I said I would finish this, and so I will damnit! Though the time it took for me to complete it might leave you to believe otherwise, March Comes in Like a Lion is a show that I thoroughly enjoyed. While I didn’t feel compelled enough to keep up its weekly simulcast, part of me believes that was kind of by design. March Comes in… is a genuine Slice of Life anime, and so the show very rarely uses dramatic cliffhangers to grab at my continued attention. Instead what I was met with were moments of captivatingly real and subtle drama, unfolding over long periods rather in several big, but ultimately short, bursts. Some things don’t even get properly resolved, and oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to bother me. Sure, I’d love to know what’s happening with Kyouko at some point, but in the end, she’s not really what this story is about. So instead of lamenting over her lack of screen time, I’d like to go over what does happen in the final chapters of this season.
Hina’s bullying arc hits heroic highs and crushingly realistic lows as we are given this unsettling look into classroom hierarchies and broader societal issues. A lot of thought is put into the implications of the problems these children are facing: How should the adults handle the situation? Is there even a feasible course of action for them to take? What can be done when the source of trouble refuses to learn or atone? How do classroom dynamics change when moments such as these break the culture of fear and silence? What happens to the heroes? What happens to the villains? What happens to the victims? – All of these questions are contended with, and some go unanswered—purposefully, due to the difficulty of the circumstance. Hina’s whole journey is a fascinating, albeit slowly told tale that ends on a relatively high note. Chiho’s rehabilitation, while not finished, is going smoothly, and Hina manages to make new friends and go back to worrying about normal schoolgirl things like love and food.
The next big moment the season had to offer was the battle of Rei vs Souya. Earning the privilege to fight a Meijin is no small feat, and beating one such as Souya basically grants you the title of a god itself. Rei pulls off no such accomplishment in his shogi match, but it is interesting to see him contend at all. Souya continues to be a mysterious champion that no one quite understands, but it appears Rei is closer to him than anyone else might realize. It is fascinating that Souya silently acknowledges Rei as a rival—and their silence is one of the most important details of their blooming relationship. It’s kind of that age-old Naruto schtick, where true rivals communicate through fists rather than words (this idea is much older than Naruto, I just thought Naruto would be the best contemporary example). These two communicate through the one thing they both know best, thereby creating this cool, almost spiritual bond through their fierce battles of shogi.
But oddly enough, their fight didn’t even come close to what I thought was the best fight of the show’s season—hell, maybe even one of the best fights of the anime season that it aired in. Shimada vs Saku was a truly gripping couple of episodes, playing on one of my favorite themes in storytelling: old people problems. Being old is scary and awful and depressing and dark, and March Comes in… portrays that in harrowingly grim detail. I loved this match for what it represented, which in short, was about an elderly man holding on to the hopes of all of his generational compatriots and the increasing burden they placed on his tired old bones. Saku is a character that has only been properly introduced and “in the show” for this 2-episode arc, yet he’s already one of my favorite characters in the entire series. Anime is primarily marketed at the youth market, so we don’t typically see this kind of attention being given to a story about the surviving elderly—and that’s a shame because old people who are still truly “alive and kicking” are fucking badass, and it’d be nice to see them get the spotlight more often.
Before reaching the end of this season, of course we need to take a look at some of the great slice of life moment the show had this season. There were tons of fun, ordinary moments between the bigger points of school drama and shogi, and they were all delightful. My favorite came near the end when the Kawamoto family cooked sweets to participate in the town festival and reel in tons of cash. Every time they cook food I’m reminded of Koufuku Graffiti, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a huge plus. My favorite SHAFT food porn show lives on in yet another SHAFT production. There was even a soumen episode! The joys of cooking and eating have never been adorably portrayed.
Finally, we come to Hina having to choose her high school. She decides from the soumen eating episode that she wants to go the same school as Rei. It does happen to be a private academy however, so Rei helps her study for her entrance exams. It’s very touching that the two both wish to go to school together, and perhaps this foreshadows a development in their relationship further down the road? There were subtle hints from the most detached member of the family, reminding the others that these two are a boy and a girl, so fingers crossed! Though I’d be happy if extent of their relationship was just a familial love…I suppose. Hina also has to deal with the heartbreak of her first crush moving away, but in that whole sequence of events she seems to start understanding what it truly means to be a professional—and perhaps that will also impact her perception of Rei to a meaningful degree later on in the series.
The series once again remains open ended, and I’ll certainly be happy to see more of it when the time comes. Long running series aren’t my forte, but with this and My Hero Academia, I appear to be opening myself up to endless stories again—and oddly enough, I feel good about it. While I wait for season three, I think I’ll re-watch Shimada vs Saku for a more in-depth analysis. I also might just start reading the manga. Until then…
Thanks for reading.