Tag Archives: Akari

The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Recap Episode and Episode Twelve

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

This time around I am doing a bit of a double feature for our *almost* weekly re-watch of March Comes in Like a Lion. The reason for this is that episode 11.5 is largely just a recap, with a few new lines thrown in certain parts. However the reason I wanted to talk about it is because of the way the recap is structured, and the element of March’s Story that it focuses on. With that being said, lets get started.

11.5 and a Story of Survival

The real story of eleven 11.5 begins where episode 10 ends, with Rei angry and confused, and guilty because of his sister Kyoko, but not too guilty. After returning his opponent Yasui’s gift after he purposely leaves it there, Rei seemingly comes to terms with this guilt, rationalizing it as weakness on the part of Yasui. This is because, for Rei, Shogi is literally his means of survival and the way he was able to escape his abusive family. Shogi for Rei never felt like a choice, and so he feels a sort of hatred for those who can just walk away.

Afterward, the episode goes through each of the major events of the first eleven episodes. However, the emphasis of the episode remains on the story of Rei’s survival. It goes from his first encounter with Akari, where she more or less saves him from spending the night alone on a sidewalk. From there it goes through Rei’s rehabilitation, his stagnation, and his realization about where he wants to go.

The episode ends on a revisiting of episode eleven, showing Rei’s resolve to not only return to Shogi seriously, but to move forward.

12 and New Resolve

As the episode opens we are introduced to a new opening scene and song, one that is significantly more upbeat and hopeful than the first in terms of its tone. Not only is the music slightly faster paced but the visuals are overall brighter. In the first few seconds of the opening it shows Rei still somewhat dimmed in color but the world around him looking much better, likely symbolic of his determination to be better at Shogi.

Another important battle that Rei is having internally, as this episode shows quite well, is his struggle with recognizing the Kawamoto sisters as his new family. It seems that, while not explicitly stated, that Rei has a some trust issues, which is understandable given what he has gone through already. Near the end of the opening, he is walking towards a light, which looks to be like his family, but when he opens his eyes turns out to be Momo, Hina, and Akari, symbolic of Rei’s current struggle, and a pretty obvious hint as to where that struggle will lead him.

The last important thing worth noting about this new opening is that the song is called “Sayonara, Bystander” by YUKI, and it talks about seeing a bystander in the streets and leaving them behind to walk forward. As it relates to March, this seems to be talking about Rei leaving behind one version of himself in order to grow as a person, which, given the context of the previous eleven episodes, makes a lot of sense. Rei is tired of feelings sorry for himself and is now motivated to move forward in the world of Shogi.

The episode itself begins in a similar way, with Rei studying Shogi while making himself dinner. He boils water, puts in the noodles, and finishes making them. He then sits down near his Shogi board, over a cardboard box turned dinner table. Rei seems to be enjoying his food, when all of sudden he notices something:

Except, it is not just the air conditioner. The clock sitting near his bed also feels louder. He soon realizes that being surrounded by noise while at the Kawamoto home has made him feel his loneliness that much harder. Having people to be around everyday felt good, but his apartment does not have those people. After reminiscing for a minute, he soon gets an ominous feeling, one so scary he feels like he has to get up and go for a walk, otherwise he will be consumed by it.

At first it is not super clear what Rei is talking about. In fact, the entire sequence kind of comes out of nowhere, with Rei suddenly leaving and pacing around the river in the middle of the city. However, as he tries to distract himself with Shogi moves, it starts to becoming clear that the feeling Rei is so desperately trying to avoid is complex. It is a mixture of both loneliness due to being away from the Kawamoto sisters, but also a realization about just how warm and inviting their home is.

This is scary to Rei for a number of reasons. The first, as he says in the show, is that the sisters’ house feels like a warm kotatsu, and that if he stays to long he might never want to leave. In other words, Rei fears that his attachment to them might cause him to become distracted from his goal of rising through the Shogi ranks.

The other main reason is less obvious. As I said before, Rei appears to have some trust issues, and so he also fears, on a more subconscious level, getting attached to a new family. He knows that it is real and that the sisters appreciate and care for him, but Rei just is not sure how to respond.

Still, after sitting alone near the river for a bit, Rei beocomes even more resolved in his quest to become better at Shogi.

The next part of the episode focuses on setting up the stakes for the Lion King tournament, and how it, along with the Master’s Tournament, are the two biggest Shogi events of the year. While walking into the Shogi hall to play his match the next day, Rei runs into Smith, who is excited about the high stakes of the Lion King Tournament. The two then go to play their matches.

Rei plays against Takeshi Tsuji, someone ranked a lot higher than him. Still, despite it being a long game, Rei manages to narrowly beat Tsuji and keep his place in the tournament. The first half of the episode, titled “What Lies on the Opposite Shore,” ends when Rei and Smith leave the play room only to meet Gotou, a strong player and Kyoko’s boyfriend.

At the start of the second half, Rei is reminded of the time Gotou beat him up in front of Kyoko. At this point, Gotou starts being antagonistic, calling Kyoko a “stalker,” telling Rei to have his adopted father “do something about her.” However, despite the relationship Rei does have with both his father and sister, he still gets angry to the point of almost attacking, with Smith having to physically restrain him.

It would be one thing to care about his father, as he has already demonstrated that he still cares for Rei, but the fact he gets angry over Gotou insulting Kyoko is a bit more interesting. Going back to what the show has already covered, the relationship between Rei and Kyoko seems to be fairly abusive, and so the feelings of affection Rei has for Kyoko seem to come from a kind of Stockholm syndrome he has developed after years and years of this abuse.

However, the tension does not last too long, as it is interrupted by the Shogi association president, who appears to be back from a fishing trip, as he is carrying with him a cooler full of fish. Gotou then leaves, clearly annoyed at the arrival of the president. The president then insists on Smith and Rei taking some fish home, and tells Rei to bring some to the Kawamoto sisters as well.

Rei then takes a train ride over to the sisters’ house, stopping just outside to take in the feeling of warmth that the house gave. After Akari receives the fish from Rei, she stares in disbelief, wondering how much she will be able to save on food bills for the month. She then thanks Rei, and Hina brings out some of their leftovers, apologizing and saying that is all they have.

Rei is, of course, overjoyed to be getting food at all. After finishing his meal, he thanks the sisters for everything they did for him while he was sick and could barely move. Momo then insists Rei should stay the night, and Hina agrees, adding that they could do a jigsaw puzzle in the morning, since it is Satuday.

It is here, at the end of the episode that Rei’s resolve to focus on Shogi appears on full display. For as much as he would have loved to say yes, he knows that he can’t simply put off practicing. He tells Momo that he has a sort of test that he has to study for, and so she tells him to do his best, at which point Rei heads home. He then reminds himself that in order to get his revenge on Gotou, Rei first has to get through his next opponent, a man named Shimada, who will become much more important later on.

How did you guys feel about the show the first time you watched it? Let me know in the comments.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!


The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode Eleven

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

To be completely honest with you all, going through some of the re-watch has been kind of hard, not because the show is bad, but because some of the moments are gut-wrenching in their sadness. I would be lying if I said there were not at least a couple of those moments in this episode in particular, and believe it when I say they hit hard. With that being said though, lets jump into it.

The show opens with a Rei explaining that after his regular season matches, around the end of December, he gets sick, so sick that he is resigned to his bed for days on end, with barely any water and medicine left. Because of this he decides unwisely that the best things to do is just to fall asleep.

For this episode, the show steps back, taking a look at Rei’s internal conflicts rather than his external ones, as it gives a great example of in the next scene. After Rei begins his cycle of sleeping, waking up, and sleeping, he starts to have a recurring dream that he says he has been having since childhood. The dream involves him ridding peacefully up a large escalator. However, when he gets to the top, he arrives in an empty room with no way of getting himself down.

