Tag Archives: Hina

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.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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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 Seven

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Welcome back, friends, to my March Comes in Like a Lion re-watch/analysis. In the last episode, Rei explains how events led to the present, and his current feelings of isolation and stagnation. The show had also revealed in episode five a lot of the emotional, physical, and possibly even sexual abuse Rei’s adopted sister Kyoko had been putting him through while they were living together. Also, Hina has a crush and can’t deal with actually talking to him.

Arguably the most important part of the episode in terms of character development comes during “Child of God (Part Three),” where Rei talks to Hina’s crush and middle school baseball star, Yuusuke. It is here where Rei is surprised to learn that Yuusuke knows who he is. After, Yuusuke recognizes Rei as a professional Shogi player since middle school, he asks him why it is Rei decided to go back to high school. Previously, Rei’s teacher Takashi had pondered with him on this same subject, noting that Rei didn’t need to come to school to learn, and thus deducing that he must have come for connections.

When answering Yuusuke, Rei more or less says the same thing, emphasizing that he didn’t want to run away and then have regrets.

Its important to note that Rei also says that this encounter also made him feel a lot more comfortable, and that getting to talk to Yuusuke helped him understand and deal with his own feelings a little better. which makes sense. People often feel better talking about there problems to those who they do not know very well, because it take away any feeling of judgement from those they care about.

The next part of the episode happens after both Yuusuke and Rei both agree to meet again on Saturday with Hina. Hina is, of course, extremely nervous about having her crush over, but nonetheless it happens. It is here where Rei has another interesting experience. Yuusuke shows Rei a video of him playing live on TV, to which Hina and Momo respond with surprise, as they did not know he was a professional player. Yuusuke asks him about a match which he had lost, and why he made the move that was a losing move. Rei, aware that the move he made was in fact a losing one, again answers honestly.

However, what sets Rei off into one of his most emotional displays in the series so far is when Nikaidou, acting as a commentator, yells at him to “treat him and his Shogi better.” Rei then proceeds to yell at Nikaidou through the TV screen. In this scene, its pretty obvious why Rei is angry. He still feels stuck, with Shogi as the only thing he has been attached to for most of his life, but yet resents it because of his adopted family. For Nikaidou to essentially just say “do better” as if its that easy is, of course, a little patronizing, to say the least.

Another not insignificant part of the episode from the same section comes when Hina starts laughing when he gets angry. For Hina, seeing Rei as energetic about the whole situation as he was was probably a relief, considering what she has learned about his past up until this point. It is also an interesting parallel to how Rei described Hina at the beginning of the chapter, mainly that she is usually always energetic.

The last section of the show involves Rei teaching Hina about Shogi after she asks him to do so. However, Rei is not that great at explaining, so Nikaidou, who tagged along, steps in to help. There is not a whole lot going with this section of the episode, but still there is an important takeaway, mainly that Rei is now involved enough in Hina’s life that she has become interested in what he does. Now, some might respond to me pointing this out and say, “well, yeah, that’s character development,” and those people would not be wrong. However, considering what goes on later in season two, I think it has a lot of extra significance.


How do you guys feel about the series up to this point? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support Animated Observations, consider buying me a coffee on Kofi:

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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 Six

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Well, now that I am getting back into the swing of things, It’s time once again to dive back into March Comes in Like a Lion, where episode six brings a lot to the table, almost as much as the last episode, to be fair. Let’s get started.


Episode five gave us a lot of info on Rei’s past. It showed the tragic loss of Rei’s parents, his harsh life under his adopted family’s roof, and the constant abuse he suffered from Kyoko. It showed the motivation for Rei’s wanting to leave and move out on his own, to avoid his toxic adopted family. However, episode six give us more of a picture of his present, and the expectations and problems he is dealing with currently.

The episode opens with what has become a common occurrence in Rei’s life: eating dinner with the Kawamoto sisters and their grandpa. Somewhat unknowingly, Rei notes that he would like to go somewhere. At that point, everyone takes their turn talking about where they might want to go if they could leave. However, even when it gets back around to Rei, he has no idea where specifically he would want to go, only noting he wants to go somewhere that is not here.

These feelings make sense, considering what episode five revealed about Rei’s life.

The episode also reiterates something that Kyoko had said previously earlier on in the show, that Rei, had no real friends or family, and that in general he just does not belong. However, instead of getting angry about these words Rei passively agrees, demonstrating that his feeling of isolation is strong.

The show also gets into Rei’s time living on his own, with Rei talking about how, for the first year or so, whenever he did not have a match he would often just sleep. He also says that during that time it became hard to do anything for himself, even things as simple as cooking rice.

He then talks about his second year, which became the first time that he had ever lost two games in a row in the same season. The consecutive losses left him in a state of shock, and not understanding why he lost, he was left with a feeling of stagnation, that not only did he feel like he could not move forward, but that maybe it was better to just stay where he was.

For visualizing his feelings of stagnation, the show uses Rei swimming through stormy waters only to finally arrive on an island, which then Rei begins to wonder if moving to the next island is even worth the time or effort.

It is pretty evident from the description of his feelings that Rei is depressed, as, at least from my experience, stagnation and isolation are the two best descriptors. Depression can often be cyclical in that way, because Isolation can lead to stagnation, and stagnation can often lead to one feeling more isolated from one’s peers.

This feelings Rei has are likely worsened when he is reminded of the best player in the league:

It is at this point that Rei has to reconcile his depression with his frustration over his losses, and why it is that, despite admitting that he has no real attachment to the game other than through his father, he still wants to win.

The episode closes with Rei running into Hina while out shopping, and the two stopping for a drink. Hina recognizes Rei’s depression and tells him he should come over for dinner. Rei accepts, and the two enjoy each other’s company. At least until Hina’s crush comes over to sit with them and then Hina accidentally spill her drink on herself.

The episode has a very similar feeling to five: a lot of important, heavy information about Rei, this time with a little bit of comic relief at the end. Again, definitely an important episode overall for understanding March as a series, and a good one at that.


Have any of you started the series recently? If so, what do you think of it. If you don’t feel like using Crunchyroll, the show is on Netflix as of this month, so you can always watch it there. If you would like to support Animated Observations or are just feeling generous, consider donating on Ko-fi:

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Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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 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.


What show would are you guys wanting to re-watch right now? let me know in the comments below. Also, if you would like to support The Aniwriter or are just feeling generous, consider donating via ko-fi or use one of my affiliate links:

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Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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 One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a series that I only really got the idea for a few days ago, but I now am really excited about. This post now marks the beginning of my March Comes in Like a Lion re-watch/analysis. It has been a minute since I’ve seen the series. The last time I watched it was while it was airing a little over a year ago. Since I don’t mention it that often, I feel I should reiterate: this show is one of my favorite, if not my outright favorite, anime of all time. As such, I wanted to take some more time to reflect on it, from the beginning. I hope you all will follow along with me in this journey, as I want to really dig into the meat of this show and revisit what works, and even what does not. Anyway, enough rambling. Here are my thoughts on the show’s first episode.


It has definitely been a while since I have seen the show’s very first episode, and honestly, the first thing I have to say is Damn. I did not remember the show being that emotionally gripping in the first episode, and there is so much to unpack.

The first thing I want to point out is just how well the show establishes the amount of emotional turbulence Rei is going through in the opening moments of the show. We see what looks to be a storm, Raging on around Rei, but after the show’s intro finishes it cuts back to that same seen, introducing Rei’s sister Akari, it gives more context to what the storm means. It is the storm inside Rei’s head, unending and relentless.

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We get even more context a few minutes later in the episode, when Rei faces off against his dad in a game of Shogi. In between their match, the show cuts to flashbacks of what looks to be Rei’s first tournament as a kid. He ends up winning that tournament, but his adopted brother and sister, Ayumi and Kyoko, resent him. During the match Rei does not say a thing to his father. In fact, it is quite tonally significant that the first thing Rei says five or six minutes into the first episode is a response to his dad saying the family misses him, “That’s a lie.”

The overall tone of this first third of the episode is fairly somber, and yet also deeply angry. This also comes through after Rei meets up with the Kawamoto sisters and the four of them have dinner. While eating, a report comes on the TV talking about a son who had brutally beaten his father. At this point, Rei explains that every move he made in their earlier Shogi match felt like a fist to the face, like he was getting back at his adopted father, and yet, Rei is still deeply resentful.

