The previous episodes all seemed to be pushing Shimada as a mentor or father figure onto Rei. Someone to give him guidance and help him move forward professionally after the sisters had managed to make him move forward a little bit socially. Or at the very least they got him out of his apartment. This episode strips away that guise as we see that even Rei realises he can’t simply look to someone else and he has to find the answer in himself. For the first time we see Rei actually determined to find that answer rather than hide from himself and his own feelings. It kind of blew me away. Certainly nothing has changed for Rei outwardly. This episode really didn’t do much other than play the much awaited fourth match of this tournament and had Shimada lose (with some fairly petty commentary from the onlookers – the guy qualified to play, leave him alone).
This is what I have liked about this story from the beginning. It isn’t so concerned about following a narrative trope that it misses its own focus and forces actions on characters due to narrative convenience. This story is entirely focussed on the characters, specifically Rei, and it ensures that all of his actions are directly linked to his emotional state which is affected continuously by outside stimulus and his own self-doubt. Of course, the question after this episode becomes one of whether Rei can actually maintain the feeling he has right now and try to find his own answer or whether he’ll back away again and beat a hasty retreat to the comfort of the familiar (even if the familiar is pretty miserable).
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.
March Comes in Like a Lion continues to be a slow yet quietly impressive character journey. Our focus is still on Shimada as he prepares for the upcoming tournament aided by a fairly conflicted Rei (I know, Rei being conflicted is at this point kind of a given). Still, we see some genuine interactions between Rei and Shimada and in the process learn more about both of them.
Last week I criticised some of the over the top visual metaphors in episode 18 and the clashing nature of them. This week returns to a more cohesive look and tone and the effect is far greater than the frantic images of last week.
This episode is probably the weakest entry for this series yet. The first three episodes kind of hit us hard and we really got inside Kiriyama’s head. As a psychological anime it was impressive and visually stunning. Then we get to episode 4 and we watch middle child syndrome girl (Hina) struggle to give lunch to a boy she has a crush on and then we see the youngest of the crew (Momo) latch on to the round shiny shougi player (forgotten his name) before we all share dinner and sweets. It isn’t a particularly interesting development and other than one flashback from Kiriyama (and can we please get an explanation for that situation later because that looked infinitely more interesting than what we were watching) there isn’t much depth to the characterisation this episode. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchryoll.
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