Tag Archives: Rei

The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode Thirteen

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Despite it only having been a few weeks or so, it really feels like I haven’t done one of these in forever. That is college for you. But now I am back, and once again I can dive right into March Comes in Like a lion.

The episode opens with a bit of a recap from the last. In the opening moments, the way Rei says “here I am again” is a reminder of the fact that he no longer wants to use the Kawamoto sisters as a crutch, and wants to mainly focus on being the best at Shogi. After giving Akari some fish he received from the Association president and having dinner, Momo asks Rei if he could stay the night. Rei, remaining steadfast, explains to her that he has a sort of test tomorrow, and that he must do everything in order to win.

It is worth mentioning that, despite Rei’s resolve to stay away from the happy, comfortable lifestyle that comes with hanging out with the sisters more often, he still appreciates their support, which is evidenced by the fact that after Momo says, “do your best,” Rei smiles. While he maybe be putting on a more outward show, on the inside he is overjoyed.

However, this will actually be the last Rei is shown for a while.

Immediately following the opening sequence, the show settles onto Smith waking up and starting his day. As he wakes up, he gets up and out of bed, and walks immediately over to the fridge, where he picks out an array of different foods. As he finishes setting everything on the table, he begins to have something of a Shogi match breakfast, likely because of his facing off against Gotou.

As Smith heads out for the day, he recalls seeing Rei at the Shogi Association printing out match records for Shimada and Gotou, but laments that he did not print out anything for him. Still, a more honest and level-headed voice reminds him that he just does not see himself winning against Gotou anyway. However, he does not let this dissuade him.

Smith soon after arrives at the Shogi, calming and reminding himself of Gotou’s more defensive play style, which he says he will counter with his lightness. As Gotou arrives, Smith notes that at a professional level of play, no matter how much one has prepared beforehand, the outcome of a match can never be decided one hundred percent before it is played.

Smith’s sequence up until this point is interesting for a number of reasons. The first is a fairly obvious one: outside of the last episode where he had to restrain Rei from attacking Gotou, Smith has not been a prominent character, so to see him get over half an episode pretty much focusing on him is fairly surprising, and adds a much needed bit of character development.

Speaking of development, the second reason is that the episode shows us a bit of Smith’s overall personality and approach to the game. Despite having a seemingly calm and collected, albeit upbeat personality, Smith’s Shogi play style is a bit different. He plays in a more all or nothing manner, choosing to focus on continual offense rather than defending the king. Smith also tends to remain relatively positive and clear-headed, at least until the end of his match against Gotou.

Despite his best attempt, Smith still loses the match, and with it his place in the Lion King Tournament. As they sit after the match, Gotou tells him that the reason he lost is because he hesitated in executing on his play style, and that if he is going to continue to play the way he does, Smith cannot continue to do so. Smith then heads home, using a can of coffee and a trash can to decide whether or not he will go drinking. After a terrible shot from a long distance away, Smith peers behind some nearby bushes only to find a stray cat crying out for help, and with that his night was dictated.

The last eight minutes of the episode then shifts its focus back onto Rei, who plays an A ranked player Shimada on the same day. As he walks to the Association, Rei vaguely recalls a time when Shimada came to a kids tournament as a guest speaker, noting the lankiness of his stature and presence. As the match between Rei and Shimada gets underway, a lot of camera angles, both from Smith’s match earlier and from Rei’s, start to convey more meaning.

Earlier, when Gotou approached Smith as they were beginning their match, the first view shown of him is one where he is towering over Smith, with the light shining above making him out to be an ominous presence. Now, both Smith, and Rei sat on the left side from the camera’s perspective. So, in a literal sense they are in the same position, but also in a metaphorical sense they are looking up towards Gotou, wanting to take him down in the tournament.

By contrast, as Shimada sits down to play, the camera from where Rei is sitting cuts off half of his face. This indicates that, despite preparing for the match by looking over his records, Rei still does not see Shimada as a real opponent, only a means to an end. Unlike Smith, he is not focusing on the opponent in front of him, and for that he suffers.

