Tag Archives: Kyoko

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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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 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.

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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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 Nine

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I am back once again with another addition to my March Comes in Like a Lion re-watch/analysis. This week’s episode was another one that I would argue is particularly important in the realm of adding to the show’s overall story and development of Rei as a character, and once again involves Kyoko’s looming influence over Rei as a person.

Both parts of the episode focus on Rei and his match with Mr. Matsunaga, a veteran Shogi player on the verge of retirement, who the show reveals in the closing moments of the last episode. The first part show’s Rei’s feelings going into and during the match, where Mr. Matsunaga’s behavior confuses him a lot. The veteran player made a lot of what Rei describes as seemingly random moves, even trying to bait Rei into a bad mood with fairly poor acting. After the match, Matsunaga even seemed to be incredibly mean-spirited about their game. As the two tried to leave, he tripped down the stairs and essentially bullied Rei into buying him food.

However, Rei, while annoyed with the situation, still felt bad. Matsunaga was someone who dedicated his life to the game, playing it for over 40 years, and yet never got much farther than where Rei is now. Before the match even begins, Rei pontificates a lot on the career of someone who spent forty years playing shogi, and is frankly unable to fathom someone playing shogi for that long.

Still, even though Rei says that he cannot fathom it, It seems that he sees a version of himself in Mr. Matsunaga. He sees the version of him that is stuck, unable to move forward, but also unable to let go. He knows that if his feelings are left unresolved, he could very much end up in a similar state. But, Rei also does not want to let go of Shogi, and neither does Mr. Matsunaga.

The second half of the episode sees Rei and Matsunaga going out to eat at an expensive restaurant that, of course, Rei is paying for. The Veteran player gets drunk, rambles on about a Japanese Feudal lord who was apparently responsible for most of modern infrastructure, and then almost passes out as the two are walking home. After he sobers up a bit while walking alongside the river with Rei, Mr. Matsunaga tells Rei that he knows a lot about him, and that despite initially hating him for being so much better, he regrets those feelings, and tells him that if anyone was going to take him out in Shogi, he’s glad that it was Rei.

It is here again that Rei finds himself in Matsunaga, a man who’s been playing Shogi for so long and yet can’t even vocalize whether or not he actually likes the game. He lacks the word that describes the incredible highs of winning and the terrible lows of losing. Rei, having come off of a terrible season, understands this feeling well.

In the end, Mr. Matsunaga decides not to stop playing Shogi. At the end of the episode, Rei calls Kyoko, letting her know his decision, leaving her in confusion after he hangs up. What’s most important about this is that it is an act of defiance, by letting Kyoko know that Matsunaga is not giving up on Shogi, Rei is also telling her that he is not either, and that she will not prey on his stagnation. Rei is not alone.

The episode is a fitting response to the last one. Rei regains a bit of his confidence while helping someone who had lost their way, just as he has. Still, Rei’s journey out of stagnation isn’t over yet, and their are many more important moments to come.

Should I unironically make a tier list of every episode after I’m done watching all of them? Let me know down 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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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 Eight

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

With another episode gone by, March has once again proved just how poignant it can be. Episode eight continues where the last one left off and picks up on another important story line at the end. The show so far has been fairly moderately paced, moving between liter and darker moments without much uncomfortable juxtaposition, and episode eight once again continues that trend.

The opening third of the episode continues where the very end of episode seven left off, with Nikaidou teaching Hina and Momo shogi using a well-drawn picture book. Wondering where the book is from, Rei investigates it only to realize that Nikaidou himself drew and wrote book. After finishing for the night, the two walk home, only for Nikaidou to invite himself into Rei’s apartment. It is interesting to reflect on their arcs as characters from the perspective of someone who’s already seen the show, and to remember how much Rei did not care for his eventually best friend in the beginning.

Another important thing to note about Nikaidou as a character is just how much he cares about the people around him, as well as Shogi. As Rei later finds out, Nikaidou is dealing with his sickness pretty much all the time, even when he was doing commentating during Rei’s match. He also finds out that, for as hard as it is to deal with this sickness and do what he loves, Nikaido still finds time to help spread what he loves to others.

The show also lets us know that Rei is still thinking about his dad. While walking home the day after Nikaidou stays over, Rei fondly remembers him and his dad playing Shogi, particularly when he was focusing on the game and would lean back and forth with his hand on his face. It is at this point that Rei remembers that the reason he plays Shogi in the first place is because of his father.

It is in the later third of the episode where Rei meets Kyoko for the first time in person in the show. After returning home one night Rei finds Kyoko standing outside his front door, wanting to come inside. Rei is of course, reluctant, but after not having much of a good reason to keep her house, she lets him in.

It is also important to remember, though, that the reason Rei is so reluctant is because Kyoko was extremely abusive to Rei both emotionally and physically as a kid.

Kyoko ends up staying the night after pretty much refusing to go home at all. The two get ready for bed, with Rei asking about her boyfriend. Kyoko tells him that the two are still dating, despite the fact that the show gives a flashback to when her boyfriend beat him up.