This is later shown when Hina comes to bring him a blanket, only to remove the glasses Rei had left on while falling asleep and reveal the tears still in his eyes, implying that Rei had been crying while sleeping.

However, amid this confusion and sadness, there is also a major paradigm shift for Rei. The first episode also shows just how much love and support Rei does have. The Kawamoto sisters all seem to genuinely care about Rei, as if they had always been family. Not only does the family offer to feed them twice in the first episode, and Hina gives him a huge lunch when he wakes up, they also tell him at the end of the episode that he is welcome over any time.

The first episode is not only a great on its own, but it also serves as a fantastic character introduction to Rei Kiriyama, showing both the emotional turbulence that he will have to deal with throughout the show, but also the potential to overcome it with the help of the people who care.

Edit: I accidentally said Kyoko’s sister was Akari, but I meant to write Kyoko. Apologies.


By the way, I have not yet decided how often I plan on doing these, but more than likely it will be an at least once a week type thing. Anyway, thank you all for taking a read. If you would like to support The Aniwriter or are just feeling generous, consider donating on ko-fi or by using one of my affiliate links down below:

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Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 4: My Favorite Female Anime Character

Hello, Anifriends

Another day, another challenge. For day four, I’ll be talking about my favorite female character. For this challenge, I think I might have to cheat a little.

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There are two female characters who I just cannot help but list here. The first, if you saw yesterday’s challenge, might make sense. She is cold, overly withdrawn from the world, and also somewhat relatable. I am talking about Yukino from Oregairu.

Yukino

Yukino, for me, falls in the same lane as Hachiman. She very much represents a caricature of herself, and can often time come across as unnecessarily mean to those around her for no reason. But when you look into her past, it makes a lot of sense. Because she comes from money, she has been protected and isolated, and because of that, has little in the way of experience in making friends. I think part of what makes her one of my favorite female characters is just how much she compliments Hachiman while also being his equal in status. Both of the characters face similar problems, and as is later revealed, Yukino is largely the source of his problems. But even then, the two characters come to understand each other.

My other tie for first place, if you pay attention to this blog, also really should not come across as a huge surprise. That being: Hina from March Comes in Like a Lion.

Hina

I don’t think I am alone in saying that the second season’s emphasis on bullying and the emotional impact it can have on a person hit pretty close to home. Bullying is something that a lot of people go through, either because they do not recognize it as bullying it just go along with it, or were too scared to tell anyone. It really is one of the worst parts of growing up, and while Hina’s might have been a bit of an extreme case, it still can’t help but feel relatable.

But even before the show’s second season, Hina was a ball of sunshine and one of the most enjoyable parts of the show.


Who’s your favorite female anime character? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

March Comes in Like a Lion’s Consistent Metaphorical Motif: Water

Undoubtedly one of March Comes in Like a Lion’s best qualities is its sophisticated storytelling and its ability to give every aspect of its story and characters a detailed and nuanced depiction. If it were not for the fact that it is revealed that his wife is stuck in a hospital about to die, Gotou would likely still be view as “just an asshole” as opposed to another human being dealing with problems whose origin are out of his control. One of the ways March Comes in Like a Lion uses to achieve the level of sophistication in its storytelling is by having a consistent metaphorical motif: water.

Water is everywhere in the show and is used in various ways to get across multiple ideas. As in many western countries, In Japan, water is representative both of purification and of rebirth. In many cases, it can also represent a sort of dichotomy, with water representing a new life and destruction. March Comes in Like a Lion shows the ways in which it can be used through well thought out visual storytelling. Take the show’s opening, for example, its first use of water as a storytelling device.

The show has had four openings so far, and both the form the water takes and the amount of it give a real look at how Rei is doing emotionally. The first opening show’s Rei, drowning a large body of water, presumably the ocean, as he later washes up on shore. Rei’s drowning in the ocean represents his emotional stagnation at the beginning of the show, do to his complicated relationship with many of his adopted family members. In the second opening, it shows Rei walking alongside the riverbank near his apartment, with the look of a bright sunny day. This display is likely a reference to the weight that is lifted off his soldiers as a slowly comes to realize that the Kawamoto sisters have become a stabilizing force in his life. The third opening shows Rei literally walking on water, both, from a western perspective, invoking the image of Jesus Christ, and showing his having conquered the emotional burdens that were earlier drowning him. And finally, the fourth opening not only shows Rei smiling in cheering, one part of the opening shows the water completely dried up, as if to suggest that not only are his own problems gone, but those of his friend Hina, who was being bullied for the majority of the second season’s first half, are gone as well.

Water also shows up as a descriptor of settings. More recently, in the battle with Rei versus Souya, Rei describes the encounter as feeling like a “storm.” It is interesting to note that this was also Rei referring to a literal storm that was coming through the area, so when the storm comes through and we see the characters facing the harsh weather looking for a place to stay after their Shogi match, it shows what exactly Rei meant.

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Lastly, many characters in the show have described their own situations as feeling like they are drowning. Rei invokes the same imagery that was depicted in the show’s first opening when he describes life after his father died, saying that Shogi was like a life raft in the middle of an ocean. A scene during the show’s second season during the bully arc with Hina has her describe her own situation as drowning in the presence of her bullies.

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To some, this level of repetition in visual storytelling might seem like a bad idea, but not only does it not overcrowd the visual elements of March Comes in Like a Lion, it gives the show’s characters a feeling of interconnectedness, enforcing the idea that no matter what they are all people dealing with their own problems, and that sometimes just a little love and attention can make things a bit better, even when it feels like they are drowning.


What else have you noticed about March Comes in Like a Lion? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos! Also, if you like what your reading and want to help support the blog, consider supporting The Aniwriter on Patreon. I plan on updating my Patreon page soon so stay tuned for that.

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March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 9 Reaction: The Courage to Move Forward

If it wasn’t apparent last in any of the previous episodes, which it really should have been, the bullying that Hina is going through has been weighing on her, pushing her down to the floor and making her feel like garbage. Her half-maintained stoicism becomes less convincing by the second, and it leaves a bitter feeling inside every time I watch it. But it isn’t hopeless. In this episode, we saw courage from both Rei and Hina as they face their problems in their own separate ways.

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Rei, with Nikaidou on his mind, goes to fight in the last match of the Newcomer’s tournament. As we watch his match with Junkei, the other finalist, we see Rei’s anger and hatred come out in how he describes his opponents more passive playstyle, as a creature lurking in the shadows.

This is the case because it is the same playstyle that Junkei used against Nikaidou in the match where he fell ill. Much of that anger gets channeled into the match against him, in what feels a lot like revenge. However, as the match goes on and Rei gets more and more worked up, he remembers that Nikaidou would much rather see him win then get angry and lose for no reason.

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Rei also realizes during the match that he has been acting fairly selfish up to this point, giving into what he thinks should be done as opposed to caring for the people around him. After thinking about both Nikaidou and Hina one last time, he goes on to win the match in what seems like a fairly easy manner.

The second half of the episode consists of a sort of reflection for Rei, and at the very end, a step forward. After finishing the match and talking to another player from the association about Shimada, Rei remembers that the day before Hina’s trip Hina said that her stomach wasn’t feeling good. Rei takes some medicine from the player he talked to and rushes to find Hina in Osaka.

The fact that Rei remembered where she would be at that time of the day on the schedule after having only seen it once is a real testament to how, despite the lackluster way he has been going about it, Rei does want to help Hina.

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With a spring in his step, Rei rushes from train to train to get to Osaka and gets to the place it said on the schedule. He looks around for a while but can’t seem to find her. Seeing a couple of girls from her school triggers a hard realization for Rei: that Hina wouldn’t be with her class because her class hates her.

He quickly rushes down to the river, a spot he knows she likes and a spot where she can be alone, spots her almost instantly. Upon seeing Rei, Hina becomes confused not sure what to do except release all of the negative emotions she has in the form of tears.

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It was one of the most satisfying emotional payoffs in the show yet.


A painful and yet simultaneously beautiful episode. What did you guys think? Did it break your heart? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for Reading and bye for now, Friendos!

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 7: A Return to Form and Renewed Passion

For the first time in this show, we’ve actually been introduced two characters worth hating in one episode. Well, technically the teacher was introduced a couple of episodes ago, but we didn’t really see the extent to which she is worth hating until this episode came out.

