March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 22

Review:

Rei’s journey has been a fairly fantastic ride to follow and I love that in this final episode we get the analogy of his life playing shogi compared to being on a train, continuing onward without a definite destination. The imagery in this show has almost always worked well (with a handful of exceptions) and this final episode of season 1, really nails it.

March22

The early part of this episode is interesting because we return to Rei’s school which is probably the place he has made the least progress. While he’s opened up to the sisters and reunited with them last episode, finally made actual friends amongst the other Shogi players, and really started to think about what he wants, school remains a place that Rei seems to want to be but spends most of his time there finding ways to escape dealing with anyone. This really helps us to see that Rei is still the same character we met in the beginning and while some small changes have occurred for the better, his essential character remains unchanged, and it brings a cohesion to this season that a full character transition couldn’t have delivered. It also makes me respect it far more because that kind of social anxiety is not going to vanish overnight no matter how shiny the sisters are.

Anyway, I’ll do a full review of this show sometime in the next month or two and I’m really excited that a season 2 has been announced. I’d love to see more of Rei’s travels.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

Advertisements

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 21

Review:

21 episodes and finally we have this:

March21b

Rei felt connected and was happy. And you know what? This was an incredibly quiet moment buried in an episode but right there was the moment I felt absolutely satisfied having watched this show. Rei hasn’t done a complete 180 as a character. He isn’t completely set up now and ready to face the world. But he’s made the vital change that’s been needed and because we’ve watched him agonising as he’s worked toward it and every step of the way his emotions have been put front and centre, this one breakthrough actually beat out watching any shonen protagonist take down a final boss.

I am glad however that there is another episode to go as I’d like to know more about how Rei is planning to move forward from this point. On the brightest side though, he returned to the sisters’ house at the end of the episode which really did feel like a step forward. Speaking of the sisters, they managed to make a large chunk of the episode about food again and reminded us just how adorable they can all be sometimes.

March21c

Anyway, I’ve loved this series and the ending is not disappointing so far. Looking forward to the final episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchryoll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 18

Review:

This is different. I’m actually going to complain about the visuals in this episode. On the surface this episode looks much the same as any other with visual metaphors being used as characters interact or to show how characters are feeling and individually these are all fine and fit with the show so far. However, what makes episode 18 different is that instead of the feeling of purpose and drive that I’ve had with the other visuals, this week’s offering just feels like they are desperately trying to create a sense of tension or rising action as we get closer to the end of the series. It all seems very messy and haphazard. The star-wars parody cats in particular and the flames, followed by the steam-bun head joke early in the episode all just felt very thrown together.

While there are some touching emotional moments in this episode which are mostly allowed to play out, the frequency and the truly jarring nature of some of these insertions really detracted from this week’s episode (at least for me).

From a story and character point of view things are still going really well, but it was definitely the visuals taking my attention this week.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 17

Review:

This episode is split into 3 parts with each lending its own weight to Rei’s ongoing journey.We see the start of the title match for Shimada but it is Rei’s meetings with various characters and his reflections that sell this section. Particularly his meeting with his adoptive father because that leads us firmly into the second part of the episode.

march17b

Kyouko is back and she is definitely a character I have come to love to hate. She is a master manipulator (at least of Rei’s fragile emotional state) and she continues to inject some much needed venom into the story. More importantly though, this is probably the calmest Rei has been when dealing with her which kind of shows that he is slowly but surely moving forward.

Lastly we see Rei back at the workshop where we learn Nikaido has managed to rise up to his level at Shogi and the two of them will not get to play each other at matches.

This episode is full of small encounters and each one helps us to see where Rei is now sitting emotionally and in his relationships.It also kind of feels like a calm before a storm but maybe things are just becoming more positive for Rei. Optimism, have to love it.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available  on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 16

Review:

We start this episode with some school drama, following up on Rei not having enough attendance or credit to move to the next year. This section is fairly pointless except that the teacher uses the opportunity to give Rei some advice and it is a light bulb moment for Rei.

march16

He sees the connection between what the teacher is saying and a number of situations in his life. What is even better is he works at acting on that advice leading to him joining the workshop.

march16c

Admittedly, Rei doesn’t contact the sisters yet but I think that’s because its an emotional hurdle he just isn’t ready to face but at least he is taking small steps.