Now, as is present in plenty other forms of media, if a character has a recurring dream, it probably means something important, and in this case, Rei’s dream actually has roughly two meanings. The first is that Rei’s actually skill level in Shogi has been going up ever since he was a kid and began learning the game at professional level. However, even if Rei continues on his journey and becomes the best player in the world, that title will likely bring with it a feeling of not being able to give it up, and being at risk of seeing himself as a failure.

The second has to do with other people’s expectation of him. As he climbs the mountain, or rather the escalator, that is professional Shogi, people’s expectation of him will also go up, until they expect him to always be at the top, which reinforces the first meaning and how Rei might not be able to get down both literally from his title as best in the world, but also figuratively as the version of himself that people see in their heads.

One last thing I think is also worth pointing out is that when talking about the dream, Rei specifically denotes the pleasantness of the escalator ride, symbolic of his status as a child prodigy and how easily he ascended to that status.

However, after a few days of being in a perpetual daze, Hina, Momo, and Akari all come to his apartment to see what is going on, and take him to the doctor. Afterwards the three go home and Akari gives him some medicine and food to try and quell his fever. The four of them, along with grandpa, proceed to enjoy their New Year’s Eve.

After a while though, Momo and Grandpa, along with their three cats pass out, and Hina goes to clean the kitchen. While Akari begins to clean the kitchen, she reminisces about when she, her mother and grandmother would clean by themselves after everyone else fell asleep. She then makes more food for Rei, and tells him that mixing in pickled plums with his food with making it taste fresher, and remembers not only that she said that earlier, but also that it was something her mother used to say when she was sick.

Soon, the two begin wallowing in memories of the past, letting out a healthy cry as they desperately search for tissues. This is probably one of the more powerful moments of the first season, as it is a reminder of both Rei and Akari’s painful past, and how each of them have struggled to get where they are. It not only allows them to understand one another better, but allows them to feel comfortable in each other, and as I have learned recently, that is an invaluable experience for anyone.

The second half of the episode begins as Rei wakes up in the Kawamoto’s sisters house, having had a dream about his family and the time he and his sister put stickers on their mother’s dresser. He is woken by Momo and Hina, similar to the beginning of the episode, only this time he now more calm and relaxed. When the four have breakfast together, Akari checks his temperature and finds he is still a little sick and keeps him at their house.

Something worth pointing out that I forgot to mention up to this point is that in the first half of the episode, Akari plugs in Rei’s phone and lets it charge, then opens his phone to show him all the missed calls he’s had since getting sick. She does this as a way to remind him that acting like no one cares for him is not only untrue, but also harmful. As the show continues, it will become much more apparent that Akari has become Rei’s new maternal figure, whether he understands that or not, which it is revealed near the end of the episode that he kind of does.

Late on in the day, the Kawamoto sister’s Aunt Misaki comes over to visit, bringing new years money for everyone, including Rei, which he tries to nicely decline, but fails when Misaki insists. Grandpa later talks to her about Akari working at her bar, and how he feels it is dangerous for her. Aunt Misaki tells him that he has nothing to worry about, letting him know that she will protect her, but also that she use her as a way to strip men of their money.

Later on, after everyone has eaten dinner and Aunt misaki has gone home for the night, the four of them get ready for bed, with Rei awkwardly making his way upstairs after it is revealed that the bath is actually right next to the living room, due to them adding it on later.

Rei prepares for bed, but in doing so questions why everything feels so cozy, and why he feels at home in place owned by people he barely knows. The questions bother him for a second, until he notices stickers on the dresser next to him, much like the ones he put on his mother’s when he was young. He then falls asleep, saying that the sleep he got that night was some of the most peaceful he had gotten in a long time.

The last scene here at the end of the episode was another heavy hitter emotionally. It brings Rei closer to a conclusion that he has yet to reach: That family is the people who make you feel at home, and home is a place where you always feel welcome. Rei’s improved state of mind near the end is a result of him subconsciously understanding that dynamic.