The show opens innocently enough on Hina lying on the ground of her living room with a nosebleed. Rei walks in with some fresh peaches, and Hina gets embarrassed by her nose bleed and asks Akari for a towel. Rei tries to cheer her up by telling her that everyone gets them, and then hilariously undermines his point by saying that he has never had one.

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#notfun

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Rei thinking about all the nosebleeds he’ll never have.

Hina thanks, Rei, presumably for all the time that Rei has spent with her, talking about what has been going on at school, but also for making her feel like she can be herself, and that she doesn’t need to be ashamed of who she is. Rei responds, noticeably happier with “sure.”

Rei and Akari head to the store for a sale and leave Hina in the house to let her nose bleed heal up. While walking over a bridge to get to the store, Akari tells Rei about Hina’s trouble at school with her teacher. Hina’s teacher is one of those characters worth hating because she is quite possibly one of the worst teachers I have ever seen.

As you might remember from last week, when her teacher walked in and saw what had been written on the board, she asks Hina, “What is the meaning of this?” and implicitly blames her for writing negative things about herself on the board. If you think that’s bad, just wait.

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What kind of teacher victim blames like this?

When the teacher and Hina are talking after school, she asks Hina “why can’t you get along with everyone else?” After that, when Hina accurately points out that this blatant bullying has been going on for quite a while, and is the reason that Chiho left, she says “don’t raise your voice at me,” as if to shut out all conversation about the matter.

You can really tell from a conversation like this just how bad of an educator she is. A large part of a teachers job is being in tune with what your students are going through, and if she isn’t even paying enough attention to realize that Hina isn’t the problem, then she really doesn’t need to be a teacher.

After hearing that from her teacher, Akari explains how angry and upset Hina was, with Hina silhouette surrounded by a sea of red, properly conveying those feelings of anger and sadness to the audience. Akari then starts to worry about what would happen if she had to go to a parent-teacher conference, wondering who exactly she should get to go with Hina. Meanwhile, Rei stands watching her go through this nervous, presumably feeling jealous because the next thing he does is scream “Me Too!” from the top of his lungs.

In this moment, when he uncharacteristically screams from the top of his lungs, we learn a lot about Rei’s current mindset. Rei wants to be someone that the Kawamoto sisters, and especially Hina, can rely on for help, so when Akari lists off names of family members and doesn’t include him he feels attacked.

The episode’s first half ends with another important admission. After talking with Nikkaido on the phone about the newcomer’s tournament, Rei opens up the door of his apartment and thinks about Hina, but also about himself. Of course, He cares about Hina and wants her to be happy, but his reasons are also a bit more selfish. The last line of the first episode is “I:

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This one line reveals just how much Rei is still dealing with himself, almost as if he’s using Hina’s problems as an excuse to not deal with his own.

With Rei waking up to a brand new day and the beginning of the second half, we see Rei headed to play his semi-final match in the newcomer’s tournament. On the way to his match, we see that Rei is not only ready to play his match, but that for the first time in his Shogi career, he actively wants to win. In this match, Rei isn’t just playing because he’s good at it, but instead because he see’s winning as both a way to help Hina and also as a prize in and of itself.

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His opponent and the main focus of the episode is a man named Subaru Hachiya, an up-and-comer in the Shogi scene who is infamously known as “The Irritated Prince of the East.” Why? Because throughout his matches he likes to make clicks with his mouth, tap his finger, shake his legs, and be an overall distraction. In this regard, he is a polar opposite of Rei, who enjoys the quiet atmosphere that usually comes with a Shogi match

After a long and grueling match for Rei, he takes the win and cements himself as a finalist of the tournament. His friends from the association, however, are a bit annoyed. Sakutarou and Tatsuyuki both blame him for making Hachiya to his annoying ticks more loudly, using the metaphor of a buzzing bee. Sakutarou tells Rei that the two are very alike, and feeling personally attacked Rei tries to rebut with a “how?” to which the two reply while cutting him off:

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called out!

The episode then ends with Rei having to hang out with Hachiya because he wanted to apologize.


What did you guys think of this episode? Are Rei and Hachiya both huge narcissists? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 6: Extended Metaphors are Really Powerful

Sorry this one is a little late, I’ve been a little lazy the past couple of days.

I said in the reaction for the last episode that March Comes in Like a Lion did a great job at handling their ongoing motif through Rei and Akari’s conversation on the bridge. It showed that 1) the writing for this show is high tier, and 2) that Rei was not feeling himself, and that it was obvious he was not feeling himself because of the way Akari phrased her concern by saying that he didn’t seem fluffy.

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Akari is concerned

This week focused a bit more intimately on Hina’s relationship with Rei and Takahashi, as well as the growing extent of her bullying at school. The show opens with what is probably in the running for top 5 cutest Momo moments of the whole show, where she goes crazy for the cherries that Rei brought over for dessert.

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OMG Momo!

After dinner is done, Rei offers to teach Hina more about shogi, but Akari kicks them both upstairs because she needs to give Momo a bath. The two sit down in front of the Shogi board and Rei plays Hina with a handicap. Even with the handicap, though, Rei continuously beating her over and over. Here we see just how worried Rei is about Hina, where he feels bad that Hina has to console him because he’s freaking out that he keeps winning. It shows that the trouble Hina is going through has very rarely left his mind.

 

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Rei is very cautious while in Hina’s room

It is here where Rei asks Hina to talk about what’s going on at her school, and what her situation is like. Rei tries to comfort her by telling Hina that she only has to tell him bit by bit if she wants. Hina then proceeds to talk about the class and her being bullied.

She starts by explaining that every day at lunch, most of the people at her table are quiet. Because everyone is quiet, she has no one else to talk to. It’s during lunch where the girls who bullied her friend Chiho sit and laugh, and that in their class it feels like there is a hierarchical structure that dictates who gets to laugh the loudest.

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The invisible hierarchy

One of the most interesting things that this episode does is continue the use of March’s most prominent visual metaphors: water. Water, at least in this case, is most likely a metaphor for the repressive social structure that exists within the class, as she describes her situation as “drowning in the girls’ laughter.” And the use of water as a visual metaphor for Hina’s situation actually makes a lot of sense. We’ve seen it used many times as a way to describe the situations that Rei has been through, like when Rei was narrating his connection to shogi from his past, he described it as being lost at sea with a shogi board. In both cases, water serves as a symbol of oppressive force.

The episode continues, going into the second half, and focuses more on Hina than Rei. We see Hina at the beginning having caught up with Takahashi, her crush, and captain of the middle school baseball team. Takahashi invites her outside to play baseball during lunch. Of course, she accepts, because, ya know, what else is she going to do when no one will talk to her. While the two are playing, Takahashi talks about Rei coming over to play shogi, to which Hina smiles and the two continue to play.

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Rei being a real stand up guy

We cut over to a two-minute scene where Rei is getting excited over his recent victory in the shogi hall. He is mainly excited because he is now one win away from the semi-finals of an important tournament. He sits by one of the benches in the park and calculates how much money he is going to make in these tournaments when he quickly notices the charm that Hina gave him, which reminds us as to why he is trying to win money in the first place. I’ve already explained why I think this attitude is problematic in a different post, which you can check out here.

The show cuts back to the next day when Hina find that her desk has been written on, telling her to stop liking guys and that she’s a moron. She quickly wipes it off, likely hoping no one notices but knows deep down that everyone already knows. That day, when Takahashi comes to get her for baseball, she invites the bullies along with her and then gives them the proper middle finger by almost hitting them with what was likely his strongest fastball.

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Karma!

The show then cuts back to Hina talking about all this with Rei as they play more Shogi in her room. Hina is justifiably angry, and thanks Rei for being there to listen. She explains that Rei has asked her so many times what she wants to do about the bullying and that she hasn’t figured out herself.

Here is where we also get another great visual metaphor involving water, where the sink outside of her classroom is running and is slowly drowning the entire hallway while Hina does nothing. Again, we see water hear symbolizing the oppressive social hierarchy of her class because she wants to do something, but if she does she’ll only make the situation worse.

The episode ends with a back an forth of Rei heading determinately to class and Hina heading silently to school. Here, Rei talks about how he thought that people could just run away from their problems, but as we have seen in this Arc with Chiho, that doesn’t work, and we end with the chalkboard in Hina’s classroom calling her a bitch. Based on the music and the scream of the bird that comes right after Hina sees the board, we know she has now been cemented as the outcast.

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The End of Hina’s happiness


What did you guys think of this episode? Good? Bad? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!