Name: March Comes in Like a Lion/3-Gatsu no Lion
Genre: Slice of Life, Seinen, Game, Drama
Director: Akiyuki Shinbou
Original Airtime: October 8, 2016-March 18, 2017
Kiriyama Rei became professional Shogi player in middle school. The prodigy who was slowly climbing through the ranks could do nothing wrong. But that is just one side of the story. Having reached professional level at such young age Rei faces enormous pressure from both the Shogi community and his adoptive family. Therefore he chooses to move to Tokyo and live alone. But staying alone proved more difficult than he expected since he is so poor at taking care of himself. There he meets Akari and later her family that includes a grandfather, two sisters and tons of cats. They seem to be having their own problems but they decided to take care of Rei as his second family.
One of the things that drew me to this show is the simple yet unique storytelling. I am contradicting myself right? Let me break it down for you. The show circulates around Rei Kiriyama in the opening moments focusing on his daily activities as a Shogi player. But it is not long before you understand that it is more than just your typical SoL. The most unique aspect of the show is the monologue of Rei; how he views each event of his life, how the attitude of people be it their kindness or cruelty affects him and how he perceives his own actions in comparison to others.
While the main focus of the show is Rei, the stories are of people around him. It perfectly depicts how the world doesn’t revolve around just one single person. Everyone has their own problems and no one waits for others.
Written by Umino Chica, famous for her work, Honey & Clover, March Comes in like a Lion is a masterwork if you consider storytelling. The story progression was impeccable. It gives you ample to time for what happened to sink in. The show doesn’t keep you in suspense for too long. There are no jaw dropping plot twists either. However, the show is a roller-coaster of emotions. It will make you giggle, it will make you cry, it will make you empathize with the characters. I am a massive SoL lover and trust me, this show has the potential to be one of the best SoLs.
The show excelled in all aspects. Characterization is not any different. Each character was portrayed to perfection, even the cats. Yes, even the pet cats have ‘character’ in this show. Every character that deserved importance, got enough importance. And with the second season right around the corner expect to see more expansion on the development of these characters as well as more new characters to explore.
My favorite characters of the show were the three sisters. Each played a different role. While Akari was the symbol of motherly love, Hina was the troubled yet mature in more ways teenage girl. Momo is the representation of unadulterated innocence. Each of these characters were somethings that represented an aspet that Rei had missing in his life. Thus they were the biggest part in fulfilling the hole that was left in Rei by the absence of his family. Another important role was played by Nikaido, his rival always pushing him to do his best and making him realize that his miseries were no reason to stop trying. The more minor characters such as the his peers from the Shogi Association were also portrayed beautifully.
Here are some notable characters from the anime:
I have seen this show get a lot of stick for the animation. I honestly don’t know what the big deal is. Yes it different. But come one, the show is made by SHAFT. You should have expected that. The artstyle is extremely close to the manga art. That’s another one of their ways to stay true to the source material. So I don’t really get the hate first of all.
Secondly, I really admire SHAFT for their versatility. The sharp edges and thin artstyle of Monogatari Series; then they give us a rather bright animation in the form of Nisekoi, then they give us March Comes in Like a Lion, where the characters are more roundish and the colours are rather dark. SHAFT never fails to surprise me I must admit. Oh yeah, they did keep the head tilts. Not as extreme as Madoka Magica or Monogatari series but still the head tilts were there
Here are some screenshots from the anime:
The OP, ED, BGM you name it and this show nailed it. They didn’t take a single foot wrong when they decided to work on the music. The 2nd opening and ending songs in particular stood out to me. Yeah, that’s all there is to it nothing more to add in terms of sound department
2nd Opening Theme:
2nd Ending Theme:
This show is not for the typical easy going viewers. It has some heavy moments and heave subject matters. The show takes patience. It takes a caring heart to understand what everyone else is going through and you need to be able to have the ability to put yourself in those characters shoes and feel what they would have gone through. Unless you have that mindset I don’t think you will be able to enjoy this show truly. You have to invest time in this show, but trust me. it’s worth it.This show is an absolute gem for SoL lovers as well as in general.
With all the below average anime that has been coming out for the past few years, anime like March Comes in Like a Lion helps restore some faith in the industry.. Over the last two years we were blessed to come across actually amazing shows like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and March Comes in Like a Lion. While this may not go down in the history as the greatest anime to be ever made, it surely states quite boldly that the industry is not about stop producing top quality shows anytime soon.
Whether it is one of the best Sol is still arguable. But none of them take away the fact that the writer of Honey and Clover came up with a masterpiece and dare I say it is probably her best work till date. Being an avid follower of Unimo Chica I can say this much with confidence. We sure hope the mangaka’s upcoming works will be equally good.