The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode Four
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Well, my first post after starting my break. Its weird, but here I am. Today we will once again be breaking down some of March Comes in Like a Lion.
Episode four of season one, much like the rest of the first season so far, has presented a contrast between its two halves, with the first half being somewhat darker in tone while the second half becomes much more light-hearted.
The show’s first half begins innocently enough, with Hina worried about making a boxed lunch for a boy she has a crush on at her middle school. Her goal is to make something cute for Takashi, but she is not sure what to make. After Akari suggests fried chicken, Hina rejects the idea saying it is “not cute.”
After getting mad at Akari, Hina realizes she has no money and asks Akari for the things she needs. Akari asks why Hina needs to spend so much money, 3000 yen to be exact, on someone who is not even family, to which Hina quickly asks in reply “how is Rei any different?” At this point, the room goes silent. and things get awkward.
Rei decides to, as a way to pay back Akari for the food, buy the stuff Hina wants from the grocery store. Rei is ok with it though, because he feels bad about Akari paying for him to eat at their house. He is definitely someone who doesn’t like other people buying things for him.
The next day after buying some shades for his apartment, he walks past Hina’s middle school and sees Takashi playing baseball. The scene that comes next though once again serves as a reminder of the things Rei is dealing with behind the scenes. As he realizes that Hina is probably in love with Takashi, he is reminded of a time when Kyoko, his adopted sister, was, in all likelihood, emotionally abusing him.
We are quickly brought back to the present though, as, after a failed attempt to give the lunch she made to Takashi, she fails and attempts to throw it away. Rei stops her, and the two walk home together. There, expecting Akari to be upset, Hina is surprised when she tells her that its ok, and that she had a similar experience when she was younger.
The second half of the episode is much more comedic, starting with Rei and Nikaido practicing Shogi in Rei’s apartment. Rei has already said in a previous episode that he enjoys practicing Shogi alone, and gets annoyed pretty quickly. However, he is interrupted by Nikaido’s stomach, so the two decided to get lunch together. While out, they meet up with the Kawamoto sisters.
Arguably the funniest part of the episode is when Akari meets Nikaido for the first time and immediately invites him over for dinner while Hina is in the background apologizing to Rei for Akari. Now, why does Akari invite him over? because he is round and fluffy, the thing Hina said already that Akari cannot resist.
The two go over later that evening, with Akari enthusiastic to make Nikaido whatever he wants. The group eat dinner, and then Nikaido’s butler show’s up with dessert. And that’s pretty much the episode.
Since the latter half of the episode does not have much going on, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about the show’s animation. Up to this point, there have been a few scenes where the animation has gotten extremely expressive in order to display a lot of emotional turmoil, whether it be with Rei or one of the sisters. A lot of this has to do with the studio behind the show: Studio Shaft.
Shaft is a studio famous for its work on the Monogatari series, which has a similarly expressive animation style. More specifically, Akiyuki Shinbou has been responsible for a lot of the studio’s success over the past couple of years, being the director for both March and a lot of the Monogatari series.
His style is very much restrained, and he only uses the short bursts of high quality animation when they would enhance the show significantly, which, in tandem with a somewhat darker slice of life story like March Comes in Like a Lion, works very well.
Overall the episode, while not being one of the best, is a great example of the Shaft style and still manages to balance both its darker and lighter elements extremely well.
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