March Comes in like a Lion’s episode this week comes to a head on Shimada’s match, but not before establishing the sacrifices he took to get there. While Shimada has long since decided the path he’d take at his proverbial fork in the road, the crushing weight of his past decision looms over him as residual feelings of regret. The exploration of these feelings through his dreams serve to enhance Shimada’s characterization while contextualizing his pain in a way that hits home for most people—a very simple, yet deeply humane fear of making the wrong decisions explored through the infinite world of ‘what if’ scenarios.
Through the introducing dream sequence of the episode, Shimada explores the ‘what if’ of the path he didn’t choose. As his ex-girlfriend beckons him over with a child in hand, Shimada comes to the startling realization he is in fact dreaming. That his hometown, his friends and family, his ex-girlfriend and any possible future with her, were all thrown to the wayside for the sake of an uncertain future. Everything about his dream—the hauntingly beautiful sunset, the bittersweet guitar melody, and Shimada’s sad monologue—evokes a sense of the harrowing death of a world unexplored. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 20: The Harrowing Death of A World Unexplored”
March Comes in like a Lion’s shift of focus this week was on Shimada, whose narration reintroduces him as a complex character driven by simple but firm beliefs. In the past, we’ve seen glimpses of his drive: despite his aloof exterior, there’s a fiery passion within him that’s set ablaze by competition. What we hadn’t seen just yet was his reasons for being so.
We’ve been led to believe that’s just the way he is. However, his inner dialogue uncovers that there’s something even deeper and more fundamental to his character that keeps him going—his attachment to his home town and the people that have come to encourage him along the way. While competition is the vehicle for his passion, his love for his hometown is the fuel that pushes him forward.
Shimada is a character who values his connections with people above all else. There’s a stark contrast between Shimada’s inner dialogue and the visuals that accompany it, highlighting how he truly feels about his past. The things he says about his hometown being boring and underpopulated lead you to think he doesn’t care about the place much. Despite the matter-of-fact tone present in his words, the washed edges of the visuals and the small clouds of steam interspersed among the scenes where he’s surrounded by the elders permeate the atmosphere of his past with a gentle warmth—the kind where you’re nestling into your favorite blanket on a winter day with a mug full of hot chocolate—and effectively confirm how fond he is of his village. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 19: Shimada’s Past”
March Comes in like a Lion episode 18 builds upon Rei’s enlightened perspective, allowing us to see just how much Rei has come to trust others. Rei visits Shimada’s workshop, where Nikaido bickers with Mr. Shigeta over their contrasting game philosophies. A playful tone permeates the scene as cute metaphorical Jedi cats narrate their fiery battle. Shimada easily and comedically extinguishes the flames, throwing the two a complicated shogi question to divert their attention. All of this confirms what we’ve already come to know—everyone in the workshop is deeply passionate about shogi and they have firm beliefs on how the game should be played. Shimada, upon noticing Rei has largely been taking a backseat in the workshop, urges him on to speak his point-of-view, like one of those teachers picking on the quiet kid in class.
The fact Shimada reaches out to Rei shows how adept he is at judging the emotions of those around him. He recognizes Rei came to him because Rei wanted to change—he’s desperate to properly connect with his peers, friends, and family after years of keeping people in the dark—he just needs a shove in the right direction. Shimada asking him was his way of allowing Rei to take his first steps, to lean on them and show them the fiery passion that’s ready to burst at any moment now. Shimada’s depth of character in recent episodes—the bottomless passion that’s revealed behind his aloofness, his understanding and compassion for his peers, and his modesty—has quickly won me over, earning him a spot among my favorite characters in the series.
With the focus on Rei, the scene indeed confirms his emotional growth thus far. As he struggles to vocalize his thoughts, his choice of words reveal just how private an experience shogi is for him. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 18: Rei’s Emotional Growth”
“While I was running in circles getting lost, my peer has already hardened his resolve.”
–Rei, March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 17
March Comes in like a Lion episode 17 has silently and ever so delicately brought to focus Rei’s shifting emotional state. With Shimada’s triumph over Gotou, everyone’s attention was on the impending challenge match between him and the man everyone deems to be the peerless shogi monster, Souya. Nikaido and Rei have both made their way to the hotel where Shimada is being interviewed just before his first of seven match showdown against Souya. While Nikaido is genuinely excited for Shimada, Rei looks physically uncomfortable and struggles to find a reason to even be at the hotel. Rei feels as though Shimada’s interviews have nothing to do with him. In his mind, he hasn’t earned the right to be there. This event demonstrates one of the central themes of March Comes in like a Lion: Sometimes our problems can feel so pervasive, so all-consuming, we can almost forget the world around us.
By giving into these thoughts, we effectively magnify our issues by isolating ourselves. In Rei’s case, his attempts to solve his familial problems lead him to move out on his own, ultimately exacerbating the root cause and giving way to an unyielding depression. It’s no surprise, then, when Rei responds the event has nothing to do with him, as he’s been so caught up in coping with his own emotions it’s almost as if he’s forgotten those around him have emotions too.
The thing is, Rei isn’t as oblivious to people’s feelings as he seems – his plight is not the result of self-absorption, but on the contrary, altruism. He firmly believes not being a nuisance for those around him is best for everyone. Nikaido’s words point out a glaring flaw with Rei’s approach – sometimes we need the support of others to feel at ease. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Ep 17: Drowning in Despair”
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. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 16: There’s No Shame in Asking for Help”
This week’s episode of March Comes in like a Lion focuses on Rei’s renewed fascination with the world of shogi. With the help of his friends and loved ones, we’re beginning to see Rei loosen up. Shimada’s overwhelming victory over him has set the gears in motion for a burning desire to improve within himself. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion Episode 15: Mirrored Selves”
March Comes in like a Lion piles on to its depiction of depression relentlessly, layering epiphany after epiphany to deconstruct the tumultuous state of Rei’s fragile mind. Seemingly enough, not a lot technically happens on a surface level, with one half of the episode dedicated to Rei’s match and the other half exploring the aftermath of the battle. But the focus of the episode wasn’t in the advancement of the scenes; it was in the exploration of the delicate fabric that seizes hold of Rei’s mind, blinding him to the harsh realities of competition. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion: Episode 14 — The Silk Fabric of Self-Deception”