At first his game seems to be going well enough. For a while, the two begin to make fairly inconsequential moves. Eventually, though, things begin to heat up. The two continue to shift pieces around the board, with Rei trying to figure out Shimada’s game plan, but to no avail. Somewhere along the way, though, Rei gets swept up in all the action, and suddenly realizes that, despite thinking the game was even, that he is actually losing by a lot.

The show then cuts to a short sequence, where Shimada and Nikaidou meet outside of a game room. When Shimada asks why he is here, Nikaidou responds by asking him to take down Rei. However, he does not do this out of spite, or because he wants to Rei to lose. Nikaidou seems to understand Rei’s feelings pretty well, and wants to help him get better.

It then cuts back to Rei falling out of his trance like state, looking up and revealing Shimada’s face for the first time that match. The episode ends soon after with Shimada smiling, asking “shall we continue?” It is in the next episode where Rei will learn what it means to take Shogi seriously, finally figuring out the full extent of his stagnation.

What have you all been watching? Let me know in the comments below.

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 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.

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.

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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!

Final Thoughts: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Well, its been a long time in the making, but with its recent arrival on Netflix I was finally able to watch one of the most iconic anime of all time: Neon Genesis Evangelion. As of writing this post I have yet to watch End of Evangelion, the sequel film which, by many critics accounts, is supposed to be the “proper” ending, not because I want to be a contrarian, but rather because I wanted to absorb the original for what it is. With that said, here are my final thoughts on the show.

Evangelion’s Animation

The most common criticism I heard from people who saw Evangelion and who had talked about the show was its horrible animation, and the long sequences of time where literally nothing happens. At first, I thought this was just a really long-running joke within the anime community, but as I watched the show I started to realize that, well, those people were not kidding. In fact, there are a lot of scenes that have still frames that last up to thirty seconds, sometimes even longer. This becomes even more prevalent towards the end of the show, with the last few episodes being particularly bad. There were definitely some parts that could be dramatically justified in being still frames, but even then it was used far to often for it to not be a negative.

Evangelion, Religion, and Acknowledging My Lack of Understanding

Since I’m talking about a show that is not only universally praised for how good its story is, but also one that has a story filled with religious imagery and references, I felt I should be completely honest about my understanding of the show: I know little to nothing about Christianity. Even though I was raised Catholic, I honestly do not have the first clue about the bible and a lot of stories contained within it. I have a vague recollection of the story of Adam and Eve, but that is about it. Still, despite lack of understanding, the show’s story and ideas are not entirely lost on me.

Loneliness and Self-Hatred. That’s it, That’s the Show

Well, not entirely, but they do play a major factor in the story of Evangelion. Almost all of the main cast, including Rei, Asuka, and Misato, along with Shinji at the center, are dealing with Loneliness in their own way. Shinji famously deals with his loneliness by running away, Misato by distracting herself with guys, Rei by finding comfort in Shinji’s father, and Asuka by trying to act tough and put her effort into piloting her Eva. Shinji in particular becomes lonely to the point of self-hatred, and begins to wonder pretty quickly in the series why he pilots an Eva to begin with.

However, the ending of the show is where I think a lot of people find solace. In the end, despite all of the horrible things that have happened up to this point, Shinji learns that reality is only as powerful as you want it to be, and that your outlook on life can change a lot by just thinking about it differently. When Shinji finally comes to understand this, he is greeted with all of his friends and family, telling him “Congratulations.” It feels weirdly like the end of a video game, almost like the final boss was himself all along, and that all he had to do was just not hate himself. Personally, I find the message a little troubling from a mental health perspective, as most people with depression and anxiety will tell you it is not as simple as just getting over it, but I do appreciate the idea of trying to have a more positive outlook.

