March Comes in like a Lion has been taking a nosedive as of late. For as much praise as I’ve given the show for its candor, I’m growing rather tired of its tendency to meander into pointless drivel. It isn’t all terrible. It’s mainly the fact that the bulk of the series, as of late, has occurred in either the Kawamoto household or Rei’s home. Never mind the redundant use of over-the-top humor. It wasn’t so bad at first. A few scenes filled with chibi-isms and high-pitched voices here and there. But now? It’s expected that any scene delving deep into the unfiltered thoughts of characters will at some point pull back, killing any emotion previously established with forced humor. It’s almost as if the series wants to prevent any scene from getting too dramatic. This severely hinders some of the emotional investment we can have with these characters. It’s this very reason that I believe holds the show back from being a masterpiece.
The plot has been developing rather slowly. It’s not to say it’s necessarily a bad thing, but the way that it is being handled leaves room for improvement. The majority of the plot advancement has been through flashbacks as a crutch. With the discovery of Rei’s past, we start to see the inner turmoil bubbling up from inside him. Rei is beginning to unravel quite a bit; the toll of being a professional shogi player at such a young age. Not to mention the guilt associated with the steps he took to get there eats at him. Rei’s past is interesting and compelling, but I wish it were handled with more care.
While, I’m not completely against the flashbacks, it’d be nice to see Rei learn about his past through other means as well. Maybe he could bump into someone from his past that stirs up certain emotions like in episode 8. Maybe he goes somewhere, you know, outside of the shogi world or the two homes he’s so used to going. Instead, we get an episode here and there where he’s just dazed out in thought at his place. Or outside. Or at the Kawamoto’s. It’s wasted potential and it makes me angry. It’d be so nice to have the world much more fleshed out.
Despite all that, Rei’s dramatic past is powerful. In these recent episodes, we learn about his stagnation in the shogi world, a new rival, and his past family life. We also learn just how much Shogi and that sweater he always wears means to Rei. All of this was great. Again, it’s just the way the series handles learning all this information that’s a bit of a disappointment. Regardless, the dimensions of Rei’s character are being fleshed out a lot and it’s nice to see. After all, learning about what tears him up inside is essential to empathizing with his character.
The saving grace in the last bit of episodes is Kyoko’s visit to the apartment. Why did she come to visit? Could it be she actually cares about him? Her sudden appearance was unexpected, helping push the plot further along in a positive direction. Up until this point, we had only seen Rei’s perspective of her. We had no idea how she truly interacted. Everything else that occurred was largely uneventful. If you were to skip episodes 5-7, you really wouldn’t miss out on all that much. It’d be nice to see more of the Shogi world that’s being left unexplored. Rei could definitely afford to interact with Smith, Issa, his rival, and his past family some more. If March Comes in like a Lion were to do this, it’d immediately cement its place at the top. The series has been using Rei and the Kawamoto’s households as crutches for far too long. Anyway, If I’m coming off as nit-picky, it’s because I had high hopes for this series. And I still do. This series is one of my favorites for the season and it’d be a shame to see it waste so much potential.