Looks like Rei wants to fight bullying but doesn’t know where to start. It’s an interesting turn for the series, as up until this point I felt March Comes in Like a Lion delved mostly in relationships existing outside of school. It appears Rei is beginning to understand more of the middle/high school experience that he had managed to avoid throughout his childhood. After the event with Hina, he’s left with a lot of questions, so of course he’d come to Hayashida sensei looking for answers.
It’s just too bad bullying isn’t doesn’t have a simple answer. Sensei goes in lecture about the tricky subject that is bullying, how many sides are at play, and how many excuses will be made. Parents will always want to protect their child, whether they’re the bullied or the bullies. It’s interesting how the show handles the discussion using their usual cartoon illustrations, despite how it, up until this point, seemed to know when and when not to be serious. The topic at hand is deep, and relatively dark compared to what we have come to expect from anything involving the happy-go-lucky Kawamoto family, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when the dialogue is supplanted with comedic cardboard cutout animations playing out the situations being described. Perhaps it’s symbolizing the silliness of bullying? How a little lack of empathy can result in a lot of trouble? I’m not certain, but that’s the only thing I can come up with where the artistic choice doesn’t come off as just misplaced to me.
Anyway, Rei and Sensei continue to talk, and Rei tells him about Hina, going into near romantic detail. It amusingly gives Sensei the notion that Rei might be in love. This might just be a comedic misunderstanding, but it could also be something more. Only time will tell, of course. The conversation, when directed toward talking about Hina, was very entertaining. Watching all of Sensei’s bashful reactions to Rei, straight-faced-answering his modest yet indiscreet questions, had me smiling throughout. Obvious hints like “Is she cute?” and “Is she important to you?” go right over Rei’s head as he responds with a definitive “Yes”. Maybe I just like deadpanning too much.
Moving from that point, Sensei also discovers that Rei wishes to win more prize money in order to pay back the debt he thinks he owes Hina. As Rei walks out, narration of what sounds like a daytime drama plays, describing the cliffhanger we’re being left on. A pretty out-of-nowhere gag, but I must admit I still found it pretty funny.
And then the jokes just keep coming as Rei meets up with Nikaidou, wishing to practice shogi with fire in his eyes. Nikaidou mistakes this passion as just a love for the game, when we really know it’s more of a desire to support Hina. Following this, we find Rei helping Akari carry groceries, and through her inner thoughts and dialogue with Rei, we get another soft gag revolving around Akari’s desire to make everyone she loves fat.
When they reach home, we begin to learn more about Akari and her feeling towards what happened with Hina. Her understanding of her role in the household is told to us, stepping up to take their mother’s place when she passed away. Because of this motherly perspective she holds, she can’t help but feel differently from opinion gramps gave on the matter in the previous episode. Hina did the right things, but a mother just wants what’s best for her own child. A mother just wants her own child to be safe. Rei assures her that this viewpoint is normal, then shares his own mindset. Akari raised Hina, and so she should be proud to have raised such a courageous young girl, a girl who Rei believes had saved him. Indirectly, Akari had also saved Rei. Without denouncing her own feelings, Rei puts Akari at ease.
The scene had beautiful composition as well, ones that really speak for themselves. These last few episodes have been extremely gorgeous, but I’m just glad we’re no longer spending extended periods of time in that bland shogi hall. Rei’s been learning a lot, so I presume it’s only a matter of time before he utilizes that on a certain someone. Until then, however, have a Happy New Year and thanks for reading. I’ll have more in store for you shortly.