12 Days of Anime Characters – Shimada

12 Days of Anime Title Image

Continuing with the 12 Days of Anime I am moving on from Siluca Meletes in Record of Grancrest War, to a character who takes a lot longer to really show his strength. However, once he does, he becomes quite the force to be reckoned with. 

Day 2 has us turning our attention to Shimada from March Comes in Like a Lion.

March Comes in Like a Lion

It is amazing that a character introduced like Shimada ended up having quite the impact that he has had. The one thing I must put it down to is the incredibly solid writing that is consistently delivered in March Comes in Like a Lion. Originally, Shimada is a character Rei is facing off against in a Shogi match and Rei utterly underestimates him, expecting to advance to the next round and take on the next opponent. What we see during the match is that Shimada, though he is quiet, unassuming, and has an undramatic approach to the game, is every bit as hungry for victory and with far more experience and patience, he’s able to more or less crush Rei under-heel with almost no effort.

It is quite the humbling experience for the protagonist and promotes some very real growth in him. However, in and of itself, this moment doesn’t really help Shimada register. He’s just another opponent Rei has faced and someone we assume he’ll play again and maybe beat once he is stronger. 

How wrong this assumption is. Shimada is not so simple a character and the relationship he ends up forming with Rei really defies a single classification. 

And that is because, it is a dynamic relationship. It is one that evolves naturally over time. At first he is the guy who beat Rei, who seems ordinary but is strong, and then you realise he’s incredibly physically weak as stress takes a more or less continuous toll on him. The more you learn about Shimada and how ill he gets with the stress of matches, the more I admire him for continuing to throw himself into the game again and again and never walking away and taking an easier path.

But what really helps is that Shimada becomes something of a teacher and mentor to Rei. Rei joins the workshop Shimada runs and over time we see that Shimada relies on Rei to a point as he prepares for a crucial match. Rei’s insight and talent is valued even if he’s still forming as a player. Rei also accompanies Shimada and helps him before and after the match, building a strong friendship and respect between the pair. So while Shimada remains the mentor figure, there’s a lot of give and take in the relationship.

March Comes in Like a Lion Shimada

Season two though gives Shimada the moments he deserves. Shimada’s story is one of the quiet hard-worker who can’t compete with those who have flair, the gift of gab, powerful presence or the like. He isn’t a draw card to the Shogi world and is seen as an ordinary man. But he is an ordinary man who never learned how to quit, who carries the weight and expectations of those he treasures with him (even if they do not wish him to feel burdened), and who has also learned how to reach out to others in need.

March Comes in Like a Lion Shimada

Shimada is a powerful character who’s journey was almost as moving as Hina’s and yet he is an almost unsung hero. 

Here is to Shimada.

A character who is essential to Rei’s progress both in Shogi and as a person, and a character who has real goals and ambitions all of his own and will work to achieve them.

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Karandi James
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March Comes in Like a Lion Movie Original Soundtrack
March Comes in Like a Lion Movie Original Soundtrack

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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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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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.