Overall, this was a turbulent yet deeply satisfying episode. The show brings to Rei a moment of clarity after a violent storm, one filled with abuse, stagnation, and confusion. Still, there is much for him to explore moving forward, and this episode is only the beginning in the journey of Rei finding himself.

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 5 Reaction: Rei’s Misguided Redemption and Akari’s Hesitation

It’s fairly obvious to anyone who’s seen season one of March Comes in Like a Lion that this show knows how to handle mature topics. In fact, using the word handle might be underselling the show’s complex and terrifyingly human tendencies. This episode, continuing with the show’s bullying arc centered around Hina, show’s two very different reactions to bullying.

The first half of the episode focuses Rei talking to his homeroom teacher Takashi about Hina’s situation. Rei eagerly takes notes on the advice his teacher gives him. Takashi gives one key point of advice to Rei, being that he should only get involved as much as the victim, in this case, Hina wants. Getting too involved, he explains, will isolate her from her friend groups and only exacerbate the problem.

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After their discussion, Rei accidentally drops some papers detailing the money he could win from various tournaments. He then explains to Takashi that he owes Hina a debt, and in multiple scenes throughout the episode, he says that he must repay his debt win money. This is probably one of two times I can say that I have disliked Rei as a character because I think this idea is fundamentally wrongheaded.

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Rei believes that he owes a debt to Hina “as a human being” because Hina is his “savior.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with feeling like you owe someone something because they helped you in a huge way, but the idea that debt can be repaid by attaching a dollar sign to it is wrong. A human debt, as a described it, should be repaid by legitimately caring for that person. It also flies right in the face of the advice that Takashi was giving him for 10 minutes of the episode, rendering those 10 minutes irrelevant.

We see Rei in the second half continuing with his plan to help Hina by trying his hardest to win and vowing to not lose, to which afterward he loses immediately. He tells Nikkaido to help him train and they play at his house.

After this scene, Rei gets a text from Akari, presumably about helping her with groceries, as we see the two walking home with an abundance of food. In what is probably one of the most impactful scenes in the show, Akari sees that Rei is struggling to carry the box of onions and potatoes and asks if he needs any help. Rei responds with “I’ve got it. I’m a man after all.” Akari then says under her breath “Rei doesn’t seem to be getting fluffy at all.”

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This scene imparticular portrays so much detail in just these two lines. Now, if it were a mediocre shonen action series and a character said “I’ve got it. I’m a man after all,” then nobody would blink an eye. But here, in a show as complex and nuanced as March is, it comes off as noticeably different from his usual personality, which might have even criticized someone else for saying that. Rei says this because he likely believes in that moment that he is indirectly helping Hina by literally taking a weight off of Akari’s shoulders.

Akari’s response also holds a lot of meaning, specifically as a response to Rei’s change in character. For those who haven’t been paying attention to details in this show, Rei, both in personality and in appearance, has been described as “fluffy” by multiple characters in the show, especially by Momo. In this case, Akari saying that “Rei doesn’t seem to be getting fluffy at all” is a testament to how noticeably different he is in personality compared to the beginning of the show.

The two get back to Akari’s house and begin to clean the vegetables. Akari, alone in the kitchen with Rei, wears her heart on her sleeve and starts speaking aloud, not directly to Rei, about how she feels guilty that she can’t do more for Hina.

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In her own words, she feels like she hesitated, and that if she had said something more concrete like her grandfather that Hina would be feeling a lot better. Rei tells her that she shouldn’t be sad and that it is normal to feel lost in a situation like that. He also explains his feelings that Hina is a savior to her, and that Akari is in many ways an indirect savior as well.

The episode ends with Hina, Momo and their grandfather returning from the amusement park and eating curry together. Hina gives Rei a charm she won that she thinks looks like him, to which he says “I’m touched.”

I would say I’m touched as well, but how about you guys? What did you think of this episode? Are you enjoying season two? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for Reading, and bye for now, Friendos!