March Comes in Like a Lion S2, Episode 11

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It seems to me that we’re jumping around quite a bit as this series progresses. There’s so many narrative threads being unspooled despite not being the type of show I’d expect such intense complexity from. March Comes in Like a Lion is, at its core, a REAL slice of life. While there is a bit of extraordinary to be found in the fact that Rei is a child prodigy, his life is portrayed very casually with very low stakes to arise in his story. This isn’t some “rise of a legend” tale meant to take us on a ride of exhilarating highs and soul-crushing lows—no, this is just the humble story of Rei, and everyone around him, trying to make it through life. So, I find it interesting how I connected complexity with intensity, even though I’m not sure where, when, or why that link was created in the first place. I just expect intense shows to have many intricate threads, which makes March Comes in… such a sweet surprise in that it too has many narrative branches, but presents them with an uncommonly pleasant demeanor.

Rei has an exorbitant amount of connections with almost all equally important characters, so much so that it would be a chore just to list them…but here are a few anyway: Rei’s rivalry with Nikkaidou, Rei’s bond with the Kawamoto’s, Rei’s past with Gotou and Kyouko, Rei’s father-like relationship with his teacher, Rei’s clubmate connections, and so on. As to no one’s surprise, that list continues to grow as Rei is now chosen to face off against Souya, the show’s “God of shogi”. Aside from the mention of this match, we get very little information from the dialogue.

The moment Rei learns of the match we cut to one of the show’s trademark non-diegetic, symbolic imagery montages. Everything turns to black and white, high contrast, and Rei is shown to be in Souya’s shadow. That’s…pretty much it. Honestly, I’m starting to feel like these moments are getting a little lazy. It’s just a dramatic exaggeration, but not in a fun way like in previous shows the studio is known for (you know the one). Unless of course there are references I’m just not picking up—perhaps cultural references that I just haven’t learned—I just don’t think they’re doing the show any favors with this sort of middling attempt at Avant Garde. The scene was implied to be a flashback, as Rei was shown to be younger, and the transition back to the real world was through the classic depiction of reaching the end of a film reel. Also, Shimada is going to be facing the director of the shogi hall, whatever his name is.

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The second part of the episode I found far more endearing and delightful. Rei’s shogi-science club congratulates him on his victory and they have a nice, small celebration in their clubroom. The size or quality of the party was of no concern, as the sentiment alone brought Rei to tears. It’s these kinds of moments that I love about March Comes in Like a Lion, because like in any good slice of life, it takes the time to bask in the feeling of the simplest moments—this moment being the one where Rei realizes there is finally a warm, kind place for him at school. The show has always been about Rei finding warm, happy places to make up for the lack of one in his own home, which makes this moment particularly bitter sweet as we learn it’s only temporary, and it’s about to disappear.

The science clubmates are all graduating, and leaving Rei alone once again. This means Rei has to find new clubmates if he wants the club to live on. The shogi-science club becomes just the shogi club, and it manages to attract only old faculty men. This change is played off with a funny joke: “And so the average member age increased to 24”. It was nice to leave off on a chuckle.

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