Still, despite the extremely budgeted animation and my lack of understanding of the show’s religious references, I found myself really liking it overall. Definitely worthy of the title “classic.”

How do you all feel about Evangelion? I did think about touching on the translation controversy, but my feelings can basically be summed up like this: Its a dumb translation, and not only does is it not cool to get rid of the gay elements of the story, it also just sounds horrible when watching the show. It should be changed if possible. Still, I’m curious as to your thoughts. Let me know in the comments. If you want to support Animated Observation, check out my 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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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 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!

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

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.


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 8: A Tale of Two Tragedies

This week took a break from the ongoing tragedy that is Hina’s middle school experience to look a character who has, up until this point, gone largely without explanation, other than that he is Rei’s Shogi Rival.

The first half does deal briefly with Hina, as it opens on Rei’s homeroom teacher exploding in anger about what Hina’s teacher said to her.

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This time, it is Rei who actively has to restrain him, because the situation has gotten to the point to where even Mr. Hayashida is ready to rush into the situation without thinking, the exact thing he warned Rei not to do just a few episode earlier. It also shows Rei looking to Mr. Hayashida both for emotional support and for guidance, as he has at previous points in the show.

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I have talked previously on these episode reactions about my ongoing frustration with Rei’s character and being so idiotic in his approach to helping Hina, thinking that if he wins enough money that it will somehow help the family and Hina in dealing with their problems. Thankfully Mr. Hayashida shut that idea down fairly quickly, in what was likely the most satisfying scene in the whole episode.

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We also learn about the status of the Kawamoto’s father, and that he ran away with another woman, leaving the sisters to fend for themselves. And, like any sane human being, Mr. Hayashida got even more pissed, turning into a monster ready to tear down anything in its path. In all seriousness though, it almost felt like someone writing loser on your forehead after being hit by a truck. The sisters have already been through so much, so its hard for that to even register.

Mr. Hayashida tells Rei that the best way to deal with his problems is by dealing with them one step at a time. The first half of the episode finishes with Rei winning his semi-final match at the newcomer’s tournament and contemplating Mr. Hayashida’s advice. There is also an appropriately placed sign that says “remaining calm is the way forward.” As Rei walks out of the building thinking about Nikaidou not being in the finals with him, he overhears Shimada and Jinguuji talking about Nikaidou and him being in the hospital.

The second half begins with Rei asking about Nikaidou’s condition and Shimada blowing him off, to which Rei quickly catches up with them as they walk out the door. Rei instead about Nikaidou life prior to the two having met. Shimada then tells him about Nikaidou over dinner.

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Shimada remembers the first time having met Nikaidou at a kids Shogi tournament. His first impression of him was not a pleasant one, but rather Shimada remembers him as a spoiled brat, jealous of his wealth because he grew up in a childhood filled with poverty. Shimada was a guest speaker there, so he simply made assertions about why Nikkaidou played shogi without giving it much thought, assuming that he would give it up after losing.

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Shimada quickly learns, however, that his assumptions were all wrong, and that Nikaidou played Shogi because it was one of the only things he could do. His illness made it so that he could not do the things that other kids could. He was weak and helpless, which is why he had to have special lunches. Shimada realizes as soon as he saw the score sheets for Nikaidou’s matches that he was more than just some rich kid.

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Shimada also recalls a time where brought books from their master and he decided to play Nikaidou in Shogi. He learned after one match that Nikaidou did not like it when he was let win. This came as a surprise to Shimada, but Nikaidou explained that if people could not take him seriously in Shogi, then there he was nothing but a weakling.

It was quite a surprise seeing this stark contrast between the Nikaidou we know as the big round goofball and the one who has had his whole life dominated by illness. It does not seem like they are even the same person.

The episode ends with Kiriyama wiping away his tears, and defiantly vowing to win the Newcomer’s tournament, presumably for Nikaidou.

This episode was indeed a powerful one, and also rather unexpected coming from someone who has not read the Manga. What do you guys think? Did you like the episode? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!