Anyway, Shimada beat Gotou and is now going to the next round of the tournament and while this storyline continues it is definitely background to Rei’s progress in this episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 15

Review:

For a show where little happens from a plot point of view, they manage to keep the audience guessing anyway. After Rei lost his match I assumed that was the end of us watching the tournament, maybe the characters would discuss who won later. However, March once again proves that it is committed to the world they are building and not just Rei’s character by having the matches between Gotou and Shimada take up a fair portion of the episode. Admittedly, we don’t spend a lot of time at the board with them but rather we see the match through the other players who are observing and discussing the match.

Kyouko also returns early in the episode and we continue to see what her relationship with Rei is and what her relationship with Gotou is actually like. It’s interesting that Kyouko is being set up as a tragic figure who genuinely doesn’t seem to want the pity of others and yet she is so incredibly pitiful (although she’s also nasty and manipulative). Rei’s descriptions of her early in the episode and the accompanying visuals are striking and really make you consider what we know about her character.

march15

Of course, we also have the sisters and their grandfather who are worrying about Rei because he hasn’t been to see them since before his match and we also get a lot of school stuff because Rei is really on the edge of having to repeat a year. It’s an episode that is just packed with moments and each one is essential to the ongoing drama and they are all connected but its a lot to take in and yet at the same time very little actually progresses this episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 14

Review:

This show is brilliant at getting under my skin and making me feel what Rei is going through. Probably because, to a lesser extent, everyone has gone through uncertainty and failure. Everyone has made false assumptions and been burned. Everyone has felt embarrassed and confused.

march14

Seeing all of this in Rei, amplified, hits hard and the combination of well chosen music and visual metaphors is powerful.

march14b

What makes this more affective is that Rei has been working his way out of depression over the course of the series and things had been quite light for awhile so this spiral back is so reminiscent of anyone who has ever tried to pick themself up only to falter at a setback. It is what happens next that I’m really interested in. Whether the connections Rei has made with other characters so far in the series and the lessons he has learned are enough to help him get through this.

march4d

Also, the plot had been heading and pointing clearly to a Rei vs Gotou match and they’ve managed to snatch that away in a clever and logical fashion and in a way that forces Rei to reassess. It doesn’t feel like a twist for the sake of narrative convenience but rather like a deliberately planned character pitfall and the fact that most of us watching didn’t see it coming just made the whole experience of this episode better. Even after Rei has his first doubts in this episode, I expected him to come back and win. I expected we were still on track for him to grimly fight his way into that final game. But ultimately, this was the perfect way for this tournament to end.

march14e

I cannot wait for the next episode of this show.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 13

Review:

A couple of spoilers below so if you care who wins the matches maybe watch the episode first. That and I really went over my 100 words this week. Oops.

march13

From the start this episode is a bit off. We get a fairly long recap of what happened last week and then we have a musical interlude while Smith goes about his morning business. None of this is bad. The recap reinforces a fairly significant turning point in the series and while the musical interlude is a bit strange and the animation during it (particularly the fridge sequence) isn’t the best, it allows a smooth transition into the first half of this episode which is narrated by Smith.

march13bmarch13c

From this we see that Rei has in fact been deep in preparation for his upcoming matches and we also get to see Smith’s frustration that Rei is clearly not even considering that he might win against Gotou. Which, from a narrative point of view, even the audience isn’t considering that possibility.

The match between Gotou and Smith is actually given a decent amount of screen time and as much as Rei sees Gotou as a villain, and some of what we’ve seen and heard about him suggests he isn’t a pleasant person, while playing against Smith we see the professional that he is. Including offering a calm critique at the end of where Smith went wrong.

We then get another recap of last week before we switch to Rei’s perspective as he approaches his own match against a character I cannot remember the name of but he’s the older brother of Nikaido, maybe. That bit was a little unclear. This match we don’t see the end of but it is clear Rei is struggling so I’m really looking forward to the continuation next week.

Once again the visual metaphors in this show (while not in any way subtle) are really quite impressive and continue to convey the appropriate mood and tone to the audience and make what might otherwise be a fairly dry viewing experience quite immersive.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

Shion no Ou Series Review

Overview:

When Shion was four her family were killed and the murderer was never found. Now 13 years old, Shion is a female shogi player who does no speak but is determined to continue getting stronger. However, as she continues to play clues about the past begin to surface.

Review:

At 22 episodes, this anime is a slow moving piece of drama that at times feels more like a slice of life except that all of the characters continue to push toward their goals throughout. At the centre of the story is Shion and while her Shogi is apparently amazing her characterisation isn’t. You end up watching events unfold from a distance but, for me at least, emotional investment never actually occurs which leaves you cold to the revelation of who the murderer is (assuming you didn’t figure it out at around the half-way mark).

