March Comes in like a Lion was unexpectedly calm this week. The explosive fight between Shimada and Gotou in episodes prior had me under the belief that this next battle of theirs would be one of equal magnitude. Instead, the focus wasn’t on the battle itself (the match had virtually no screen time), but on the preparations of what’s to come. While Shimada was fighting his own battle versus Gotou, Rei was fighting his own internally: a battle that he was once blind to, but thanks to Mr. Hayashida’s shove forward, he can now see with utmost clarity. His first steps are to finally lean on those around him—A brave leap forward in the form of asking Shimada to allow him into his workshop.
This episode was filled with sweet moments that filled me with smiles. Mr. Hayashida has grown on me quite a lot as a character over the course of the series. He’s wanted what was best for Rei all along, guiding him like a surrogate father. His delicate approach to Rei is always poignant and insightful, not only to Rei himself, but also to the audience. Mr. Hayashida accurately explains the issues with Rei’s mindset while pushing him along to reach his own answer.
It’s as if he knows just what to say to dispel all of Rei’s misguided notions of life. Rei hangs onto every word he says and as a result, his revelations lingers with the audience. The narrative largely moved forward because of Mr. Hayashida’s efforts of unraveling Rei’s reluctance to lean on others, explaining why it’s a necessity of life to do so. As a result, Rei takes a giant leap forward, having never realized that the Kawamotos haven’t really relied on him just yet.
I can recall a bunch of times that I myself had tried to solve problems much larger than myself by my own means. More often than not, the results have always been disastrous. You’ll commonly find that by refusing to lean on people in your time of need, the problems escalate, manifesting into a much larger beast than you could ever hope to take down. That’s when your situation could really look bleak. The problem is, sometimes asking others for help is embarrassing because doing so would be admitting you were wrong. Or maybe you’re scared of what people would think. Or maybe you don’t want to look weak in the eyes of people you admire. Rei had mistakenly believed these thoughts all along, but Mr. Hayashida’s words pierce through him: If things seem hopeless when you’re alone, then rely on someone. And when they’re in trouble, let them lean on you. Helping someone who has helped you is important. That’s how the world works. With this message, Rei came to realize the error of his ways. His stagnation has been the result of his own stubborness. He needed to join Shimada’s workshop.
The workshop scenes highlighted Rei’s new approach to the shogi world. Nikaido, a new character Morio, and Shimada are all formidable opponents he can learn from. Shimada himself has proven to be among one of the best players for Rei to learn under, having defeated Gotou in a mentally taxing match. Rei knows this is just what he needs. He churned in with the group, arguing his own points and thoughts about their gameplay. He realizes the strength of a varying perspective in shogi and how this might be just what he needs to push his game to the next level.
The narrative is beginning to move in an exciting direction, with Rei realizing just what he needs to do to overcome his depression. I’m curious to see where Shimada’s workshop takes Rei’s game and what this implies for his relationships. How will he approach the Kawamotos from now on? I’m a sucker for the scenes with Akari and Rei and I severely miss them. How will things change now that he knows he needs to let them rely on him like he has been relying on them? And what about Kyouko? Maybe Rei can help her overcome her crippling self-loathing by overcoming his own issues. I can’t wait to see what will come of Rei’s growth both as a player and as a person.
’till next week, friends.
— Palpable (*¯︶¯*)