep it leaving us in the very confused mental state of wanting Shimada’s hard work to pay off for him but also not leave an old man devastated by the loss of the one thing he really has left to hold on to (that he worked equally hard to obtain and to hold onto for this long).

Naturally the match doesn’t end this episode and in honesty, I don’t know how this will play out and who will win. I don’t know which would be better as I think either one of these characters losing will be a little devastating. And that is where this show has once again shown off how well it can write its characters and move its audience. The show may have gone on break for three weeks but it has not lost its edge.

Season 1 Review:

March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 38: We’re Transitioning But To What I Do Not Know

Review:

Faced with the harsh reality that it is going to be a number of weeks before we get another episode (thanks to the Winter Olympics), I was kind of hoping this episode would wrap up the Rei vs Souya story and in a way it did. The storm passes and the two return to their lives with the match behind them, but for Kiriyama there’s a lot of lingering thoughts from the match.

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He’s finding himself oddly detached which means the only time we see the sister’s this week is a small scene where Hina reports that Rei has turned down their invitation for dinner and the girls discuss the merits of soft boiled eggs and how to cook them. This scene is adorable and reminds us that Hina has passed through her troubled time, but it leaves us with a sense of business unfinished.

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Then we reintroduce Nikaidou who is finally out of the hospital and everyone is kind of worried he will be depressed because he had to forfeit two matches already which certainly won’t help his chances of staying at the same rank. Yet when Rei finds him, he catches the end of a match where Nikaidou uses a new move successfully and is truly ready to celebrate his successes rather than bemoan his misfortune.

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So transitions and new beginnings all around but no real hint yet as to what the last part of this season will bring us and now we wait. No, now I start another rewatch of the series from the beginning because there’s no way I can go that many weeks without any of this show.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

Thoughts on Anime.jpg

Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 37: Rei vs Souya

Review:

This was everything I could have wanted from a first match between these two characters. It wasn’t a major showdown but rather a peaceful and thought provoking game where Rei overcame both the mental hurdle of facing Souya and overcame the knowledge that he was going to lose after making a move he knew was wrong the moment he made it.

The game plays out quietly with only the commentary from the spectators (not in the same room) really providing any dialogue or sound outside of the pieces gently being placed upon the board. What I liked is that they showed us enough of the game to get  as sense of the game but they didn’t drag this on overly long so viewers shouldn’t find themselves wanting things to move along. The pacing of this game just kind of hit the mark it needed to hit.

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The second half of the episode then looks at the journey back to Tokyo which is broken in Sendai by the typhoon as the shinkansen (bullet train) is suspended. This is really where we get to see Rei and Souya interact and it is kind of surreal with the possibility that Souya can’t hear being raised. We also get to see Rei in a much different state of mind after losing a game then we’ve ever seen him before which is a testament to how far he has come mentally since the beginning of season 1.

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It will be interesting to see if they continue with these two next week or if they will skip over it but I feel there is probably more coming between these two. While this was a much more low key episode in comparison to the emotional punches of Hina’s arc in the first half of this season, this feels like a very necessary part of the story and I’m really loving seeing Rei in this space. Looking forward to next week.

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Karandi James.

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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 36: Observing the Approaching Storm

Review:

I loved the first part of this episode which showed Shimada and Jinguuji understandably frustrated at the difference in treatment the upcoming match between Rei and Souya was getting compared to their next match. It was funny and yet kind of on point as to how things actually work. Those two have worked hard to be as good as they are but because they are old and less likely to bring in sponsors the organisation is all but ignoring their next match.

The organisation has gone all out for Rei and Souya and yet the other poster definitely had a lot less thought put into it.

Then again, when they show us the first match between those two you can kind of see why the organisation might think their money is better spent elsewhere (even though that wasn’t really either Shimada or Jinguuji’s fault).

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After this the episode gets a bit more serious as we see Rei studying for his upcoming match (though we do get a moment where he fills his teacher in on what has happened with Hina). Then Rei is off to the match and realises he now has to go through the whole reception thing, which leads to the realisation he has never really known what he was in for. Fortunately, Souya attracts most of the attention and this is really the first time we’ve gotten to see much of Souya. He’s an odd character.

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However, the match is ready to start by the end of the episode so I guess that means the storm is going to hit next week and I just kind of hope that Rei survives it mostly unscathed.

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As usual, I loved watching this episode, though this one was not as emotionally draining as some of the episodes this season. We’re transitioning from one crisis into what might potentially become a crisis and while this episode maintains the excellent visuals and characterisation you would expect from the show, it isn’t as hard hitting as we get more of a lull in the story.


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Karandi James.

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