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.
Episode 17 of 3-gatsu no Lion included three brief chapters in the price of one. Rei is slowly becoming more confident. He takes control of his life and shows a different, stronger face. Instead of the lonely Rei, the drowning Rei, the Rei that was lost in depression, we see a Rei that is cultivating his relationships and is not afraid to talk back when he has to. In these three chapters, Rei is on his path to a more ‘normal’ life.
Japanese Title: 銀の糸 / 水面 / 青い夜の底
Chapter 34 – Silver Thread
I’m not sure if there is a certain meaning to the chapter’s title, but I feel it has to do with the silver-haired shogi ‘monster’, Souya. His first appearance was preceded by a few scenes of shogi camaraderie, scenes that Souya misses deliberately. Nikaidou is, as usual his cheerful and determined self. He has his eye on the title, and his focus on a purpose serves as another source of inspiration for Rei, inspiration he desperately needs.
While I was running in circles getting lost, my peer has already heartened his resolve
His encounter with his step-father was as I expected it to be: awkward and emotional. Rei had been trying to pay his debt back by depositing money to his step-father’s account. He assured him that he will hold to the money until he comes of age, a sensible and mature decision, but it was Rei’s reaction that was more important: a few episodes ago he would have pitted against it. Now, his deep respect for the man who raised him gave way to a silent approval. Maybe the hilarious and vulgar in his opinions chairman had a little bit to do with that reaction.
But it was the end of this chapter that was the most significant: Rei’s encounter with Souya was monumental, ‘That took my breath away, because I didn’t sense him at all.’ That could either mean that they are too alike, with auras so compatible that he couldn’t even distinguish his from his own, or that his aura was non-existent, a shogi ghost, and a silver thread so thin that its existence is hardly noticeable.
Chapter 35 –Water’s Surface
The Lion King Tournament has a silver lion on its top for quite a long time. Souya is what we call a prodigy (more on that in Themes & Trivia) but he is also what we call a ‘presence.’ A face so recognizable in his industry – sport – vocation, that his mere presence can magnetize the people around him. In the case of Souya though, it seems that he really doesn’t care about any of this, neither for the lights nor for the fame. He has a natural incline to seclude himself, a shogi hermit who has to fake a smile when the cameras are shooting.
I bet the devil has the same kind of face
We know almost nothing about him except the fact that he was a pro at 15 and a master at 21. He was also the first to win all seven major shogi titles. A silver lion sitting comfortably on his throne, and one that doesn’t age too. Maybe he is a vampire (just kidding.) He is a mystery, but I am guessing that the series is going to start unravelling it in the following episodes.
On the other hand, Shimada, that wise and cheerful shogi Yoda (well, not exactly, but he is the nearest equivalent) doesn’t care about the title. He cares more about having the chance to play the sixth game at his hometown, the place where the local children consider him a role model. As we saw in the last episode, it’s all about ‘hope’.
Once more, the actual shogi match was unimportant. Shimada lost the first match, but unless he doesn’t make it to the sixth match, it doesn’t really matter how the matches were played. I’m sure that we will have the chance to see the match whose outcome will make a difference to the wishes of our protagonists.
As it is customary of all chapters, the last part was dedicated to introducing the next. Kyoko and Rei’s intimate sibling moment was interrupted by the three Kawamoto sisters, probably the more real of Rei’s two families. Rei’s realization during the last episode that he relies on the sisters more than he relies on them was reinforced by Hana’s bold decision to give him the food they prepared in front of the ‘witch’ (Kyoko.) Their concern is genuine and it isn’t dictated by how much they ‘need’ him, a direct contrast to the reasons that Kyoko is still part of Rei’s life.
Will he get bullied?
Kyoko depends on Rei being there when she needs a boxing bag to hit. ‘Are they your new home?’ she accuses him indirectly, ‘Are you going to mess up another family?’ Rei’s mature response is another hint that he is starting to change. He knows that everything she says have more to say about her than about him. Hina made it clear that a toxic person is toxic because his needs are harmful to the well-being of another person; one who really cares shadows all doubt and won’t adjust his emotional response in fear of those who scorn such expressions of kindness out of jealousy. However, Kyoko may be a ‘witch’ but the next chapter showed us that she is not someone we should hate, but instead someone we should at least try to sympathize with.
Chapter 36 – Base of the Blue Night
There are two things we can take from this chapter: First, Kyoko really knows her food to the point that I think she should quit the bullshit and become a chef. Second, the way she behaves in Rei’s house is actually very…sisterly! In a very touching scene, she confirms what we already knew: she is afraid, very afraid, and it’s that fear that makes her behave in this way.
Monologue: For the first time (I think) we actually see Rei’s lips moving as we hear his thoughts. The importance of this scene can be easily overlooked. 3-gatsu no Lion has never broken the fourth wall, but we have always been his silent confessors. The scene implies that Rei has a habit of talking to himself about his thoughts, a habit I have seen in many people, and certainly one that might have played a positive role in his ascendance from the depths of depression.
Even Momo?: Our preconceptions dictate our way of thinking. Kyoko needs to associate Rei’s insistence to socialize with the sisters to some kind of romantic attraction, so when he rejects her first two suggestions, Hina and Akari, she immediately jumps to the last logical conclusion and calls him a hentai. Hilarious.
Shogi Prodigies: Shogi prodigies are the same as chess prodigies. They usually refer to children who can beat experienced adult players and even masters. Being a prodigy doesn’t dictate nothing more but high expectations. Most of them show little or no progress in adulthood, but some, like Souya in this case, become champions.
Mobile Phone Charm: Phone straps are very popular in Japan. Many phones have a loop hole that is specifically there for them. They are more commonly known as keitai straps (携帯ストラップ) and they have become a cultural phenomenon. Otaku can find straps themed after most of their favorite anime, manga, and games’ characters.
3-gatsu no Lion focus on its protagonist makes his character development more evident as the episodes go by. Unlike other stories, here Rei is the undeniable sun of this solar system, the main story around which all others circle around. That doesn’t mean that their stories are not important; it just means that their stories must be interpreted on the light of Rei’s point of view.
I, for one, am eagerly waiting to see a match between Shimada and Souya. I also want to learn more about the Silver Lion that is sitting comfortably upon the shogi throne.
Did you like Episode 17 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. You can also check our Season Guide for staff and cast info of every anime currently airing!
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV