Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
There is something magical about the way 3-gatsu no Lion manages to use every little detail in an episode to weave a complete narrative. Episode 14 was way better than the previous, and managed to introduce a few twists that renewed my interest in the anime, a great achievements since these couple of chapters had no Kawamoto sisters.
Japanese Title: まぶしい闇 / ほんの少しの水
Chapter 28 – Blinding Darkness
Human progress was built upon conflict. Similarly, personal advancement can’t take place without some sort of internal conflict that when resolved brings a realization that helps us become better, smarter, and possibly a bit wiser. Most of the times, those conflicts are painful and difficult to handle, and Chapter 28 is focused on such a conflict:
Rei loses the match. He is shocked and embarrassed and he finally realizes that he was guilty of arrogance. An arrogance that I shared with him during my review of the last episode, when I was SO SURE that we was going to win and then proceed to face off his arch-nemesis. We were fools. Rei (and I) dismissed Shimada as a mere side-character, an obstacle that he had to face if he was to advance to the finals. And doing that, he underestimated him. He saw him as ‘rank’ and ‘matches’ and ‘method of play’. I was so focused on Rei being the protagonist that the common pitfall of storytelling blinded me. He was the protagonist and he couldn’t possibly lose, could he? The illusion was shattered as Shimada was promoted to protagonist. The focus shifts from Rei to Shimada, and suddenly we have this wise professional whom Nikkaido greatly admires. But his true role in the series would not be revealed until the next chapter.
Chapter 29 – Just a Little Water
What usually follows a big disappointment is a denial that when coupled with depression can lead to more serious health problems. The dehydration scene was so grounded to reality that I felt shivers in my spine. There is a truth to be found in these scenes that most anime fail to comprehend. There is certainly merit to those opinions that argue that the purpose of anime is to entertain as an escapist tool, but I am more inclined to join the ‘anime should portray reality even when the setting is fantastic’ narrative school. The setting here is not fantasy, but Rei’s condition could be transcribes to any and all settings.
I’m even terrible at depression
He is frustrated and sad and desperate. His pursuit of happiness is based on misled values. In an attempt to find ‘freedom’, Rei cut ties with his family and tried to be an adult in the only way he knew: be self-sufficient. It came down to the voice of reason, in this case his teacher, to bring him back to reality and give him a path that is both sensible and hopeful. ‘Go back to your family’ said that voice, ‘focus on becoming better and give the chance to the people who care about you to actually “care” about you.’ And then the same voice revealed the true purpose of Shimada-san: that of Miyagi-san. He has a workshop where he teaches young players and tries to popularize shogi. IT’S TIME FOR TRAINING. Hell yeah.
Strawberry: Really? Strawberry? Well, I guess it’s as good a name as any for a small black cat that is clearly afraid of Smith’s extravagant attention.
Comedy: I just want to point that the Scottish shower that the show is subjecting us to, that alternate serious and comedic scenes, are working in the show’s favor. The comedy doesn’t feel too out of place, and when it does (basketball scene) it usually ties to the next scene in some way that is meaningful.
What the hell am I doing?
BUT, BUT, BUT: If sensei hadn’t said it, I would have had: NO MORE BUTS. But, but, but… Shut up and fight. Geez. I am guessing that this is the second point that Rei found himself changing a bit after the quite emotional scene with Momo at the Kawamoto house in Episode 12.
Emotions: The author is trying to explore every single thought that comes through Rei’s mind and is, of course, relevant to our story. It requires a certain level of empathy for someone to be able to recognize the emotional process a person goes through, and the way Rei goes through each step is more a commentary that his own internal monologues.
Post-match review: These people are superhuman. Shimada 8th Dan and Rei simulated at least three or four different paths the match could have taken from a certain point in the match. Needless to say that I was flabbergasted and ashamed of my own chess skills. I guess that’s why I’m not a pro.
I’ve read many complaints online about how the series is slow and kind of boring. I agree to a certain extent. It is slow and I guess it is boring, at least to those who were expecting something completely different. Because, if there is something we can say about the shogi-themed anime, it’s that it’s different. It gives us a flawed protagonist who unwillingly shares every internal monologue he has with an omniscient viewership of anime fans. The purpose of the author is to provide us with a flawed and biased window to the psyche of a depressed child while focusing on shogi. Shogi could have been anything from chess to professional League of Legends. Shogi is amazing and I have recently decided to buy my own board, but the real focus of the anime is Rei and his struggles with depression. Is such a theme boring? Probably. Slow? Definitely. Unimportant? Hell, no.
Episode 14 of 3-gatsu no Lion managed to transform my expectations. I was excited about Rei and Gotou meeting at the finals. But I have realized that it was too early for that. Rei wasn’t ready. Now I’m looking forward to his training and the path to become the shogi champion we all want him to be.
Did you enjoy this episode of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Winter 2017!
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV