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 20 of 3-gatsu no Lion reminded me that we have confused the real purpose of an inspiring storyline. Shonen anime and feel-good series have their protagonists struggle with insurmountable odds only for them to triumph in the end, using the power of friendship, love, teamwork, or something equally noble and cheesy. Too many happy endings have spoiled me, and I was sincerely waiting for the moment of Shimada’s win, a moment that never came. Life has a way of slapping you in the face hard when you let your dreams take the wrong turn, and 3-gatsu no Lion is a little too similar to reality.
Japanese Title: (京都② / 京都③)
Chapter 41 – Kyoto Part 2
Life is linear. Every decision we make affects the decisions we will make after. And while we drift from decision to decision, the reality of our live, the story we create is unique. We may choose to interpret it in countless ways, but the fact remains that the path is one, and an objective observer of our lives would see only one version, the one we lived. But we are humans and our imagination runs wild. Part of the power of our imagination is our capability to think of what-if scenarios: What if I had never eaten that burrito hours before my wedding? What if I had focused on my studies instead of playing PlayStation all day? Shimada’s dream was one such scenario. A life he could have had if only he wasn’t a stubborn shogi player whose only purpose was to turn pro and make everyone back at his hometown proud. He could have had a wife and child. He could have had quite night-outs with his fellow villagers. He could have been…happy.
Happiness is something you can find no matter where you are. If you live with all your might, that’s enough.
Even in that dream, shogi was there. While his dream was a path he could have taken, his desire to play shogi would have remained as strong. Shimada embraces the dream, but acknowledges that both his current life and that life he could have had are both nightmare candidates. Who’s to say which one would fit him best? Only Shimada himself. Only he can live with his pain, both the real one in his stomach and the emotional one in his heart. Only he can take that pain and interpret is as life. Which takes us to the next chapter.
Chapter 42 – Kyoto Part 3
It really makes you feel alive
I really wanted Shimada to win. I wanted him to succeed and realize his dream of playing a title match at his hometown. But most of all, I wanted all those people who were quick to acknowledge his defeat to shut the frak up. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? What’s wrong with this world that doesn’t trust, that is quick to judge and assume and offer its opinion? But I guess that was the author’s purpose: ‘this is the world we live in, champ. Deal with it.’ I underestimated her writing skills. I expected a win that was never meant to come. And the ‘almost win’ that both Rei and Souya saw means nothing in their eyes (well, maybe, that remains to be seen).
The silver lining is that Rei may not be something special in that dumbass Dragon Fujimoto’s eyes, but that last move was all the proof we needed that he has the potential to beat Souya. Go, Rei!
— TVアニメ「３月のライオン」公式 (@3lion_anime) March 4, 2017
Metaphors: For yet another episode, 3-gatsu no Lion relied on its metaphorical scenes to convey the feelings of its protagonists. From the storm that awaits Rei on every move he makes on the path he chose to the snow that covered Shimada as he fell for Souya’s inhuman skill, the series usually uses weather imagery to express their thoughts.
Marry your Waifu: Marriage in Japan involves a lot of paperwork, but the one document that is most referenced in works of fiction is the marriage certificate. There are many guides on the internet about the legal proceedings of getting married in Japan, but what if you want to marry your waifu or husbando? There are fans obsessive enough about their favorite character that they wouldn’t mind marrying them. Curtain Damashi is a company that wants to make such a union a reality! They are offering marriage packs, complete with marriage certificates for some famous anime characters. What do you think? Would you like to marry your favorite character?
Miso Soup: I have never tried miso soup. It’s one of the most referenced foods in anime, and I’ve always wanted to try some, but every time I find myself somewhere that has miso soup, I always get something else. Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called dashi into which you mix softened miso paste. From there you can add almost anything, and it all comes down to your personal preferences. I still have none, but I intend to change that.
Sealed Move: Professional matches in chess, shogi, and other board games, sometimes take more than one day to complete. A sealed move ensures that neither player knows what the board position will be when it is their next turn to move.
— TVアニメ「３月のライオン」公式 (@3lion_anime) March 4, 2017
Hashimoto Yukari has created an amazing soundtrack for the series. So often we see a series for the sum of its individual parts. The guitar track at the beginning of the episode was a perfect match for Shimada’s what-if dream. 3-gatsu no Lion relies a lot on imagery and music, and all its scenes are well accommodated by the sound effects and the score.
On the other hand, excluding the scenes including Shimada, I felt that the episode tried to include a lot of comedic bits that felt unconnected to the episode. Of course Nikaidou was worried about Shimada, but I failed to see how the scene contributed to the plot. The same goes for Smith’s sudden promotion, and the rest of the comedy that felt forcefully included.
We only have 4 chapters before the series ends and the live action movie screens its first part. I highly doubt that we will get a proper ending, and that’s perfectly fine. The theme of this episode, and maybe of the series as a whole, is that being human means to keep moving on a path that only ends with our leaving this world. Grim? Possibly. But just like in that scene with Shimada and Souya, I find that there is a ray of hope coming from such a morbid realization. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.
Did you like Episode 20 of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Winter 2017. You can also click here for all articles about 3-gatsu no Lion.
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV