This chapter of March Comes in like a Lion is yet another endearing episode on Hinata and Nikaido. While Rei visits the Kawamoto sister’s house, he learns about Takahashi, the baseball player Hina has been madly in love with for quite some time now. Seeing Hina visually flustered over trying to decide what bento to make for Takahashi’s game is adorable.
Akari tries to give her some advice on what to cook and Hina immediately dismisses it. After all, what would Akari understand of Hina’s first love? It’s not like she’s experienced such a feeling before. It absolutely must be a cute lunch or Takahashi won’t like it. Silly Hina, you’re so painfully oblivious at times. Some playful teasing ensues by Akari which is nothing short of innocently sweet. Up until now, we have yet to see this side of her. Hell, I was under the suspicion that Hinata had a crush on Rei, but maybe this debunks it. We’ll have to see.
The next morning, she just completely fumbles by overthinking her cooking and what should have been a wonderfully made bento turns out to be a hideous failure. Hinata scrambling over how to win over her first love is relatable. It’s painful, awkward, and yet ever so adoring at the same time. Despite her failing to cook something pleasant, you still want to cheer for her. Hina deserves to be happy after bottling up all her pain for so long.
At Takahashi’s game, Rei watches over Hinata gleefully as she cheers on Takahashi during the match. It doesn’t take long for everything to go to crap.
As Rei looks on, he recalls something he’s been keeping hidden underneath. Love? Has Rei ever experienced such a thing? We have no idea. Sure, there’s the love and care his friends have for him, but romantically there’s no way to know. The word love seemed to trigger some unpleasant memories for Rei of a woman forcing herself onto him. Just what does it entail? Was he taken advantage of? His past seems hard enough to deal with and now with discovering this . . . Gah, can anyone in this anime catch a break?
And then there’s poor Hina who couldn’t summon the courage to give Takahashi the bento she so cheerfully made — the bento packed with all her love and feelings for him. It’s like watching a train wreck unfold right before your eyes.
To top it off, she wants to throw the food away. Thankfully, Rei takes some initiative and stops her. Maybe he’s not as oblivious as I say he is. Thanks to him, the day wasn’t a total disaster. They go back to Hina’s home and eat the bento with the rest of the family, where we see more of what lies beneath the surface of these characters. It’s here that we see a window into not just Hina’s insecurities, but Rei’s and Akari’s as well. Hina hadn’t realized Akari wasn’t as perfect as she made her out to be. We learn Akari had once, just liked Hina, messed up her first love bento in a similar way. Watching Akari and Rei comfort her was a nice change of pace. Hina is finally wearing some of her feelings on her sleeves, allowing others to comfort and help her grow.
As an aside, Akari describes the food for us as bitter, sweet, and sour — a comparison to the ending of her first love. I can’t help but feel like this might be the case for most people.
Nikaido and Rei back are back at it again with another Shogi battle at Rei’s apartment, as per usual. Nikaido loses and promptly asks for another go, but Rei shows some reluctance. Damn it, Rei! Notice the gravity of things already. Nikaido probably understands full well the scope of his situation and cherishes his moments with Rei. He spends a better portion of his time at Rei’s apartment explaining how as rivals, it’s their duty to raise each other up. He has a solid point there. When he mentions how they should make haste, well, it hurts when you start to guess what he means by that. It’s sad to see that he has convinced himself he shouldn’t tell him. Rei doesn’t understand just how meaningful these moments are and how they may reach a conceivable end sooner than he thinks. I don’t want to think about it. At least there’s some silliness to contrast the underlying despair. Nikaido goes full Shounen on us and starts naming his moves. Then, they end up arguing about it.
Afterwards, they decide they should eat and go down to the city. Momo notices Rei from a distance, seeing Nikaido for the first time. Unexpectedly, Momo just lunges at him. Her getting along with Nikaido was unbelievably adorable.
When they bumped into the sisters, they ended up meeting Nikaido for the first time. It’s then that we discovered Akari has an affinity for the soft and fluffy. She instantly turns to mush at the sight of his fluffiness. I mean, who could resist Nikaido’s charm? Looks like Nikaido might be more than just a formidable Shogi Rival. Akari decides to cook for all of them back at the Kawamoto household. I knew it’d be fun to see them all interact with one another. And it was. Rei even showed a bit of jealousy.
Akari made no efforts to control her desire to feed and tend to Nikaido. When he turns down what she thought he would like, she knew something was amiss. Akari is surprisingly sharp.
The servant is awesome too with his sudden appearance at their place. He just sneakily finds his way to the sister’s house with a GPS. His concern for Nikaido is really treading a fine line between genuine concern and creepy. I’m glad he also joined in. We haven’t had the chance to see too much of the servant just yet, but he steers the show in such a humorous direction.
This episode was bittersweet at times, but at least it ended in a positive note. There were some nice developments for Hinata and Nikaido too, showing more depth to their characters by putting them in unexpected situations. I hope that we get to see a little more of Rei’s past soon.