Shion1.jpg

I’m going to approach this review in a plus/minus format. It’s been awhile since I’ve done it and it’s the best way to organise my thoughts on this show. I’m also trying to avoid obvious spoilers about the identity of individuals but if you like to be surprise maybe you should give the review a miss.

Plus +

The support cast of this anime manage to hold up the show. While Shion is a fairly passive protagonist (about the only thing she actively does is play Shogi), the other characters are all very driven individuals. They make life choices, work to protect Shion, continue to seek self-improvement and generally are fairly entertaining to watch.  That said, there are no big personalities here (with a few notable exceptions and most of these are characters you are not supposed to like). Still, it’s a large cast and you still feel you’ve gotten to know the characters pretty well by the end of the series.

Shion2.jpg

Minus –

The animation looks stagnant and dated (even though the anime is from 2007). Normally I don’t criticise the animation but in this case there are far, far too many still shots of characters staring at shogi boards or close ups of that character closing is fan again, or that one clenching their fist, etc. When the characters are actually in motion it looks truly bizarre and you realise early on why they never bothered to actually animate the murder itself or anything to do with the crime other than the game of Shogi played between Shion and the murderer. Even then, there were more close ups on fingers and eyes than anything else.

Plus +

We have a male who cross dresses as a female (for well explained motives and reasons) and not every character is totally oblivious to it. Early on several key characters figure out what is going on though few of them ever directly confront the issue. Probably the weakest part of this is when they finally cut their hair and show up as a male and a few characters can’t immediately see what has happened. Still, this was interesting and played well early on in the series. The show also puts the distinction between male and female Shogi players front and centre for a large part of the series so while it doesn’t really make many inroads in challenging accepted stereotypes it at least addresses that they exist.

Minus –

You are going to be watching a lot of Shogi matches and that characters are going to discuss the tactics a lot so if you go in with no knowledge of the game, prepare to google and learn. Admittedly, the overall plot still makes sense without knowledge of the game but I’m thinking your missing out on the vast majority of what this show is about.

Shion3.png

Plus +

The mystery is resolved. Everything in this anime stems from Shion’s parents getting murdered and everything links back to it. Okay, things might be a little too nicely tied up and connected in a way that only happens in television mysteries but it leaves you with an absolute sense that things have come to an end and now everyone can move forward. I also like that it isn’t just Shion who has been crippled emotionally by the murder.  The event sent ripples through the Shogi community and so many characters were ultimately touched by it.

Minus –

The police investigators that just seem to hang around waiting for clues about an eight year old crime. While they might get some time to investigate new threats and the like, it seems really unlikely that two people would have that much time to move around the association just casually inquiring about things that may or may not significant. For a large part of this series that police are clueless and useless and what little they do manage to solve is all too late because the other characters have pieced things together by then for us so the investigators don’t even get to explain what has happened. They just get to march the criminal out at the end.

Shion4.jpg

All and all though, Shion no Ou is an interesting if slow watch. The series has its issues but with a likable cast and clear end point it is certainly bingeable. Whether you like it or not will probably be determined by how many games of Shogi you can stand watching and whether you find Shion herself completely bland in the main role. Clearly they were trying for cute and determined but mostly she comes off as an empty doll that occasionally smiles to show that she can emote (okay, that was harsh and she does actually exhibit a larger range of emotions toward the end of the series but early on she’s pretty one note).

If you’ve seen the show, what were your thoughts?

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 10

Review:

This was a real return to the first two episodes where we are once again fully trapped in Rei’s perspective and this episode showed me exactly why I fell in love at the start of the season. The use of music, ambient noise and silence is perfect in this episode as is the imagery. However, the real star is Rei himself and to be honest he is a character that I cannot get enough of in these episodes where we see him and how he views the world (the slice of life episodes not so much). I think it is that he is so entirely trapped by his own negative emotions, he knows this and while giving up happens occasionally mostly he is still really struggling to find a reason not to and that inner conflict is quite compelling. I kind of get that anyone who doesn’t relate to or really care about Rei will mostly find March a mish-mash of visual imagery with a not-so compelling plot given this episode showed us Rei playing Shogi with music conveying the tone, and then had Rei walk us through the game with commentary as part of the post-match review. Not a lot of action there but a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) character work at play. Plus, Rei’s little melt down in the park at the end was kind of the perfect climax to Rei’s turmoil this episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.