March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 23: I Missed This

Overview:

March Comes in Like a Lion is back and we are resuming Rei’s journey as he figures out how to live and what he wants. If you missed my review of season 1 be sure to check it out.

Review:

The second season has started and initially we find ourselves with a more upbeat Rei. He’s engaged with the science/shogi club and actually opening his window and not dreading the outside world. We quickly see however that as much as things are going well for him, there is no instant fix for the deep and complex emotional issues that have plagued Rei from the beginning.

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Still, there’s a more upbeat tone to the opening song and far more interaction from Rei with others than the first season ever gave us. He’s also proactive¬† in deciding to visit the sisters and to share his story with them. Emotionally this was a joy to watch as was the realisation that they aren’t sweeping any of the issues under the rug. The opening might be more upbeat but it isn’t all sunshine and roses and the visuals are still brilliant at depicting emotional states. All and all, an excellent start to a second season and hopefully I continue to love being on this journey with Rei.

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One criticism, just so it doesn’t look like I’m giving this show a free pass because of emotional connections, they hit us with the shogi cats in the first episode this season (just thankful they didn’t sing the song).

Anyway, loved this. Can’t wait for more.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 4

Review:

This is another of those rambling episodes where lots happens but it is difficult to know what if anything will be important later (though someone those final few minutes must be because I did not see that twist to the final game of shogi).

Benten and Nadaime have a brief moment following on from their confrontation last episode but then we move on to the more mundane event of Tanuki Shogi (weird to use the word mundane for that but it still fits in the context of this show).

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Of course, this seems to be the episode for women using guilt to manipulate Yasaburo. First his elder brother’s maybe love interest uses Yaichiro and his hard work to guilt Yasaburo into turning up to the tournament at all (although given the outcome it might have been better if she hadn’t). Then Yasaburo’s mother hits him with some guilt, first bribing him with food and then making him feel bad that he was partially responsible for how the tournament ended.

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It was nice to see Yaichiro get some more characterisation than just being the overly proud big brother and this episode moves quickly and is pretty amusing even while it deepens our understanding of the family dynamics at work here. All and all, a fairly good episode.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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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.

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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.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 21

Review:

21 episodes and finally we have this:

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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I cannot wait for the next episode of this show.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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