Kyoko then leans over into Rei’s bed to check if her boyfriend left any scars. One of the more interesting tells about Kyoko from this episode happens when Rei asks if her boyfriend ever gets violent, to which she replies no, and if he did she would kill him, with tenseness of the situation implying she is totally serious.

The episode ends with the two waking up, and Kyoko leaving, but not before implying that Rei should lose his rank-deciding match that day. To me, this episode alone is enough to indict Kyoko as a toxic person in Rei’s life, to say nothing of previous knowledge.

One of the things that makes March such an engaging and interesting series, among many things, is its structure, combining the feel of both episodic and story-driven series into one, and episode eight is a prime example of that, as well. The show reveals a bit of what goes on in his day to day, as well as developing Rei’s relationship with both Nikaidou and Kyoko in a satisfying way. Overall, a fantastic episode.

The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode Five

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Today I present the fifth installment of my March Comes in Like a Lion re-watch/analysis series. Before we get into the fifth episode though, It would be good to establish all of the important information from the first four episodes, because, while it may not seem like it, there is already a lot. So, let’s review:

  • Rei’s adopted family has been ruined by their father’s obsession with creating a great shogi player, and the rest of his family resent Rei for it.
  • Rei now lives alone in order to escape said resentment, and as a result is isolated from them. However, he is still emotionally troubled by the situation
  • Rei continues to play and progress as a pro shogi player, despite not being attached to the game, mainly so he can escape his adopted family
  • The Kawamoto sisters, along with Nikaido, seem to be his only social escape from his family life.

Ok, so maybe not A LOT a lot. but these things are important to keep in mind when trying to understand march on a more fundamental level.

Well, I’ll be honest, I kind of forgot how much of an information dump this episode is, but its one of the more important episodes to analyze in the series, so let’s get started.

The episode opens with a scene from the past, showing Rei playing Shogi against one of his father’s work friends, and then beating him. Soon after, his father walks into the room, apologizing to his friend for being late. It is during this opening scene that the show reveals that despite Rei’s current success in Shogi, that he never even liked it that much. This sentiment gets reiterated later on in the episode as well, but more on that in a sec.

The first half of the episode, much like others in series so far, remains fairly light-hearted. Akari recruits Rei to pick up Momo from school, to which Rei agrees. After beginning their walk home, Rei and Momo run into another women with a dog who chases Momo around, causing her to fall down and hurt herself. Rei take Momo back to her house, and while treating her wounds, he is reminded of his little sister, causing him to cry.

Later on that day, the sisters are talking about Rei after dinner, with Momo mentioning that Rei cried. Akari explains to them that Rei once had a little sister as well.

The second half of the episode gives even more information about Rei’s childhood. It starts with Rei remembering his family, and then cuts to a his family’s funeral.

Then, Rei’s father’s friend, who is introduced at the beginning of the episode, approaches Rei and asks him a simple question, “Do you like Shogi?” It is here where Rei admits once again that he does not like Shogi at all, but in this situation he makes a sort of deal with the devil in order to avoid his fate being decided by his opportunistic extended family. In that moment, Rei decided to lie, telling him yes, and going to live with his father’s friend.


It is at this point that the relationship with his adopted family becomes immediately strained. Being the children of their father, his adopted brother and sister, Ayumu and Kyoko, are extremely competitive. Kyoko, in particular, becomes violent with Rei whenever she loses to him.

Eventually, though, Rei becomes an unstoppable force, beating both Kyoko and Ayumu, causing them to quit and to ascend as the best among the three of them. Rei understands the resentment felt by his new brother and sister, and it causes him to dive further and further into Shogi, understanding that he can use it as a way to escape his family.

The episode ends with a pretty powerful metaphor about the Cuckoo bird, who lays eggs in another birds nest, using the baby to force out the other eggs and have the mother raise it, even despite it obviously not being hers. Rei recognizes himself as that Cuckoo bird, with his presence and talent for Shogi completely disrupting his new family.

One thing worth discussing before I end this post is the relationship between Rei and Kyoko. I mentioned it in the last post when Rei is shown at the kids shogi tournament, walking away from Kyoko and Ayumu, but the show suggests a lot about their relationship that can at the very least can be described as “complicated.”

In this episode, Rei describes her as “a tempestuous storm” in relation to her anger, but also in relation to her beauty. In the context of just this episode, that may seem like just a weird comment, especially considering Kyoko punches him the face not five seconds later. However, in the context of the whole show so far, it seems to be implying some kind of sexual abuse, where Kyoko is using Rei’s more passive nature as a way to get back at him for invading their home. Definitely something else to pay attention to while watching the show.

In case you guys did not see it, if you do not have Crunchyroll and do not feel like dealing with ads, Netflix just added both seasons of March with both the English and Japanese Dubs of the show. So if you have not seen it, now is a really good time to get into it. As always, if you would like to support me, or are just feeling generous, consider donating on ko-fi:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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