The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode Ten
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Sorry for being absent for a whole week, honestly I just didn’t have a whole lot to write about, as I’ve kind of been head deep in Smash Bros as of late, But, the one thing I will always want to talk about is March Comes in Like a Lion, and oh boy was this week another crazy episode. Also, If it has not been obvious at this point, basically any episode that prominently features Rei and Kyoko interacting is going to be an important episode for both characters. With that said, let us discuss.
The first part of the episode, titled “Something Given,” involves Kyoko out of the blue calling Rei, letting him know that she left her watch and wants to come pick it up. Despite how crazy it might seem at first, I get the feeling that Kyoko might have actually left her watch there as another excuse to see Rei. This makes a lot more sense when you consider what happens in the second half of the episode, but more on that later. The two meet up, Rei gives Kyoko back her watch, and the two start talking.
The conversation begins normal enough, but soon Kyoko asks why she could not have just come over to Rei’s house to get the watch. which leads to what I called arguably one of the most important frames in the series.
In this shot, Rei is standing with a cold expression, half of his face visible, and half blinded by light. Now, it is obvious that he is literally being blinded by the rising sun due to it being morning, but its symbolically important this is happening in the presence of Kyoko, and is noteworthy because of Rei’s conflicted feelings. On the one hand, Rei despises her for the way she treated him as a kid and continues to treat him now, abusing him every chance she gets. On the other hand though, a part of him still feels bad for their childhood, and the way that his adopted father treated Kyoko and his brother after Rei moved in. Part of him knows she’s at least partially right, and as such he can never completely ignore her.
Rei, however, is scared, and doesn’t want to acknowledge this conflict, so he decides to shut it out instead. .
Still, for Rei, it is hard. The recognition that his very presence is the thing that broke her family is what Kyoko wants Rei to feel for the rest of his life. Her goal is to make him miserable, make him feel bad in any way she can, even if it means abuse on her end. That is Kyoko’s character so far. Instead of asking her father to be better, she takes out all of her anger on Rei, and makes him believe that it is all his fault too.
The first half ends in a similar way to the last episode, with Kyoko telling Rei the story of his next opponent, Yasui, seeing if he will feel bad enough to just give it all up.
The second half opens up with a bit of needed relief, with Rei stopping by school to get his report card, and then blowing off his teacher as he tries to invite him back to school after his match. Afterwards, Rei heads to the Shogi hall, the two meet, and begin their match.
The game ends relatively quickly, and it is not until after the match that the dynamics at play are revealed. Kyoko mentioned that Yasui is an alcoholic who loses his temper a lot, and it is implied that Yasui is somewhat drunk during the match, or at the very least not in the best position to be making decisions. He makes a minor mistake immediately after they return from lunch, at which point he all but gives up on the game. Rei can visibly see the signs of him giving up, and internally begs him not to, but to no avail. Yasui gets up and leaves.
Again, the dynamics here are similar to the last episode, where Rei played Matsunaga, hoping that he would pull through and some how miraculously beat Rei, but does not, and afterward makes him feel bad for losing. However, this time around it is slightly different. For Yasui, there is no hope, no wanting to get better, only a recognition of defeat, and a perpetual assertion that there was nothing he could do, all so that he could simply find the bottom of another bottle of alcohol.
Earlier in the episode, Rei noticed a bag with a gift inside that Yasui was carrying. After seeing it left behind by Yasui when leaving the Shogi hall, he tries to return it. At first, Yasui says he doesn’t recognize it, but after Rei insists, he angrily swipes the bag, only to walk off opposite the train station.
At this point, Rei is angry, but it is more than that. He is tired of all of the guilt being poured onto him by other people, He is tired of others blaming him for their problems, but most of all he is just tired of feeling bad. As he walks home, Rei begins to run off to a nearby park, where he screams out his true feelings at the top of his lungs to nobody. He is there alone.
At the end of the episode, Rei says there is a beast inside of him, and that if he did not keep it in check it would eat everything just to survive. This seems to be the part of himself that he hates the most. Even despite still having conflicted feelings on Shogi, Rei wants to be the best, but he also acknowledges that this same kill or be killed attitude might have contributed, at least partially, to his family situation.
It is here that a bigger picture is revealed, one in which the show forces us to recognize both a justified and unjustified self-hatred. In this episode, contradiction equals conflict, and it is tearing Rei apart.
Have any thoughts or Critiques? Let me know in the comments.
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